Exposé Online banner

Jeff Tarlton — Astral Years
(Delerium DELEC CD062, 1997, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 1999-01-01

Astral Years Cover art

I would bet money that Jeff Tarlton sleeps with a book of Kirouac's poems in his arms and Morrisons Van and Jim on his turntable (c'mon folks, it is so hip to have vinyl). Tarlton is an American street musician living in Berlin who's come to the attention of the folks at Delirium and been allowed to record his song/poems for posterity. The 20 songs on Astral Years were actually recorded everywhere from Detroit to the Czech Republic, with a small army of guests. Most of what you hear, though, is Tarlton alone, usually accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, reciting his poetry, occasionally in verse as on "Beaconing," but generally in a kind of monotone delivery set to a drone backdrop. A few songs receive a fuller production, as on "Exceleration" and "I Wonder," but in general these are, as the liner notes put it, "sparse jewel set arrangements." That's a nice way to say that there ain't much to these songs. I'm sure they're minimalistic and short (typically two or three minutes tops) by design, but Tarlton is a bit too oblique for me. He obviously has a fascination with the trippy hippie scene of the late 60s even though I'm sure he himself is perpetually clad in black (It is Berlin, after all). The bottom line for me, I guess, is that if I want to hear mediocre folk music badly sung and played on a crappy old acoustic guitar I can go down to Santa Cruz to get a fix. One for the coffee house set.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Jeff Tarlton

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Roger Powell - Fossil Poets – Roger Powell is best known as long-time keyboardist for Utopia as well as his early pioneering synthesizer records (Cosmic Furnace and Air Pocket). Fossil Poets is his first set of new recordings in...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues