Review: Ulaan Passerine (2013)

The name Ulaan Pas­ser­ine did­n’t imme­di­ately ring a bell, but once I found out that it’s a pro­ject by Steven R. Smith of Hala Strana (among oth­ers), things star­ted fall­ing into place. This is a man with a respec­ted, if rel­at­ively obscure, musical his­tory, who played a cent­ral role in estab­lish­ing exper­i­mental folk sounds in the US since the late nineties.

Even without that con­text, though, this new double tape on Brave Mys­ter­ies would have blown me away. These four pieces — each occupy­ing a tape side of six­teen to eight­een minutes — are best clas­si­fied as freefolk, but Smith has such a strong voice (fig­ur­at­ively speak­ing) that com­par­is­ons with other artists are prac­tic­ally use­less to draw.