Saturday, 21 December 2013

Glenn Jones @ Islington Mill, Salford, 15.11.13

If you want to talk all that talk about due-paying, then Cul De Sac have been experimenting since the 70s and are a kind of indie Grateful Dead because of that. Glenn Jones has done time, inside Cul De Sac and out. He sat at the feet of John Fahey and worked with him, somewhat frustratingly. Fahey also did serious time, and played Manchester before he died, in lovely red football socks, shorts and a Harold Shipman beard. The 'tunes' matched the dress connotations. Fahey's last tour was conducted by ex-psychiatric worker Paul Kelly and apparently ended in some appropriately RD Laing / Felix Guattari-style 'therapy'.

Fahey's most beautiful records had a dark undercurrent, which seduced and dragged you down into the clay mud with the sediment of a thousand years of struggle, pain and beauty. They're exhumations, what Herr Hegel described as 'sublation' – all previous epochs dragged forth in the now – this is what happened in Fahey's music. The then-recent import of eastern raga added to country blues, ragtime, jazz and all other American musics. Fahey could destroy entire civilisations with the casual opening twang of an open low e-string, before picking among its smoking ruins for bright artefacts to make the rest of the album with.

The support act, Directorsound, is essentially Nicholas Palmer, a man now signed to Domino, who presented some interesting passages of music. Palmer is on the way to something interesting, but his journey there is all over the place – formally and literally – his one man band approach didn't have an organising principle. The kind of Paris busker accordion he played had heavy connotations, in Eastern European, war-torn landscapes for instance, and that he tried to interrupt them was intriguing, but the interruptions were throwaway, none of it was properly worked out, or couched in any kind of conscious strategy: Directorsound is a few steps away yet.

Jones treads traditional water, thus this is Takoma records karaoke to an extent. He recalls such great Fahey albums as The Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favourites and Days Have Gone By, but what he does tonight is what Fahey always did: pull some really heavy histories back through the strings of a simple acoustic guitar or banjo.

Jones talks between songs engagingly, about Jack Rose of Pelt, about Meg Baird of Espers and how Bruce Springsteen irritates him. But this is not the main event. When Jones plays, he provides a map to the past, rich in detail, a necessary guide for anyone packing a rucksack, intending to move along that road, back to the future. Directorsound's Nicholas Palmer could take a lesson from what Jones does with American music, before applying it to his own practice. There is a way to play that means when you bend the strings, you bend space and time.

Words & photos: Steve Hanson.

1 comment:

  1. Talk about painting a picture with words. Your review gives such a clear idea of the band and night as a whole. Suffice to say i'll keep an eye out for their gigs.