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Black Twig Pickers and Charlie Parr: Glory in the Meeting House

Apologies: This Enlightenment is currently unavailable in your Country

Sometimes I think that Michael Hurley could make even the Devil (himself) calm down and stop all that self loathing. This review, this whatever it is drifts on in to view with the sounds of his “Vt. Ore Floor” from his Long Journey lp, 19seventysix…

“There’s a thousand women…
There’s one in every state…
Sometimes I get the feeling…
That I can’t waaaaiiiiittt, I can’t wait”

What a beauty. So why are we here? I think we’re here for two records and a thousand hopeless reasons.

“I stay with my woman…
Cause she won’t let me die…”


Now I’m going to go off and find the first record while I set the other one up downloading from one of these vinyl coupons. After the code it states I AM A BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL! in such a way as to make me say it out loud. Why don’t some labels do this coupon thing yet? Huh? Drag City?

Too late for questions! Charlie Parr and the Black Twig Pickers are stomping the bellows and the flames are tickling heaven and the rafters beyond. It took me a while to find this beautiful animal disc, it wasn’t in any of the cd piles, rather on my bedside table under a couple of books. After one track of sweet dawn filtered through the solo fiddle of the Twigs’ Mike Gangloff we’re off with ‘Deaths Black Train’ and the whole crew are kneedeep in a heavy roots groove. This record floods the fallow land, irrigates my soul.

“better get your house in order!” wails Charlie Parr while fiddle slips and gains out of the left channel like wheels on the rail, harmonica throbs out the right, and Charlie’s resonator rises up on the breeze and dances a heavy jig. The House is shaking. After two and a half minutes of this relentless glory you get a spine tingling dose of something that goes down a number of times on this record. It suddenly feels as heavy as fuck, something gets turned up hot (without and within), they lock in and pounce like a Mountain Lion, the tambourine and foot thuds are like paws on the chest and teeth in the eyes. We’re all hunted, and I’m easy prey to this kind of beast. What a way to go.

‘Old Ark’s a Movin’ comes in fourth place and knocks seven shades out of anything you ever heard on Deadwood you bearded middle class feck… Sorry, carried away there… A whirligig of fiddle, Isak Howell’s exacting steel string (his metronomic picking levitates the whole thing, here and on the Twigs Thrill Jockey debut Ironto Special), Parr’s joyful ice-sliding and Nathan Bowles’ furry banjo keeping the ears warm.

This was going to be another chapter in my records about GOD loved by the Godless series (that began with Hiss Golden Messenger’s Bad Debt) because it’s called Glory in the Meeting House and consists mostly of Gospel songs heavy on the up and down duality thing, plus it has a screen print of a church with the doors flung wide on the cover. But the music is such a visceral experience that it’s hard to care, or at least hard to worry about what I think about it. It’s a welcome break! Speaking of Meeting Houses I went to a Quaker one in the Yorkshire dales, and something of this music was itching to get out of the old oak boards.

Sometimes a lonely brood settles in, Charlie’s voice rustles like fallen leaves, he wishes he “was in heaven sittin’ down… take away my sin and leave me grace, come awnnn Angel, haul my load, I wish I was in heaven sittin’ down”, a mournful choir of Twigs echoing. Not so mournful later on with ‘Light from the Lighthouse’, Charlie teases the spirits out with some quivering, expectant slide and those spirits sing with all their rough wonder, lungs trebling in size with every refrain. This is amongst the most rousing music I have heard on this earth. It is so resolutely human and like the rest of this incredible album it’s built on great playing, absolute integrity and joyful purpose.

The beauty and association of ‘This World Is Not My Home’ pushes my room into touch with the land beyond. A dead man appears, smiling and living. This music is a force for good, I can say that.

Shit, who does track by track reviews? There is not a single song here that doesn’t have some weird and intriguing lick driving the melody deep into the soul; the ecstatic wobble of a prominent jaw harp on ‘Pure Religion’ being the most psychedelically intrusive of the lot… bung, bung, bung, twing… yeaaaahhh…bung, bung, bung, bung… yeah, pure religion, hally loo and all the rest.

Where are we?

Just buy the thing, it’s here. You don’t need to hear it, you need to join souls with it via money and audio equipment that is not connected to a screen. Why is no-one distributing this in the UK? Perhaps I’ll start up!

-- David Morris, Hinter Ground