Review: Zbyszko Cracker / MAURICIO – Shovlin’ (Grandmother’s House, Jan 13)

Despite the not-quite-welcome reminder of the alarming fact that New York hasn’t seen snow this entire month, the sequel to 2021’s Mowin’ I didn’t know I wanted—no, that’s not right; the sequel I wanted but didn’t think I would ever have—is a wonderful way to start the year. Just as literal and straightforward as the first installment, Shovlin’, this time on slim-cased CD-Rs (with a j-card as the cover, which is never my favorite choice, but it works better here than it does in most other contexts), documents each of the same two toilers reverently performing their seasonal housework, this time amidst the crisp crunch of wintertime. Wauconda, IL’s Zbyszko Cracker’s scooping session is ten minutes longer than the entire Mowin’ tape, and even though that one wasn’t in a hurry either by any means, it feels more spacious and mobile, yet also closer to the cold tactility of the ground rather than the heat-hazed, clipping-flecked summer air, even as heavy winds max out the mic from time to time. Presumably having to cover less ground in Salt Lake City, MAURICIO (credited as MO on the last go-round) works up quite a cacophony, the forceful stabs and scrapes of the shovel edge locking into brief but deep rhythms, lending some—but not all—of the satisfaction that comes with clearing a whole section of besnowed concrete to the listener as one hears as patch after patch of the stuff is peeled away.

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