Its always exhilarating to hear a record that actually escorts you on a 45 minute journey- with attention to dynamics, moods, instrumentation, and recording aesthetics from one track to the next.   Ten Small Paces, Ida's third record for Simple Machines begins with an enticing somber instrumental with added dobro and cello, then proceeds into their more familiar folk territory often  leaving bass and drums behind, sometimes adding violin or cello, and always bestowing thoughtful, tasteful guitar accompaniment to the basic chord structures.  With two males and two females, Ida aptly share vocal duties including delicate, refined harmonies that elevates their music to a unique status in today's independent music scene.  While Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell (guitars) founded the band and thus share most of the songwriting duties, Karla Schickele (also of Beekeeper) has a couple of songs of her own which makes me assume she is now an official member after seeing her perform with Ida live over the last couple of years (Rose Thompson of Babe the Blue Ox played bass on their previous record).  The recording was done mostly at Warren Defever's [of His Name is Alive] house in Livonia, Michigan.  The songs he recorded sound great- there is attention paid to the approach for each song as each of his tracks sounds different from his others.  He definitely took advantage of the different sounding rooms as its always inspiring to hear a well recorded record out of someone's house.  The first two tracks were recorded at the Kennel in Brooklyn, one was done at Snarsh in New York City, and two on 4-tracks providing the personal, homemade element.  Included on the record is a string of three covers in a row starting with a two minute version of Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere", complete with Neil-esque guitar riffs, followed by a well suited low fidelity version of Bill Monroeís "Blue Moon of Kentucky", then into "Shoe-In" by Secret Stars.  Later, there is also a Casio version of Brian Eno's "Golden Hours."  The record stands on its own,  and although this record as well as the first two are excellent, to see them live is where they excel and seem most in command. (Simple Machines, PO Box 10290, Arlington, VA 22210)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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