the mammoth sessions
It seems lately that we here appear to be on a roll as far as bona fide gem like releases heading our way go, maybe it’s the advent of the sun that is cheering us up and is having the adverse effect of making everything seem utterly wonderful whilst even making the evils of daily life copable. Likewise with Fire records, these days apparently unable to hit a dud even if it reared up and kissed them on the cheek.
Georgia’s Horse are case in point, its seriously been a while since I heard a record that managed to sound all at once haunting, hurting and hopeful while simultaneously managing to woo, seduce and caress whilst employing a craftsmanship so sublime in managing to weave together elements of parched blues, death folk, fog bound shanties (especially the opening salvo ‘shepherd’ lassoed as it is by all manner of creaking and groaning atmospherics which had us reaching in an instant for our early career Black Heart Procession releases for fond comparison), tender torch and porch lilting Americana (as on the emotionally crippling forlorn love note ‘bloom’)at its most finest that you’d struggle hard to see the joins.
Yet that is exactly what this Teresa Maldonado led Texan based quartet have done and quite possibly into the bargain seen themselves stealing a march in providing what might prove to be one of the releases of the year – well certainly so far anyway. Again another release summarily recommended to us by those good people at Cargo, ‘the mammoth sessions’ may well knock a few people clean off their perch such is its exquisitely detailed and measured grasp of bruised beauty while simultaneously may well make others plotting similar melodic trajectories consider carefully a career elsewhere far removed as you get from music given the bar it raises.
Distractively adorned in a sleeve from which stirs solemnly with menace intent a slightly ominous and evil looking giant rabbit better known to those familiar with both the ‘Harvey’ and ‘Donnie Darko’ films – as a pooka, its not quite the preparatory packaging you’d imagine to hide beneath its veneer the immeasurable beauty within.
Four years in the making, reference wise ’the mammoth sessions’ plots a path that recalls first and foremost a youthful PJ Harvey, add in to the equation traces of the forlorn and breathless tenderness of Anna Kashfi, Mazzy Star and the Delgados especially when the bitter sweet ‘tzsotvofasb’ rears into view drawing as it does upon the soft drifting sensitivity of the formers majesty and fusing it with the hollowing and transfixing glow of the demurring and bruised casing of the latter, the resulting blend proving achingly beautiful as it subtly freewheels and skirts temptingly into the same bleary eyed introspectively haunting sentiment of the Smiths ‘back to the old house’ as though cross wired with David Bridie’s ‘tender trap’ awash with crystalline riff raptures that lilt and sway with sensuous solitude. That said admirers of both Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love found in more surrendering moments really ought to seek out the utterly bewitching ‘as it stops raining’, this crushed babe is gorgeously centred upon a beautifully hollowed wallowing and pining frame that pours forth a deeply affecting vulnerability that finds itself welded on to a mesmerising though all the same crestfallen looping braid.
Elsewhere those of you considered purists of classic blues ought to head off in the general direction of the dusty and dry ‘baron samedi’ with its woody resonance and smoked harmonica drifts its piped pristinely with
Informed by the great Muddy Waters while ‘the man’ reveals an affinity drawn closely to the immortal sounds of Patsy Cline. For deeply wounded intimacy and a sense of that hanged dog hopelessness nothing quite cuts so deep as ‘snake and sparrow’ – despairingly humbling and very much countering a raw melancholia the like of which tearfully provided by Sarah McLachlan – get through this without the shedding of a tear and your frankly inhuman.
And while it would be true to say that each and every track featured here deserves its own merit its perhaps the parting piano led ‘bugg super love song’ that provides the set with not only its curtain closing finale but its defining centrepiece. Hushed vocals, sepia trimmed chamber arrangements, the mood one of entrancing slyly drawing you close, the motifs slyly nibbling at the coda at times from ‘over the rainbow’ – it perfectly balances between the sets overall sparsely woven minimalism yet tempers it with a wide screen aspect, the intimacy acute the unravelling psychosis vivid and fracturing made all the more exacting by the appearance of a lengthy ether sheened drone collage.
Immensely touching stuff and desirably intense – will leave lasting scars.
Key tracks –
Bugg super love song
As it stops raining
first aired – May 2009