Monday, March 26, 2012
Daniel Bachman on Dying for Bad Music
Dying for Bad Music Records let me know about this instrumental guitar savant, Daniel Bachman, a Philadelphia transplant from Virginia and that they had just put out this single on their German based label specializing in these kind of off the radar artists. I love that his label is on the lookout for unusual stuff like this and then putting it out on the 7" vinyl format. I can never get enough of acoustic performances like this from people like James Blackshaw or Jack Rose...there aren't enough guitarists working on this level as far as I'm concerned. I'll sit by the record player, mind blown for a few sides....as much as I try to read a book while it's on, nothing can compete, and it's a mistake to try to pay attention to anything but this crazy virtuosity.
A-Side "Perigree Moon" reminds me of listening to 6 and 12 string guitar for the first time in high school, and searching forever for more music from this Leo character, buying the entire backstory on the reverse sleeve until figuring out this was a lot more contemporary than that crazy fiction had me believe. As much as I was glad to get into his back catalog, I was even more amazed that he pulled off this kind of crazy hoax, at least on me, and that there was a sense of humor in this serious, impenetrable composition. I think the way he got me had a lot to do with really diving into this genre, getting into John Fahey, investigating all kinds of roads where this almost classical music collided with musicians way outside the academic system, so into their instrument they're pushing boundaries as much as Daydream Nation was.
So here's Daniel working in this spirit of the tradition of the Blues, taking a long underestimated style of folk music, and elevating it with highly skilled fingerpicking. Sitting in a field on a crappy plastic lawnchair, his Guild over his knee, playing the same kind of intricate tight, metal string melodies that would be right at home with both Kottke or Fahey.
"Pedigree Moon" is a term for the point when the moon is physically closest to the earth and leads to an increase in natural disasters, and the track is a flurry of slightly echoing notes, finding little precipices to hang off, mic'd live and probably all in one take, you can hear Daniels pick or ring banging off the wooden top of the guitar. This has to be the most difficult music to talk about, you literally have a tiny couple of references otherwise you have to rely on some hardcore music training to talk about the tunings and composition. I wonder if this has to be on a twelve string, there's just so much going on, it's insanely dense and continuously shifting through a million interwoven melodies, at this point I'm still appreciating it on a purely technical level, I'm caught in the headlights.
The real trick is at the very end, just a single strum, a loud one, plucking every string on the way down, that subtly morphs into a chiming tone mastered all the way into the center label. It's a great modern touch to this idea of pushing those traditional boundaries, like Kottke's crazy bio.
B-Side's, "Bloodroot" is an actual plant from the northeast, used medicinally that also happens to have hallucinogenic side effects. This one has a lot more muscular delivery, instead of the nonstop steady fingerwork of "Pedigree Moon" this one relies more on short bursts of picking, pulling the strings almost to the point of snapping back on the fret board, emphasizing that harmonic chime, and the the metallic resonation in this room. Intimately mic'd and picking up all of the humanizing things that make it a live performance; an accidental smack of the body, a string held down not quite long enough. Masterful combinations of a slow, introspective breathy section to explosive heavy acoustic. There's all of that classical training and the good sense to trash it and basically start over in that field just about every morning. I love this kind of instrumental, with or without effects, the guys in Dysrhythmia are on the same page as Daniel....and I just want more singles like this.
This one ends with a quieter endless loop...another reason the single is far superior to the digital download...can you leave an MP3 playing and fall asleep to this crazy hypnotic sound and feel like you're completely losing your mind? NO!
Just read how Daniel did the art for Jack Rose's Luck in the Valley album...it's a small world, check out both of these tracks on his bandcamp page. If you're still unconvinced, there are tuning notes on the reverse of this sleeve....as if you're ever going to play along...
Pony up the extra shipping charges and pick this up from Dying for Bad Music...forget ATP, I want a weekend showcase with all these generations of acoustic heavyweights playing together.