90 Miles Out of Atlanta #1: Financier, City of Salt, Daniel Bachman & Co.
90 Miles Out of Atlanta is a new column by Joe Miller that fetishizes musical artifacts in a post-Replacements/YouTube way. Miller videos records, cassettes, and sometimes CDs as they play in his home, office, and sometimes car. Animals wander in and out, and his wife does too, but you’ll never see her face, or his. He writes little blurbs as well, provides links, experiments with sentence structure, probably reveals too much about himself, his animals, his wife. He’ll film and write about any stereo-friendly thing that lands in his mailbox at Woodall Hall 133, 4225 University Avenue, Columbus, Georgia 31907. The column is a slight re-imagining of his previous Physical Graffiti series which only saw one installment, here.
Financier, ‘Port of St. Albans’
My mailbox is one of many on the far English Department wall, beyond the copier. It’s maybe six inches by eight, so when I get a bigger package — a bulk order of the apricot Clif bars I eat for breakfast while I write, perhaps, or a book some publisher has sent to me in hopes that I’ll force hundreds of poor kids to pay hundreds of dollars for (knowing full well that I will sell it first chance for a lunch upgrade) or, every once in a while, a record – Dana the secretary puts it in the supply closet. While Decoder was quiet several months ago I found, near the printer cartridges, this seveninch by Financier. They say they’re like a stoner Hall and Oates. I will spare you what I said to my cousin about Hall and Oates.
By all measures a topshelf artifact: clear vinyl, a cover with parts that are shiny and parts that aren’t, full-color printing on all sides. My copy came with a two-dollar bill stamped with the Financier logo and a 1945 photo of a man with two women. Side one I didn’t get the Hall and Oates notion, the number starts out deep with dirge-y guitars, but then some pretty white R&B singing drifts in through an indica fog. Near the end are space sounds. Side two, the debt to the past seems clearer, more pop and sprayed-up mullet, but still thick and blurry with tea eightch see.
City of Salt, ‘Towers Open Fire’
This one came to me without warning from Majmua Music. According to them: City of Salt are a trio of clarinet, oud, and electric guitar that maps out what could be called a Third Stream Arabic Music, neither oriental jazz nor Taksim, the trio follows free improvisation to create another stream of improvisation.
There is no vinyl. The music was recorded in Lebanon. To look at the CD you wouldn’t think much. The artwork doesn’t scream: IF YOU PUT THIS ON AND LEAN WAY BACK IN YOUR CHAIR AND READ YOU’LL HAVE 42 MINUTES THAT ARE NOT ONLY TRANSCENDENT THEY GO ON FOR HOURS. There’s a faceless figure with no arms on the front, rust background on a black background, and on the back is a closeup of its torso and a fade from rust to black. Inside, some insight from Alan Bishop of Sublime Frequencies and Sun City Girls, AKA Alvarius B. and Uncle Jim: slippery fingers, minds and hearts drawn and drawn out in murky rainbow oil slicks… the mellow crunch of desert blues and the echo of a quicksand maquam whittles through a gasping dry throat reed bending in black smoke balls… City of Salt is a half remembered song in a half existing place… a hatching of realizations at the fork in the road where a golden mirage splashes waves of dry heat upon formless shapes of missing time…a crystal mist from distant gazes approaching yet forgotten before arrival… where remembering is outlawed above the drones of forbidden dreams.
Grateful Dead, ‘Promised Land’
I guess I should confirm your suspicion that the name of this column comes from a line in a Chuck Berry song that the Dead often opened their concerts with in the 1970s. It’s the story of a poor boy who hops a Greyhound in Nolfolk, Virginia, and winds his way through the South and Southwest, headed for California, the Promised Land. It’s the number that got me into the Dead’s song songs. At first all I liked were their freaky numbers, “Dark Star”, “The Other One”, “The Eleven”. Then one day I dropped a half of Globe and hung out after school in the pottery room and this was on the boom box. While it played I rolled clay into a bunch of little balls and stacked them in the shape of an obelisk. Now I live 90 miles out of Atlanta. And of course I’m not there yet, none of us are, but maybe this new column will move us all a little closer.
Daniel Bachman, ‘Oh Be Joyful & Seven Pines’
In an email to Cory Rayborn I wrote: You really got me into solo guitar. It’s become a lucrative vein in my collecting mine.
He replied: “if you haven’t scouted out daniel bachman yet, feel free to look in that direction. you’ll be pleased.”
I found two from the same seller, along with a verygoodplusplus 3LP of Without a Net. They arrived today, the day after the last day of Maymester, the first day of ten weeks off. Last week I was talking here about spirals and waves and streams in solo guitar, and Bachman is neither and both. Much more varied terrain on these two. Bachman at times seems to be playing several guitars at once with five hands. There are waves here, too, but they’re not of the river variety; they crash with great violence against the shore rocks, filmed slo-mo, volume low. There are spirals but they burrow much more deeply into the synapse mine. But there are so so many more forms than these.
Bachman is only 22. Hard to believe such wise old sounds come from someone so young. Rayborn tells me he’s recording a new one for Tompkins Square now. Keep your ears on him.
Neil Young, ‘Tonight’s the Night’
This was the last piece I needed to complete my collection from Buffalo Springfield to Old Ways, at which point the gaps begin to increase. More pointedly: this was a last piece that I would’ve preferred to have been a first. But I could never find it in the used bins, and it seemed like all the ones on Discogs shipped from Europe, so it’s become the missing link. But the other night I got to talking about records with the sculptor who lives around the corner, and turns out he collects, and he has an extra, and whaddaya know? he like gave it to me. Does this story need an aphorism to complete and place it in the context of life? Is there any question how I feel?