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Know Your Product: Nathan Bell @ 2640

October 8, 2008

Nathan Bell Performing At 2640 | Image by Raven Baker

Nathan Bell @ 2640 is a brief but haunting release from West Main Development, a local label specializing in live recordings and one-time collaborations, with a penchant for tapping Lungfish members (a previous release features Dan Higgs). The label’s latest, four untitled tracks clocking in at under 13 minutes, was culled from a live recording of former Lungfisher, Nathan Bell, on banjo during a solo set at 2640 Space earlier this year.

On first listen, what amazes is the fullness of sound. It is hard to believe that Bell’s rapid, nimble fingering isn’t the harmonizing of two people, or even three. Yet there is something else going on with this release, beyond Bell’s skillful compositions, that makes it so compelling: a subtle, yet powerful, sense of place. You can hear the airiness of 2640′s wide-open chapel and high, slanted ceilings gently rounding the most piercing notes and lending a shimmer of ghostly crackle to the rare silences. This muddled, otherworldly fuzz, coupled with the hazy reverb of a borrowed amp–the sort of unplanned distortions that could drive perfectionist audiophiles nuts–is here a source of enchantment, perfectly complementing Bell’s meditative, faintly mournful playing.

Nathan Bell @ 2640 is available both on CD and for download via West Main Development.

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