Some records are like photographs, preserving a moment so it can be recalled in the future. Most are more like studied portraits, though, using hours of writing, recording, rerecording, overdubbing, mixing and mastering to create an image that is posed and retouched—an ideal as much as an actual representation. If Megafaun's 2009 opus Gather, Form & Fly was the latter, Phil Cook & His Feat is the former: a candid snapshot. The one-man-band project of Megafaun's Phil Cook was, as he writes, "made during a thunderstorm and its aftermath one evening in March 2009 in lovely Durham, N.C. There were a few takes, one microphone and lots of mistakes."
The true momentary essence of this eight-song collection has as much to do with the nature of its songs as it does the moment in which they were captured. Never is this more apparent than on "Dobro Improvisation #3," where Cook focuses solely on the titular instrument, less the foot-driven percussion of other tracks and the intricate counter lines of his fingerpicking. The thoughtful, repetitious "improvisation" evokes less of the front-porch swing blues and more of a backyard meditation. Elsewhere, in his swaying ragtime ("Chaz's Bull City Rag") and living-room rollick ("Colored Aristocracy," a traditional), Cook's brief, mostly instrumental outing sounds exactly like what it is: a lighthearted evening's entertainment preserved to be enjoyed again and again.