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For those who have followed the strange, enigmatic "career" of composer, songwriter, and experimentalist Richard Youngs, Autumn Response will be a bit of a shock. Recording for labels as diverse as VHS and Jagjaguwar, Youngs has employed everything from extended song structures that give way to dissonant improvisation, whether in collaboration or by himself. Even his more conventionally structured recordings are angular, full of tape manipulation and electronic soundscapes washing over and under his vocals, and are given to unexpected moments of howl and yowl in the form of feedback and noise, beautiful though it may be (and it certainly is). And for anyone who hasn't heard him, check out any of the Jagjaguwar albums from May 2002 through 2005's Naive Shaman. Autumn Response places Youngs in the context of his acoustic guitar. Period. There is a digital delay on his voice and guitar so that most every line in every song is repeated immediately, adding a ghost-like mimicry, or his voice is twinned so closely -- without singing in harmony -- that it feels like the mirror slapping back the same images offered in his lines. But there is a space, albeit a very short one, where the listener can place him/herself, in the cracks where the meanings of these words greet, enter, and engage you. It's not a gimmick so much as an effective device. There are nine new songs on this set, none of them can be talked about outside of the context of the album, because in many ways they are a continuation of what Youngs has been about all along, creating projects that have the feel of, for lack of a better word, "statements." They are quiet ones, yet insistent in their painterly way of asserting the dimension of the hidden and the magical that reside in the deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Youngs sees the world differently than most. When he writes like this, he can turn writers like Conor Oberst back to the cradle. He can place personal alienation and detachment when he wants to, but more than this, on its opposite edge, he projects what is truly the loneliest place in this world: being completely part of it all, so much so that his individual identity as a human being disappears and he becomes an element, a grouping of molecules and atoms that whirl, however quietly, in the whole of life's forces. There is no ideology in these beautiful, literate songs, they are so utterly personal they can relate to anyone who interprets the world that way; but that's because they simply dissolve traces of an individual identity's passage through the world, the trail gets washed over from one track to the next and enters the air ever dissolving like the breath. There is no re-creation of the world in one's own image ere. The droning, often simple finger picked phrases that repeat seemingly endlessly as one cut bleeds into another are indicative that this is a moment not frozen in time, but out of it altogether. It cannot be held; it simply moves, back and forth, right to left, inside and out, simultaneously. Autumn Response is a map to disappear by and be surrounded by beauty in the process.