ACCIDENTS WITH NATURE AND EACH OTHER REVIEWS

Broken Face, January 14 2005
All Music Guide, January 14 2005
History of Rock Music, February 6 2005
Montreal Mirror, February 10 2005
Wavelength, February 11 2005
Tiny Mix Tapes, February 16 2005
Brainwashed, February 21 2005
The Wire, March 2005
Dusted Magazine, March 3 2005
Psyche Van Het Folk, March 3 2005
Splendid Magazine, March 11 2005
Ottawa Xpress, March 24 2005
Delusions of Adequacy, March 31 2005
Exclaim, April 2005
Ptolemaic Terrascope, April 2005
Baltimore City Paper, April 14 2005
Altar Magazine, April 14 2005
Static Multimedia, April 14 2005
Skyscraper Magazine, Spring 2005
Hip Priest, April 18 2005
Tasty Fanzine, May 2005
Indieville, June 6 2005
Aural Innovations, June 2005
Ink 19, September 2005


REVIEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES (LINKS)

Onda Rock
Ruis (K-raa-k) (PDF)
Musikkguiden Groove
MiC
Monocromo



Broken Face, January 14 2005

Way back in the early/mid ’90s, tired of all the lo-fi and indie rock that had been just about everything I had listened to in recent years, I wanted to get out of all that and my way out was through the genius of John Fahey. Admittedly, it took some time before I really saw the mastermind of Fahey but hearing some of his music truly opened doors that I didn’t even know existed. Canadian Harris Newman has a similar approach to music in the sense that he goes out of his way to merge different musical styles and cultures. Unlike the deeply spiritual (and highly recommended) predecessor, Newman’s brand new album Accidents with Nature And Each Other goes far beyond being another Fahey-esque guitar album. We still get plenty of fingerpicking along the Takoma axis but the package is way more grand and complex this time out. The languid guitar structures are flavored with a fair bit of tasty experimentalism and acoustic drones. The way the sounds move back and forth from the abstract and droning to the compositional and folky makes me feel like I'm in some weird state of awareness where it’s hard to make out of if I am dreaming or if the vision for my eyes is the actual reality. The ghostly droning steel string landscapes of “It’s a Trap (Part 1)” provides just that sort of dreamlike hypnosis, but before you know it we’re all back in the midst of Newman’s quietly intense, subtly dynamic and desolate acoustic guitar sound. The result of all this is a rather diverse trek through the outer possibilites of the acoustic guitar and if you ask me it just doesn’t get much better. Definitely an early contender for upcoming top 2005 lists. — Mats Gustafsson



All Music Guide, January 14 2005

Like his debut Non-Sequiturs, Harris Newman's second album sparked inevitable comparisons to John Fahey. His instrumentals, largely performed on acoustic steel string, shared many of the same attributes with Fahey's work, and to lesser extents two other guitarists who were on the Takoma label, Robbie Basho and Leo Kottke. There were similar somber, moody compositions, folky but certainly not traditional folk, verging on but not quite crossing over into experimental dissonance and Indian influences. By alternating pensive, spare passages with stormier sections of anxious strumming and picking, the ambience is varied and retains tension, steering well clear of placid new age. So in many ways it's revivalistic, but certainly Newman plays with a great deal of skill and thoughtfulness, and it's not as though the Fahey school of downcast guitar instrumentals is something that's paid tribute to very often. Too, on some of the tracks Newman departs somewhat from this format by using Bruce Cawdron for accompaniment on percussion and glockenspiel; Newman, and on one track Sandro Perri, also add some lapsteel. "It's a Trap (Part 1)" and "It's a Trap (Part 2)" in particular achieve an unsettling ghostly, stretched-out feel quite different from the more relaxed Fahey-isms. "Driving All Night with Only My Mind" is also a highlight, Cawdron's percussion and glockenspiel giving the piece a rhythmic bounce and texture that take it into more original territory than the rest of the record. 4/5 — Richie Unterberger



History of Rock Music, February 6 2005

By comparison with his first album, Accidents with Nature and Each Other (Strange Attractors, 2005) is pure bliss. The Butcher's Block and Lords and Ladies bridge his two masters, oscillating between John Fahey's ecstatic ragas and Leo Kottke's rural vignettes, keeping a sort of equal distance between the abstract and the real. This calculated balance of brainy and emotional states of minds is Harris' trademark. But the real show is in the way Newman keeps the listener off guard, and usually despite a very low-key presentation. Cloud City and Out of Sorts are crescendos of chirping and chiming that continuously shift timbre. The hyperkinetic boogie melody of Continental Drift and the frantic, slightly out-of-tune blues of A Thousand Stolen Blankets explore unstable psychologies. The haunting noises of It's A Trap (his most spectacular achievement in the realm of supernatural guitar style) opens the gate of the psychedelic languor of Lake Shore Drive, lulled by dissonant glissandos and softly dripping notes. The album closes in a downcast mode, with Accidents and Stopgap Measure that seem aimed at merely repeating the same quiet pattern over and over, and with Driving All Night, a seductive, evocative "song" that abandons all experiments for a warm and laid-back melodic fantasy overflowing with delicate emotions, and possibly his artistic peak. 7/10 — Piero Scaruffi



Montreal Mirror, February 10 2005

Guitarist Newman really wowed on his debut Non-Sequiturs, but the Montrealer has come far since then. Newman continues to flirt with traditional finger-picking style, but is able to push it in more experimental directions, like on the amazing opener “The Butcher’s Block,” where he is able to take a bluegrass stomp and add an Indian-flavoured raga. Newman’s 32nd-note arpeggios are more than impressive, but it’s his compositional skill that really makes this soar, as exemplified by the atmospheric psych-out with a slide on “It’s a Trap (Part 1). 9/10 — Johnson Cummins



Wavelength, February 11 2005

As opposed to following up his brilliant debut by plucking out more of the same mysteriously hypnotizing solo steel-string guitar work or moving further into ghostly psych-folk territory, engineer extraordinaire and acoustic guitar wizard Harris Newman moves into more spacey Constellation Records territory for large parts of his sophomore album, painting his down-home purist finger-picking with a broader emotional palette that creatively brings him back home again to the post-rock sound he helped create. There are still loads of solo guitar tracks here to keep fans of his first album, Non-Sequiturs, happy, but the added attention to band-style composition will appeal to those who appreciate Montreal’s brand of harrowing protest. — Kevin Hainey



Tiny Mix Tapes, February 16 2005

There's something both haunting and undeniably compelling about Harris Newman's second full-length, Accidents with Nature and Each Other. Although the Montreal-based guitarist has nominal ties to Godspeed You! Black Emperor (and the rest of the Constellation Records roster), this fact does not necessarily warrant direct comparison between the two. Newman's music is much more bluesy and spare, shying away from the melodramatic bombast that dominated the most recent offerings from GY!BE and a host of other contemporary "post rock" artists as well. At the risk of making a grotesque oversimplification, it could possibly be safely said that Newman's sound is reminiscent of a more experimental Leo Kottke or Chet Atkins. And of course, the comparisons to the eccentric and experimental guitar work of John Fahey are obvious. But there is a darker hue to these recordings which is tinted by an infusion of modern classical composition. Parts of the album, in particular the record's opener, "The Butcher's Block," possess a dusty, lonesome Southwestern quality, not unlike the desolate, eerie soundscapes of much of Ry Cooder's soundtrack work. But aside from Newman's astonishing acoustic fingerpicking dexterity, his knack for composition is quite impressive. Though the melodies on Accidents with Nature and Each Other are frequently gorgeous, there is often a cold, almost tragic dissonance to these pieces that forces the listener into a state of introspection. It's the mixture of passion and dexterity that makes the great classic albums what they are, and on Accidents, Newman's musical passion shines through tremendously. The album starts off simply, with spare, fingerpicked guitar, and moves on to more epic territory, bringing a variety of instruments into the mix. To begin with, the simple, haunting melodies ensnare the listener, drawing them in to the music until the lushness of the arrangements becomes absolutely mesmerizing. Contributors Sandro Perri of Polmo Polpo and GY!BE's Bruce Cawdron (who also contributed to Newman's debut album, Non-Sequiturs) assist in fleshing out what would otherwise have been fairly skeletal arrangements. By the record's close, there's a noirish, almost jazzy aspect to these pieces. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is another example of the understated musical virtuosity and experimentation being redirected into a more acoustic and organic medium that until recently dominated the electronic music scene. In an indie musical climate in which lack of technical accomplishment and skill can often masquerade as "experimental improv," "noise," or "New Weird America," Harris Newman stands out. His compositional prowess and musical virtuosity are impressive, and Accidents with Nature and Each Other is an album that is guaranteed to demand repeated listenings. 4/5 — olskooly


Brainwashed, February 21 2005

This second album from Montreal's Harris Newman has a timeless quality, sounding modern while drawing on the traditions of acoustic guitarists from the past. While he does appear to be a technically accomplished guitarist, Newman often seems unconcerned with being one hundred percent rhythmically accurate, such as on the opener "The Butcher's Block." This track has a pleasantly loose feel, with Newman letting quick, fingerpicked phrases and patterns fly from his acoustic guitar as if by stream of consciousness. Newman sounds as if he makes this music because he needs to, not because of a need to fit into any genre. It feels as if he is communicating these tunes directly from his head to tape, and this immediacy makes his music refreshingly inviting. A few tracks seem more thoroughly composed, such as "Cloud City," during which a slower intro section is a prelude to a main body which sees Newman off to the races with rapid-fire melodies. After three consecutive tracks involving solo acoustic finger-picking, "It's A Trap (Part One)" comes whirling out of nowhere and sets Accidents With Nature and Each Other apart from countless solo guitar affairs. Gorgeous, abstract haunting tones shimmer in and out of focus, sounding like a train traveling along on a foggy night. Although "A Thousand Stolen Blankets To Keep You Warm" utilizes old-timey slide guitar playing, Newman also coaxes long ringing tones out of his instrument during the midsection. Ultimately, small gestures such as this elevate Newman's work above being an exercise in antiquity. Bruce Cawdron's percussion also adds an element that gives Accidents With Nature and Each Other a broad range of textures. His ramshackle playing style is a perfect foil for Newman's free-flowing phrases on "Lords & Ladies." The percussion gradually moves from steady tambourine playing to a solid backbeat, before breaking down into free-form chaos, the result is the sound of War-era Larry Mullen Jr. being thrown from the drum stool by Animal from The Muppets. His shuffling brushwork and melodic glockenspiel playing on closer "Driving All Night With Only My Mind" make this a memorable end to an album that expands the possibilities of the acoustic guitar-based project. While Newman's guitar playing still commands the spotlight, the flourishes added throughout the set are a testament to his individuality. — Jim Siegel



The Wire, February 24 2005

The critical consensus on Montreal based steel string guitarist Harris Newman's debut CD, 2003's 'Non-Sequiturs,' was that it showcased a nascent stylist with little of the idiosyncratic bent and voracious ability of heavy-hitting post-Fahey players like Jack Rose, Glenn Jones and Matthew Valentine. However its follow-up, 'Accidents With Nature and Each Other,' is a different bag entirely. Here Newman unravels the rudimentary basics of his technique into some beautifully hypnotic spools, combining tough solo conceptions in the mode of John Fahey with some group-thing and a few deeply psychedelic tone poems. Newman's core approach is based around working repeating single note patterns into accumulatively potent forms, anchoring each composition with an implied undercurrent of drone. At points here, his writing is as evocative as great Fahey compositions like "Joe Kirby Blues" -- second track "Cloud City" has the same complex aura of attempted emotional neutrality almost overwhelmed by poignant remembrance -- while at others he steps outside of the canon altogether. "It's A Trap (Part 1)" works long singing tones into a phased devotional mass that sounds like something from Popul Vuh's 'Hosianna Mantra,' while the closing "Driving All Night With Only My Mind" adds some subtle swing thanks to Godspeed You! Black Emperor member Bruce Cawdron's brush glockenspiel work. Indeed, the addition of Cawdron provides a clutch of the record's highlights, especially on "Lords & Ladies," where his drumming helps meld motorik German rock and American primitive guitar in a way that's as evocative as Cul De Sac's pioneering work. Newman really plays the hell out of his guitar here and his approach has taken such a massive leap, both technically and conceptually, that it's enough to blow any latent accusations of piggybacking or opportunism out of the water for good. This is the real deal. — David Keenan



Dusted Magazine, March 3 2005

Acoustic guitar records are probably more frequently released lately than at any time since Takoma records was at its peak, so it was easy to overlook last year’s debut by Montreal-based Harris Newman. The picking on Non-sequiturs is pretty solid, but he placed it at the service of pieces that rarely advanced beyond their initial ideas. This sophomore effort shows that he has come a long way, both as a composer and an artist. For the former, consider the elegant logic with which “Cloud City” first establishes a brooding ambience, ratchets up the tension with fleeter figures, and then resolves it with a sturdy bass line redolent of John Fahey’s Takoma recordings. Here and elsewhere, Newman has figured out how to make his variations and modulations sound right rather than perfunctory. The record also finds Newman working through the influences to find his own voice. It’s true that the kinetic “Continental Drift” sounds like it was squeezed out of Leo Kottke’s “Vaseline Machine Gun,” and “A Thousand Blankets To Keep You Warm At Night” honors Blind Willie Johnson by way of Ry Cooder. But Newman moves past homage to make his own mark on "Lake Shore Drive," where he establishes a lush yet eerie mood by layering percussionist Bruce Cawdron's metallic sighs and lap steel guitarist Sandro Perri's spacey effects over his own undulating melody. Cawdron also makes apposite contributions to the dramatic progress of “Lord & Ladies” and the cool, sauntering “Driving All Night With Only My Mind.” “Accidents With Nature And Each Other” is a splendid progression, and augurs good things to come from Newman. — Bill Meyer



Psyche Van Het Folk, March 3 2005

Harris Newman is another artist lifting the Takoma heritage to new perspectives and heights. Already the first compositions on this album show a very distinctive style on the steel string guitar. Only partly they start from the Fahey/early Kottke traditions, with fast fingerpicking evolutions (like on “The Butcher's Block" until "Continental Drift"). Beyond this tradition he also takes them into a next level of existence, to certain mesmerizing worlds, in multilayered sounds, in composition form with certain complexity, but also often with the use of some very individual minimalist evolutions mixed with melodic excursions, in moody music. “It’s a trap, part I” starts as a completely different composition, created with some echoed cosmic music with lapsteelguitar. This mode continues on “Lake Shore Drive” where the lapsteel guitar is like an environmental sound-bed (played by Sandro Perri –known from Polmo Polpo-) for another fingerpicking piece. There must be some cooperation here too with Bruce Cawdron for effects ? (from ‘Godspeed You!Black Emperor’). Also “A thousand stolen blankets to keep you warm at night” is with American styled steel lapsteel and steelstring-guitar with some layers and experimentation. After this “Lords and Ladies”, logically in time order, refocuses on the melodic/rhythmic style, with an extraordinary composition with layers of minimalist evolutions, and some light percussion rhythm (by Bruce Cawdron), which becomes much more than guitar music : a psychedelic exploration. “Out of Sorts” builds up brilliantly a similar melodic idea, with just guitar solo. “It’s a trap, part II” creates a peaceful moment with a few pools of lapsteel sounds. “Accidents” & “Stopgap Measure” show again his individual talent in fingerpicking minimalist evolutions to maximum effect. Last track, “Driving all night with only my mind” with some glockenspiel, percussion (Bruce Cawdron) is a more like a filmic excursion, a nice light turn. A brilliant album. — Gerald Van Waes



Splendid Magazine, March 11 2005

Let's get this over with: John Fahey, John Fahey, John motherfucking Fahey. Whew. Now that we (along with everyone else who has ever written about Harris Newman) have established that Newman's haunting not-quite-folk is heavily influenced by the genre-bending Beatle of acoustic music, we can talk about the album. As with his 2003 solo debut, steel string acoustic is the primary instrument on Accidents with Nature and Each Other -- and it's one of those records that makes you marvel at how much can be done with a guitar. The first third of it is all Newman, and features some very impressive displays of fingerpicking in diverse arrangements. "The Butcher's Block" starts off slowly and picks up speed, circling bluegrass territory; the muted, vaguely ominous opening of "Cloud City" (almost the only part of Accidents that seems like a fitting place for vocals) quickly crescendos into a driving gallop. It intensifies from there, adding notes like a game of Simon that actually results in something listenable. Newman's residence in Montreal and involvement in that scene might not explain the Dust Bowl ambiance that colors much of his music, but it does account for the eerily echoing sonic haze over "It's a Trap (Part I)" and "It's a Trap (Part II)" -- tracks on which short notes are exchanged for long and a desert-like sunniness is traded for fog. Toronto's Sandro Perri contributes atmospheric lap steel on "Lake Shore Drive", and Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cowdron appears on a few tracks. "Lords and Ladies", the disc's first song containing actual drums, begins with muffled rhythms and intermittent cymbal shimmerings, eventually graduating to an intensity that's twice as satisfying when contrasted with the remainder of Accidents' relative restraint. "Lords and Ladies" might be pretty (post-) rocking, but "A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night", directly before it, is arguably one of Accidents' high points. Newman hits the ground running with passionately buzzing strings, his bass thumb keeping up a steady syncopated thrum as the higher notes twang out a tense melody above. The album does have its almost soothing lulls, such as the meditative "Stopgap Measure", but for the most part it's determinedly disquieting. If you're smart, you won't look for too much linearity -- you'll just let Ol' Twinklefingers' meandering, beautiful melodies take you where they will. — Sarah Zachrich



Ottawa Express, March 24 2005

Of the many charming and remarkable features of this second outing by Harris Newman and company - the expert guitar picking, the tasteful attention to texture and mood, the brusque avant sensibility tempered with warm rustic undertones - it's balance, precarious but definite, that truly elevates this listen. In melodies that permeate wide-open instrumentals, and swift, jarring atonals that fearlessly do so too, Newman has crystallized an acoustic style that's unquestionably out-there, but still entirely with you. 4/5 — Ilana Kronick



Delusions of Adequacy, March 31 2005

So anyone that’s been exposed to media of any sort in the last four years is probably well aware that some “really bad stuff” happened. Obvious bashing of the current president aside, the last quarter of 2001 to present saw some rather horrific tragedy and a big ugly war in a desert. It’s crude and an understatement, yet this is a music review not a political treatise. As with any tragic event where a nation’s morale and temper is at stake, media responds with oftentimes over-the-top rebuttals and suddenly everyone is looking for the America that Capra envisioned. In the music world, the “modern country” churned out their red-neck patriotism while alt-rock responded in kind on the other side of the fence. However, it can be an unpleasant prospect to think that America is portrayed by 3 Door Down’s “When I’m Gone” or whatever countrified sentimentality was released in the pop-country arena. Enter Harris Newman. Following the current trend of everything going pear shaped, Newman hails from Montreal. However, on his recent release he manages to pack more Americana into his these tracks than what was fond on the whole of pop radio in 2002-2003. Accidents with Nature and Each Other opens up with “The Butcher’s Block,” and after a subtle nod to the Middle East with a raga-tinged introduction, the track opens up into some impressive guitar work with a decided bluegrass tinge to it. “Cloud City” follows, and while I was unable to find a solid connection to Episode V (that would be The Empire Strikes Back for the geek-challenged), there was more impressive finger work interwoven with even more impressive finger work to create six-string drone. “Continental Drift” is even more intense, utilizing quick repetitive picking to a dizzying effect. If this was plugged in with reverb and 20,000 effects pedals, it would be passed off as shoegazey psychedelia. However, in this state it sounds like the throbbing muscle beneath the downy gauze. The album is not all picking and grinning. “It’s a Trap (Part I)” (again with the Star Wars references?), sounds more like an eno-ish experimentation in sound rather than a guitar instrumental. Here the sliding lap steel takes a back seat to the wallowing drone driving the track. At times, the tone borders on flat out noise meant to annoy more than entertain. Newman backs off however, just when the urge to skip to the next track becomes too hard to resist, and segues into “Lakeshore Drive.” Here the drone allows for more gorgeous acoustic work to ride along side for a rather nice trip through the kudzu besides an empty highway of a lonely interstate. As a whole, the album can be a frustrating listen. Oftentimes, Newman becomes so intent on proving his intense devotion to the guitar that he doesn’t allow the listener time to relax. The two ambient drone tracks (there’s a “It’s a Trap Part II” as well), are more of a curious aside rather than actual songs. They mainly serve as an extended segue to the track directly following. The sound can be intense at times, and quite possibly headache-inducing. Newman manages to create a lot of tension with six strings and a lap-steel guitar. Most of these tracks would go great on a mix-tape or CD to break the monotony of random indie rock or a perfect segue between the instrumental stylings of Tortoise or Tristeza. The high point on the disk is the closer “Driving All Night With Only My Mind.” Here, Newman relaxes and allows everything to come together creating a moody piece perfect for cigarettes and open windows with only the stars for light. It’s a warm honest moment for the album, but it inevitably leaves one wishing there was more of this. — Eric McPhail



Exclaim, April 2005

On last year's stellar Non-Sequiturs, Montreal-based acoustic guitar genius Harris Newman evoked his mystical feelings about our barren earth through intricately plucked patterns of lonely splendour. With this sophomore album he moves further into the psychedelic chasms that lie just beyond those mystic palaces. Accidents begins with a trio of solo acoustic numbers, Newman's specialty, on which he takes a slightly less meticulous and rawer approach to rollicking out his folky vision of head-spinning precision. He then makes an abrupt left turn into the unfolding cosmos of lapsteel drones with "It's a Trap (Part 1)" before Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) joins him on lap steel for the breezy "Lake Shore Drive." The remainder of Accidents finds Newman migrating closer to the levitating spaces Jack Rose and Ben Chasny hover over, moving Newman further into his own as an innovator who deserves all of the accolades he receives. — Kevin Hainey



Ptolemaic Terrascope, April 2005

Emotionally contemplative ruminations from this Montreal acoustic guitarist highlight this follow-up to the excellent ‘Non-Sequiturs.’ With the sparse opener, 'The Butcher’s Block' and nimble-fingered rolling hills of 'Cloud City' and 'Continental Drift', Newman paints a gorgeous landscape in the mind of the listener, whether physically enjoying a walk through nature or armchair travelling through frosty fields on a chilly country morn. 'A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night' starts, stops and slides its way through some hesitation blues, while 'Lake Shore Drive' serpentines its way through your brain and bloodstream, perfectly en-capsule-ating why the Chicago locals refer to their famous boulevard as 'L.S.D.' Only the ambient, two-part, science-fictiony soundtrack, 'It’s A Trap' strays from the album’s overall romantic mood. 'Accidents…' strikes a delicate balance between technique and a spiritually meditative vibe, and the jazzy, soft-shoe shuffle, 'Pink Panther'-groove, and live-in-the-studio ambience of 'Driving All Night with Only My Mind' is the perfect set-closer. Recommended to fans of old masters like Fahey and Basho and new kids on the block, Jack Rose, Steffen Basho-Junghans, and Shawn Persinger. — Jeff Penczak



Baltimore City Paper, April 14 2005

As mind-boggling as guitar legend John Fahey’s playing and songwriting were, even more impressive was the thick, textured atmosphere his music evoked. Single Fahey string-plucks could produce entire worlds of imagery and emotion, even when accompanied by nothing but his massive imagination. Canadian guitarist Harris Newman is frequently compared to Fahey, though his picking and writing style are too varied to attribute to any single influence. But Newman’s atmospherics are certainly Fahey-eqsue: Accidents With Nature and Each Other, his second album, creates a dark, mood-drenched environment. Newman’s best tunes are like soundtracks to wordless travel films, conjuring tracking shots down woodsy back roads, vivid time-lapses of cloudy landscapes, and rapid zooms into pitch-black tunnels. Accidents With Nature’s vistas are wide: “Lake Shore Drive” marches through a hypnotic plod that seems to hang in the air, “It’s a Trap (Part II)” sounds like a horror score played on a train’s horn, and the opening “Lords and Ladies” matches Newman’s devoted note-mantras to the rumbling drum accompaniment of Godspeed You Black Emperor’s Bruce Cawdron. At times Newman’s proficiency diverts into monotony—“Cloud City” and “Continental Drift” sound more like finger exercises than songs—but for each misstep, Accidents holds at least three or four home runs. The best is the album-closing “Driving All Night With Only My Mind,” wherein Newman’s snaking interplay with Cawdron’s glockenspiel evokes campfire folk, bearded postrock, and chilly minimalism, all in a single intoxicating whoosh. — Marc Masters



Altar Magazine, April 14 2005

From the quasi-Hindustani flourishes of "The Butcher's Block" you can tell Newman's stretching his wings a bit. Still, two minutes into the song it breaks into one of the rousing fingerstyle romps that ground his panoramic style, careening ecstatically out of control. More muscular melodies characterize this outing, symptomatic of a generally more assertive approach. A particular standout is "Lords and Ladies," which showcases some really well-placed percussion and a little more of the South Asian modalities. Newman assumes into his omnivorous sound. Thankfully, he has not dispensed with the spooked bottleneck or processed lapsteel, but the focus seems more on Newman's ever-expanding tonal palate and sophistication. — Pfeffer Nussen



Static Multimedia, April 14 2005

These are strange times for non-electronic instrumental music. If you can't dance to it and it's not "Dueling Banjos" then it has little or no place in a world concerned mainly with singalong immediacy. Since the death of John Fahey, this has become even more apparent. Into this climate wanders Harris Newman, lately of Sackville. The Montreal guitarist has spent his career mostly outside of the indie-rock loop, quietly plying his trade and honing an iconoclastic yet self-assured style. Based on the evidence presented on Newman's second album, things are beginning to look up for the non-electronic contingent. Newman fleshes out the bare bones of his compositions with intricate fingerpicking and occasional accompaniment from Bruce Cawdron and Sandro Perri. The layering of steel strings doubles as an entirely new form of percussion, lending added depth to songs like "The Butcher's Block." On "Cloud City," the instrumentation takes on an eerily voicelike effect, and "Continental Drift" ganins a strange urgency from Newman's deft fingerwork. Paradoxically, the restraint from electronic studio techniques makes Accidents with Nature and with Each Other even more otherworldly, makng it sort of an aural Blair Witch Project. "A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night" contains the most overt use of studio technology, sending the lap steel and glockenspiel into reverb overdrive. It's definitely the album's centerpiece. Meandering, yet stark, it shows what Newman can do when he lets his proverbial hair down in the studio. Tracks like this one indicate that Harris Newman has not reached the limits of his experimentation or of his talent. — Donna Brown



Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 18, Spring 2005

Unlike most expert guitarists who have talent to burn but reveal little else, Canadian Harris Newman is never at a loss to communicate with his six strings. Newman's debut album, Non-Sequiturs, garnered acclaim from folk-minded reviewers who picked up on Newman's love for John Fahey's American Primitive Guitar excursions. On his sophomore release, Newman takes listeners to new places, demonstrating his burgeoning composition and finger-style skills. While Fahey and other Takoma label artists remain as a foundation, Newman's latest material increases the experimental and ambient elements, and explores different directions, from stormy to somber. "It's a Trap, Pt. 1" and "It's a Trap, Pt. 2" attain a disconcerting, droned-out perspective thanks to Newman's eerie lapsteel, evoking early Tangerine Dream as much as anything else. Blues-based "A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Wann at Night" begins with an uneasy Ry Cooder-ish feel before sliding into something more urgently abstract. Percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You1 Black Emperor) once again supports Newman, giving a vibrant coloration and cadenced snap to tranquilizing "Driving All Night With Only My Mind" and otherworldy "Lake Shore Drive," which also adds Sandro Perri's lapsteel. On Accidents With Nature and Each Other, Harris Newman confirms acoustic guitar instrumental records can be as charismatic and stark as anything found in rock-oriented genres. — Doug Simpson



Hip Priest, April 18 2005

Any discussion of Montrealer Harris Newman's output is invariably going to dwell on the aforementioned. Yet on his second full-length, Newman continues to wring out new sounds from the wire and wood of the acoustic guitar. Newman is particularly adept at the "Bartok meets the Blues" approach that Fahey pioneered - lots of droning treble figures juxtaposed against bass notes that walk along odd intervals. The kind of music that makes you listen sideways. Compared to Newman's 2003 debut "Non-Sequiturs", Accidents is a more diverse effort. Track one, "A Thousand Stolen Blankets To Keep You Warm At Night," is all dark 12-string slide guitar, evoking a surreal jukejoint alive with grotesque figures from a Bosch painting. "Cloud City" evokes the more haunting moments of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth before it evolves into dissonant, hummingbird figures, winding into the ether like smoke from a bonfire. Several tracks aim for space - check out "Lake Shore Drive" (raga blues with resonant overtones), "Driving All Night With Only My Mind" (skulking jazz with glockenspiel and brushed snare) and "It's A Trap (Parts I and II)" (haunting electro acoustic with lap steel). "Accidents With Nature And Each Other" makes for transcendental listening. Newman consistently challenges the ears, evoking chairoscuro moods and dark textures with spartan instrumentation and subtle avant leanings. Highly recommended. — Brooker Buckingham



Tasty Fanzine, May 2005

I first became aware of Montreal based musician Harris Newman via his work with Constellation records and through this I discovered his solo debut, 2003’s ‘Non-Sequiturs’, a Fahey influenced, steel string guitar gem. So it was with great excitement that I received a copy of his new record ‘Accidents with Nature and Each Other’. On first listen there is one obvious difference between the two records. Non-Sequiters was very much about one man and his guitar. It was a personal and simple album pared back to its bones. ‘Accidents…’ feels like a far more complex and grander album altogether. It is has a bigger palette of sounds within it and while still having its sound rooted in Newman’s guitar abilities, which are as exquisite as ever, it also revels in its sonic diversity. A few tracks in is when this begins to be made apparent as gentle almost other worldly feedback and additional instrumentation begin to drift in and out of range. This is particular noted on a track like ‘Lake Shore Drive’ where we have a bit of help from Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) and Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Simplistic beauty is still in there as we hear on ‘A Thousand Stolen Blankets..’ a track which could of come straight off the soundtrack to ‘Paris, Texas’ and which is one of the albums crowning glories. ‘Accidents with Nature..’ is an album that manages to sound old-time and gritty whilst being fresh and contemporary at the same time. It is quite simply a truly beautiful album rich in texture and features one of the finest closing songs you’ll probably hear all year. — Luke Drozd



Indieville, June 6 2005

The John Fahey tradition continues, and this time it's in the form of a strong sophomore album from Strange Attractors staple Harris Newman. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is another instrumental folk record, filled with Newman's familiar guitar plucking, as well as the addition of percussion and glockenspiel on some of the tracks. I really like "Cloud City" and "Driving All Night With Only My Mind" - they have strong atmospheres to them, expressing a calm though isolated emotion. "Lake Shore Drive," meanwhile, caught my attention due to its detached, spacey feel - it's a very nice inclusion for this disc. The more fast-paced tracks ("A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night," for example) don't appeal to me as much, but they add a well-needed variety to the record - and they show off Newman's impressive technical abilities. All in all, Accidents is a beautiful experimental folk record that is just waiting to submerge you in its glory. Run out to the store and jump right in. — Matt Shimmer



Aural Innovations, June 2005

It is not unusual for the world-beating Montreal Canada underground music scene to gestate and nurture a genre-bending artist of Harris Newman's caliber. Yet Newman's unique approach to the compositional acoustic steel-string style sets him apart from the herd, both in his hometown and far beyond... so says the press release. THE BUTCHER'S BLOCK - the first thing to cross my mind is Hot Tuna but this seems even more technically proficient or hot shit or whatever, almost bluegrass. CLOUD CITY - I've never been impressed by guitar virtuosity but this music is very pleasant, original, but with soul, not just technique. CONTINENTAL DRIFT - it's so fast, more almost bluegrass. IT'S A TRIP (Part 1) - very atmospheric spooky cool. A veteran of the Montreal music community for some time, as a member of the bands Sackville (Constellation Records) and Esmerine (Resonant), Newman shot into the ranks of the new folk movement with the release of his well received debut "Non-Sequiturs" (Strange Attractors, 2003). LAKE SHORE DRIVE - great, awesome, should be music in a soundtrack. A THOUSAND STOLEN BLANKETS TO KEEP YOU WARM AT NIGHT - music to a Hippie Western. It doubles the tempo and it's twice as good. Guitar that sounds like guitar. LORDS AND LADIES - more spaghetti western. The whole CD is musically very tasteful, nice studio sound, starts to sound almost Russian. Wow, this is really gettin' it... some sorta crappy drummin' that takes away. OUT OF SORTS - more Hot Tuna-esque boogie without sounding like the 70's in anyway. Wow, this really hit's some nice transcendental moments. IT'S A TRIP (Part II) - self explanatory. ACCIDENTS - I've never really listened to any John Fahey but this makes me want to. Newman's strengths lie in his dexterous ability to borrow from the traditions of the steel string guitar movement while propelling it forward into postmodern realms... so the press page says. STOPGAP MEASURE - more of the same pleasantness, bad assness. This CD is a pleasure to listen to. DRIVING ALL NIGHT WITH ONLY MY MIND - a different sounding sorta tune. I have no comparison for this, just to say it's great music. Very listenable. — Carlton Crutcher



Ink 19, September 2005

For those unaccustomed to compositional guitar music, Constellation Records' uber-recordist Harris Newman's latest disc may be a hard pill to swallow. Still, it's easier to take in than his even more abstract debut, the aptly named Non Sequiturs. Newman's pieces imply grand, sweeping vistas, clear skies and an innate enormity with little more than an acoustic guitar. His gently cyclical riffs jostle through the six strings and bloom into ringing, dissonant chords. Where his previous work coasted by on disparity and a tendency to wander, Newman has found a clearer sense of melody and musical trajectory this time around, thanks largely to the occasional hands lent by Polmo Polpo's Sandro Perri and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Bruce Cawdron. The grounding and focus these two additions make is enormous, especially on "Lake Shore Drive" and "Lords & Ladies." Both of these tracks unfold like modest epics. The former tenses like a calm before the storm and could easily be sipped into a rural-set suspense film. In fact, the whole project owes a debt to western film music, particularly that of Ennio Morricone. Just as Morricone placed character emphasis on various instruments, Newman does so with guitar textures. Additional color is added to the mix through a healthy dose of pedal steel. The short ambient tracks Newman creates with it go a long way to offset the otherwise steady stream of fingerpicking. They not only save the album from redundancy, they eke out a nice niche in his repertoire for him to expound on the next time around. — Aaron Shaul



 

ARCHIVED RADIO RECORDINGS

VPRO Zeldzaam Dwars live session, February 2006

No Love For Ned, March 2005

BSR, April 2005

WFMU Triple Burner, December 2003



mp3 & downloadable sounds

Butcher's Block / Stopgap Measure
recorded live at WMBR, April 2 2005

Lords & Ladies
from Accidents with Nature and Each Other


Triple Burner live on WFMU recorded December 4th 2003

Brainwashed Eye interview and performance clips



contact



PO Box 253, Succ. R
Montreal, Quebec
H2S 3K9, Canada