Dixie’s Death Pool challenges sonic boundaries on Twilight

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      Dixie’s Death Pool
      Twilight, Sound Mountain (Leisure Thief)

      It’s a bold move to go outrageously grand right out of the gate, which is something that Dixie’s Death Pool does stunningly on Twilight, Sound Mountain. Kickoff number “Blue Flower”, starting with the devastating line “Walking backwards through the shrapnel of this life” (delivered in a jazz-slurred drawl by singer Kim Stewart), serves up nothing less than epic wide-screen drama. Over an enthralling four-and-a-half minutes, warm acoustic guitar intertwines with CinemaScope string swells, bright horns ebb and flow, and industrial washes of sound give a surreal trapped-at-the-Black-Lodge vibe to the proceedings. It’s flat-out amazing.

      If Dixie’s Death Pool never completely matches the majesty of “Blue Flower” on Twilight, Sound Mountain, main man Lee Hutzulak at least comes pretty close on the orchestral, cello-burnished “Teenagers”. There are songs that are beautiful in their stripped-down simplicity (the Gypsy-jazz instrumental “Coco Dame”) and songs that suggest Hutzulak is a man living in the wrong era. (“Heavy Metal Sunset” really should be streamed through a circa-’32 Model 37L Philco radio.)

      Add glitched-out soundscapes (“The Egg”, “Some Kind of Desolation”) that seem like they’re from the dark side of the moon, and you’ve got a record that’s designed to challenge sonic boundaries as much as it is to enchant. Which is to say that, the second you’ve finished being wowed by “Blue Flower”, Twilight, Sound Mountain is the kind of record where you really need to reach for the bong. Just because the best comes first doesn’t mean the rest of the journey isn’t a trip.