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CD Review: Typical Sisters, Hungry Ghost

Written by Hrayr Attarian

Typical Sisters Hungry Ghost

Gregory Uhlmann – Guitar

Clark Sommers – Bass

Matt Carroll – Drums

The band Typical Sisters is a genre-bending improvisational trio that guitarist Gregory Uhlmann put together in 2009 with drummer Matt Carroll and bassist Clark Sommers. The group’s first eponymous release contained music inspired by a trip to the Galapagos Islands and was met with a favorable critical reception. The follow-up, Hungry Ghost, is an introspective and cinematic album with multilayered and intricately woven harmonies and abundant, exciting spontaneity.

Each of the nine originals has an intriguingly unique sound—yet stylistically they are satisfyingly cohesive. The lilting “Benjamin,” for instance, coalesces around Uhlmann’s twangy chords with Sommers and Carroll laying down a dense, sashaying beat. The tender piece is filled with lyricism and bittersweet melancholy. Overlapping, eloquent guitar refrains and ethereal conarco bass give it a delightfully otherworldly touch.

Similarly, the title track features, at either end, this mesmerizing and fantastical overlapping of strings. The middle is taken up by Uhlmann’s contemplative and suave performance while Carroll’s galloping drums and Sommers’ thumping vamps frame and propel the Eastern-tinged melody.

The folkish “The Comeback Kid” opens on a wistful tone with Sommers’ hypnotic strums. Carroll’s rustling percussion and Uhlmann’s languid, resonant lines add to the haunting ambience. The interplay among the band members transforms: becoming earthier and more soulful as Uhlmann lets loose muscular, simmering refrains while Carroll and Sommers contribute a percolating, rhythmic backdrop. The concluding minutes usher in an eerie and expectant mood.

The energetic “Excavate” rocks with fiery elegance. Uhlmann’ crystalline phrases shimmer against Sommer’s dark reverberations and leap off Carroll’s restless and propulsive beats. The three-way, sinewy, instrumental dance culminates in a dramatic and surprisingly serene climax that blends into the lullaby-like “Young and Foolish” that follows.

Compared to the group’s debut CD, Hungry Ghost is a more mature recording. Despite Uhlmann living in Los Angeles—and Carroll and Sommers in Chicago—they have further honed their shared musical vision and deepened their synergy. Hungry Ghost is simultaneously a cerebral and an emotive work that makes for an enjoyable and rewarding listening experience.

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