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Michael Zapruder's Rain Of Frogs
New Ways Of Letting Go
Howells Transmitter Records

There's something eerie about a very large group of musicians getting together and releasing records that transcend all of their previous works by leaps and bounds. Michael Zapruder's Rain Of Frogs is a Bay Area collective that creates music that is at once likeable and thoughtful, based around the songwriting prowess of Michael Zapruder himself… The man that brought you the Pandora/ Music Genome Project (www.pandora.com) and the wonderfully off-center musical experiment of writing and producing a song every week for a year called 52 Songs (www.52songs.org). In Short, Zapruder borders on creative genius, and Rain Of Frogs only stands to raise that genius to a near mythical level.

The songs on New Ways Of Letting Go are soft and serene, speaking of landscapes of the world and landscapes of the heart and mind equally. Sounding at times like George Harrison, during and after The Beatles, and at others like a classically trained orchestra, ROF is musically adept and conveys as much emotion with the nuances of their playing as do the lyrics of Zapruder. "The Alchemist" starts the album on a downbeat tempo, acting as an intro to the coming goodness with its soft string arrangements and lilting acoustic guitar and piano melodies… and it sounds a lot like The Beatles, too. As the album progresses, "Shepherd's Purse" sounds more like a Jules Shear composition that has been further fleshed out, filled with chiming guitars and a laid-back groove that eases the body into a blissful state of relaxation while the words trip the mind through a vast wonderland of imagery. "Elm Yellows" could be a track off of a Neko Case record, except for a vastly different vocal phrasing (and voice, of course)… but the lyrical style is very familiar and captivating. "Jet Black Birds" introduces synthesizers into the mix, complementing the insistent pull of the vocals nicely and creating a more ambitious track. By the time the starkly haunting lullaby of "Phainopepla" arrives to wind up the album, with the listener is relaxed and refreshed from their delightful trip through the musical landscapes that ROF has created, the violas softly fade into the smooth crash of a cymbal that could signal the end of a magical day's adventures or the coming of the next dawn.

Michael Zapruder's Rain Of Frogs has put together a modern masterpiece of sound that draws heavily on various past sources while maintaining its own unique voice. Scott Solter (of John Vanderslice fame) mixed the record at Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio, working his magic and balancing every sound perfectly, assembling an extremely well-balanced and great sounding record. If this music is any indication of what the future holds, the big boys of the industry would be well advised to pay a little bit more attention to Zapruder and his musical collective.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. The Alchemist
2. Haymaker Market
3. Butterfield's And Baker's
4. Shepherd Purse
5. Red Violins
6. On The Arm Of A Burning City
7. Elm Yellows
8. Jet Black Birds
9. The Institute Is Burning
10. Far Rockaway
11. Phainopepla

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