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P.G. Six: The Well of Memory

P.G. Six: The Well of Memory


By Marc Masters | Posted 6/30/2004

Lots of folk records have been called “campfire music,” but few catch how a campfire really feels: intense heat wrapped in bitter cold, narcotically soothing yet shiver-inducing. By that definition, The Well of Memory, the second album from P.G. Six (aka Pat Gubler of Tower Recordings), is true campfire music, crackling with snugly chilly songs that simultaneously freeze skin and burn ears.

Memory’s icy heat is even more impressive considering how far the album drifts musically. Gubler’s 2001 debut, Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites, was a stunning slice of baroque folk, but he stretches more here, floating through traditional melodies, harp solos, a cappella hymns, and pure drones. His near-mystic ability to make different sounds melt together shines brightest on “Come In/ The Winter is Past.” Opening with a banjo-led vocal duet with Helen Rush (Gubler’s band mate in Tower Recordings), the track slides into a whistling wall of windy sound (courtesy of a live harmonica orchestra), then reawakens as a strumming ode that nearly breaks open from poignant ache.

Gubler’s virtuosity—he’s credited with 15 different instruments—is impressive, but it’s dwarfed by his tonal range. Each song, from the lightly breezy “A Little Harp Tune” to the densely abstract “Well of Memory Part 1,” evokes enough moods and images to fill a thousand Cremasters. How Gubler can reach those heights within such a worn genre is a puzzle, one that many long, cold nights spent with Memory should eventually solve.

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