For someone that hates recording, Daniel Bachman seems to have a nasty habit of putting his compositions for steel string acoustic and slide guitar to tape. Perhaps his guitar throwing has waned in the process of making his new LP, River, his first album recorded in a studio. Regardless of outward displays of frustration, Bachman has held himself to the same standard of moving forward and marking progress in his workmanship and craft. Following up last summer’s Orange County Serenade on Bathetic Records, River is set for release this May on fellow North Carolina label Three Lobed -- an imprint with a vast catalog of limited run folk, drone, and psychedelia. On “Song for the Setting Sun II,” the first available track from River, Bachman’s fingerpicking patterns and tempo changes masterfully paints the landscape of an agrestic homestead fading through pinks and yellows to the gray of night.
River is out May 19 on Three Lobed Records. You can pre-order it now.
Daniel Bachman shouldn’t be so hard on himself. Last year, the Virginia-based guitarist put out the brilliant-if-self-deprecating Jesus I’m A Sinner-- and now he’s giving us the likewise-solemnly-titled “And Now I am Born to Die,” a track off of Orange Co. Serenade, his forthcoming LP on Asheville’s Bathetic Records. A seven-minute, three-part suite, the track often lives up to its grim name; it’s equal parts contemplative and anxious, like Bachman’s going through his whole repertoire-- both of emotions and of guitar techniques-- constantly trying out different feelings and rhythms and melodies (all of them memorable) within the course of the tune. As such, “And Now I am Born to Die” is indeed a little more ungainly and exploratory than most of Jesus I’m A Sinner, but that's nothing if not a good thing.
Orange Co. Serenade is out July 15 on Bathetic. You can pre-order it now.
After watching No-Neck Blues Band summon spirits at ISSUE Project Room a couple weeks ago, a friend and I had a brief debate about whether or not NNCK could be considered “American Primitive.” The genre was coined by John Fahey in the late '50s, and he characterized it musically by its fusion of early twentieth century American music-- namely blues and its offshoots-- with western avant-garde styles like musique concrète and minimalism, as well as various eastern musics. Perhaps it's just because Fahey himself was a guitarist, but the genre traditionally centers around the steel-string acoustic guitar. It was that fact, in and of itself, that first made my friend reject my claim that NNCK's performance could be classified as American Primitive.
It seemed to me, I told him, that they embodied that genre descriptor in the most literal sense. In delivering a ritualistic performance predicated on being de-skilled and subversive, NNCK were fusing the contemporary and the “primitive,” digging up the mischievous creative spirit inherent in the American land and character. It's true: their music didn't sound like John Fahey's, and no, there was no blues-style finger-picking. Rather, they made a mess of rambling improvised noises with a variety of instruments and other props. They hinted at a more traditionally American musical performance by, for instance, beginning the set in rockstar fashion and cracking a beer into the microphone; but they used guitars in ways most bands wouldn’t (laying them on tables, picking at them with objects), and used tree branches and wooden blocks for percussion and performance purposes.
While most 22-year-olds these days are busy playing with Ableton Live and rolling at Electric Zoo, Philadelphia's Daniel Bachman took the peculiar initiave of becoming a neo-Primitive maven. Peculiar because American Folk Music is so inherently ephemeral and shifting that it seemed like it's only saviors in the 21st century would be people with big, white beards and some Wild Turkey. Luckily for us the Fredericksburg, VA native is running with the baton passed to him by Pelt's Jack Rose, for whom Bachman actually designed an album cover. "Sun Over Old Rag" packs the irresistable combination of drone, able fingers, and a strong down beat. It's the type of music that makes a guy like me want to drink in the woods forever and never come back to Brooklyn. Quick aside, the most dissapointing night in November was when I tried to see Bachman at a bookstore in Philly and had to leave before he played because of the lack of bathroom.
Daniel Bachman's Seven Pines is out now on the crucial Tompkins Square. He plays at 285 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, on Wednesday 12/19 with Jozef Van Wissem and Hubble. 285 Kent has bathrooms.
Meet Virginia-bred and currently Philadelphia-based cosmic picker Daniel Bachman. At one time, Bachman recorded and performed under the moniker Sacred Harp, but now he bears all and embraces his Christian name. That's the editorial "Christian," of course. I have no idea what his faith is, though he seems to come from whatever sacred body reared the likes of the father Jack Rose, the son Ben Chasny, and the holy ghost The Incredible String Band. Since he started recording his latest full-length Oh Be Joyful, Bachman's been keeping his spear sharp, supporting Amen Dunes, recording some live sessions on taste-arbiter WFMU, and generally controlling the weather with the HAARP technology attached to his acoustic axe. Bachman's engrossing, complex, cavernous guitar modalities convince you that your home is larger on the inside than out. It's altered states-ready psychedelic folk blessed by medicine men and mystic healers alike. On a cool evening, venture out to the country, windows rolled down, and cruise on high with the pastrol expansiveness of "The Bridge of Flowers."
Oh Be Joyful is out now on One Kind Favor, and it's spiritual as all get out.