New releases part 2: Three Forks regret that they can't be here tonight, but...
UFM 013 Three Forks 'Seven Layer Ape' CD
So let's say you're a CDR label, got your roots in lathe-cuts; what makes a record jump out and scream "pay these two Australian munters hundreds of dollars and never be short for beer coasters ever again"?? Scientists and shamans alike are undecided.
This is the record of a band that existed from 2002 up until the beginning of this year. They never left Dunedin. I understand that at one point they had as many as five fans. So what's the big deal? In the post directly below I ruminated slightly on time and steeping blah blah blah... and this disc is a perfect example of what can be achieved. It's like Akira Kurosawa's story about the oily emanations of a ten-legged toad being slowly simmered for 3707 days to produce the perfect cure for burns and stretch marks. When they existed Three Forks were a band that could hardly agree on anything; three hugely divergent personalities. What we were doing was barely comprehensible to us, and it's only been with time and distance that from the hours of recordings we made, 3 platters have almost (almost) miraculously floated together to tell the story. The first, 'Firewood', on Metonymic, was a wee taster. It's now out of print but soon to be reissued in Israel. That is a fucking true story. Then probably early next year a CDR will appear on Richard Francis' CMR label. I ended up with this one.
'Seven Layer Ape' is sorta free-folk, but it isn't. It's a little droney, but it's not. The instrumentation is almost entirely acoustic. It starts with a slow, sleepy but waking-up eyerubbing jam, Donald McPherson picking the soul of simplicity out of a home-built guitar. Minutes go by without, seemingly, much progression, but something is happening. Track two, electric guitar and drums enter the mix, but it sounds like free jazz played by people who just returned from an extremely disorientating hovercraft excursion. Then track three: 'Peru'... time is suspended. Heaven is inside that cloud over there. Track four and the acid casualties have infiltrated a bus terminal.... and on and on it goes, never settling. The final track, 'Drunken Traffic', is a complete 15 minute live piece that builds into the most intense, dense, weirdly unfolding melodic constructions until those headlights start slow-streaking past your eyes like auroric pulses.
'Melodic' is kinda the best description I can think of sometimes, but it's a melodicism keeps reaching and reaching and over-reaching and blending and going splat... Donald and I are both massively influenced by electric folk - ISB, Steeleye etc - and the density/clarity thing you find in the best of that stuff was always strong in my mind. Tim Cornelius would throw all sorts of things in, pushing us this and that way. Some of our gnarlier work will be on the CMR disc - yes, 'Seven Layer Ape' is sweet in many ways. It also fucking blows my mind and I'm so goddamned proud of it, I can't shut up even though I know I'm rambling.
Went all-out on these covers - oh boy. James Robinson did the drawings, then Tim and I went to work on 'em. Too much. Every cover is handscreened and handpainted. The recording quality of the tracks ranges from very good to damn-near-pristine, even though much of it was done straight to video camera. Do I have to come out and say it? Please, come on, buy it, please! Please!
I guess for me the real reason I wanted to do this so badly was the completely likely likelihood that this world may never see another record by Donald McPherson. Probably a ridiculous notion, but I started this whole carry-on (the label) because of him and 'Seven Layer Ape' is my little offering. Fans of 'Bramble' will hear another side of the man here, but that's as normal as two consecutive days to him. What can I say - people, start your letterwriting campaign today and get another solo album out of this guy.
So, time for a reunion then? Not on your nelly.