Today was pretty much a rubbish day and I wasn’t feeling on top of the world, grumpy (again) and a tad stressed out. Then a little mail popped up from those fine people at Hands in the Dark Records who first introduced me to Sacred Harp aka Daniel Bachman. This time they were encouraging me to give a listen to Stag Hare whose latest album Spirit Canoes they are promoting, at least on this side of the Atlantic. As it turns out the enigmatically named Stag Hare provides just the sort of musical balm my day needed right then.
Spirit Canoes follows on from Sandpaintings (2010) and Black Medicine Music (2009), or so it seems and is to be released in a very limited digipack version via Hands in the Dark’s Big Cartel page, and with only fifty copies it won’t be available for very long. There is a vinyl version its seems that should be available through Inner Islands Records based in the States. Spirit Canoes is just four tracks clocking in at 44 minutes all pursuing the same drone/folk/psyche vibe.
Now some bands like Wu Lyf for instance (and more of them in another post) carefully craft their mystery and hard-to-find information in an attempt to build the hype and intrigue, but Stag Hare is a past master at being elusive. There seems to be almost no information available at all. True there is the web site and a little write up on Inner Islands, but this presents Stag Hare in a female persona viz: “Stag hare was raised mostly by wolves in the northern woods many hundreds of years ago, she has been travelling the path for many of the years since with frequent and extended stops along the way for food and tea”. Given that Stag in in fact a chap called Garrick such lyrical pointers are confusing at the very least.
But the Delphic information is really neither here nor there. For sure he is firmly in the hippy, folky, in touch with nature, spiritual side of things but to be honest I can think of so much worse. What matters is the music.
Here is genuinely meditative music, transcendent almost, and a long way from much of my normal listening material. That being said I find myself listening to much more instrumental stuff these days, often for its ability to envelop and surround, its capacity to submerge and isolate.
Spirit Canoes does have some whispered vocals but nothing that disturbs the long loping drone infused sound that extends and develops, with the slow progression you find in the sort of surrounding our elusive Stag inhabits, a land of lakes and forest, mountains and big skies. Indeed bits of field recordings litter these four tracks, crows cawing overhead, songbirds a-twittering and the sound of the wind in the trees.
Quite perfect stuff to lift you out of yourselves, take your brain out and forget the trash of the day, forty five minutes to centre, calm down and get your shit together (as they say).
Oh and Stag Hare has combined with White Rainbow to made a split album under the scarily sensible sounding White Hare, available through Marriage Records. More of the drone inflections but with greater propulsion via the drum lops, also well worth a check.
Stag Hare – To Coyoto To Hop