How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Over the past 20 years, Eugene Chadbourne has established well deserved reputations as virtuoso improvising guitarist, musical eccentric, and all around troublemaker. This project, recorded primarily during 1997-1998, unsurprisingly reinforces these designations (or accusations as the case may be). Chadbourne’s liner notes describe this recording as paying tribute to worms (although cockroaches and other insect life figure prominently as well). However, and perhaps more importantly, the ‘strings’ portion of the title refers directly to the music itself, described as a “tribute to traditional string instruments such as banjo, dobro, mandolin, violin, and of course acoustic guitar.” Featuring both ensemble performances and solo multitrack recordings, the music twists, turns, and glistens in the fashion of its invertebrate namesake. But this is not to imply that the music lacks a backbone or possesses an inherent ugliness. While the use of acoustic instrumentation to convey the subject of tribute could have resulted in music equally fragile, this is not the case. The music is at times delicate, but never weak. Although the subject of tribute might be repellent to most, the music is fascinating, strange, and rarely irritating (even if it is far from an easy listen). Finally, it must be pointed out that while Chadbourne’s liner notes enlighten the reader about worms, they also reveal insightful information about his musical intent, structure, and inspiration. Once again, an unusual slice of Americana from an artist destined to be on a postage stamp someday, unless the citizens of Greensboro, NC, lynch him first. True to the Leo Records credo, thus RECOMMENDED to those with inquiring minds and passionate hearts.