Davenport is Madison, Wisconsin resident Clay Ruby, whose approach to improvised folk, characterized by a respect for organicism and chance, is perhaps best served by describing his recording process. Ruby created Rabbit's Foot Propeller
using a handheld tape recorder from which the erase head had been removed, allowing unlimited overdubs without that pesky problem of having to listen to what had already been recorded.
Obviously, these pieces aren't really songs -- they're soundscapes, recordings both of chance samples and deliberate melody. When music does arise, its provenance gives it the sort of otherworldly quality toward which improv and freak folk acts constantly strive. Opener "Propellor Invocations" consists of simple, layered melodies played on a melodica and a recorder or whistle, while "Candeltops"' low-pitched drones are layered with percussive sounds -- presumably Ruby banging on kitchen pots and pans, or possibly garbage cans.
Ambiguity is central to these recordings. Identifiable musical elements -- for instance, "Agwe Breath"'s plaintive folksong or "Devil For A Sun"'s round chanting -- are often backgrounded in favor of more intimate atmospheric noises. Rubbing the recorder's microphone on cloth, foot-stomping, zippers, whistles and other incidental sounds come across as more important because the recording process necessarily places them high in the "mix". There are pure soundscapes, like the percussive "Root Systeme", assembled from clock chimes, birdcalls and overhead airplanes -- and there are punishing noise tracks; "At Last Drift Is Cast" could never be taken for improvised folk, despite its flittering flute. Rabbit's Foot Propeller demonstrates that one-trick recording projects can be just as adventurous as more elaborate field recordings -- but they can also be just as tedious.