Using only instruments made of wood, Todd Montgomery and Djam Karet's Gayle Ellett blend Old-World and contemporary musical styles on their new all-acoustic project Fernwood. This colorful sonic palette results in Almeria, a remarkably cohesive and compelling debut record. The peaceful but never dull music here was created with Irish and Greek bousouki, sitar, mandolin, ruan, harmonium, oud, gobijen, bulbel tarang, dotara, upright bass and, of course, guitar. (For an instant education on exotic instruments, go look up some of those words.)
Although recorded in Malibu, Calif., overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Middle-Eastern and European flavors abound, and the duo's sophisticated arrangements and deft touch on a variety of instruments bring songs with vivid titles like "Open Seas" and "Hungarian Holiday" to life.
"Progressive" in the purest sense of the term, this all-instrumental affair is a far cry from Ellett's work with veteran art rockers Djam Karet. But for something liberating and dramatically different, Almeria works just fine.
2) Open Seas
4) Hungarian Holiday
9) East Window
11) County Line