Magic Tuber Stringband


North Carolina duo Magic Tuber Stringband continue to captivate on their latest release for Feeding Tube. The pair had a couple of standout cassettes in 2021 for both the Tube and Garden Portal, but this marks their first jump to a proper LP. The latter tape showed a bit of a gospel influx into their mix of trad. folk, bluegrass, and dissonant composition. They remain rooted in the Appalachian aura, but there’s definitely a larger lean into the noisier side of their works on Tarantism. Like fellow Southern folklore figure Daniel Bachman, the pair have reflected the turbulence, violence, and uneasiness of life in 2023 through a contrast of American traditional song with a thread of corrosive discomfort. I’d hoped for a bit more of their excellent vocal work that had shown up on Wind Machines, pushing them into territory adjacent to Joseph Allred, but this is a darker work far afield from gospel laments.

That’s not to say that MTS don’t still embrace the joy and jubilation that’s crept through in their earlier releases on Tarantism. The stunning “Orb Weaver,” dances around the headspace with an almost surreal air, Werner and Morgan’s musical voices moving with a delightful grace. “Horn Of Plenty” works through the same symbiosis, finding guitar and fiddle blooming in full fashion. The album’s centerpiece, the harrowing, feedback-laden “Ruah,” erodes the ecstasy of the more exuberant numbers, festering beneath the floorboards of the soul with a darkness that grips the listener and forces the gaze away from the glitter of nature and towards the horror of humanity. The record finds the duo expanding their palette quite nicely and cementing themselves among a growing number of artists reaching into the American past, dragging mirrored shards into the light and reflecting a schism of promised ideal and broken promises.

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