Even without delving into its accompanying book of future-caveman illustrations, Daniel Higgs' new album, Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot, is one hell of a baffling disc. But Higgs has never felt the need to condescend to his audience: His churning post-punk band Lungfish has been a source of consistent inscrutability for almost 20 years, and his recent solo work has veered from abstract instrumentals (2005's mouth-harp workout Magic Alphabet) to richly conceived, fully voiced epics (last year's Ancestral Songs). Oddly enough, he chose his highest-profile release to date to unleash the deepest tics of his brainstem. These six wordless songs melt banjo, oppressively distorted guitar, and more of that ear-flicking mouth-harp into a Calcutta-by-way-of-Appalachia drone full of lulling plucks and equally pulverizing distortion. Even when its minimalism occasionally maxes out, Tarot makes for some serious mystery.

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