The Mark of Excellence

Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery

By Jason SchneiderI have to say at the outset that whatever expectations you might formulate for this record through reading this review, forget about them now. It's impossible to put into words how this Chicago native was able to make such a strange and beautiful album with just a cassette karaoke machine, $20 microphone and a few toy instruments. If there is such a concept as a modern field recording, Acousmatic Sorcery is it. Fans of Jandek or Moondog will get Beal right away, but there's something firmly grounded in blues and gospel in his delivery. That is, until the track "Cosmic Queries," an epic meditation on the meaning of existence that would have made Sun Ra proud. From there, Beal continues to shape-shift, dabbling in folk-rock confessionals with "Evening's Kiss," cool jazz on "Sambo Joe From the Rainbow" and Gil Scott-Heron-like aggression on "Ghost Robot." The surprises on Acousmatic Sorcery are endless, proof that wholly original voices still exist in music. This is a minimalist masterpiece.
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So glad I stumbled across this review. This album is amazing. A bluesy Jandek for sure. Spot on!
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