ORGAN THING: Led by drummer José Medeles (Breeders, 1939 Ensemble), Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems is a drummer’s tribute to guitarist and DIY iconoclast John Fahey…

Organ Thing of the Day – Led by drummer José Medeles (Breeders, 1939 Ensemble, Revival Drum Shop), Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems is a drummer’s rather beautiful tribute to guitarist and DIY iconoclast John Fahey. There’s one track out there right now, the album comes out in May.

The press release…

Led by drummer José Medeles (Breeders, 1939 Ensemble, Revival Drum Shop), Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems is a drummer’s tribute to guitarist and DIY iconoclast John Fahey. Joined for a series of guitar and drum duets with M. Ward, experimental guitarist Marisa Anderson, and Chris Funk (Decemberists, Stephen Malkmus), it’s a genuinely honorific project, featuring not Fahey compositions, but rather a series of improvised rendezvous inspired and informed by his looseness and rhythmic idiosyncrasies. Though Medeles knew and had interacted with all of his collaborators, the record represents the first time he’s played on a record with Anderson and Funk (though he’s contributed to Ward’s indie pop band She & Him). Recording in the comfortable setting of Bocce Recording in Vancouver, WA, in 2020, these duets are playful and spiritually deep, presented with snapshot clarity Medeles likens to the recordings of Alan Lomax or Chris Strachwitz, “who boldly captured field recording of Southern chain gangs and juke joint raconteurs decades ago. The result here is similar: pure and honest recordings.”


Single descrption: “RICHNESS OF PEACE” with M. Ward: Dipping into this languid and smokey standout from drummer José Medeles’ Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems, a drum and guitar tribute to the musical spirit of the late guitarist and DIY iconoclast John Fahey, you’d scarcely be able to guess the duet with guitarist M. Ward was entirely improvised. “You can hear him as a songwriter…a brillant songsmith, brilliant guitar player,” Medeles says. “When we end, you’d think we’d work that out. But we didn’t.” Like the album’s other stunning tracks, more Fahey-inspired improvisations from Medeles with Marisa Anderson and Chris Funk, respectively, “Richness of Peace” captures a snapshot of a specific moment in time, with two players listening and meditating on Fahey’s idiosyncratic rhythmic character. “It’s past physicality. You’re not thinking, you’re listening,” Medeles says. “Things like that don’t happen if you have any hang ups.

From Anderson’s Delta blues on “The Paper Snake” to Funk’s careening slide guitar on “Golden” to Ward’s elegiac electric guitar on “Richness of Peace,” these recordings connect to Fahey’s transcendent states. “It’s past physicality. You’re not thinking, you’re listening,” Medeles says. “Things like that don’t happen if you have any hang ups.

The record concludes with “Voice Of The Turtle,” a reverie from Funk and Medeles, who trade washes of cymbals and swells of slide guitar underneath a sample of Fahey speaking, describing the light trance he enters when playing and a scene of Robert Johnson, sans his guitar, entertaining spectators by clapping his hands. “I tried to imitate his rhythmic creativity…I had a lot of old blues records around…I listened to those and tried to imitate them as best I could.” With Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems, Medeles does the same, creating a generous space that invites the listener into the collective unconscious.

More details and such via Bandcamp

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And while you’re waiting…

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