Working out of the small town of Anacortes in northern Washington state, Karl Blau has released several cassettes, as well as a CD, Shell Collection, on the small Knw-Yr-Own label. Shell Collection, from 1997, is comprised of four-track recordings that are among the more intriguing and versatile sounds to have come out of the lo-fi indie underground. With a vibe that is both down-home and whimsical, Blau grafts parts of winsome folk-rock onto lazy jamming blues, vintage rocksteady reggae, high ’70s soul harmonies, and ceremonial-sounding flutes in his unpredictable and shifting mixture of elements. While it’s true the recordings could be tighter in execution and clearer in fidelity, their spontaneity and lack of calculation is also integral to their charm and conviction. Blau is also part of the jam band Captain Fathom, whose Knw-Yr-Own CD is more conventional (though not enormously so) in songwriting, and more disciplined in performance and recording dynamics.