Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff
Melodies For a Savage Fix
Black Dirt Oak
Each of these discs features guitarist Steve Gunn, who is coming off an uncommonly productive year -- these are his fourth and fifth records to come out in under 12 months -- alongside a musician from The Black Twig Pickers/Pelt. Despite similar personnel, they sound quite unlike each other, yet each could loosely be considered psychedelic -- they're expressly intended to transform conscious states.
Gunn and Mike Gangloff, who between them play guitars, gongs, fiddle, tanpura and banjo, have previously appeared together during Gunn's occasional sit-ins with The Black Twig Pickers, but Melodies For A Savage Fix
is their first duo encounter and it takes cues more from Pelt's Untitled, Pearls From The River
and Skullfuck/Bestio Tergum Degero
. On those records, Pelt's freeform meditations engaged in a tug of war with the more fixed formal requirements of Jack Rose's increasingly formidable fingerpicking. This time Gunn and Gangloff booked a studio for the weekend and showed up with instruments but no predetermined material. As on those aforementioned Pelt records, lyrical picking encircles zoned raga drones, and stoned blues butts up against Buddhist temple atmospherics. But instead of the growing tension between self-determination and collective identity that charged Rose's last years with Pelt, this set is marked by an air of disciplined collegiality. It is calmer than its antecedents, but no less eerie and soulful; if you play it late at night, be sure to pour a nightcap for the friendly ghosts that it'll draw.
Gunn also plays on Black Dirt Oak's Wawayanda Patent
alongside banjoist/percussionist Nathan Bowles of Pelt and The Twigs, but they are simply part of a studio cast that also includes members of Rhyton, Pigeons and Gunn's touring band. The hands on the wheel belong to No-Neck Blues Band confederates Dave Shuford and Jason Meagher, who jointly steer this enterprise on a path that detours from rustic strumming into a smoke-filled back room where The Latin Playboys' first record, Czukay, Liebezeit and Wobble's "Trench Warfare," Sly Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On
and some half-remembered rebetika tunes are melted down into fuzz encrusted, inner ear-challenging grooves.
-- Bill Meyer, The Wire