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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