Above the Orange Trees/ Christian Kiefer

You’ve heard of split 7” singles? This is a split CD, with the first six songs by Jeff Pitcher’s group Above the Orange Trees and the eight that follow by Christian Kiefer. It opens with Pitcher covering Kiefer’s “Erendira”; it closes with Kiefer returning the favor with Pitcher’s “Sorry, My Love.” In between, Pitcher’s drawn-out, acoustic guitar-driven post-New Romantic originals are fleshed out with cello, piano, bass and drums, which give them a roughhewn chamber-pop quality not unlike some of John Cale’s early solo work. Pitcher’s piano dirge “I Am Nowhere” segues into Kiefer’s minimalist “Carpenter,” and from there he sketches a desolate tableau that evokes finger-picked coffeehouse folk, blues and banjo damage, tumbleweeds blowing across a Sergio Leone standoff and, in the case of “Original,” the effect of electric-guitar noise on crickets. It’s a bifurcated set, but it works.