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I havn't been writing about much of anybody lately. It's been a few months. I admit it, I'm about half-lazy, and sometimes I wonder if people bother to read blogs anymore, or if they even care about the dirty olde modern-fashioned blues. Do you?
But recently a guy that I respect a lot asked me if I was still writing this blog, as he hadn't seen it in his feed in awhile. Hell, I didn't even know he read the thing. Well, that was almost the poke in the ribs I needed to get to key-stabbing again. But not quite.
You know, I've been doing this blog (and the previous website) for over ten-some years now, and I go through phases and stages. Sometimes I love it, and I try and post every day. I know that if nobody reads this but the artists, at least they'll know one person in the world digs them, and that can be just enough for them and me to keep going.
But then after awhile I started to hate it, I didn't see the point, and I wondered if anybody would give a good nickel-plated damn if I just let the thing (all 800 plus posts on this blog about bands you've never heard of, and another half as many on my other blog)...just lay fallow. Not to be whiney, but it's a serious lot of work.
Then as always, something really damn special comes in my mailbox, some little savior package, and turns it me right around, and puts me back on the rock.
|Photo by Bruno Charoy|
Jansson, aka Gugges Enmanna, a striking twenty-seven-year-old from Gothenburg, Sweden is a one-man band that isn't afraid to step out of the expected limitations of that role and add other instrumentation, from strings to saxophone, from other drummers and percussionists, or to engage in the art of studio foreplay, of solid knob twerking, as long as it serves the song. The sonic elements and textures of Tom Waits, David Eugene Edwards work with 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand, and White Stripes mesh with the rough boogie of Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin' Wolf to form a fresh blues vibe, just as menacing as the old, just as heavy as the new. It's unprecious, anti-antique blues. Jansson knows his roots, and has no need to obsess or genuflect over them. They're the bones, he's the bread and marrow.
Released this year by the taseful french label Normandeep Blues, Moan Snake Moan is an outstanding collection of alt-blues, and propagated roots that evolve and seep, roar and weep, and remind you that the next time someone tells you the blues and its permutations are tired and gone, you can tell them to shut it and listen to this. An absolutely brilliant album.
Here's a track by track examination, but first let us pray we may set the tone of Moan Snake Moan:
Isaiah 13:10 - For the stars of heaven and the constellations there of shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Isaiah 50:3 - "I clothe the heavens with blackness And make sackcloth their covering."
They say Lucifer was the cutest boy in heaven."
1. The Church Bell Tone -
A hard classic one-man blues stomp and whomp, rife with the sonic symbolism of church, death, gospel...the evil rock, the unholy roll. All of it held together by the soft, warm hand of Satan's siren, aka the saxophone. All wailing and cruel destruction for we who cross its black iced and boogie-strewn path.
2. Moan Snake Moan Pt. 1 -
Whoooa! Who been here baby, since I been gone?
On a still, sticky September day, I payed honor and obeisance at the tombside of the Cresent City voodoo woman. As I lit a candle, a bible placed by one unknown at the base of her marble grave lay open to the fortieth Psalm, its thin redlined and rice-like parchment papers fluttered by a suddenly chill wind to the one-hundred and fiftieth Psalm. True story.
3. William Is Back -
Back from where? The dead? Everything ain't right. Frailed banjer, bass drum of the last days, a fist-like tension locked...in...hard. Bror knows from creepy.
4. One For Earth -
A doomy, droney, sludgy slag pile of blues to honor the doomy, droney, sludgy slag pile that is the band Earth. But sexier on a 3:34AM drunk than it has a right to be. The soundtrack to the next Papa Legba that stands at a crossroads. Waiting.
5. He Had a Knife In His Hand -
Ahhhhh...blues. I know 'em when I hears 'em.
6. Ain't No Grave -
Brother Claude Ely's classic raw gospel chestnut done correct.
7. New Mountain Ballad No. 1 -
Creepy gorgeousity with strings. I have no doubt that one of my fave bands Brighton's Mudlow is jealous that they didn't write this first. That's a compliment.
8. TV -
Klanketyassed processed blues gets its konk fixed tight in our post-Black Key's kitchen.
9. Butch -
A lonesome howler replete with blood stains, as told by Butch, that just might leave you crippled, just might leave you blind. He's back. Don't get up.
10. God Have Mercy -
AC/DC-ized gospel brawler pleads for forgiveness, which is unforthcoming. Heavy as fuck, sacred as metal. Staggeringly glorious, like a sanctified striptease.