There’s a new Boxhead Ensemble album, La Hora Magica, which is to say there’s a new album of gentle, half-folk, half-ambient musings. The loose-knit group is centered around Michael Krassner and has included among its members David Grubbs, Scott Tuma, and many others, and they have released a steady series of tremendous records that explore the tonality of folk and country without foregrounding elements generally emphasized in proper songs. That said, the group’s The Unseen Hand: Music For Documentary Film, released last year, was less ambiguous than previous releases, especially thanks to light guitar lines that, for all their simplicity, fell short of falling short. The first track hinting at La Hora Magica‘s contents adds yet another element to the Ensemble’s kit, a spare if persistent and automatic beat, not a drum or drum machine, more like a small battery-operated device left on a loop, a children’s toy, perhaps. It underlies all of the track in question, “Cats Cup,” and what keeps it in the sphere of ambient-ness is how that trenchant beat never quite aligns with the melodious cloud of sounds that surround it, all bowed violin and pristine guitar. I haven’t heard the full album yet. I bought it as a “batch” pairing with the RED Trio’s Live in Munich from Monofonus Press. As evidence of how below the radar Boxhead Ensemble tend to fly, neither La Hora Magica nor last year’s Unseen Hand are listed on the group’s Wikipedia or Discogs pages.
More on the record at monofonuspress.com.