“a soundtrack to the american frontier.”
i’m pretty sure, that the worst thing which can happen to a genre, scene or in fact a musician is getting hyped. the hype machine eventually milks dry whatever it sucks in and then spits out desiccated corpses. and by that point one can’t do nothing but turn his head with disgust. banality? maybe. it’s still sad though…
after the excessive stream of americana/(freak) folk/singer-songwriter artists a couple of years back, i can hardly get excited by these tags now days. i’m obviously being unfair with the newcomers here, as i sort of punish them for the way media works. namely for the tendency of bubbling a phenomenon way over its actual size, which then results in the emergence of the mediocre.
if i hadn’t liked the cover of cliff dweller’s ghosts of the dust bowl, i probably wouldn’t have clicked play. i’m telling now with the hindsight: that would’ve been a sever mistake.
first off, even though the music is rooted in american folk music, it’s a far cry from being an archetypical americana record. the focus here is not so much on individual songs and catchy refrains but on textures and atmosphere. in this aspect ghosts of the dust bowl is just as much an ambient as a folk record. secondly, if this music in indebted to american root music, it’s just as much indebted to modern classical and, well, ambient. finally, the economical and elegant incorporation of electronic sounds, noise and field recordings adds an alienating effect to the music, which is further emphasised by the occasional dissonant chords played on the violin. the whole thing keeps balancing between comforting and unsettling and actually that’s what makes ghosts… remarkable.