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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, May 23, 2004
    And on the day you fall whose name will ya call
     
    DEVENDRA BANHART: "COSMOS AND DEMOS" from Oh Me Oh My...

    This 23 year old protege of Swans' Michael Gira possesses the cracked falsetto voice of one who has crossed over beyond the veil of reality and is not afraid to sing of what he has seen there. Like his own Klee-style illustrations that crawl over his sleeves, Texas born Banhart's acoustic guitar weaves spindrift shapes while he sings deceptively innocent ditties, childlike rhyme and observation shot through with just the right amount of menace and insight. Here's hoping he never resorts to big budget recording. The tape occasionally flutters, and on most of the below-two minute songs on this record he invades the mic's personal space, his breath bumping against the electromagnetic field like an overheated animal behind glass. The tune is punctuated by a distant and mystifying whipcrack. This is lunar song, alive to the tug of blood in the veins. "I've never told this story to another living soul, for fear it might awaken and the story would unfold" - don't we require such latent, coiled power from every song we hear?


    I've been listening fascinated all week and cannot better this summary by Rob Young in The Wire, May 2004, 'The State of Song' feature. Banhart's muse is early-hippy-Bolan though he veers into territory all his own.

    His notes on the song tell us (reliably?) that it's about "Two Brothers (true story) who sowed black limbs on white limbs and white limbs on black limbs, it did not work, but it was during the medieval era and they went around doing this before word from the town they were at before got to the town they were at ." It was recorded on Bastille day in Paris, and the 'mystifying whipcrack' in the background is that of "fire works and one gun shot"....

    [Download Oh Me Oh My... extract here]