Jack Rose gets compared to John Fahey a lot—and not because he’s a crank. Actually, Rose, who is one-third of pan-hippie drone act Pelt, is often mentioned in the same breath as the revered guitarist and Antonioni-puncher for all the right reasons: (1) He sees the entirety of Southeastern folk as fair game for synthesis, and (2) he can play his burly ass off. The Philadelphia guitarist’s recent Two Originals Of…, a compilation of out-of-print LPs, reworked Fahey with a postpsychedelic attention span, stretching country blues and Appalachian country into stoner-length displays of finger-style virtuosity. But if Rose fears the “second-rate Fahey” tag, as he said in the April issue of The Wire, then his latest full-length, Raag Manifestos, shows he’s got little to worry about. Set-closing hymn “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” aside, this disc of live recordings sets its gaze a little bit farther east. Both the album-opening Pelt nod, “Black Pearls From the River,” and the crap-fidelity “Tex” live up to Raag’s title, declaring in no uncertain terms that Indian classical can sit right alongside hillbilly folk. “Hart Crane’s Old Boyfriends” takes the density up a notch, adding Ian Nagoski’s steady stream of crackling electronics to the Subcontinental sprawl. But “Road” is an even more convincing bit of fusion: Rose’s slide-manipulated lap guitar alternately evokes sitar and mountain dulcimer throughout, almost imperceptibly shifting scales and cultures every few notes. The piece sounds like an absolutely definitive statement—and not because its ideas were previously untested. Rather, it’s that Rose renders the tune with maximum skill and sensitivity: He sounds equally fluent in both musical languages—which is the real reason Rose belongs in the same class as Fahey (and Leo Kottke and Bert

Jansch and…). Raag Manifestos is no digression from traditional American music—it’s just Rose’s way of saying that he’s up for anything. —Brent Burton