New Hard Folk

by New Hard Folk

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    UF024: New Hard Folk - "New Hard Folk"

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    UF024: New Hard Folk - "New Hard Folk"
    UF025: High Aura'd - "If I'm Walking in the Dark, I'm Whispering"
    UF026: Shells - "Another Time"

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New Hard Folk is the collaboration of two journeymen improvisers who cover a wide swath of the Chicago underground music community: Rob Frye (Cave, Bitchin Bajas, Flux Bikes, Sueñolas) and Matt Schneider (better known as Moon Bros). While New Hard Folk is definitely "new" and definitely "folk" to some degree, the "hard" part proves to be more tongue-in-cheek, as the duo turn in a gorgeous self-titled debut tape filled with lush guitar interplay and yearning harmonic structures. With the exception of one synth-focused interlude, New Hard Folk plays out as a series of informal takes that highlight acoustic guitar performances in the finger-picked folk and American Primitive traditions. The album most closely resembles the format of Schneider's recordings as Moon Bros, as his open-tuned chord progressions and flowing melodies provide the bedrock of each piece. Meanwhile Frye, a multi-instrumentalist with deep understanding of all manner of woodwinds, brass, percussion, synths, and electronics, proves himself once again to be a striking string player. If Schneider tends to stretch out into cyclical mantras and rocket into bursts of double-time picking, Frye alternates between the roles of lead soloist and background accompanist, preferring a more percussive mandolin-esque string tone to contrast with Scheider's bright, chiming chords. One imagines that these recordings, with titles like "Kitchen" and "American Spirit," were captured in spur-of-the-moment fashion - yet the arrangements, rife with mood shifts and labyrinthine chordal patterns, seem almost too complex to be conjured up on the spot. This boils down to the duo's experience, not only in terms of raw dexterity and knowledge of their instruments but in the more subtle aspects of improv: listening to each other, racing narratives, and playing with full awareness of their own strengths.

-Maxwell Allison

Artwork by Nick Spolarich


released October 31, 2018

Recorded October 2016

Matthew Schneider - 12 String
Rob Frye - 4 String

American Spirit featuring Martin Frye & Dan Quinlivan


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