Dogme 95 | The Reagle Beagle (Empyrean)

The music itself comes across as a successful amalgamation of traditional sea shanties, prison hymnody, hoarse-throated primal chants, and modern avant-folk.

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Ryan Wright, brainchild of Chicago’s Dogme 95, must have been the teacher’s pet in Intro to Anthropology. His lastest offering, The Reagle Beagle, documents a songwriter stowaway on Charles Darwin’s historical ship. In all honesty, this is probably the least interesting part of the album. As narrative, it’s still half-formed in its primal elements, caught in the early stages of development. To Wright’s credit, on highlights “There’s a Land That We’re Beyond” and “Teach Me to Read O’ Darwin,” the music itself comes across as a successful amalgamation of traditional sea shanties, prison hymnody, hoarse-throated primal chants, and modern avant-folk. However, as is proudly proclaimed in the liner notes, most of the songs were written in one day “as a simple exercise in songwriting.” The daring experimentalism keeps things interesting, but someone should have told him that evolution takes time.

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