Sleeping Operator

Sleeping Operator

The second release by The Barr Brothers (formerly of The Slip) is stunning in its restraint. The hypnotic and driving “Half Crazy” grabs hold immediately, partly because it’s the lone uptempo tune. The other 12 songs gather steam gradually but prove mesmerizing once they settle in. Rhythms ebb and flow and textures morph as a variety of instruments overlap. Guitars, banjo, harp, marimba, pedal steel, viola, organ, piano, horns, drums, African ngoni, and found-object percussion are all used. That’s a lot to control, but they do it well by artfully blending Delta blues, Appalachian folk, and West African influences into organic, otherworldly grooves.

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