At once static and mercurial, Ben Monder's emotional and technical scope is a must-hear for guitar aficionados and modern jazz fans alike. "Mistral," EXCAVATION's opening track, is a solo guitar tour de force, clocking in at a generous nine minutes. With influences ranging from flamenco to the cosmic bluegrass stylings of John Fahey, here Monder summons up a rich, dense sonic landscape.
The rest of the CD is only slightly more conventional, thanks to Monder's gift for quirky but lyrical structures, and Theo Bleckmann's unique, wordless vocalizing. The two have been musical partners for some time, and here their empathy is clear. Including the two full-band, bona fide epics "Ellenville" and "Hatchet Face," EXCAVATION closes with its only cover, a folk-tinged, spooky version of "You Are My Sunshine."