On the surface, Karen Dalton may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration for the reel-to-reel experimentalist and recent Upstate New York transplant Nathan McLaughlin. Dalton was an undeniably great interpreter of folk songs whose gritty, whiskey-singed voice could add new layers of emotional depth to virtually any song she took on. McLaughlin, as a solo artist, has predominantly explored expansive, slow-building sound pieces using his beloved Teac 3440 tape machine with subtle manipulations and guitar and synth accompaniment. In places, it’s as though McLaughlin appears to be recreating the worn contours of Dalton’s voice itself. In the end, when the banjo notes ring out, McLaughlin has created one of his most original and deeply moving works to date.
Anthropological audiophiles feared that all forms of smouldered geometric sound magic had died away when Europeans reached far in to the desert wilderness of western America. Although this sand based kahuna was never officially outlawed, the decline of native culture saw many forms of sonic sorcery die out as the acoustic conjurers were unable to pass on their wisdom to new aural apprentices.
Bloodred c60 + c40 tapes, handstamped / inked in blackHandcut, dyed + scored custom chipboard O-cards / insertHandstamped red 8.5″ by 8.5″ insert with black letteringHandnumbered & stamped in roman numeralsScreenprinted artwork by D.S. Ciarán
There is a stench here so old that it rids the body of any uncertainty. It is a comfortable rapture. The stench comes not from distant swamps, putrescent and green in their small wakes, or the mounds of bone matter and meat made dust underfoot. This waft of hidden and yet all-too demanding treasures lifts itself steadily from the bated, beating wings of the Bird, on its eternal voyage somewhere far past home.
Originally released individually, Bible & Henry’s Marker and Magnet are two complimentary volumes in a set that covers quite a bit of ground, and covers it quite masterfully. The duo’s work here is mostly in the area of electroacoustic improvisation and musique concrète. Jeremy and Jason manage to utilize the tiny musical space they’ve allotted themselves and stretch it out to a length of over two hours. Typically I’d say this is an accident waiting to happen, but these fellows have pulled it off with class to spare. Never does anything sound recycled or looped, never is there a moment where the music returns to a point. It is always winnowing, sifting, threshing through waves of electronic abstractions and obscured acousmatic sounds. The result is a confounding experience in which I find myself searching for some familiarity and finding little. There are moments of potential clarity, but those are seldom and surprising when they arrive. The rest of these compositions are steeped in mystery and endless engagement. This is not background music; please listen with care.