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Ed Askew - Little Eyes (2007)

Little Eyes was the second album that Ed Askew recorded. His eponymous debut (reissued under the name Ask the Unicom) was one of the gems of the original ESP-Disk catalogue. Strangely-voiced folk music with no easy parallels, packed inside a sleeve showing a negative image of cars burning on the streets of Stamford, Connecticut, it was as anomolous as any of the label's offerings, and brimmed with a very special disconnectedness. It was even played on an instrument — a Martin tiple—which seemed imaginary. Who ever heard of a tiple?

Over the years, small pieces of Ed's story came into the light. The most exciting nugget was the rumor he'd done sessions for a second album, which had been finished, but never issued. This rumor was borne out a few years ago, with the discover)' of Little Eyes —an album which actually supercedes its known predecessor In terms of songwritings, vibe and all else.

A solo set, recorded roughly three years after his debut, Ed's plan was to craft an album that recreated his live shows. Most of the songs were done in a single take, tape rolling the whole time, spaces to be edited out at a later date. Mistakes happened, but were incorporated into the feeling of spontaneity that whs part and pared of the project. And damn, the songs are great.

Ed recalls that most were written during the brief period he lived with a woman named Jessica in a one room apartment in Brooklyn Heights, and they have a tenderness recalling Pearls Before Swine at their least cryptic. It should be noted, Ed only met Ibm Rapp briefly and does not count him as an influence.

"Pearls Before Swine I only met once," Ed recalls. "I was tripping and in no mood to talk to anyone. So it was sort of a non-event I don't know what they thought. I remember Tom Rapp—at least I assume it was Ibm Rapp—telling me Stollman had sent them some copies of my record and ft was one of the strangest things they'd ever heard. But after Lou Reed and Patti Smith and all that, I don't think it sounds so strange.*

In these days, so long after Patti and Lou and all that, I'm sure we can just listen to, and embrace the magic that fills Little Eyes. The actual Littie Byes session has been appended for this issue by some lovely work recorded at various radio stations, after the album foundered. This material uses more harmonica than Ed's studio work and is proof he was ready to produce lots more of the ethereral work that was his special province. Perhaps this is the right moment to declare your tastes as being hippcr than Ibm Rapp's. Go ahead. Free yourself. (Byron Coley)

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