The melodies captured in Aaron Dilloway’s “field recording” of the Nath Family’s street performances in Kathmandu could have feasibly slithered back and forth through your brain without pause since their original release on cassette in 2006. Labyrinthine runs up and down the scale, lapses into seemingly endless repeating figures, sudden shifts from brooding mystery into triumphant fanfare mode — with these strategies, the musicians manage to hypnotize listeners years later as deeply as the snakes that they stared down during their original performances. Although anomalous within the Hanson catalog at first glance, both Snake Charmer volumes uniquely fit in with the label’s penchant for raw live performance, instrumental discipline, low-end drone, and shrill lead tones with the capacity to stun and awe. The forthcoming reissue of Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer Volume 2 on vinyl brings the Nath Family closer to us than ever before, as the first 100 copies of the 600-copy run come bundled with a DVD-R of the actual performance itself! Check out a clip below and watch elaborate hand gestures and synchronized rhythms lull three cobras into sweet vertical stasis:
Dilloway’s notes on the recording session elucidate the performers’ source material and his own process:
There are some classic Bollywood tracks, a Nepali folk song, and a 19- minute drone journey into the head of the King Cobra. The recordings were done in stereo. A been on the left, a been on the right. A premtal (stringed percussion instrument) on the left, a premtal on the right. The stereo recording of the charmers’ sway creates a very disorienting stereo tremolo effect. It’s almost as if you are the snake! These tracks were recorded in an alley.
• Hanson Records: http://hansonrecords.bigcartel.com