Boomkat Product Review:
Wheeeew! Siltbreeze alum and yowling minimal legend Sam Esh rips the skin off blues music in a crazed 95 minute salvo for the unerring Penultimate Press - imagine Moondog drinking paint stripper on a lock-in with Graham Lambkin, Jandek and Uncle John & Whitelock.
Facking nora this is outstanding. ‘Jack of Diamonds/Faro Goddamn’ is a repackaged edition of two tapes put out by Mike Rep Hummel’s Old Age / No Age label at some point in what seems like an alternative uchronia of the blues and indie rock. Raw to the bloodied bone, and delivered in possessed glossolalic language, it represents the sole and most substantial release in Esh’s oeuvre, where you will encounter thee most feral, desiccated, driven blues imaginable. Fair to say you’re listening to someone’s struggles with mental and physical health, but doesn’t that just apply to some of the best music ever made? It’s just utterly fucked in the most compelling way that will light up the nerves of the most insatiable listeners. Read on for the lowdown but take it on trust if needed; this is one for the road.
“Sammy was born and raised circa 1940 in Ephrata, PA. a small Amish/Mennonite town. His mother was a Smucker, a family famous in America for its jelly & jam empire. The school in Ephrata Sam attended as a teen specialised in linguistics because its founder was fluent in seven languages. Sam is a highly intelligent man who can read those seven, and also speak two of them; French & Swedish. Hence comes the roots of "Esh-ese", as I call the generally incomprehensible to most folks he slips in and out of, his lyrical dialogue. I am quite likely the only person that has heard his 'alternative language' enough to understand most of it! Sam often sang and played in drug induced states hence this unique lingual hodgepodge streams direct from his altered temporal reality.
A large part of it has to do with a tragic event in Sam's life 50+ years ago. He and his wife were in San Francisco during the late 60's and imbibed in most of the indulgences that time & place was known for. They 'took a trip' to a remote area of Baja Mexico, and during an extended acid trip Sam caught dysentery, a bacterial disease that results from contaminated food or water. Being he was in a rural undeveloped area at the time, and under the influence of said drugs Sam very nearly died from lack of proper medical attention, and was severely affected cognitively by this near death experience.
The result of this trauma was a cognitive state that has ever since required medications psychotropic medications that do not mesh well with alcohol which Sam has been on and off for decades. Regardless Sam liked to drink, and when he did he developed something of a 'Jeckyl-Hyde' personality as a result. Sam was never violent or antisocial, but often quite difficult to relate to for most people.
One can only surmise this is why Sam was relegated to a quasi-street life existence by the time we started working together. Through six months of amazing shows (I drummed for the band he recruited to back him up called Hard Black Thing) Sam was quite charismatic on stage. We recorded the Incendiary release "Sam Esh & Hard Black Thing / Montezuma Baby Duck" released on Siltbreeze Records from '92. Get a copy while they still have 'em (I think a few are still available).
- Mike “Rep” Hummel”