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World Music CD Reviews North American


Published January 25, 2006

Book Of Silk

The title Book Of Silk comes from an ancient astronomical Chinese text that tried to make sense of the world. Similarly, much has been written in an attempt to describe or make sense of the Tin Hat Trio’s beautiful but mysterious music. On the back inlay of its new album the Tin Hat Trio (guitar, violin, accordion and more) is described as “making freewheeling chamber music for the 21st century.” That comes close. Unlike the trio’s previous albums, there are no flirtations with bluegrass and no guest vocalists on Book Of Silk. The album evokes strong feelings of melancholy, which may be partly due to the sessions taking place shortly after guitarist Mark Orton’s wife was killed in a rafting accident. “Compay,” which features prepared piano and harp, is a tribute to the great Cuban musician without actually delving into the clave style. “Elliott Carter Family” is the most avant-garde track but still very accessible. Zeena Parkins (harp) and Bryan Smith (tuba) contribute again to the group’s sound but in an expanded role this time around.