Powers/Rolin Duo

The hammered dulcimer has been played all over the world for more than 1,000 years. But the vast possibilities of the instrument are still being explored. Case in point: Powers/Rolin Duo’s self-titled LP on Feeding Tube Records. Here, Jen Powers uses the hammered dulcimer to create a rippling, reverberant sound, something both minimal and expansive. She’s accompanied by the expert 12-string guitar stylings of Matthew J. Rolin (whose 2019 solo release, also on Feeding Tube, is highly recommended), bringing a welcome touch of that old Robbie Basho sublime to the proceedings. It’s not all about the Takoma School, however; “Caterwauls” is a sun-kissed drone that sounds closer to Loveless than it does The Grail and the Lotus. The pair’s wide-open journeys drift without feeling aimless, inviting the listener in, offering warmth and companionship — a cosmic front porch scene, if you can dig it. These are the tones you’ve been looking for. words/t wilcox

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