Daniel Higgs: Ancestral Songs
No, really, we get it--Lungfish mouthpiece Daniel Higgs is blown to fucking bits. The walking enigma has penned some of the more opaque and affecting lyrics in indie rock-qua-punk for the past 18 years, peeling back skullcaps with his Gnostic-cum-Rosicrucian-cum pantheistic magus manifesto poetry. The lot of it, really far out there--and that's before you get to the witch-doctor beard, the don't-look-directly-into-his-eyes stage stare, the generations of tattoos covering his skin, the wearing-two-pairs-of-pants-at-one time vibe (see: Talking Songs for Walking-era Lungfish photos), and the overall other-dimensional humanoid-ish being obviously cultivated by the man. Higgs' indelible public-averse public image comes from some two decades of oracular shape-shifting. Of course, none of those surface surfeits would matter if his music didn't bore through skin, bone, and whatever soul you may have left. And with his second solo outing--six songs credited to Daniel (Arcus Incus Ululat) Higgs, Interdimensional Song-Seamstress, no less--he has, for all intents and purposes, hatched the so-called freak-folk album by which all others will be measured.
Songs corrals all the various moods and mediums that Higgs has swam through solo in recent years--acoustic guitar fugues with melodic sing-speak incantation ("Living in the Kingdom of Death," "O Come and Walk Along"), frontal-lobe-tickling acoustic guitar excursions ("Thy Chosen Bride"), levitating electric guitar drone as revelatory ritual slash exorcism ("Are You the Body?," "Time-Ship of the Demogorgon"), and reverberating Jew's harp journey to the center of the mind ("Moharsing and Schoenhut"). Like the Sun City Girls, who finally have a peer in totally uncategorizable polyethnomusicological life-is-art-is-life, Higgs' sounds are a little bit of everything and unutterably his own, each lengthy track branded by the haunting specter of his tremulous voice--anybody else quivering "Lucifer, the child-bride of the Christ" would sound like an insufferably melodramatic navel-gazer, yet "Living in the Kingdom of Death" feels like a Chaucerian hymnal finally excavated--or the hypnotic surge and wallow of his finger-picking blacksmithing. Simultaneously lavishly baroque and monastically ascetic, Ancestral Songs is an incendiary slab of gorgeous, monolithic weirdness--and chances are nothing else like it is coming out anytime soon.