Posts Tagged ‘Elkhorn’

Elkhorn

While they’ve been fixtures in the NY live scene for a while yet, and have been racking up accolades with releases on Eiderdown, Debacle, and Beyond Beyond is Beyond, this is undoubtedly the year that Elkhorn makes an indelible impact on the psychedelic spectrum. With the release of a tandem pair of albums for Feeding Tube, the duo gives two distinct visions of their doom-slicked folk fallout. On Elk Jam, the band functions as a proper four-piece with acclaimed guitarist Willie Lane and drummer Ryan Jewell giving Drew Gardner and Jesse Sheppard an improvisational backdrop to work against. This LP locks the players into a shaggy trip that weaves an even denser tangle of guitars than the duo usually finds themselves caught in and knocks their rippled runs against Jewell’s expert anchor. It’s an excellent stab at the Six Organs/P.G. Six/Rangda school of psych-folk freeform that would set them apart in any year, but they don’t let things hang on Elk Jam alone.

That leaves Sun Cycle, the dark jewel of the band’s catalog. Opening cold and frost-bitten with the slow creep of “Altun Ha,” the album plunges the band into the dark corners of psych-folk, bubbling under the skin with a high-plains harrow. There’s a heavier sense of danger in the veins of Sun Cycle, feeling like the soundtrack to a dystopic Western, where the stakes are high and hardly anyone’s walking off into the sunset alive. Lane and Jewell are still here, but they’re less foils for Elkhorn than hues in their palette, creating deep oil paint scars of cracked black and saturated blue underneath the brilliant amber runs of Sheppard’s twelve string and Gardner’s electric purple drips of psychedelic sorrow.

To say there hasn’t been an LP of instrumental intensity on this level in quite a few years is no hasty statement. Wiliam Tyler’s coming close this year, but Elkhorn are topping the mount. As a pair of LPs, there aren’t too many instances of someone stormbringing this hard with quality equaling quantity. Sun Cycle in particular knocks the band into the ranks of Rose, Chasney, and the brothers Bishop. If you’ve been holding out for an essential release in the first half of 2019, look no further, this should be turntable bound and locked down for the next couple of months of your life. Let its pain become yours, its briefer moments of joy salve the soul and its sparkling strings ease the mind.



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Elkhorn – “Song of the Son”

I’ve already shared a look into Elkhorn’s gorgeous, Sun Cycle, but one more couldn’t hurt, right? The duo has another simple, yet perfectly spare video of them live in the room, this time playing “Song of the Son,” with Eric Silver and Josh Johnson capturing the performance. This time there’s less of the cinder and smoke than pervades “To See Darkness,” revealing the pair’s ability to bottle joy into nearly nine minutes of pastoral perfection. The lighter mood by no means lessens the intricate complexity of the pair’s playing – a threaded web of strings that comes off effortless but is as dense and delicate as any natural wonder. The track come from their soon to be released double set – Sun Cycle, which sees them playing as a duo, and Elk Jam, which works as a quartet with Ryan Jewell and Willie Lane. Both are out on Feeding Tube next week.



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Elkhorn – “To See Darkness”

For the past couple of years psych-folk duo Elkhorn has been amassing a catalog of burnt-cinder and toasted molasses guitar gems on labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Debacle, and Eiderdown. Now they stand ready to stun with a two LP set on the way from Feeding Tube that’s packed with their best burners yet. I’m happy to premiere the video for one of the set’s absolute standouts, “To See Darkness.” The track’s steeped in soul-scarred smolder, carrying weight of apocalyptic magnitude in its wounded fuzz leads. The duo’s interplay of fingerpicked runs and high-plains sonic pestilence is peaked and prowling on this track. Should the gods of the small screen ever get around to working out a cinematic vision of Jonathan Hickman’s East of West a wise seeker should tap the duo to soundtrack the menace of Death spreading across the salted plain.

The pair rightly accompany the cut with an austere video of them live in the room with just a somber backdrop of blue to buoy the track’s sonic slash. Captured by Eric Silver (photography) and Josh Johnson (sound) the clip shifts the focus to the power of the music without looking to flood the viewer with anything except the awe and menace the song rightly inspires on its own. The album set, Sun Cycle + Elk Jam, recorded by Jason Meagher at Black Dirt, is out April 12th on Feeding Tube, I’d feel inclined to mention how necessary these are, but I feel like that video might have just made my case for me.



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Elkhorn – “Lion”

Psych duo Elkhorn likely takes the cake and perhaps the whole bakery with their backstory on the upcoming Lionfish tape prepped for Eiderdown Records. This is undoubtedly the best set of longform jams inspired by and created while using an extracted version of lionfish venom you’re gonna hear. That said the eighteen plus minute opener “Lion” has all the hallmarks of some of the best psych folk. The track builds in slow, reportedly peaking musically at the same time the venom’s effect reaches its zenith. The pair weaves acoustic and electric guitars through verdant passages, echoing wet reverb from the electrics like damp stalactites dripping into pools below.

Even without any lysergic venom coursing through your veins the track is a high order psych ramble that proves the band is onto something. The ebb and flow of “Lion” provides and engrossing rabbit hole of tangled strings, liquid pluck and just a touch of scorch on the back half. If the other half of this tape is even a quarter as heady as this then it begs to be snapped up.



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