Fire In My Bones: Raw + Rare + Other-Worldly African-American Gopsel [1944-2007] – v/a (Tompkins Square)
Compiled by Mike McGonnigal, editor of Portland’s Yeti journal and a conspirator in the Mississippi Records LP reissue brigade, Fire In My Bones is an astounding overview of post-World War II gospel. (Though there’s music from the ’80s and beyond, most of the tunes are from between the ’40s and the mid-‘70s.) “It is not presented as a novelty freak show or as ‘outsider music,’” McGonnigal writes in the liners, though there is certainly a decided otherness to the presentation, from the title to the shuffled non-scholarly nature of the track ordering through the very label it exists on. But whatevs, because the music is raw, singers oversaturating the tape (Sister Matthews’ guitar-accompanied version of “Stand By Me”), recorded ecstatically in the proverbial and literal field (the Georgia Fife and Drum Band’s “Why Sorrow Done Passed Me Around”), vocals melding into gnarled electric guitars (Isiah Owen’s “You Without Sin Cast the First Stone”). There’s also blues (Henry Green’s “Storm Thru Mississippi”), gospel-pop (the Mosby Family Singers’ “The Lord is My Shepherd”), and plenty else, all cracklingly alive. Good news, no question.
Racket – CSC Funk (Mass Dist)
A telegram from the nu-Brooklyn underground, the CSC Funk band sounds a bit like something from the old Manhattan underground, from the old Knitting Factory, specifically. Recorded at a pair of gigs in the still-hip quarter of waterfront Williamsburg, the big band—12 musicians are credited here—floats through a pair of tunes from Sun Ra’s 1978 mellow masterwork, Lanquidity, some free jammin’ (“Free”), two tangents led by co-founder free-spaz keyboardist Matt Mottell (“Mottell in C,” “Follow Motell”), and a Grateful Dead cover sung by Mottell’s partner in funk, former USAisamonster shred-head Colin Langenus. There’s lots of interesting playing to be found, especially in the Ra tunes, where the band has ample breathing room, and small dialogues abound. In a scene known more for noise than notes, CSC inject some lo-fi don’t-give-a-fuck-isms into a type of jamming that’s mostly been co-opted by well-schooled, well-groomed cats. CSC are neither of these things, and the music is super-casual, alive and well.
Midpoint – Greg Davis (Home Normal)
Midpoint, the first in what will hopefully be a Dick’s Picks-style live series from the prolific Vermont drone-master/guitarist Greg Davis, is a small masterpiece. Comprised of two full sets—a 23-minute piece recorded in December 2006 in Bellingham, Washington and a 35-minuter recorded in May 2009 in Burlington—Davis charts a celestial course. On the former, Davis unfolds a long, low tone born of violin, viola, and vocals, adding harmonies and voices until it opens into an expressive rainbow of sound, eventually dissolving into trickling water, chimes, and silence. On the Burlington set, he builds atop field recordings, drawing fluttering tones from the buzzing of insects, and somehow expands the scene into patient, glowing washes, like a sonic approximation of the filmmaker’s magic hour, just before sunset. (Followed, naturally, by the transitive nightfall of silver moon-apples.) One of the best of the new-breed electro-acousticians, Davis’s improvisations are guided by an impeccable narrative sense that makes them both accessible and satisfying. Required listening.