I haven’t been a huge fan of Dust To Digital’s newest series “Art of Field Recording, ” so I never got around to reviewing the first set in full, but I now have the second set and it’s a bit more interesting, though it has all the major faults if the first one. The sets are boxed in a LP sized set, that compared to Dust to Digital’s other work is both ugly and cumbersome – the cds are are in paper cases separated by cheap grey foam. it looks cheap and unprofessional – especially compared to Goodbye, Babylon or even Victrola Favorites. Both the box and disc covers are adorned with the artwork of Art Rosenbaum which I think is pretty hit and miss though having a large picture on the box art with a background of four colored boxes doesn’t do it any favors.
The box includes a large book that was written by Rosenbaum as well, giving an overview of his recording philosophy as well as a track-by-track analysis of each track in the set. His thoughts are clear and always interesting and are well worth the read. The music itself is well recorded and of very high quality, though now that I have eight discs of his recordings I they lack the personal touch of say Harry Smith or Lomax, or a distinct point of view of music itself something I think Old Hat does a great job of capturing. That last point is a bit nit-picky perhaps, but it’s something that I think Dust to Digital normally does a great job, and I was let down by both sets.
Of course the music itself regardless of how it’s package is still really amazing. This track by Jake Staggers is an intersting take on the standard Garfield, a song typically about the assination of president Garfield is turned into a Stagger Lee style murder ballad about a murder over some junk talk and cigars. Staggers is a pretty solid banjo player and it’s always great to hear banjo with blues music.
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