Album: Loose Fur

Loose Fur, Domino
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The Independent Culture

Loose Fur is an intriguing collaboration between avant-rock omnipresence (and recent addition to Sonic Youth) Jim O'Rourke and Wilco guitarist and drummer Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche – an improbable alt.rock supergroup bridging the hitherto unrelated worlds of country-rock and free improvisation. Amazingly, it works, the participants displaying a commendable sensitivity to each others' inclinations, whether essaying a compact, Wilco-esque downbeat reflection on separation like "You Were Wrong", or a more absorbing rumination on evasion and change like "So Long", where spiky, improvised guitar noises and clattering percussion assume a more formal shape over 10 minutes. The opener "Laminated Cat" best demonstrates the trio's empathic qualities, tracking Tweedy's lyric about the emotional effects of seasonal change with a loosely improvised backing: a patter and rattle of percussion, wispy, fizzing synth noises, and an occasional amorphous growl of guitar. The least effective of the six tracks is probably the instrumental "Liquidation Totale", a drab, uninvolving exercise in the typical Chicago post-rock style of such as Tortoise, notable only for the way it manages to make the banjo sound unnaturally sombre. But there's more than enough compensation to be found in the delicate tracery of guitars and gamelan highlights of "Elegant Transaction", a song about the random nature of relationships and recollections, where O'Rourke's stylish convolutions surely reflect his Burt Bacharach influence: "And don't strike a conversation with a cigarette/ Like an old flame, Burned up, and out of breath".