AMN Reviews: Powers / Rolin Duo – Strange Fortune (2021; Astral Editions)

Strange Fortune is an album that manages to channel 70’s folk psychedelia without sounding retro. A same-named project of Jen Powers (hammered dulcimer and autoharp) and Matthew Rolin (12 string guitars and chimes), this offering is a misty and entrancing 38-minute set.

Powers and Rolin produce walls of textured sound constructed with layered string plucking. The tempo is fast and upbeat, with plenty of notes and a bit of speed-picking, even if the overall tone drifts toward the melancholy from time to time. There are no solos of prominence, but plenty of interlocked themes and echoing chords. Autoharp and chimes contribute background elements largely at the beginnings of pieces. The centerpiece of Strange Fortune is Amarnath, a 20-minute epic that blends dulcimer and acoustic to the point where one can easily lose track of what’s what – but none of that matters in this dreamy, euphoric ride.

Comparisons? Maybe Popol Vuh, Third Ear Band, and Embryo in spirit if not composition or overall sound. If you have a craving for dense, outside folk with a modern touch, look no further. Highly recommended.