When classifying a genre of music you can easily find yourself limiting the scope of what is actually etched into the wax. With this release, I find myself using the same terms to box TEN THOUSAND into a package easily associated with other acoustic blues artists. They are certainly not like any other artists. Please enjoy the description given below by Bob with help from the rest of Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, given in 2008 during the initial CD release.
Peter Balkwill, drums
Bob Keelaghan, guitars and vocals
Judd Palmer, banjo, slide guitar, and vocals
Vlad Sobolewski, bass
The music is still rough and rowdy. People will probably continue to describe us with nouns like moonshine, potato sacks, hobo campfire, and caveman. Most of the tracks were cut live off the floor, but we did more overdubbing. You see, this is our third disc. We thought we would take a few chances.
“The Boig”, “Nehemiah’s Misfortune”, “Go Back Home”, and “Rainstorms in My Knees” pretty much follow the Delta-Appalachian-country-blues-death tradition albeit adorned by clanging and banging in the background. You’ve come to expect that from us, or not. “You Got It Wrong” and “10,000 Years” are of the mountain-music-cum-bluegrass vintage that BBC DJ Mark Lamarr described as “angry picking”. And they’re fast.
We covered a Cajun song (“La Valse de Balfa”), but in our own strange way. It’s been in our live set for a while. We also covered another Son House song (“Empire State Express”) and a Sleepy John Estes number (“Stop That Thing”). Those are our tributes to old music. May the authors be wealthy in the afterlife, if there is one.
Then there are the weirder songs.
Judd wrote a song that would up sounding like it was from Mali once we all started playing on it (“Taking It Out”). He was also keen on overdubbing it to death. So it features Judd and Vlad showing what they can do on trombones and my first fully electric guitar solo with this band. It’s a bit of a trip. Wait a second. That’s Judd and Vlad on the phone. They’ve got something to say about the trombone. Just a sec, let me put them on….
“Yes, Bob, that’s right, a trombone; but no ordinary trombone. This trombone was found on a Winnipeg junk-shop wall, as is, by which I mean that it is a beautiful, old thing that barely functions. Somehow the fact that it barely functions makes it right for the Choir.” Thanks, Judd.
What’s that Vlad? “I’ve always loved the ‘bone.” Thanks for that.
Describing “Dumb It Down” is difficult. We’ll say it’s a take on how old blues might have turned into early street jazz outside the local Church of Cynicism. Does such a thing exist? It does now. Slide guitar overdubs were the order of the day on this one.
“Never Be Dead” was pretty much written by all four of us right before we went in the studio. Pete and Judd wanted it to sound like a jug band turned into marching band. What’s that Judd? He’s contradicting me.
“No it’s not. We wanted it to sound like a techno song played on traditional instruments. Much of the album, in a way, is an experiment in the driving, trance-inducing rhythms common to some cantankerous forms of folk music and to the same instincts that have emerged in the music made in the last 30 years. Which is to say, we’re the kids we want to hornswaggle, and the grizzled ones doing the hornswaggling, all wrapped up into one weird Frankenstein monster with a marching drum and an old trombone.”
Okay, believe who you want.
“Life Is Long” could have been a gospel song if we were a choir, which we’re not. Instead it sounds like a demented something or other. We just don’t have the words to describe it. Maybe writing this press release ourselves was a bad idea. Sorry, we’re plumb out of adjectives.
Anyway, you probably get the idea. We hope you’re intrigued enough to give it a spin. I’ve noticed it sounds especially good in my car. Maybe listen to it in your car first. Thanks for your time. (Signed off by Bob.)
We are happy to be presenting Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir’s 2008 album on vinyl for the first time here.