Yesterday's New York Times had a nice feature on freak folk, a genre of neo-psychedelic music that I've been digging for a while. (Seen here, the cover of Howlin Rain.) From the article:
"We're living in the age of the reissue," said Michael Klausman, a buyer for Other Music in New York, a store that is a major source of experimental folk. "For some of the younger musicians, these old records are their formative influences. You see them engaging with the music of their parents' generation almost like it's a contemporary phenomena."Link (Thanks, Birdman!)
This summer's version of freak folk tends to be darker and more experimental than first-wavers like (Devendra) Banhart and (Joanna) Newsom. The guitarist Ben Chasny is a Northern Californian whose pleasantly droning electro-acoustic recordings date back to the late 90's. He appears on three impressive new records this season: "The Sun Awakens," a haunting mix of fingerpicking and feedback by his main creative vehicle, Six Organs of Admittance; "Black Ships Ate the Sky," an "apocalyptic folk" song-cycle by the former industrial rockers Current 93; and "Avatar," a ferocious psych-rock set by Comets on Fire.
Mr. Chasny, like many musicians on the scene, is a self-confessed record geek. "The whole thing for me at first was getting the beautiful, mysterious record that made you wonder, 'Who are these guys?' But then I'd mail-order these crazy psychedelic folk records and feel, 'Well, that wasn't really crazy enough.' So I started making the records I wanted to hear."
Mr. Chasny's work with Comets on Fire of Santa Cruz represents the noisier side of new psychedelia, as does the self-titled debut by Howlin Rain, a side project of the Comets' guitarist Ethan Miller. Their screaming guitars are worlds away from the laid-back sound of most modern "hippie rock."
"I come from the biggest hippie area in the world," said Mr. Chasny, who grew up in Arcata, Calif. "But they don't listen to the real hippie music. They listen to Phish and that groove stuff. I love the old psychedelic music because it wasn't just imagery."
"It was music that meant something," he added.