Pasa Tem­pos Mu­sic by the Moun­tain Goats and Jakob Bro

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Beat the Champ (Merge Records) Song­writer John Darnielle and his band, the Moun­tain Goats, are at their best when fram­ing a col­lec­tion of songs around a par­tic­u­lar idea. Their finest al­bums are au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal (The Sun­set Tree), fea­ture story sketches joined by a loose nar­ra­tive (Tal­la­has­see), or are cen­tered on com­mon themes (The Life of the

World to Come). The band’s lat­est al­bum is based on a killer con­cept: pro­fes­sional wrestling. Th­ese sharply de­lin­eated fa­bles fo­cus on one-time grap­plers and the lore sur­round­ing them, con­veyed with a range of melodic and in­stru­men­tal ap­proaches that give them the dra­matic flow of a Broad­way mu­si­cal. Darnielle gen­er­ates folk­like myth-mak­ing with “The Leg­end of Chavo Guer­rero” and “The Bal­lad of Bull Ramos.” He makes use of wrestling-world tropes to re­lay in­sights into hu­mans in con­flict, whether they have reached a break­ing point — turn­ing from good to evil — as in “Heel Turn 2” or are con­tem­plat­ing the emas­cu­la­tion that would come from re­veal­ing an op­po­nent’s true self to the world, as in “Un­masked!” For Darnielle, wrestling is more than a pas­time. He had a trou­bled child­hood, and here he pays lov­ing homage to the es­cape that the fan­tasy of wrestling meant to him as a kid, imag­in­ing what the fan­tasy meant to the men in­volved. In­form­ing it all is a nos­tal­gic air of glory days gone by, painted in bold brush­strokes that are larger than life, just like the sport it­self. — Robert Ker

JAKOB BRO Ge­fion (ECM) Named for a Norse god­dess of vir­gin­ity and plow­ing, gui­tarist Jakob Bro’s Ge­fion is less mythic, in­dus­tri­ous, and un­touched than its ti­tle sug­gests. Bro is a sort of slow-hand Bill Frisell (not so quick-handed him­self), his sound shim­mer­ing with enough twang and bris­tle to keep it in­ter­est­ing. His res­onat­ing elec­tric ways are less back­woods than Frisell’s and more Euro-cos­mopoli­tan, his airy chords and misty phras­ing com­ing in tunes both con­sid­ered and cool. Bro, heard on the late drum­mer Paul Mo­tian’s Gar­den of Eden, draws out the same ethe­real, patternless per­cus­sion from Jon Chris­tensen that Mo­tian stirred into that 2004 date — the sort of sub­tle-school drum­ming that en­livens even the most drawn-out mo­ments. In one of the more up­beat num­bers, “End­ing,” Chris­tensen cre­ates a sort of un­pre­dictable slap­dash that pro­pels the mu­sic for­ward at a stum­ble pace. Bassist Thomas Mor­gan pro­vides thought­ful, har­monic contrasts that sup­port Bro’s con­sid­ered chords. He traces Bro’s gray gui­tar lines on “Ok­to­ber” in a shad­owy uni­son and takes to a brisk can­ter on “And They All Came March­ing Out of the Woods,” a piece that seems less a march than a horse­back ride. Bro’s warm­est, most melodic mo­ments come on “Copen­hagen,” a place that’s pro­vided its share of mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion. One might wish for more siz­zle and vol­ume from the gui­tarist, along the lines of what he’s shown when tour­ing with trum­peter To­masz Stan´ko. Next time? — Bill Kohlhaase

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