The newest excursion from Mike and Cara takes their music farther than ever, twisting the linkage of timeworn song-language and pure out-sound into a looking glass of future now.
When an orchestra of players gathered earlier this year, the route was crystal clear but the destination very much unknown -- at the heart of this collection are classic songs that Cara started singing when she was a girl, mostly tunes from the 1930s and '40s and before, rendered here in sweeping sonic arrangements, but preserving and highlighting the vocal melodies. Cara's singing is often joined by harmonies from orchestra members Sharon Stacy and Sonya Austin, while an ensemble that includes Tatsuya Nakatani, Joe Dejarnette, Sally Anne Morgan, Isak Howell, Nathan Bowles and more relentlessly expanded whirlpools of massed acoustic strings and percussion, glints of brass and woodwinds.
We don't think that there is much like this out there, and we're happy to usher it into the world.
Long planned and gorgeously presented, Mike & Cara's "Durang's Hornpipe"/"Rake & Rambling Boy" 7-inch is out in the world courtesy of Klang Family friend The Great Pop Supplement label. It's a limited edition of 500, apparently already sold out at the source, but we have some -- dark cherry vinyl, a sleeve decorated with images of Montgomery County landscape, and a home-cooked sound that looks back at the ballads and blowouts origin of the duo music -- a fiddle tune that turns into a slow churn of fiddle/wheel-fiddle improvisation, and droning double vocals that explore an age-old lyric.
Mike and Cara are bound across the waters for festivals in Finland and a run of shows in France with the fantastic Trio Puech-Gourdon-Bremaud. Come catch the sounds of strings and reeds and voices humming ominously and joyously running amok, and grab some recordings too -- there is a new 7-inch and cassette, plus copies (while they last) of Black Ribbon of Death, Silver Thread of Life, and probably some other artifacts of plastic and paper.
Fellow travelers Steve Gunn and the Black Twig Pickers took turns throwing matches at a pile of kerosene-soaked banjo heads and the resulting inferno is "Seasonal Hire," just out from Thrill Jockey. This is music caught just as it reached the ignition point, a record of song unspooling into sound and back again, of journeys taken or still being mapped, of memories and wishes all tangled together to glint and reflect as they snare. We have LP and CD copies.