Eric Theriault, Panpot, 20 février 2009

Simply gorgeous. This new release from the Barnyard Records imprint further demonstrates how bigger isn’t necessarily better.

The overriding philosophy about running your own record label is the exhilarating joy of building a project, your very own project, from scratch — and watching it evolve into something beautiful, with the hope of engaging a community of like-minded individuals. There’s also the romantic idea that you’ll be able to discover and release some new remarkable talent along the way. But on the flipside, the ability to release your own material, especially new creative projects which ordinarily fall before deaf ears, is probably the secret jackpot which gets a good number of musicians involved in the first place. And that’s exactly what you get here, in all likelihood, from percussionist and producer Jean Martin’s label Barnyard Records, through his duo with Justin Haynes.

Remarkably, all you get on Freedman, is a ukulele and a suitcase. The initial idea sounds a little rogue, a little sparse, but that’s all you get. Really. For these two forward-thinking individuals, this is the vehicle to peddle the music of fellow Canuck Myk Freedman, and it works incredibly well. Haynes’ plucked chords dance softly, and dangle in thoughtful directions. Martin’s shuffle is a little more abstract on occasion, and provides a little weight to the feather. For all its lacking in the realm of sonic possibilities, there’s a simple liberating breath, a subtlety in the melody, and just a wonderful spirit; like a dusty needle or a faint lyrical flutter from a simple, captivating landscape.

Freedman sits quite well next to two other releases from the label, namely the excellent Mexican-Parisian free-jangle of It’s Only Life! from the eclectic Blah Blah 666— with its evocative flourishes of melodica, b6 defretted guitar, and plastic blow things tailor-made for slow-poke afternoons. The other is the duet recording between Toronto saxophonist Kyle Brenders and legendary saxophonist Anthony Braxton who combine twisted forces on two “ghost trance compositions” on (the poorly titled) Toronto (duets) 2007. Needless to say, there are some nice things running around the farm these days.

Simply gorgeous