Published on January 20th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron2
Album Review: Leap of Fangorn by Daggers Mid Flight
For the vast majority of people, music is just one of life’s flavours—something to be enjoyed in moderation, like a few beers at a weekend barbecue or a glass of wine over dinner. A nice new song or album is like sampling a boutique brew or an exotic variety of wine. Generally, though, people like the music they like and they stick to it.
Others consume music savagely, voraciously, like a drug. They are immersed in it from the moment they wake until they fall asleep in the early hours. It occupies their thoughts and dominates their conversation.
They develop tolerance to it and spend their time searching for stronger and stronger stuff, yearning for something that might affect them as much as those first albums did when they were in high school. Something to really splatter their brains on the ceiling. Verse-chorus-verse, bass-guitar-drums, that has about as much effect as a puff on a joint would have on Snoop Dogg. For music junkies, if it’s played on commercial radio, it’s probably not their idea of music. Not a snob thing, it’s just the way it is.
It’s a relentless, all-consuming, sometimes exhausting obsession.
So tastes diversify. The music freak goes back decades looking for the true source of modern sounds. They investigate the music of other countries, leaping from genre to genre and immersing themselves in tiny, arcane subcultures before the buzz wears off and they move on in search of the next big fix. It’s a relentless, all-consuming, sometimes exhausting obsession.
I fall probably mid-way on the spectrum between these two groups. I like music with vision; music that experiments with form and instrumentation; music that innovates, pushing the boundaries. But it has to be listenable: there’s only so much hair-dryer-on-tambourine and Yoko Ono-style keening you can take.
So when I found out that members of two of Melbourne’s most innovative heavy rock bands—Spider Goat Canyon and Hotel Wrecking City Traders—had joined forces to create an album together under the name Daggers Mid Flight, I was pretty excited.
Their second album Leap of Fangorn is just under an hour of completely improvised music performed on two drum kits, a bass guitar, a regular guitar, and shitload of effects pedals. It’s like free jazz for metalheads.
Let me tell you what this album isn’t. It isn’t expensively recorded. It isn’t a result of endless rehearsals perfecting an idea. It isn’t a power struggle between members to have their own ideas win out over other others.
So what is it? Four guys who trust and love each other, who plug in and want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. You can feel it in the room. There’s electricity. Weird notes issue from the guitar. Tension builds, it’s like fishing line stretched on the edge of snapping. A strummed guitar kicks in. Drums… two sets of them. The power is colossal. Guitar hits distortion. Smashing cymbals. Driving bass. Fuck, this is awesome!
And you’re carried.
For most of the 58 minutes. The album was recorded in one day, eight hours of studio time, over three hours of solid playing.
When the band hit their stride, it’s transcendent. But there are moments on this album when my arse comes skidding to the ground while I try to hold onto the string of the balloon. It bumps and thumps along the ground and I think, “why am I listening to this?”, and then one of those bastards lets rip with just… sick—and I say it again, sick—drum interludes and then you’re off again on a wave of hideous distortion and pelting, unrelenting drums, soaring off into the interstellar reaches of your own mind.
So it’s uneven. It’s a little rough. But holy hell, to capture those moments—listen and you’ll find them—when you see the Zeppelin lift off. Man. You’re in the room. You’re a witness to something that makes life worth living. You’re THERE! And it’s a huge privilege.
As a casual music user — OK, OK, I’m addicted — this, my friends, is the shit. Get it for the first track. Get it for the last. Be slowly seduced by the rest.