Boomkat Product Review:
Outstanding work by curator of the Alan Lomax archive and sometime Bonnie “Prince” Billy collaborator Nathan Salzburg, weaveing rustic devotional magic from dual strings, keys and crackling shellac samples on spiritual home No Quarter - RIYL The Caretaker, Loren Connors, Ben Chasny, Philip Jeck
Harvesting 100 year old source material from musty 78s, Salzburg parlays with their evocative spectres in a heart-clutching new edition of his ‘Landwerk’ series, ongoing since 2020. As caretaker of the precious Alan Lomax archive of foundational field recordings, Salsburg’s work is firmly rooted in wonders of the past, which he carefully and intuitively brings to the present in these improvisations that elegantly bridge the gap of a century in which music has changed a lot, but human sentiments often remain unchanged.
Committed in Skylight, Kentucky, between January ’21 and August ’22, ‘Landwerk No. 3’ unfurls to a perfectly unhurried pace helmed in hypnotic loops of classical, klezmer and folk from records made 1914-1940. The lingering effect of melodies from long-forgotten records, matched by Salzburg’s attempts to mirror and juxtapose them, is one of mournful elegance and reflection, like Loren Connors gently jamming to The Caretaker, Stephen Mathieu reworking John Fahey, or a sampledelic fantasy by Bellows and Express Rising.
In their drifting nature and interplay of loops and live overdubs the music inhabits a haunted crossroads of styles ranging from blues to illbient hip hop, ambient and rhythmic noise, avant folk and concrète simultaneously. Free-flowing and pastoral in ‘IX’, then stately and medieval in ‘X’, lost to midnight blooz thoughts in ‘XII’, or ruggedly elegant in the 12 minutes of noirish sashay of ‘XIII’ and its achingly gorgeous final procession, the vibe most beautifully recalls ideas posited in David Toop’s ambient manifesto Ocean of Sound, and most modestly makes a virtue of lokey ingenuity and in-the-moment instinct with a time-smudging, spellbinding effect.