Pelt: Ayahuasca CD
A sprawling follow-up to 1999's conceptual breakthrough Empty Bell Ringing In The Sky, Ayahuasca represented a comprehensive survey of the band's exponentially expanding world view during one of their most active periods.
Recorded over a period of more than two years at various live and studio sessions, the sounds here are the start of what came after - Jack's "Red Horse, White Mule" and "Opium Musick" solo LPs, the Black Twigs, full-on Pelt acoustic shows, etc. Most striking about the record at the time was the inclusion of several traditional tunes, arranged for the group's eclectic instrumentation.
While the band had been performing some acoustic material for several years and let some sneak out on the limited edition For Michael Hannas CDR, Ayahuasca was the first release to fully explore this part of their repertoire. "The Cuckoo" and 'Deep Sunny South" are traditional Appalachian numbers, played and sung with considerable skill and feeling.
The sawing bowed acoustic guitar on "The Cuckoo" and the rolling banjo and Tibetan bowl accompaniment on "Deep Sunny South" draw a direct line between raw/folk music traditions and the deep, visceral drone music that Pelt concentrated on prior to this record.
The performances here have a balance of unpolished amateur electricity and reverence for the material thatreally only existed for a very short time - after this, the players rapidly expanding skills changed the sound forever. Combining the two styles neatly, "A Raga Called John" features Jack Rose's very, very fine country-blues/Fahey-influenced fingerstyle guitar over a shifting backdrop of hurdy-gurdy and concertina, before giving way to tanpuras overrun by fretless banjo.
Of course, on top of all of this easily comprehensible music there's plenty of ear-cleansing ecstatic drone, from the two long flotation-inducing trios for bowed electrics and Esraj to the wall-shaking electric hurdy-gurdy mania of "Bear Head Apparition." Truly a record for our times, such as they are.