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

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hans Reichel & Eroc - The Return of Onkel Boskopp – Careful. This is Hans Reichel; not to be confused with another German experimentalist - Achim Reichel. The Reichel featured here is known for constructing home made string instruments, and performing...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues