Lichens Omns

Robert Lowe’s second Lichens disc for Kranky finds him pouring vocal descants over fragile guitar notes in the same small, enclosed space as 2005’s The Psychic Nature of Being, though it’s a space someone has since let open to streams of dusty sunlight. The sheer simplicity of the music’s construction — keening loops of wordless vocal layered and embellished with iridescent fragments of folk/blues bars — belies their resultant complex emotional reach. The first two tracks, "Vevor of Agassou” and "Faeries,” tremble like medieval magic spells sung in foggy hollows. These spells are broken by "Bune,” a distorted, electric wail that uncoils like Hendrix at his most introspective. The fragmentarily titled "M St R Ng W Tchcr Ft L V Ng N Sp R T” is appropriately split into sections that move from gentle acoustic string-bending to rising chord drones through flurries of birdcalls into a chant that drops from the nasal cavity and into the stomach. A welcome bonus is a 30-minute DVD that features an extended performance of this piece at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Lowe is a deliberate and compelling figure on stage, placidly graduating from guitar to vocal loops and back until the once silent space is buzzing with his hymns. (Kranky)