Daniel Bachman The Morning Star

[Three Lobed; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: American Primitive, Noise
Others: Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, The Pelt

“The secret life of the world, hidden somewhere beyond the air, under the skin of existence.”
– Alexander Chee

Scent of morning hovering in non-time. Fingers in tense grip on steel-strings pierced on guitar-wood: that’s all it takes to conjure a fallen world wrenched from the landscape’s quiet. The insects and the grass gather in the sound’s offing, where it smells like heavy seawater or dense fudge. A spell casts out from Bachman’s fretboard. Noise, where nothing used to be, torques and twists all relentless and inexhaustible and holds its body up as it tames the air, unseen, chemical-infused and death-laced and biocharred, accompanied by cicada-chirps and train-coughs and ambulance-calls. A bitter sound flings out, drawn over the surface like camouflage, sun-dripped and moon-heavy, licking the frets. Something magical appears. Something peaks in the guitar’s meadow. A heaven, a hell; a fairy, a devil. Hay-bales like sleeping glyptodonts out in the far-off. A Time Away From Time’s Time. Ghost stories that only Bachman can tell.

*

Where there would be no such thing as progress, no divine salvation, only dis-embeddedness and Satan’s immanence where he stood smiling and invisible at crossroads watching the mouths of slave traders make their bribes, there is a biome: the guitar’s biome. Summer’s first whiff of too much sun and creamy clouds; breathing in an open field; opening your eyes in a clean, deep sea; cider by the autumn leaf pile, velvety and dense and whisperingly soft. This whole album feels like all of that: dense but also light, wholesome but also fiendish, like blue cheese or churned foam or peat bogs. It feels en route to something bigger than itself. It’s a metaphysical nudism; Bachman’s imprinting his body onto air, which is time; Bachman wiggling that air in order to wiggle another self out of his own self, so that a state of immanence can appear. To do that, he inserts these pudges of noise fringed with moss and vapor out in the distance of the sound, away from the guitar’s hot breath, away from all the oily green and the sofa-dust. We’re hearing a recording of something larger than a room in a house, larger than a man and his fingers. It’s a place where shadows punctuate and transform the industry, where pastoral and factory meet, where specks of destruction unexpectedly appear from a region we had never anticipated — busily, frenziedly, insistently.

*

A shadow of the Renaissance. A shadow of the Harvest moon. A shadow of the conquistadors. A shadow of a robber’s moonshine. A shadow of a fox, of a buffalo, of a caterpillar. A shadow of ecological time. A shadow of a troubadour’s mouth reciting the poem that convinces the princess to come out of her castle. A wild bee in a sunbeam, picked up by the breeze, executing its pheromone-algorithm. Half-closed and half-dreamt and sometimes in a half-hell and always in media res, The Morning Star is both an Exaltation of the Guitar and a magician’s vanishing act: Bachman himself, noise-man under the role of hypnotist, embracing chance and slippages and sloppiness and draperies. All becomes bathed in star-dew, all draggled by an odor absent from its own self, all wrapped in a timbre-cloud and haunting, cloyed in a ruined mass of wood and steel, hermit-like, ‘mid silence and shade and cool nooks near streams in the fairy-light behind the trees’ curtains, leading us on like a syllable in a poem into a house of sorts, or a painting of sorts, but built with a slackness and industrialness and dirtiness as if it were something not meant to be in a painting, like an un-paved road or a invading species in an ecosystem or a murderer’s grin or cobwebs in a window’s corner. Un peu de temps à l’état pur. The limits of the guitar aren’t the limits of the guitarist anymore. The heart beats on its way home, at last, with the final pluck of the strings.

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