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Valet - Blood is Clean [Kranky - 2007]

Valet is Honey Owens, a member of Nudge, and a sometime member of Jackie-O-Motherfucker. Blood is Clean was originally released on the CD-R label Yarnlazer last year, and Kranky has seen fit to bring it to a wider audience. A wise move, I must say.

Blood is Clean apparently was recorded in an extemporaneous fashion over several months, with some "minor additional tracking added here and there" according to the press release. This material does not sound sparse or undercooked at all to me, which is an accomplishment given the previous quote. It's a full-bodied work. There are moments of quiet, moments of intensity and a three-dimensional atmosphere to this music which makes it involving from beginning to end.

April 6 starts off the album with multi-tracked wordless vocals which roam artfully for a couple of minutes, then bongos (or something that sounds like bongos) come in, followed by a warbling drone. The vocals continue, submerging into the atmosphere as it continues. The title track is another standout; It includes some stinging, super distorted psych guitar, matched with ambient keyboards, bass drum percussion, and superb vocals. "My Blood is Clean, but the devil's in me" is about as eerie a couplet as you may hear all year, especially within the confines of this wholly appropriate musical backing.

The following tracks carry some of the same sounds, but each has it's own atmosphere. The sound of Blood is Clean is very organic in that the sounds feel informed by mood or spirit rather than artifice. The album seems to float by, and I mean that as a complement. I found myself lost in this music. It's an involving, spiritual and tastefully assembled work.    

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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