AMN Reviews: Selbyville – Mansions (Tea First)

The clarity of the forthright plucking of the steel-stringed guitar of Selbyville is stunning. Like throwing open the sash windows for the first time that spring and having a hummingbird fly into the room At irregular intervals, a guest instrument chimes in – cello, violin, glockenspiel, even trombone twice, putting down some nice, dark panelling on the floor – and gentle loops and effects adorn the garden surrounding the house.

This is the house of Artie Fischer, “one lone and humble dude” living in Portland, Maine, according to a local magazine. And along with Derek Kimball and Michael Kamin, “Mansions” is a Martha Stewart interior as if tweaked by Pablo Picasso, folk music for people who aren´t all that earnest but not weird enough to get the contemporary “freak” take on it. The most “out” track is “Morning Drone”, but its crackles and long-held, deep notes are more reminiscent of having a good stretch before getting out of bed. The sun is always shining in.

There´s apparently a vigorous hybrid folk/electronica/whatever scene in Maine and New Hampshire and Tea First seems to have quickly been embraced for its eclectic tasting menu of releases. For Tea First is proving, like its older, more experienced sister Time-Lag, to be anything but a niche label – subsequent releases by Fischer and company have dabbled in “transcendental music collage”, drone and dub reggae.

Stephen Fruitman