Friday, April 24, 2009

Through A Scanner Darkly

If you told me, when i was a 16 year old goth boy, that in a decade i'd be madly passionate about Appalachian Hillbilly music, Delta blues, field hollers, and southern Baptist holy-roller gospel, i'd'a thought you were hitting grandaddy's moonshine. However, following the musical threads of my heroes and villains, most notably Nick Cave and his murder ballads, and his namechecking of Blind Lemon Jefferson, from the album The Firstborn is Dead.
When i was younger, i preferred sounds that were epic and melodramatic, but as I have gotten older, i have found those moments are few and far-between, and there's a helluva lot of details in between, aka human life. I became fascinated with more raw and real music, poignant vignettes of daily life, and in this fertile loam my love of folk music grew. Also, from a musical perspective, i love the lack of bells and whistles, the emphasis on skills and lyrics. There are no hollywood scrim to hide behind.
As my 20s have progressed, i have become fanatical about the old-timey sound, has become a gigantic influence on my life, my music, and my philosophy on living. A lot of this stuff is ridiculously esoteric, and name-checking early 20th century ragtime guitarists is a great way to earn blank looks at a party. So, it is one of my reasons for starting this oasis, was to post some of this shit which is so magnificent and hard to come by, and to perk up some ears.

Photobucket To start, i offer this magnificent and hard to come by box-set from folk visionary Alan Lomax, a 4 disc document of his field recordings made in 1959. Some artists featured went on to greater infamy, like Mississippi Fred McDowell and The Alabama Sacred Hard Singers, but the majority are more obscure and worthy of greater appreciation, like Vera Hall, who's 'Trouble So Hard' was sampled by Moby on Play. There's also some great examples of little known musical styles, like drum and fife music from Northern Mississippi.

The sound is pristine on these recorings, and the performances are sublime. This is a smorgasbord of roots music, and this collection is not as well known as the Anthology of American Folk Music. There are many rewards in here, for the devoted collector as well as the unitiated or merely curious.

disc 1
disc 2 disc 3 disc 4


  1. J,

    Holy shit! You have just delivered the goods big time. Thanks for making this available and letting me know about it.


  2. This sounds as if it will be amazing. Have you had a chance to listen to the Anthology of American Folk Music yet? If not, I posted it on my blog a few months back.

  3. great post.

    i love what you are doing on this blog. fucking beautiful.

  4. Speechless. This is it. Many thanks.