Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Two acoustic guitarists from Tompkins Square Records' compilation Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 3, Cian Nugent and Nathan Salsburg.
Listed: Cian Nugent + Nathan Salsburg
Dublin-based guitarist Cian Nugent turned some heads last fall with his self-released EP of meditative guitar compositions. Recorded to an old reel-to-reel machine, Nugent’s originals (plus a cover of Buell Kazee’s Anthology of American Music staple “The Wagoner’s Lad”) were well served by their crackly presentation, reminiscent of a rummaged 78 rpm treasure. Ranging from the jug band bounce of “Baka Danse” to the eerie squeaks of “The Ceremony,” Nugent’s music boasts a rare breadth. On Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 3, his “When the Snow Melts and Floats Downstream” is as warm and welcome as a hearth in winter. A full-length album for Tompkins Square is in the works, and a live album, Childhood, Christian Lies and Slaughter, should be issued on Incunabulum/Smeraldina-Rima soon. As he prepares his Tompkins Square release, Nugent’s been seeking out a broader set of influences and a more orchestrated, fully instrumented sound. "Lately I'm finding it interesting to get ideas from other instruments and try to use them on guitar, say piano for example," he said in an email. "The whole field of modern classical I'm finding really exciting, from the really extreme to the tame."
Nugent has toured Ireland with James Blackshaw and Jozef van Wissem, and U.K. readers can catch him in June, at shows with The Family Elan, Sunburned Hand of the Man, and others.
1. The Gun Club - Fire Of Love (Rhino)
Possibly my favorite ever album. I heard it very young and it had a big effect, turning me on to a lot of my favorite stuff. It is amazingly exciting, and makes me jump around the place and hurt myself.
2. Thinguma*jigSaw - awakeinwhitechapel (Deserted Village)
This great Norwegian duo need to be heard, (and seen live). Their album uses the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper as a metaphorical subject matter to delve into the abysses of the human spirit, balancing a stunning emotional sensitivity with Joycean absurdism and subversive tirades. Calling their musical language "Splatterfolk,” they integrate folk patterns and instrumentation and forms with elements of contemporary classical and popular song. Stunning!
3. James Blackshaw - The Cloud of Unknowing (Tompkins Square)
The thing about James that is so amazing is that he has distilled all his influences and inspirations into a completely new language for the guitar, pushing the boundaries of what can be done further than most others I've heard, while retaining a profound sense of emotion and accessibility. And no matter what anyone tells you, he doesn't sound like John Fahey; they haven't listened properly if they try and feed you that.
4. Nalle - By Chance Upon Waking (Pickled Egg)
An album filled with amorphous beauty. They somehow manage to sound perfectly together at all times in a loose way. Hanna's voice is often compared to Joanna Newsom and Bjork but I think she's got her own sound.
5. The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics (Norton)
A perfect embodiment of teenage frustration, and it rocks harder than most things I've heard.
6. Michael Harrison - Revelation, Music in Pure Intonation (Cantaloupe)
Mad props go to Mr. Blackshaw for introducing me to this one. Not only is it amazing how your ear adjusts to the intonation, but it is also greatly moving.
7. Robbie Basho - Zarthus (Vanguard)
One of my favorite Basho albums. He plays some piano on this and it's fantastic, almost plays it like he plays guitar, very fluidly. "Rhapsody in Druz" is a real epic masterpiece, where he really pulls off his high aims.
8. Erik Satie - Satie: Piano Works (EMI)
9. Brethren of the Free Spirit - All things are from Him, through Him and in Him (audioMER)
The great new duo record from James Blackshaw and Jozef van Wissem, creating a great synthesis of their two distinct styles. Both mighty in their own right, and great to hear together. They're also killer live.
10. Various Artists - Famous Composers at the Keyboard Play Their Own Compositions (Allegro)
I think this is an album of piano roll recordings, I got it in a charity shop and I'm not too sure, but it's from the mid sixties and the recordings have the greatest atmosphere. There's a great one of Saint-Saens' and another from Greig, don't know what it is about the recordings, it's just really enthralling.
One of a clutch of talented finger-pickers to call the environs of Louisville home, Horse Cave, Kentucky resident Nathan Salsburg plays a warm, ebullient, and historically informed brand of American Primitive folk-blues. The onetime member of fondly remembered chamber-rock sextet Halifax Pier figures to see his profile heightened considerably by the release of the third installment in Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem series. Tucked between offerings from genre-hopping experimenter Greg Davis and 12-string talent Steffen Basho-Junghans, Salsburg’s “Bold Ruler’s Joys” is one of the compilation’s most pleasant surprises. With any luck, the compact but ranging ode to ’50s thoroughbred champ Bold Ruler (who later sired Secretariat) will pave the way to a proper full-length.
Salsburg has worked for the Alan Lomax Archive since 2000 and is currently production manager and photo/video archivist for the Alan Lomax Collection CD series on Rounder Records. He produces and hosts a traditional/folk/vernacular music program called "Root Hog Or Die" on East Village Radio in New York. Salsburg's blog, roothogordie.wordpress.com, compiles an exhaustive list of free traditional/folk/site-specific international music resources available on the Internet. He invites you to visit, saying "I have discovered some of the most thrilling, moving, satisfying music through on-line rambles, and hope to provide folks with some of the same enjoyment."
1. E.C. Ball and Orna Ball - Fathers Have A Home Sweet Home (Rounder)
There was no one who sang or played like E.C. Ball. Most of his Blue Ridge neighbors had high lonesome mountain voices, but his was a buttery baritone. His guitar playing was equally relaxed but super strong and complex. I sound like I'm describing food, or booze. E.C. is as essential to my sustenance as food, or booze, and nearly everything that was ever recorded of him, from the early '40s to the late '70s, is sublime.
2. Jali Musa Jawara (or Djelli Moussa Diawara) (Opal)
Several years ago I found the original Opal LP of this thing in Alan Lomax's stacks of records at our office one night while working late. No one else was around and I was doing some tedious work, so I turned it up pretty loud. It sounded really good, so I turned it up louder. It started sounding remarkably good - the way something does when it doesn't require more than one listen to establish its remarkable goodness - and cranked it a little more. Seriously, by the time the first side was over I was sitting on the floor underneath a speaker, chilled all over, and nearly shaking. I'm no judge of what makes the world's best kora player, but this is hands down the most beautiful contemporary griot recording I've ever heard.
3. Sarasehan Karawitan Surakarta - Rebab and Female Singing of Central Javanese Gamelan (King)
A gamelan chamber ensemble playing a genre called "gadon" and featuring a lead spike-fiddler named Saptono and the utterly other-worldly singing of a woman named Tukinem. I doubt if there's any more affecting gamelan music available on record; I swear this one sounds like two galaxies rubbing together.
4. Stan Rogers - For the Family (Gadfly)
It's just as hard to pick a favorite Stan Rogers record as an E.C. Ball one, but I'll pick this one because it was the last one I heard. I'd never seen it till I found a copy at a shop in Halifax last year. Back cover says it was Stan's favorite; sad that it was only released after his tragic and untimely death in 1983. The last song on the record is Charles Kingsley's ridiculously maudlin "Three Fishers" set to one of the lonesomest tunes ever. It's still so sad to think that's the last there is to get from Stan.
5. Joe Manning - Clever Bird (DIY)
A great singer-songwriter from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. While often trafficking in what in less-capable hands can be the siren-like charms of Southern song fixtures like bars, country roads, and Biblical references, he has a grace and an intelligence that make him a rare bird worth well more than six bushels of Avett Brothers, a flat-bed of Ryan Adamses, and six barges of Drive-By Truckers or what have you combined.
6. Lo Ka Ping & others - Lost Sounds of the Tao (World Arbiter)
The note say that the tapes for this record were sent to Nonesuch in the '70s and slated for release in their Explorer LP series, but instead languished in Teresa Sterne's files until World Arbiter's Allan Evans turned them up after Sterne's death in 2000. The record as envisioned - half traditional pieces, half original compositions, played by Lo Ka Ping on the qin (Chinese silk-stringed lute) - is issued here with several other qin performers lifted from 1940s transcription discs, one a radio broadcast; another a private session made by Charles Seeger (Pete's dad). The disc recordings are interesting; the tape recordings are too good to be true. Evans writes about them sharing the spiritual resonance of Blind Willie Johnson. I don't hear so much aural resemblance, but they certainly reach for, and reach, the same sacred space. Allan Evans' World Arbiter label is a very interesting beast, reliant on no internal logic aside from his very good taste. His CD of two ragas played by Ashok Pathak's on surbahar should be on this list, too. There it is!
7. Crain - Speed (Temporary Residence)
The best punk/indie/art-rock/what-have-you record Louisville ever produced, bar-none. I'd take this record so quick over however many loads of Slint or Squirrel Bait or Rodan or Bastro you can throw at me, and it has aged better than all of them. It makes my head swim to think that it's 17 years old now.
8. Sizzla - I-Space (Greensleeves)
The hands-down best record title of 2007 is also one of Sizzla's best. The dude is capable of the most soaring, enlivening, satisfying material you could hope for and of course some of the most craven, ridiculous, offensive, disposable digi-dancehall B-side monstrosities imaginable. But he can sometimes put together a killer album, like this one. "Only Jah Alone" is in my Sizzla top 10, out of what, like a hundred thousand songs at this point?
9. Nicolai Dunger - Sjunger Edith Södergran (Virgin Sweden)
Nicolai has made a pile records, and most in English, but this record of his arrangements of Finnish poet Edith Sodergran's verses is by far my favorite. Of course I can't understand a word of the lyrics, but he shoves chords into places most folks would never, ever think to, has a voice that rivals Nilsson's in its octave-jumping (is it a Scandinavian thing?), and recorded this record with a gang of what are surely the most tasteful players in northern Europe. This from a man who rolls cigarettes of Captain Black pipe tobacco.
10. Michael O'Domhnaill & Kevin Burke - Portland (Green Linnet)
The late O'Domhnaill had the most pure, gentle voice, which he applied with his own guitar arrangements to many old-to-ancient Gaelic poems, from his first band Skara Brae, through the Bothy Band, to the couple records he did with Kevin Burke. (I'm intentionally not mentioning his Nightnoise trip.) I'm a sucker for their interpretations of ceilidh dance tunes, but when O'Domhnaill starting singing it gets just devastating and wonderful. I think the songs on this record are his best.
By Dusted Magazine