Album Review

Jakob Battick & Friends – The Painful Places Will All Fly From Me (self released, 2011)

Jakob Battick & FriendsThan Even The Night (self released)

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So it has come to this, the final nail in the Jakob Battick & Friends coffin. Originally a limited physical release in 2010, Battick decided to re-release Painful Places for free on Bandcamp as a farewell. Well, this couldn’t be a more fitting finale as this is as fucking sad as it gets. Melancholic and bittersweet, stripped down to its bones, just a couple slow guitars with Battick and and his friends filling in the spaces with their voices, Battick’s rich & resonating, super intimate, like you’re right there with him in a cold, empty church attic. This is the bleakest, most minimal folk you’ve ever heard, Battick can take a few chords and turn them upside down, into something previously unknown, and his voice makes everything incredibly tragic but still uplifting, like he’s fucking Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders for infinity, singing to the world that there’s nothing to worry about ’cause he’s fucking got it, death, death, more death, and it’s all ok because nothing matters. So yeah, this is really fucking good, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t grab a gratis copy. Here’s hoping that Battick isn’t done making music and he’s just retiring the “Friends.” The world would certainly be worse off if he was done for good, so lets make this a public plea for more Battick creations. We (I) need it.

Album Review

Jakob Battick & Friends – Bloodworm Songs (Horsehouse Ltd, 2011)

Jakob Battick & FriendsLeper K

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I think Jakob Battick is reaching maximum velocity and he hasn’t even put out a full length yet. Bloodworm Songs is his third EP in the past couple years, each with the promise of a long player on the horizon, and each one getting darker and weirder. This one is by far the darkest & weirdest yet, which means it’s fucking great.

There are two tracks that are straight up drone/noise, which is already another step in the “(not) folk” category, starting off with “My First Bloodworm Song (Up In The Sky),” a vintage sample heavy soup of murky squeaks and layered droney radio show intros, and then later on “Our Second Bloodworm Song (Fed Through Isinglass)” with a nauseating swirl of unnerving strings & creaking chaos. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a “folk” record start out with such bizarre sounds and then actually continue to keep up the mayhem, especially on a 5 song EP.

The other three more song oriented tracks are honestly some of the most depressing blackfolk I’ve ever heard. It’s slow and bleak, resonating through an empty attic with a dead body slumped over in the corner. It’s simultaneously warm & cold, a lush and collaborative ode to decay, feeling like it was recorded on a porch in the middle of a thunderstorm, damp & musty, collections of busted instruments played by weary ghosts, desperately trying to light a spark in the desolate prairie.

And then it finishes up with “Nine Brothers & The Wolf,” a revamped and extended 10 minute version of the 6 minute one on Heavy The Mountains, Heavy Are The Seas. That was easily my favorite track from that album and I was a little disappointed when I saw that out of the 5 tracks on this new EP, one of them was a repeat. But sweet fucking lord I am SO glad they re-recorded it, because the new version is a million times more bitter, doomed & somber soaked to the fuckin bone, a funereal death march of the greatest heartache and the most glorious bittersweet beauty, harmoniums squeezing the life out of your soul, vocals streaming with tears of despair & misery, strings & guitars dressing your heart up in burial robes, drums plodding to the torturous end, this is the most gorgeously melancholic song ever written.

I think I might not be able to handle a full length from Battick & pals, especially considering when I write over 500 words for a 5 song EP. Bloodworm Songs is just outstanding in every way, and knowing that each release Battick puts out is better than the last is enough to have me foaming at the mouth for whatever’s next. Plus he mentioned to me he’s working on a “curse songs” album, which is just the coolest fucking thing I can think of him doing. And this record has some insane packaging, with lots of layered black & white printed vellum and transparencies of appropriately grim imagery, courtesy of Horsehouse Ltd. Limited, obviously, and super fuckin cheap.