Date Palms LP is featured download of the week at the legendary Other Music store, plus a sweet review of record, copied below.
“A wonderful debut from Bay Area duo Date Palms. Comprised of violinist Marielle Jakobsons and Gregg Kowalsky, who plays various dulcimers and electronics, and featuring tamboura player Michael Elrod (who also appears on the Alps’ recent Le Voyage) and guitarist Noah Phillips, the group has made what is to these ears a high-water mark for the fine Root Strata label. Though Of Psalms defies an overly simplified soundbite, a description of album opener “Psalm 7” will offer some idea of the waters that Date Palms wades in. Featuring tamboura, violin, bass, Rhodes piano and electronics, the track recalls the late night stillness one encounters on the Cluster & Eno album. The bass playing — miraculously Jakobsons’ first time on the instrument — suggests Willie Carathurs from Spacemen 3 on the nod or perhaps the spongy desert dub of Dadawah’s Peace and Love, and lends a deep, throbbing, narcotic quality to the proceedings. (The dub connection is again highlighted by song titles recalling Prince Far I’s all-time classic Psalms for I.) Meanwhile, the sprinkling of shimmering Rhodes piano calls to mind Roedelius and even Brightblack Morninglight while the plucked and strummed dulcimers that appear in latter stages evoke the sparkling stillness of new age travelers William Eaton and Edward Larry Gordon.
The dotted electronic pattern of “Psalm 4” is reminiscent of the minimalist work of JD Emmanuel, David Behrman and Laurie Spiegel. In time, the brocade-like pattern is overtaken by squalling electronics, as if Robert Fripp, Sonny Sharrock and J Spaceman were all wrestling with 10 Marshall stacks. The album’s epic centerpiece, however, is “Psalm 3,” which goes into deep, deep drone territory. Over what sounds like an electronic tamboura tone, Jakobsons proposes what LaMonte Young might’ve sounded like were Tony Conrad or John Cale playing expressively in the Carnatic mode. Jakobsons, like Kowalsky who is a Mills College graduate, has clearly done her homework, taking influence from this South Indian mode (think Pandit Pran Nath) and does so in a lovely, evocative fashion. Over the course of the track’s 13-plus minutes, “Psalm 3” builds into a shoegaze drone of epic proportions, with the Rhodes again appearing like a distant cousin of Dr. John’s Gris-Gris or even early Air.
So, to conclude? If Vibracathedral Orchestra mellowed out, if Taj Mahal Travelers got a bit more tuneful, if LaMonte Young and Dadawah did an album with Conny Plank, perhaps you’d get something like Of Psalms. As it stands, it’s one of the loveliest, most welcome records I’ve heard this year.”