DEVENDRA BANHART - HIT ME WITH THE SURREAL FEEL
His voice, a quivering high-tension wire, sounded like it could have been recorded 70 years agoSometime 2002, Michael Gira, the former frontman for eighties noise extremists, The Swans, stumbles across the crude homemade recordings of a then, 21 year old, homeless, neo psych/folk hippie artist and musician from San Francisco named Devendra Banhart. Stunned by what he had heard, Gira decides to release the recordings himself on his own, Young God Records label, simply because he had never heard anything quite like Devendra before. Ever.
Oh Me, On My... The Way the Day Goes by the Sun is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit, was/is the album. 22 songs of surreal, abstract beauty and fractured story telling over simple acoustic guitar. His voice, a quivering high-tension wire, sounded like it could have been recorded 70 years ago - these songs could have been sitting in someone's attic, left there since the 1930's.
Drawing inspiration from some of the great folk and country-blues artists of yester-yore, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Tim Buckley, Fred Neil, John Fahey et all, Devendra Banhart recorded on a four-track and through an answering machine. The album endured huge critical acclaim and landed Devendra a new home base of New York City USA.
Following up the praise heaped on Oh Me, On My.. seemed, at least initially, daunting. To continue with the hiss-saturated home recordings or go "professional" and move into a more formal studio situation. Out of nowhere, the perfect solution arose. Lynn Bridges, of Muscle Shoals Studio fame (Bob Dylan, The Band) invited Devendra down to his house on the Alabama/Georgia border where he recorded 32 songs (culled from a working list of 57 Devendra had initially submitted!) over 10 days, 12 hours a day and using vintage equipment. Ideal.
From these sessions, two albums were submitted. The first, Rejoicing in the Hands of the Golden Empress, released in May of this year (Remote Control), featured tracks The Body Breaks, Itâ€™s A Sight To Behold, This Is The Way and a duet on the title track with legendary 60â€™s English folk gamin Vashti Bunyan. The second album from these sessions, Nino Rojo is released next week (Remote Control), with single Little Yellow Spider. Banhart says of the two albums â€œRejoicingâ€¦ is the MOTHER, is the SUN, she is observing having already experienced, commentingâ€¦ NINO ROJO is the CHILD! RED SUN/ SON! Not observing but PARTICIPATING. Exuberant and foolish he begins his journey ONWARD!â€