Solar Shears
(Vertical, 2000)

For those who like music and don't have a particular medium they favor, Solar Shears by Shooglenifty may be just the ticket. Upon first listening, I was surprised to hear a variety of styles and instruments all jumbled into the music, and all making for an interesting, yet confusing, mix.

One of the first things this CD has going for it is a website, and that in itself is very telling because it confirms the new age/avant garde nature of this group. Instead of wasting our time and the paper and print of putting information for the listeners onto the CD insert, which is customary, the group has a stylized meadow-scene with the group (one assumes) posed on the front, with chairs placed on their own in the grass, with the group walking up the hillside carrying chairs, and so on. Deep. Rather than giving us readable print, or a way for us to learn more or rave to others (thereby selling more CDs), the group focuses on the music.

As previously noted, the music is varied. The titles range from "Hijab" to "Schuman's Leap," "Igor's," "August," plus "Maggie Ann of Clachnabrochan" and other more mysterious, non-themed titles. These pieces have electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric sitar and banjo, as well as "wicky, wicky stick" ... you get the idea. In some ways, it is refreshing to hear a group that isn't playing on its past glories, like the group KISS, or made up of guys that maybe should have hung it up long ago, like anyone you can think of. So, I CAN say that Solar Shears is well worth listening to, with well-played, interesting, innovative music, but it would clearly make for a more commercial CD if they would at least make the lyrics, themes and print more discernible to the senses.

Maybe the best way for me to characterize this group is by referring to them as misunderstood by the masses. We need to bring their music out from the underground and make it available, at least for some of the more eclectic programs on public radio, so that we can hear, and appreciate the fun and mystery of this most enigmatic group and this CD. Ironically, as I prepare to send this, for the first time that I can recall since listening to our local public radio station, Shooglenifty had a song being played, and it sounded great. Now, if they could just give the other, non-aural senses a chance to participate, I could write a more glowing review.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 5 July 2003

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