Saturday, April 29, 2006

In the Rooms of her Ice Water Mansions

This, like the Holy Sons, is another piece of surprise goodness from the people at Awful Bliss Records. It comes from a two-CD compilation called Songs For Another Place. One disc is mostly Italian artists, several of whom sound shockingly like Tom Waits. The other disc has your North Americans on it (I have to confess to not being too taken by the Italian indie rock). The Great Lake Swimmers are also released on Misra Records, one of those labels that consistently puts out great music -- see South San Gabriel, Mendoza Line and Centro-Matic.

It starts with some seething, lonesome, amp squall, but “Song For the Angels” by the Great Lake Swimmers quickly turns into one of those spare, spare, lovely/bleak guy-with-acoustic-guitar songs, with vocal harmonies like some almost-invisible gray wash of watercolor. Chinese ink brush painting depicting an empty galaxy.

The song is a mix of metaphysical despair and uplift. The dread and transcendence of ego obliteration.
“I know that I am just a grain of sand meeting water at the land,” singer/songwriter Tony Dekker sings. A speck-like part of something huge about to be washed away by something even greater.

"Song or the Angels," with its lines about electricity, outer space, pulses, charges, stars, physical change is also what you might call science folk.

Pick your free-flowing Driftwood stream to drop this beautiful frail dry reed into. The song is slight. With a let-me-fade-into-the-vast-cosmos reluctance, it almost asks not to be sung at all. And, I doubt it needs to be said, but the Great Lake Swimmers are Canadian.

"Song for the Angels" --
The Great Lake Swimmers

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