Musical Interlude

I can’t praise this enough: American Primitive Vol II from Revenant Records. The liner notes which accompany the two-CD release are a marvel of eloquence and elegant production:

Crucial to the Revenant ethos is the notion of the neglected gem. Our Revenant empire, such as it is, is founded upon the proposition that if the masses reject or ignore it, it just may be worth looking into. Neglected artists may be those ahead of their time, too uncompromising for their own good, whose sense of timing and often decorum was not quite the equal of their imagination. (12)

A special category for neglect is the phantom… Some of these phantoms left behind music of such an otherworldly character that it genuinely retains the power to shock, confound, inspire and sustain today.

Some names: Geeshie Wiley, Elvie Thomas, Nugrape Twins, Homer Quincy Smith, Blues Birdhead

Names too obscure even for Harry Smith

…The phantom, the revenant, has a special allure. In an age of complete media saturation, where we must, unavoidably, reckon with our artists’ personal minutiae, there is something wonderfully, preversely compelling about art that must stand completely on its own, sand biographical context, since absolutely nothing of any consequence is known about the artist behind the work. It has the quality of a cave painting, except we arguably know more about the personal habits of the creatures who conjured them than we do about our friends Geeshie and Homer. (13)

I am not alone in my enthusiasm: Malcolm at Venerable Music says “There is no easy way to explain just how good this collection is! From the very first track (my first time hearing Homer Quincy Smith), I was completely involved with no turning back. I’ve been listening to these songs all weekend & toward the end of each, I still find myself in true anticipation of the next. The ghosts are evident in this one. Honestly, the best compilation I have heard in while! A true 5-star rating!”

American Primitive Vol I was/is pretty amazing too.