Sunday, July 17, 2022

David Hollis - After All These Years (1979)

'Lost Classic' is a term thrown around a bit by self-appointed taste merchants. Heck, I've posted 50+ forgotten masterworks at Switched Out. Come along then, listener, and enjoy yet another recovered quintessence. 

A coupla decades ago, I left New York and the mushrooming 'New Weird America' scene: a big hazy hug of variegated freaks playing free-jazz, -noise, and -folk. Arriving in Aotearoa as the Chris Thompson s/t album was first re-ished, I was psyched to hear EnZed's take on psych-folk. Looked forward to listening to heaps of that sort of thing. Well there's not really heaps of this sort of thing. But there's y'know, heaps. 

After All...'s opening track 'You Said I Love You' is totally vibe-ulous with that Thompson: tinkling labyrinthine finger-picking in a lightly mediæval-ish mode. 'Phantom Lover' trips further along l'ancien phantastique, frilled with flute, mandolin murmurs and a rubbery bass drum thumping a measured, unembellished 'bwawmp'. Hollis's voice is soft and high, gentle and warm -- even on the slightly mean-spirited blues rocker 'Streets of Desire'. 'Sounds Beneath the Leaves' is a wordless return to idyll form, segueing through sweet birdsong into the heaviest mind-folker on the record, 'Song to Siddhartha': guitar, vocals and 'synthesizor' by Hollis, with hypnotic tabla by the mysterious Dr. Balachandran.   

Side two opens with the title track, a wee sweetmeat easily imagined as a tv famcom theme song -- just conjure up your own 80s suburban domestic mind-montage! The soulful 'Rendezvous' slots comfortably amongst the Ramsey Najm record recently posted here: dual-tracked sax and tenderness. 'I Want To Make Love Loving You' is a super-cute country song: harmonica, fiddle and slide summon a sunny snapshot of country courtin'. 

Then whoa, 'Who Knows' takes us to flowerchild church, floating in a capella polyphonic wide-eyed 60s-style wonderment, Hollis's sun-soaked mellifluity reverberating in your chest and cerebrospinal cavities. 'Deepening' like, keeps us there -- in that kaleidoscopic grassfed sunspotted timelessness; mandolin, tabla and mournful french horn redoubling the sweet reverbed melancholy. 'You Lift Me With Your Love Babe' is the second blueser, then a slow-motion smoky tumble back to the heavy seventies -- drifting along on the feathery 'Sail Cloud'.

My minor quibble about this record is that the compiled order presents a range of styles -- all well-represented, -arranged and -performed -- which are together a bit disjointed. And this is a record that needs to be jointed, got me? Like, the title track is sorta schmaltzy, and the jumpy blues numbers would've made a solid seven-inch a- & b-side -- so why drop 'em in amongst the sleepy-deep stonedness and guileless philosophisin'? 

For you, I've rearranged the tracks into a slightly longer psych-pside (ptwenty-psix minutes) and a pop'n'rock side (twenty minutes) [feel free to re-rearrange -- the magic of empeethree!].  

Side one: highest recommendation! Side two: [bonus tracks]

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