Saturday, 10 May 2014

John Fahey - 'God, Time and Causality' (Shanachie)

This late-period Fahey (but predating his 'experimental' comeback on labels such as Tim/Kerr and Table of the Elements) is a gem, combining the expanded blues ragas of his early work with the more direct, punctual guitar tone found in his 80s recordings. He revisits some old tunes here, making this a key document of how an old master continually reinvents himself. Maybe it's wisdom and age, but God, Time and Causality announces itself right off the bat with 'Revelation', which according to the liner notes quotes Charley Patton. It then segues into 'The Red Pony', a thundering, almost violent epic that roars and flows for about six minutes. A new version of 'Lion', last heard on The Yellow Princess, follows, and the liner notes metions that this is stolen from an obscure blues guitarist named Walter Hawkins, and that the flamenco flourishes were also Hawkins'. This is such an iconic Fahey tune to me, and hearing it twenty years after the last recording illustrates the 'time' part of the album title. 'Requiem for Mississippi John Hurt' is also revisited as the second part of a medley and it becomes such a lifting, magical ride that I probably can't tell it's recorded 20 years after the version on Requia. There's a bed of overtones here, a warm glow from the speedy repetition which lingers on during the changes.  Fahey's 80s output is often overlooked and Rainforests admittedly feels minor and reaching, but God, Time and Casuality really can stand against any of his classic late 60s albums, so if anything this illustrates the biases of time (there's some causality for you). My own accumulation of Fahey recordings ends here, but I would like to check out Womblife again, because I remember it embracing electric reverb and delay pedals with a vigor not even hinted at in his earlier electronic tendencies, and while I didn't care for it at the time (preferring the definitive acoustic Fahey) I think that after listening to a few of these albums sequentially I would feel more of the context to support it (which is kinda really why I do this, you know)....

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