Robinson Ear’s Little Whirled of Sound
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From the album title, one might assume this is the work of an eccentric yet likable wizard. That would be right. Part one-man band, part ringmaster commanding more than a dozen musicians, Halverson stirs up a concoction of blues, gospel, and psychedelia, all held together by his band, the Robinson Ear Machine, and a guitar meticulously carved into the shape of, you guessed it, an ear. The album is the recorded climax to a series of shows that Halverson and his loose-knit collective performed around Austin over the past couple of years. Though the CD bears the marks of his studio tinkering, it is tinkering in the most organic sense, with homey recorded sound effects and wonderful touches like an ocarina, kazoos, a theremin, an accordion, and a female choir that lends a spiritual quality. Some tracks recall Tom Waits (“Kewaunee”) and Pink Floyd (“Sailing On”); “She Cares” commences as a tender ballad and morphs into a crescendo of guitars, violins, piano, and bowed bass tumbling over one another. Halverson’s vision is wandering indeed, but it’s a journey well worth taking: music that’s soulful and good for the soul. by Luann Williams