Black Medicine Music
(06.2008, A. Star)
Verdict = Hotly cooked, droning ragas
It is always nice to see an artist on the attack with a creative, poised follow up. Stag Hare came onto the scene last year with his debut CDr, Ahspen, a single track built on tribal drums and hippy drones that wandered pleasantly and rewarded bountifully. It was a strong release with loads of potential, but sometimes unexpected initial successes can breed the all too common “sophomore slump.” Stag Hare has destroyed all notions of such a slump with his follow up, Black Medicine Music, a more focused, dynamic and varied realization of his debut’s strengths. For the few who were able to snag a copy of Ahspen and dug it, there is nothing to fear here. Stag Hare is still the crystal worshipping, percussion rattling free spirit that we first met when his debut came out in a manila envelope with a hand painted feather, even if his latest comes shrink wrapped with an actual CD. The melodic, humming drones are still intact, the primal drums still puttering along throughout like tracks under a train and the slow building euphoria of each song is still spot on. What’s new is the shorter (though, with only five tracks, they’re all still a fair length) songs that find more transcendent peaks among a multitude of additional ideas and movements within the songs themselves. The vocals are also a more predominant feature this time around with some of the lyrics almost surfacing to a decipherable level. As far as comparisons go here, Stag Hare stands strong along side Kranky artists Bird Show or White Rainbow (Adam Forkner actually mastered the album), though he is definitely working at carving out his own nitch. Black Medicine Music is a beautiful, glowing mark on map of Salt Lake City experimental music, even without the incense.
Stag Hare on Virb