You can't spell 'Toulouse Engelhardt' without 'idiosyncratic' or…wait…hold on a minute…can you? Let's see, hmmm, 'i before e except after w', then add in the pluperfect participle of metonymial declension so that…man, I wish I woulda paid more attention to Grammar Classes back at Hawthorne High!!! One thing's certain, though: you'd better have your Takoma ears ready to snatch from the closet because Engelhardt never gave up on that classic old novo-erstwhile mode. In fact, the final member of The Takoma 7 (Fahey, Kottke, etc.), he's carried the "tradition" on longer than his pals, a steadfast when it comes to acoustic modern classical guitar craft and perfectionism.
Mind Gardens, interestingly, is oft mindful of James Blackshaw, whom I have no doubt was influenced by Toulouse and the Takoma septet. Especially in the rustic slow cuts (Golden Apple Vacancy, f'rinsance), this comes through, but then Dom Perignon serves up a finger-knotting exposition with Michael Hedges-esque offsets shifting perspectives completely. Next there are the float-away numbers like Huckleberry Meadows Forevermore, a dreamy lazy melisma leading into the more complicated Lady of the Light dedicated to the lighthouse at one of my favorite hiking and cliff climbing spots in The L.A. Beach Cities: Pt. Vincente in Palos Verdes. I used to tutor Language Arts in that 'Beverly Hills South' domain and thus know precisely what the guy is capturing in his wind-inflected chords (and, yo, Toulouse, in case ya didn't know it, there are some way cool horse paths in the interior as well; write me 'n I'll tell ya about 'em).
The Frank R. Paul-esque satire cover, featuring a mutant plant with a tooth for human beings wearing Star Trekky Academy uniforms sporting Engelhardt's Rick Griffin-designed Felix the Cat emblem isn't indicative of what'll be heard here, 'cause Toulouse ain't no progrocker, though he considers this baker's dozen to be a consortium of "13 Novelettes of Space, Time, and Contemplation". The gent is zeroed in on elegance, innovation within format (and, though much more so in earlier releases, outside it as well), North Americana blent with Elizabethan influences, and the rich sonorities of repeating chords…but don't bitch at me when the torrential The Wedge blends Dick Dale with Tarrega and knocks you out of your E-Z Boy. Engelhardt's a bit of a gentle prankster and likes to make sure his audiences don't get too overconfident at any point. Just when he's got you euphoriated by all those washes and patterns is when he's most likely to sit you back up in your seat.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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