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The Decemberist's off-shoot group CD coming in April

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 – The Decemberist's off-shoot group, Black Prairie, release their Sugar Hill Records debut, "Feast of the Hunters' Moon" on April 6.

Featuring three-fifths of The Decemberists and two of the Portland, Ore.'s folk musicians, the heavily acoustic debut was produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie). As described by Dobroist Chris Funk, the band's sound "bridges the music of Clarence White and Ennio Morricone" in a way that defies genre characterization.

Decemberists guitarist Funk and bassist Nate Query hatched the plan to start a primarily instrumental string band while on the road. Funk began to spend time playing the square-necked Dobro guitar, and the pair recruited fellow Decemberist Jenny Conlee to play accordion. Portland musicians Annalisa Tornfelt and Jon Neufeld played violin and guitar, respectively, on the disc.

Black Prairie's songs consist mostly of instrumentals; their arrangements draw from bluegrass and old-time string band traditions, while Conlee's accordion and Tornfelt's violin instill klezmer and gypsy elements to the band's sound. The quintet sometimes takes an almost-classical approach to composition, with songs containing multiple movements. Tornfelt sings on a handful of tracks.

The 13 album song include mostly original compositions with a few traditional songs. "All my weird songs have finally found a home in this group," said Neufeld.

The band will play select club dates and festivals through the fall of 2010, including:

Feb. 27 - Noise Pop Festival San Francisco

April 1 - The Woods, Portland, OR

April 2 - Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene, OR

April 3 - Tractor Tavern, Seattle

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