Ulaan Passerine :: Sun Spar

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Ulaan Passerine :: Sun Spar

With a vast discography going back to the mid-1990s, Steven R. Smith is a man of many monikers — he’s released music as Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markhor, Ulaan Passerine, Ulaan Janthina. Don’t stress. Whatever name he goes by, Smith is nothing if not consistent. He’s an expert craftsman, a maker of (usually) guitar-based instrumentals that build wide-open sonic vistas upon sturdy rhythmic foundations. While Smith is a more than capable one-man band, on the latest Ulaan Passerine LP, Sun Spar, he drafts some outside talent to fill in the frame: Glenn Donaldson on acoustic guitar and banjo, Yvonne Son on organ and Gareth Davis on bass clarinet. Davis’ contributions are especially nice, adding a majestic and moody flavor to Smith’s compositions. There’s nothing outwardly flashy about Sun Spar, but its various parts add up to a more-than-satisfying whole — eight tracks that work best as an unbroken song suite, compelling from the first note to the last. | t wilcox

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