A deep and delicate dive into the psyche of an unusual duo, British-born ex-pat North Carolinian guitarist Dan Melchior & Icelandic-born Hanover-based experimentalist Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson. Each quite unique on their own accord, but in combination bring a sound reminiscent of some odd combination of church music, the Deep South, some kind of swampy bluegrass, the Phantom of the Opera — really it’s hard to pinpoint where they might go. But through the whispering murmurs, the twang and fleeting harmonica is a true exploration of darkened corners. It’s as if they’ve awoken the ghosts of the old Gentry, and put them on someone’s front stoop to haunt the neighborhood.
Titles such as Blind Curtains & Curious Eyes and More Exclusive Dramatic Moments show a completely wry side to a sound that meanders in the furthermost corners. On the first of these the duo sets off an alarm of sorts that blisters through a somewhat unsettled, dusty setting. The unfixed feel of ‘anything could happen’ breeds excitement. Between whispers in retreat and an inebriated drone lies open space and tormented quietude. The moodiness shifts from the hushed hallows to mock-rock with scintillating guitar fuzz spilled all over Wino Ryder Forever. Those apey voices amid the taunting funky bottom end are, well, everything. This one is spooked.
If you crossed The Residents with a lil’ Earl Scruggs and maybe just a pinch of Sunn O))) you might be in the next field over if you reversed it and played it back. Cod War Kids is mesmerizing, each and every moment, and More Exclusive Dramatic Moments is the record’s most elusive, in that it sounds more like its eavesdropping than trying to entertain. It’s ambient, it’s ominous, and so half-mast sleepy. Sooner Will Be Coming Soon (I Have Never Been Calm Or Misunderstood) only hints gently at a Phillip Glass soundtrack passage, it must be those burrowing horns. There’s this dreamlike sense of post-war, a lingering sense of dread fading.
As we are up to the finale, This Is The Scene Where Siggy And Dan Receive Their Prophecies From The Witches, the listener may lean to imagine how this tale ends. Barely audible walkie-talkie like transmissions, crickets and a wavering drone make for a pitched chamber misplaced in the woods. The atmosphere writhes in near silence for a while, and fades into the end. This record will create a flustered sense of wonder for those who dare. And, my dears, this will certainly end up on the top of my heap for 2019. (Toneshift)