John Fahey - The Mill Pond
John Fahey fanatics for the most part seemed to look the other way during the period right before his death, when he was almost destitute and experimenting with (sad for trads!) electric guitar and noise drone. Of course, beyond fanatics no one even cared about his thirty year history as one of the most daring and haunting acoustic players ever, one who absorbed the blues, folk and gospel traditions and made them uncomfortably, brilliantly personal.
The Mill Pond is a reissue of a 1997 EP, and was recorded in an Oregon hotel room, where Fahey was living at the time. It is clear from the first track that even there the eternal was in reach. "Ghost" features not only Fahey's exploration of metallic sounds, but also showcases his then-preoccupation with throat-singing, similar to the techniques of Tibetan Buddhists. The result is haunting, and evocative of a raw spiritual yearning. "Garbage" is more of a straight on noise track, with the guitar and the hotel room acoustics interacting to create an impromptu web of cramped colors. "You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond, You Can Only Die" and "The Mill Pond Drowns Hope" are, despite their titles, fairly uplifting songs that feature both noise an throat singing. Fahey has long been known for amazing titles and a strong pessimistic streak, but his tunes have always belied that with a gorgeous sense for how sound brings hope. So to here.
This reissue comes with a collection of Fahey's paintings, which display a similar abstract beauty to the songs on "The Mill Pond." John Fahey's later, more electric and free form, have been out of print for awhile, and while that has been a good thing for purists who love his acoustic compositions, they need a wider hearing and reconsideration. Fahey's later work put him at the edge of the resurgence in noise and abstract guitar so popular now. He was an uncompromising genius to the end, and while that attitude hurt him physically and mentally, it always made for fearless and beautiful music.
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on 2008-07-24 dscanland Said:
I don't know his albums but Fahey's Anthology seems like a logical place to start. It's called Return of the Repressed and it's a double disc. Amazing stuff. You'll hear so many guitarists that have borrowed from him.
on 2008-07-24 SolitaryMan Said:
I'm very intrigued. His discography seems endless, are you familiar with it? I want to find the right one to get a good feel of his acoustic material, before trying out the stuff where he's experimenting a bit with unfamiliar sounds.