For an artist to whom lo-fi indie and freak-folk are common attributions, Karl Blau's forthcoming album Zebra is both surprising and natural. Though he clearly continues to favor a fairly basic production philosophy, Zebra is downright slick in comparison to the general gestalt of bedroom-style recording. The album also eschews some of the freakier and folkier elements of the genre, preferring to dabble in dreamy pop, psychedelia, and surf rock, informing much of the album with influences from African music and its far flung descendents. The album opens with the chiming bells and island-lounge-chic of Waiting for the Wind, skronks out on the jazzy (and most stridently lo-fi) bluster of Crucial Contact, and surfs through the Luna-esque beach bum shimmer of Apology to Pollinateurs, which also brings in the flair of exotica via a wind instrument (kazoo? sax?) that sounds like it would be more at home in a Moroccan bazaar than in Anacortes. That's just the first three tracks. Elsewhere are influences of bluesy Hendrix riffing mixed with proto-grunge (Flood), minimalist British Invasion flourishes (Welcome to NW), and the reverse looping of trippy spoken word piece Shovel Song. Accompanying Blau is LAKE, sweet indie popsters and K labelmates for whom Blau has produced two albums. With John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, Goldfinch. All ages.
Fri., Aug. 21, 7:30 p.m., 2009