The Spanish Donkey — Raoul
(RareNoise RNR054, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2015-06-03
Raoul and his donkey walk along a dusty road under the searing Spanish sun. Raoul thinks he’s the boss — after all, he’s the human, and the donkey is, well, just a donkey. But Raoul is very much mistaken. Everything he does has been planned by the donkey, who subtly manipulates the man into doing his bidding. But maybe they are things Raoul would have done anyway. Certainly the donkey believes himself to be the boss. Little does Raoul know that The Spanish Donkey is three entities in one, a hairy trinity of musical force, consisting of the Drummer (Mike Pride), the Saft (Jamie, keyboards), and the Holy Guitar (Joe Morris). The Donkey is not a cruel master, though its whims sometimes bring darkness. Morris assaults the senses with wailing feedback, cascading chaos, skittering bolts of furious noise warped beyond recognition by electronic devices. Pride exercises no restraint in his percussive assault, and any resemblance to patterns, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Saft occasionally tempts the listener with something that sounds like an organ, but pulls back from normalcy by turning it into a growling beast, roaring, growling, eschewing such trivialities as keys and chords. Three long tracks, the shortest just under 16 minutes, the longest over 30, make a strong entry into the field of free noise rock, though “rock” is used more as a default for “loud electric music” than a meaningful stylistic description. You could as easily say “free noise jazz,” which maybe wasn’t a thing before, but is now. In any case, Raoul gives us three talented musicians following their restless spirits take them whithersoever (which is a word I always wanted to use in a review) they will.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.