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The music on Low Down People, stands, stylistically, with one hoof in the bad old days, one foot in blues music's pre-Chicago golden era, and leaning hard (in wool socks and muddy pimp shoes) (but never tipping over) into The Future (whenever that is.)
Consummated of semi-equal parts R.L. Burnside's shadow, and the dark funk around the cuban heels of Cap'n Beefheart (I'm talking the dank stuff, not Trout Mask) the Wolves (Howlin' and especially the Little Howlin') oh, and a legion of old-timey musics, your country music, your country blues... pickin'...boogie-type-thing...an underground gospel station, some trucker radio convo static picked up and broadcast by your guitar amplifier, a skosh of Jim White's literary audio wanderlust, or maybe some Waitsian country blues favorites, sporting varying shades of modernity, and countryness, or folkiness, if you will...these are the things that Cheese Finger Brown is made of.
Cheese Finger Brown builds each song as a vignette, a short audio film, with incidental sounds of wind, rain, lost piano, found vocals, guitars 'round the campfire heard from down on the dock. No drums, but rather handheld things that rattle, and scrape, and klannngg and kisssh...it's there in taut micro-grooves and organic snippets, all backwoods thrift store boogie science rolling 'round the room, but mmmmm...distorted, dirty, overheard insinuations, a momento mori, or ghost of blues. Cheese Finger Brown picks, drones, grinds, trips, disappears, winks, bobs and shake's it...hell, maybe even does a holy dance...just to get to you...and he will...
This album is ghost-laden, and as you listen there will be times you'll look to see if Low-Down People is still playing, or if it's switched to some cool, old, well-preserved Yazoo or Document Record...sounding like a field recording brought from a past sometime in the future.
Cheese Finger Brown brings a fresh ear to non-American (does it matter?) -blues, to alt-blues (whatever that is) bringing back the weird
old, olde America...as seen/ heard/ interpreted through the remove of a Dutch & Finnish eye. But, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then deconstructed replication is a form of flattery, too. Pim Zwijnenburg as Cheese Finger Brown is a sonics and texture-loving wolf who delivers the goods. At once deeply familiar yet foreign, not unlike a good Tom Waits album, or something David Eugene Edwards of Wovenhand/16HP might not have been involved in early on.
Low-Down People tells modern blues stories, using the old form as a canvas to color his songs, with bits of slide guitar, hard picking, maybe the rhythmic sproi-oing of a mouth harp, or somebody playing Hambone, and maybe the insistent insinuation of a banjo...some haunted harmonica...lo-fi vocals recorded in the backyard going deep in one ear and being whispered in the other. Ghostly gestures from who knows where, all very subtle, all very suggestive of other, of...place, but what place? It's not a dreamscape, per se, but it leans. It's music that suggests an other, an elsewhere, an American south imagined from books and music, and certainly movies, providing soundtracking for a neoteric Finlander. He makes creepy old American music sound creepier, without being creepy, thru the modern science of sonic technology. Or whatever.
The music, the stories, the vibe...vintage but not conscientiously so...it's the soundtrack to imagined danger...you sense it on a moonless four A.M. train stop in a south Georgia cabbage and potato town, a deep summer noon on a hot-oiled gravel road. Yet it's tasteful, as a glass of rye with three ice cubes, and a corn-cob pipeful, yet trippy as a Finnish dub-version of olde-timey American roots music.
It's mystery that Cheese Finger Brown offers to the blues, and thank Goodness for that. On first sit & listen I imagined this album as a selection of 78s that somebody found at a yard sale in south Alabama, songs recorded by an artist no one had ever heard of, on records that had never been played. It's so then and now, Low-Down People, so blues history moderne, Trad old-timey blues caressed and rubbed down and burnished with The Future. Thoughtful, and engaging. Cheese Finger Brown has created a great album that bears up easily under...no...demands...repeated listenings.
Low-Down People is American roots music flavoured with subtle dublike effects that, while allowing the music to remain blues, gives the music a subtly mixed stoniness, an almost other-worldliness, that just drags your ears in. CFB's album is organic, populated by ghosts...of people, and the eidolon of found objects, and found sounds. Both take you elsewhere.
Though Low-Down People mines distinctly American blues and folk forms, Cheese Finger Brown adds different leaves, different revenants, a different mystery to his blues that makes for a fascinating and adventurous album, that puts your ears and brain to work. It's a fun, interesting, and satisfying listen. I can't recommend it highly enough.
There is exactly one CFB video. The rest is mozzarella sticks.