Exposé Online banner

Jeff Tarlton — Astral Years
(Delerium DELEC CD062, 1997, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 1999-01-01

Astral Years Cover art

I would bet money that Jeff Tarlton sleeps with a book of Kirouac's poems in his arms and Morrisons Van and Jim on his turntable (c'mon folks, it is so hip to have vinyl). Tarlton is an American street musician living in Berlin who's come to the attention of the folks at Delirium and been allowed to record his song/poems for posterity. The 20 songs on Astral Years were actually recorded everywhere from Detroit to the Czech Republic, with a small army of guests. Most of what you hear, though, is Tarlton alone, usually accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, reciting his poetry, occasionally in verse as on "Beaconing," but generally in a kind of monotone delivery set to a drone backdrop. A few songs receive a fuller production, as on "Exceleration" and "I Wonder," but in general these are, as the liner notes put it, "sparse jewel set arrangements." That's a nice way to say that there ain't much to these songs. I'm sure they're minimalistic and short (typically two or three minutes tops) by design, but Tarlton is a bit too oblique for me. He obviously has a fascination with the trippy hippie scene of the late 60s even though I'm sure he himself is perpetually clad in black (It is Berlin, after all). The bottom line for me, I guess, is that if I want to hear mediocre folk music badly sung and played on a crappy old acoustic guitar I can go down to Santa Cruz to get a fix. One for the coffee house set.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Jeff Tarlton

Latest news

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Sándor Szabó / Kevin Kastning - Returning – For readers who have memorized every review this magazine has published, I won't have to remind you that we've covered the two previous releases by this duo of unusual guitarists. For the rest...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues