ELKHORN - THE BLACK RIVER
debacle 2017, edition of 250
"longtime friends Jesse Shepard (12 string acoustic guitar) and Drew Gardner (electric guitar). this incredible duo fuses a rich vein of American primitive with psych, jazz, and improv. The result is a nearly perfect album that wildly bounds through the American story of guitar in the 20th century. It is a high wire act of the highest order. heavyweight vinyl in a beautiful sleeve designed by Mikey Rioux with spot UV gloss embellishment." - DEBACLE
"folk/psych-rock guitar duo interweaves folk tradition with psychedelic improvisation; from American Primitive to Psychedelic Rock, from Hindustani to Mauritanian, from Krautrock to Jazz; multilayered music that shifts fluidly from pre-rock to post-rock, from the 1860s to the 1960s and beyond." - ELKHORN bandcamp
BLACK RIVER follows their now sold out self titled debut cassette out last year via BEYOND BEYOND IS BEYOND [REC# 149] - previous metaphors and comparisons i used then still apply - "smoky electric solos anchored to acoustic rhythm backbones, think SANDY BULL meets LIGHTNIN HOPKINS with more heavy 70s oomph" - but this lp opens it up, not just in terms of the warm and rich yet well reserved fidelity that vinyl affords but also thematically as THE BLACK RIVER meanders a bit more beyond that established home base while also excavating deeper into the righteous mine that coughed up all those self titled gems which i collectively likened as a "sky high collaboration between BEN CHASNY and JUSTIN WRIGHT"
here ELKHORN safely and cozily land alongside DEBACLE labelmates DANIEL BACHMAN, EXPO 70, PLANKTON WAT and fitting SCISSOR TAIL crossover HAYDEN PEDIGO, point in fact THE BLACK RIVER sounds like it could have just as easily been another SCISSOR TAIL hit, pushing the BULL meets HOPKINS narrative boldly toward what i imagine a collaboration between EXPO 70 and JACK ROSE would have sounded like, at times approaching the actualized SONIC MED sounds and vibes of TERRANE's BASALT PALISADES [REC #25] which is PLANKTON WAT and CHUCK JOHNSON (as heard via SCISSOR TAIL's BLOOD MOON BOULDERS--how i never managed to post a proper recommendation for that one i'll never fully understand)
so one foot in contemporary folk guitar akin to MARISA ANDERSON and CHUCK JOHNSON and, say, WILLIAM TYLER, with the other firmly planted in brooding psychedelia like EXPO stripped of his kosmische armor or MATT VALENTINE on a(nother) vision quest fueled by a FUNKADELIC and SPACEMEN 3 binge, plus a healthy dose of TAKOMA guitar, oftentimes found free ranging through scarcely populated territories as previously trailed by the likes of ILYAS AHMED and HERBCRAFT - but if you're lookin for that moment where BLACK RIVER runs wild and bursts through any possible preconceived notion, then you'll need to stick around until penultimate track COLTRANE's "spiritual" which on paper ought to be one of the most transcendental moments in folk guitar music ever, and by my estimation it is