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Fri October 26, 2012
Song Premiere: Pelt, 'Of Jack's Darbari'
I'm convinced that I will write about Jack Rose for the rest of my life. Truly, few things in music could make me happier. In his 38 years on earth, Rose ignited not only a small revolution in acoustic guitar, but also a holistic way of thinking about sound, and what it means to move forward with decades of tradition at your callused fingers.
Before Rose dug deep into the American Primitive style, he was a member of Pelt, a noise-rock band turned acoustic drone outfit that's anything and everything but drone. Imagine Alan Lomax's Appalachian field recordings hydroplaning across LaMonte Young's supersonic dream highway, and that might provide a general idea of the Pelt M.O. "Of Jack's Darbari" opens Effigy, the band's first new batch of new recordings since 2007, and its first album since Rose's death in 2009. It's simultaneously frenetic and meditative, a raga seared in pulsating low-end piano, scorned and mournful strings and swarming harmonium.
As the liner notes note, Effigy is "ecstatically dedicated and indebted to the eternal spirit of Jack Rose," whose suggested raga scale both begins and concludes the record, as member Mike Gangloff writes over email:
We were in the midst of the recording sessions for what would turn into the album, and I got out my esraj [a bowed Indian string instrument] for the first time in a few years. Down in the spare strings and old flyers and other debris that had accumulated in the case, I found a note from Jack Rose listing a scale he'd wanted us to work on. It was based on the Indian Darbari raga. We don't play Indian traditional music, but it has inspired us many times over the years.
Jack's very much a presence with us, especially when we play music together, and his note set a direction for us that day. We worked up "Of Jack's Darbari," which was too loud a piece for the esraj, then came back later that afternoon and explored the same intervals a little with the esraj and a few other, softer sounds. Those songs became the beginning and end of Effigy.