Something of an adventure getting into work today, and I appear to be alone at Uncut for the moment. Helping me on the yomp through the snow, however, were a couple of quietly magical records on Time-Lag that I’ve got hold of recently.
One is by Joshua Burkett, who I mentioned a few weeks ago in a blog about the new Six Organs Of Admittance comp. Burkett appears to be a pet cause of Ben Chasny and his friends: I first came across him on a CD compiled for Ethan Miller (from Comets On Fire and Howlin Rain), then again on a mixtape from Chasny.
Thanks to Ben Chasny’s shuttle diplomacy, Joshua sent me a care package recently with a bunch of his excellent and precious records, some of them home-cooked CD-Rs. Although “Gold Cosmos” is, by a squeak, the best, the most recent and most attainable seems to be “Where’s My Hat?”; 14 tracks of lovely music from that hotbed of free folk, New England.
Listening to “Where’s My Hat?”, it’s not hard to spot the affinities with Six Organs. But if anything, Burkett’s music is more frail and unmediated. The sound is cloaked in field hiss, and his ungated fingerpicking often slips and stumbles. There are clear ties with the whole Tower Recordings scene that I think he was a part of in the 1990s, and the way his playing and singing seems more influenced by, say, Bert Jansch and Davy Graham rather than the Takoma school makes this a blood relative of the first two albums by another Tower Recordings alumnus, PG Six.
Talking of that, isn’t it strange how there’s such a fertile new tradition of American Primitive guitar players, but nothing much in the shape of a British Primitive movement (apart from James Blackshaw and Rick Tomlinson, off the top of my head, though they often seem closer in style to the American strand rather than the British one)? I think I heard somewhere over the weekend that Jim Moray was up for a bunch of awards at the Radio 2 Folk thing tonight, and while it’s hardly a fair and even comparison to draw, it seems a shame that America is thronging with all these people artfully reimagining tradition, while Britain seems dubiously blessed with naff modernisers, for want of a better word, like him and Seth Lakeman.
But anyway, Joshua Burkett is great, and so is Ilyas Ahmed, judging by “The Vertigo Of Dawn”. Again, this is pretty underground stuff, but from the Cthulthan call to prayer that begins “Golden Universe”, Ahmed’s mystical strain is denser than Burkett’s spare études, with a brackish psychedelic depth that puts him closer in sound to Hush Arbors and Six Organs.
There’s a sense I have at the moment of being on the threshold of more and more exciting music coming out of this secret world, with a new Sun Araw album due this week and plenty more interesting-looking things on the Not Not Fun label. While I remember, Ilyas Ahmed is also on a CD that comes with the newish edition of the nice Yeti mag/book, which also features Sun City Girls, Eat Skull, Times New Viking, Devendra’s Megapuss and some stuff like Crystal Stilts. Check it out, and enjoy the snow.