A sprawling follow-up to 1999's conceptual breakthrough Empty Bell Ringing In The Sky, Ayahuasca represented a comprehensive survey of the band's exponentially expanding world view during one of their most active periods. Recorded over a period of more than two years at various live and studio sessions, the sounds here are the start of what came after - Jack's "Red Horse, White Mule" and "Opium Musick" solo LPs, the Black Twigs, full-on Pelt acoustic shows, etc. Most striking about the record at the time was the inclusion of several traditional tunes, arranged for the group's eclectic instrumentation. While the band had been performing some acoustic material for several years and let some sneak out on the limited edition For Michael Hannas CDR, Ayahuasca was the first release to fully explore this part of their repertoire. "The Cuckoo" and 'Deep Sunny South" are traditional Appalachian numbers, played and sung with considerable skill and feeling. The sawing bowed acoustic guitar on "The Cuckoo" and the rolling banjo and Tibetan bowl accompaniment on "Deep Sunny South" draw a direct line between raw/folk music traditions and the deep, visceral drone music that Pelt concentrated on prior to this record. The performances here have a balance of unpolished amateur electricity and reverence for the material that really only existed for a very short time - after this, the players rapidly expanding skills changed the sound forever. Combining the two styles neatly, "A Raga Called John" features Jack Rose's very, very fine country-blues/Fahey-influenced fingerstyle guitar over a shifting backdrop of hurdy-gurdy and concertina, before giving way to tanpuras overrun by fretless banjo. Of course, on top of all of this easily comprehensible music there's plenty of ear-cleansing ecstatic drone, from the two long flotation-inducing trios for bowed electrics and Esraj to the wall-shaking electric hurdy-gurdy mania of "Bear Head Apparition." Truly a record for our times, such as they are.
released February 25, 2017
Jack Rose: guitar, chord organ
Mike Gangloff: esraj, 9-key hurdy gurdy, banjo, electric bowl, dulceola, vocals, tanpura
Patrick Best: guitar, Tibetan bowl, chord organ, concertina, vocals, tanpura
Ian Nagoski: second guitar on "Deep Sunny South," vocals and 1-string fiddle on "Will You Pray For Me?" and tanpura on "Raga Called John, Pt. I"
Jason Bill: Buddhist cymbals on "Raga Called John Pt. I"
Recordings at these alignments:
True Vine: Feb 3, 2001, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington DC
Deer Head Apparition and Raga Called John Pt II: Feb 4, 2001 at Silk City, Philadelphia, PA
The Cuckoo: March 20, 1999 at Phantasmagoria, Wheaton, MD
Deep Sunny South, Will You Pray For Me? and closing sections of Raga Called John Pt. I July 10, 1999 at Punk Poe, Richmond, VA
Raga Called John Pt. I and Pt. III Feb 4, 2001 in Jack and Laurie's Kitchen, Philadelphia, PA; remainder of Pt. III Jan 22 2000 in Jack and Laurie's middle room
The Dream of Leaping Sharks July 8, 2000 at the Village Gate, Rochester, NY
Bear Head Apparition July 16, 2000, at Now Music and Fashion, Arlington, VA
Thanks to Mikel Dimmick, Bill Kellum, Jim Oastem, Karen Jagelle, Eric Lanoue, Jesse Punk Poe, Joe Tunis, John Schoen, Jonathan Newton, Steve Feigenbaum, Ian and Jason, Laurie, Sarah, Amy and Tycho
For John Fahey
All songs traditional or composed by Pelt 1999-2001 Voyages of Polar Exploration
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