Monday, December 1, 2014


John Oswald/Grateful Dead
Grayfolded 3LP on black, clear red or clear blue vinyl
Important Records 2014

Let's cut this dirt tracker short. Q: Do you need to hear and possibly purchase Grayfolded, a career-spanning yarn-wad of "Dark Star" takes assembled by Mr. Plunderphonic? A: Surely. Conditional Q: Must it be off six sides of wax? A: Nah. Ask me, which I spose you did, Grayfolded was built with long-playing media in mind. I never did take much liking to the look of the compact disc, but they sound perfectly fine. Tapes tie into all manner of wistful reflection for me, but historically they truly freed recordings artists to compose without fear of [much] compression. Both formats freed the listener from the armchair. Sure, this big beast'll look purdy on a shelf. Even comes with "six 'time maps' which chart the source concerts" for the 105 versions so's you can feel more like a real Head for yer beanie-wearin' copilots. But I reckon if ya'll's in the state of mind that might inspire throwing this on, y'all probably ain't up for babysitting more than the aliens what just landed in yer laps. (Not to mention there's a map in the OG double-CD set, too. And one coulda fit nicely in a tape box...say, to be released on the tape imprint Important just restarted?) So why didn't they make this set stackable so you ain't gotta flip 57 times? Probably because younger folks don't know that's an option so it'd just confuse or worry em. So here we are.

If you ain't heard it yet, of course do so before you drop the asking ducats. Yer ears are in for a harrowing couple hours. Shit veers all over the Spacetime Hwy, from cascading ribbons of dusty night light; to krauty choogle; to stereo-panned MIDI dronemares; to stuff you could easy slide into one of them Youtube "shred" videos, no lie. They were, after all, the Sonic Youth of their day: your spoonful of outland comes with a heaping bowl of grueling. So maybe this is the right format after all: you gotta suffer to get your sanook.


Jacob's Reunion
s/t LP 1975
Chelsea House Records

Ain't seen much circulated bout this Vermont private folkie. Ain't much to gander at neither. Then again, VT ain't famous for its PR. Sure, they'll pass you a joint and a big hoppy beer the moment your big toe's over line, but you gotta put it there yer damn self. And if'n you didn't know that were gonna happen, why would ya? VT's got half the mystique or grandeur of Maine and twice as much smack as Western Mass. But it did have a wind harp once, and an LP to prove it. And it still has Greg Davis, NNA Tapes, and the Weisman bros, among others. (And those first two Mary McCaslin LPs ain't a bit hateful!) But goddamn yo, the back blurb sounds straight off a flyer for the loneliest county fair:
"original music created under the influence of Gaelic, Easter European, and Classical traditions; Jazz and Swing; and North American dance tunes and songwriting"
Ooof. Don't that smart worse than that Indian rub you got that runny-nosed girl in the 2nd grade? But somebody what knows a thing or three about regional weirdness up here told me this was in the Michael Hurley spectrum, so I signed up. I wouldn't continue the Hurley meme myself. I reckon there's more of a Fraser & Debolt/Allegra's Music from the Heartlands vibe. These young farts at play ain't as out as the former (if only) nor as desanguinated as the latter (thumbs up for that), but they all share the same creaky floor. If I tell ya the pianist and fiddler get downright proggy (and even, gulp...modal?) at times, would you throw yer boot at me? Cuz I mean it kindly. Ain't no smartenin' up old timey music here; just some folks gettin proper weird with it, like sharin' a bowl with yer great aunt. A few of the more trad cuts made my tone arm bay like a lonesome pup, but their spooked-out, searching take on "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" more than compensates. It frankly turns the OG version into a smear of sepia grain. "Mexico" and the latter half of "Give The Fiddler a Dram" are also plenty worthy. So give the awkwardest state in New England a gander now and again. Go holler down a gorge or get yerself a Creemee or something.