Open desert roads. Interspersed heavy rains. Some albums have such a specific setting, closing your eyes is unnecessary. Semi-veteran Hannah Marcus' Desert Farmers is definitely one of them. With sonic help from Efrim and Thierry of the well-dispersed Godspeed You! Black Emperor collection, Marcus has created a sort of metaphysical plain of songs that looks toward the road sign, not for the end of the road, but rather the border crossing. You've escaped your old haunts and now look out onto gray pastures, equally dreadful and harboring dread. This music is not self-destructive, though. Marcus is comfortable in the conditions of her music, however teetering on oblivion they may be. Happening upon her on the roadside as she repeats "If I could only find a road/ I'd take it," like she does on "Hairdresser from Taos," I think I'd be more liable to tag along for the journey rather than simply point her in the right direction. There is a depth she is not letting on, and I would love to find out more.
In effect, Efrim and Thierry have painted the perfect backdrop for her musings. She doesn't mind being the lesser focus of the mix for long stretches, or even left out altogether. Like the democratic mystery that shrouds Godspeed, all three take an equal role in crafting the landscape. Sometimes it is blues-tinged, with the gospel quality of the early Leonard Cohen releases. Remarkably, though, it is the simplicity that makes you want to dive deeper. Marcus herself rarely exhibits any vibrato, and her notes are often held beyond a typical phrasing. Equally, the instrumentation stays within slow, jazz-styled constructs, flourishing only gradually in volume. For all three musicians, this album is a new apex. Marcus, in her languid coo, has found her true voice with Efrim and Thierry. In turn, the two Godspeed musicians have shown they can contribute in very profound ways to more "accessible" music without losing their measured sense of slightly avant soundscapes.
5. Hairdresser In Taos
7. Desert Farmer
8. Purple Mother
9. Fake And Pretty