Dec 9, 2007

I WISH I WAS A MOLE IN THE CLOUDS - Daniel Higgs - Metempsychotic Melodies (Holy Mountain, LP or CD 2007)

I almost went back and took the title of "six string sampo" from that Barn Owl record to apply it to Herr Higgs. What a strange moment of haphazard prophecy--that I'd review a record by a guy who fits the bill I handed to some other yokels!
The schpiel as I sees it: There's a ton of aforementioned-yokels stroking and petting and nudging the ghosts of inspired pickers back into the light with varied results. Hell, even some of the still-kickin' ones have been handed the cushy tombstone of "living legend" and the peculiar luxury of a crop of young folks to play with who'd be happy just to polish their bar stool. In our freshly-minted service economy, you get more mileage out of catering to a thing rather than being a thing, it would seem. Sucks on toast, if you ask me. Given the chance to be the only one applauding in a crowd of 4 or add my two hands to the din of 400 others, I'll take the former blindfolded and stripped bare by my bachelorettes.
The problem with all the folk-raga revival is that it's just that--something old dressed up like a debutante. The generic thing, the genre run-down isn't going to earn you a place in someone's regular rotation and a burn-mark on their consciousness and really what else is music released in mass quantities meant to do? Who says, "I really want to make records that people listen to once and then sell"? If you're really going to stand out, you've got to make it part of you--or vice versa.
Well, here you go.
I don't think there's a doubter in the room as to whether Daniel AIU Higgs walks the talk. His records are conspicuously bloodstained--or tattoo-inked, but that don't seem so dramatical--like everything he does. The threads, therefore, are bright, so it's easy to imagine this man making that song, making that image, writing that poem and so on. Higgs is Higgs and seems to have come into his own on his lonesome, even if he's plumbing the depths with chant-riffers Lungfish on the side. You can tell where the love really lives.
Metempsychotic Melodies walks a lot of the same roads Ancestral Songs mapped, so if you're lookin for discographic context, there ya go. (But who needs it? Either you're with this stuff or running away from it, right?) Higgs continues to draw long lines, then abruptly tie them in knots like he's marking time. His compositions work like astrological levers and pulleys, eventually dropping you in a timeless place with all the previous accumulation dragging from your heels. I say, feel the dirt. Smell the dirt. Know the place. The production is much cleaner, though the parts feel more disjointed. Hands and feet and voice are separate somehow. Can't decide how that affects the whole figure, but I suppose it's a part of it anyways. Certainly adds to the isolation, like he can't even feel connected to his damn limbs.
"Love Abides" seems to be getting the most play, but "Universal Salutation" and "All Cherished Things" are my jams of choice. The first is like a stringed mission statement. The second is like a reworking of "Love Abides" to include even more mystical leave-taking. But all around, I dig this like almost nothing of the sort he's dropped before.
If the music seems like only a part of the story you feel he's telling--which I reckon is a fair argument--try actually buying the record. No, seriously. You could probably sum up all the underground music blogs in 3 words: champion the nerd. I think I'd rather see him get paid. Except for a few. I mean, you can't empower everybody.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Daniel Higgs and Asa Osborne are having their exhibition from March 14th to April 26th at the mfoldgallery. Please come in and see the great works. Go to this website to see some of the images:

mountain fold
55 Fifth Ave 18th Flr
New York, NY 10003
Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 1 to 7pm