Monday, February 24, 2014
Daniel Bachman single on Singles Club FM
A little while back I talked about a Kickstarter for a seven inch series called 'Singles Club'. It was successfully funded and Chris just put out the first record in the series from one of my favorite artists, Daniel Bachman. For me instrumental guitar started with a beat up copy of 6-12 string guitar by Leo Kottke. Going through the endless stacks of records of my stepfather's in the garage one winter, this stood out for some reason, the cover art seemed awesome and the sleeve notes on the reverse side were completely bonkers, not to mention song titles like "Vaseline Machine Gun" (1) for waking up nude in a sleeping bag on the shore of the Atlantic surrounded by a volleyball game at high noon, and 2) for the end of the volleyball game), I had to listen to this crazy record. It found a place between endless listens to Big Lizard in my Backyard and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables while skating between two pieces of plywood leaning up against the cinder block walls. That later led to picking up a whole mess of Kottke and Fahey through the years which led to James Blackshaw, Jack Rose and straight to Daniel Bachman.
I sort of had an idea where he was coming from just based on the shapshots on the sleeves of his previous releases. It looked a lot like upstate NY and I felt that connection to that Kottke record again, being super excited about this instrumental guitar and attempting to even mess around and play along.
The digital zine that accompanied the single and the interview B-Side filled in all those mythological gaps in better ways then I even imagined.
"Coming Home" finds Daniel scraping a string in a slow percussive rhythm and the insane complex finger picking comes on with a burst of metallic treble twinkling over the regular tempo muted strum. The silence in the melody is what kills me, the extreme perfect silence between his powerful picking and bending of strings. The slide guitar and heavy manipulation of the strings themselves yeild insane dynamics between highs and lows. It's as quiet as the medium will allow and when the strings are struck with his kind of force it's as cathartic as the electronic meltdowns of Black Dice. A really strong piece. How it fits into his body of work is a little overwhelming, without the lyric I have a hard time separating them into albums, this is essential but so is all Daniel Bachman. I like that it's based around this rhythm - as minimal as it appears, the melodies continue on with a persistence of tone. He's scratching the strings above the fret cutoff for a clangy brush sound. It's like watching fireworks. You don't know when these chords are going to go off, there's not even the WHOMP of the shell being shot into the sky. They just lie there and wait in the darkness to spectacularly blow off.
The B-Side here is a field recordings talking with Daniel on a sunny porch outside, birds chirping while Daniel talks about his steel guitar, drinking wine with his parents, his process and why he pressed his first record on vinyl. It's even better to pull the curtain back and get a sense of him as a normal guy and not the intimidating genius that comes off on these records.
Subscriptions are still available for this impressive looking packaged series. Reminds me of Alan Lomax roaming around recording artists for posterity, this kind of exclusive material is what makes this really special. It's a detailed picture of Daniel and on the best format for this sort of intimate portrait. Couldn't think of a better way to do this. Aces 10.