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World Music CD Reviews New Age & Avant Garde


By Jeff Tamarkin
Published August 29, 2005

Darin Schaffer

What’s puzzling, yet ultimately so satisfying, about Darin Schaffer’s self-titled CD is how music that seemingly coasts so laterally can, at the same time, move in so many divergent directions. Multi-instrumentalist Schaffer utilizes a battery of instruments—among them a four-string acoustic piccolo bass, fretless bass, bouzouki and sitar—to create sonic pastiches that simultaneously remain even-keeled while surfing giddily atop a shifting sea of melody. All-instrumental and composed entirely by Schaffer, the dozen tunes here incorporate traditional Eastern elements alongside tastefully applied electronica and ambient touches. And while jazz and new age are also unquestionably part of his musical DNA, Schaffer owes to none in particular. He’s a master at subtle manipulation, and of atmospherics—the slightest slap of a bass, the single droning note extended just so far, the luring repetitiveness, all coalesce into an experience that’s addictively mesmerizing. A native of Idaho who is presently a student at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in California, Schaffer actually paid his dues in hard rock bands before discovering a more eclectic, less noisy way to contribute to the world of sound as a one-man band. Let’s just say it was a wise decision.