It’s good that many of the folks making music today have figured out that sound doesn’t need to be allegorical, one-for-one, realistic in its depiction of the inner state. The kids have tapped into the sonic homeopathic magic. Sometimes quiet is explosive. More than the shrieking, the distortion pedal, the mimed anguish. The big noise can put you to sleep. Could we foresee, in 1994, that free jazz, avant noise, the blues and hippie folk would fuze in some future retro alchemy? No, we couldn’t. Here are two tastes of the new nature-worshiping, Leslie cabinet-spinning animism.
Jackie-O Motherfucker will usually be happy to funnel the unending analog fuzz into your ear. They'll go for the extended wank in a Live at Pompeii or Whitney Biennial insallation mode. But here they get the Native American spirituality out set it to an all-purpose old-time kernal about saddling up a pony. You can feel them conjuring the electicity, pulling weather from the air.
Brightblack Morning Light share the Indian know-how. Main dude's name is Nathan Shineywater, after all. And they've got tunes called "Everybody Daylight," "Fry Bread," "Star Blanket River Child," "All We Have Broken Shines," "Amber Canyon Magik," "Black Feather Wishes Rise," "Come Another Rain Down," and "We Share Our Blanket With the Owl." They perform with a dog on stage. They camp. Black Elk and Chief Seattle must be proud. The thing is, it's like oozing cough-syrup soul-funk. The Fender Rhodes speaks truth. They've got the deep geologic-time patience, waiting until something like minute 6 on one track before trotting out the spongy horns. You'd never think to call this freak folk. But I don't know what you'd come up with instead.
And, because I was driving in the car yesterday listening to Buffy St. Marie's version of Neil Young's "Helpless," and thinking how great it is, I thought I'd add this to my Music of Native Peoples set. I love the Ike-ette style backing vocals, the way she yips and jumps with the melody, the way the song becomes a little more panic-inducing. This comes from her best record, She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina. She's from Canada. She's backed by Crazy Horse. She was married to Jack Nietsche. And the lettering on the record is done by the same dude who did the lettering for Neil Young's Zuma and Tonight's the Night. So the connection is real.
Finally, something to listen to while you boil your yerba mate and nibble on some quinoa. Some rowdy native music from the mountains of Argentina. This is from a record called Argentina: The Trintonic Music of the North-West on the excellently strange UNESCO collection. Sort of like the Andean version of the Master Musicians of Jajouka.
Jackie-O Motherfucker -- "Hey, Mr. Sky"
Brightblack Morning Light -- "A River Could Be Loved"
Buffy St. Marie -- "Helpless"
Tritonic Music of Argentina's Northwest - "Toque Quebredeno"
- "Contrapunto" (A song for male and female voices)