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SPAIN (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Blue Moods of Spain (Restless) 1995
She Haunts My Dreams (Restless) 1999
I Believe (Restless) 2000

The glacially paced, attention-span taxing music that's come to be dubbed slowcore would seem an unlikely export for sunny, spontaneous Southern California, but Spain goes a long way toward proving you can't always judge a book by...well, its place of publication. Led by bassist/vocalist Josh Haden (a former member of the Minutemen-damaged agit-punk combo Treacherous Jaywalkers, the son of venerable free-jazz bassist Charlie Haden and brother of that dog's Haden sisters), the quartet ambles deliberately through soundscapes that evoke the windswept romance suggested by its name. While Blue Moods isn't exactly jazzy in sound, its minimal, extended meditations are steeped in the jazz mindset. Haden is possessed of an eerily emotionless voice, which imbues songs like "I Lied" with the proper degree of frigidity. His mantra-like repetition of brief phrases — echoed in the vibrato-laden dual guitar leads — induce a sort of cognitive white-out that makes it easy to get lost within the music's misty reaches.

[David Sprague]