It takes some doing to get into Echo Garden,
the sixth album by Massachusetts
singer-songwriter-composer-multi-instrumentalist Arthur Nasson. There are
silly, infectious tunes that betray a Lennon fetishism even the most powerfully
poppy bands may find extreme. These are sandwiched around, and sometimes
combined with, experimental compositions that deconstruct and reconstruct ideas
like a mad, tinkering child.
So on one hand, Nasson juxtaposes verse-chorus ear candy
with inaccessible noise only a Zappa or Beefheart fan would comprehend-and he
almost dares us to reconcile the two sides. Except that, conceptually, there’s
a third: Echo Garden is a “single-album trilogy,”
a three-part tour through Nasson’s labyrinthine musical head. While immensely
catchy, the pop songs don’t make the sometime freaky sonic adventures (“Psych
Ward”), any more accessible and wrapping one’s head around the fruits of this garden
can be a chore without some musical knowledge of your own.
“The Boy With the Backwards Guitar” RANDY HARWARD