Few singer/songwriters have dared to sail into the far regions that Tim Buckley explored on Starsailor. This 1970 release is his most extreme artistic statement, a cacophonous fusion of progressive jazz and avant-garde idioms with few comfortable moments. Buckley stretches the limits of his phenomenal vocal range to its limits, shrieking and moaning like a soul truly possessed. Songs like “The Healing Festival,” “Jungle Fire” and “Monterey” are hallucinatory vignettes of ecstasy and delirium, brought to life by Tim’s arching held notes and piercing cries. A melodic respite is provided by “Moulin Rouge,” a short cabaret-style number. The key track is “Song to the Siren,” a tune inspired by Homer’s Odyssey that’s both thrilling and disturbing to hear. Starsailor threatens to veer into sheer chaos at any moment – fortunately, such skilled players as guitarist Lee Underwood, bassist John Balkin and reedman Bunk Gardner help maintain an uneasy unity. With this album, Buckley said goodbye to his former image as a folk-rock pretty boy for good. Nearly 40 years later, these tracks still make for a challenging listen. For those with a brave heart and an open mind, Starsailor offers a musical voyage like none other.

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