Sunday songs: Water water
Image: Karine Nguyen-Tuong
Faces On The Riverside - broken deer
It's hard to talk about broken deer and not discuss process or production choices or even to trot out Greil Marcus' comment on Harry Smith's Anthology about the familiar becoming strange. Eighty, 90 years ago, intrepid ethnomusicologists lugged cumbersome recording equipment into the wilderness, intent on capturing the songs of life lived in situ. Lindsay Dobbin (the Halifax, Nova Scotia singer-songwriter behind broken deer), makes her field recordings and ambiant acquisitions with the relative luxury of a handheld tape recorder. But the result is no less naive- or spooky-sounding, even if you suspect Dobbin has as much control of the process as anyone crafting songscapes of tape bleed, distortion and other happy natural and technological accidents. The sensuously sung scrap of a tune in "Faces On The Riverside" has the bygone moan of an antediluvian blues record. Yet laced by spectral whispers and peppered with what sounds like a vocal sample loop ground it in the self-conscious here-and-now.
From Displaced Field Recordings (via mailorder and Paypal). Broken Deer's Myspace.
Where In The World Are You - Great Lake Swimmers
I've been disappointed by Great Lake Swimmers in the past, wishing there was more to Tony Dekker's extremely pretty, but watery, meandering compositions. Dekker, however, has an extraordinary instinct for interpretation and does lovely things with the material he has: stark and dramatic recordings (in churchs and empty grain silos), sensitive guitar phrasing that has plucked notes flickering like flames on breezy, moonless nights and a serene (if slightly defeated-sounding) vocal style. "Where In the World Are You" is one of GLS's best songs, a close miced hymn to hopelessness with a lilting melody that rises and falls like compromised breath. Sequence it next to Sufjan Stevens' "Flint" (as my iTunes library did when I searched "great lake") and you won't even notice as one segues mournfully into the next.
From Kill Rock Stars' compilation The Sound The Hare Heard (Amazon, eMusic). Great Lake Swimmers' Web site.