Stag Hare
Black Medicine Music


4.0
excellent

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
August 10th, 2009 | 21 replies | 8,234 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An overlooked 2008 gem that blends trance and folk, and manages a few clever nods to Pink Floyd.

That other cover you are recalling from the one gracing the front of Black Medicine Music is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, whose iconic light-bending prism is recalled in two outstretched hands taking hold of a cup filled with liquid rainbow; a triangular prism is neatly cropped, translucent, atop them; a saturated-green forest fills the black void behind that. At once it is an homage that articulates the depths Stag Hare has taken in blending the outside influences apparent on his creative sophomore record, following 2007’s as-splendid debut, the 41-minute track Ahspen. Which is to say, Black Medicine Music is an album of feeling, an album that, by very nature, sounds like it was recorded in a forest, stretching its genre boundaries to include shades of tribal rhythms, blends of freak folk and traditional Americana, only to emerge victorious as a trance album.

Stag Hare’s songwriting here is bound to many genre conventions, like repetitious beats that sag along the floor, swathed beneath the layered “synths” of sparkling wind chimes and woodblock pulse, as they do on “Crystal Dust Dream,” which makes the album’s charming weightlessness all the more becoming. Here is an album that might have a very influential power behind it (if anyone knows of another artist blending folk and ambience like this, let me know, pronto), and yet the best thing about it is how easy it is to put on.

Opener “Born into Magic” begins with a rough recording of a bird cawing before cutting to the album’s clear production: a vibrant hum gives a minute to rise patiently, a beat claps into place, and the whole thing gives way to hypnotic tremors. This is the pace that guides the rest of the album, cementing its weightless feel even as it gives way to a few minutes of wood chimes shaking violently; or, say, places its two longest tracks as a final one-two punch of epic closure. That includes the aforementioned “Crystal Dust Dream,” which features the best use of harmonica I can recall in quite some time, and the album’s closing champion, “Oz.”

“Oz” is the only other track besides “Born into Magic” allowed time to really build and there is a deliberate pull to he pacing. It takes nearly two minutes for the album’s best track to slowly gather all of its parts and pile them on, and another four before it even starts to shape. The effect is epic. Stag Hare’s use of vocals as “vocals” is debatable at best on Black Medicine Music, mostly contained to unintelligible patterns that become integral to the music as instruments. On “Oz,” they bleed through the pores of this wall of noise, bend and warp around light, and clip off suddenly, only for the space to be filled with an electric guitar, a velvety smooth new color to the palette.

The Pink Floyd references are complete here, the sonic production that gives the chord its arc more reminiscent of three decades ago rather than of anything modern. But while Black Medicine Music is certainly an album of influences, Stag Hare must certainly be applauded for being unique to his execution. That he never seems to try for originality makes Black Medicine Music a wonderful find, a late summer surprise already a year removed from its release date. Feels a bit timeless, this one. I once called it “an Animal Collective instrumental album.” Enjoy.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Roach
August 10th 2009



2149 Comments


This sounds like something I am going to love or hate. What happened to esssplode?

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2009



6092 Comments


Nothing, my choice of username is more of a political thing.

BallsToTheWall
August 10th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I must say this sounds incredible.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2009



15000 Comments


lol 'political thing'

this sounds pretty cool as progressive stuff goes, might check into it

scyther
August 10th 2009



1606 Comments


I really like this review.

Fort23
August 10th 2009



2475 Comments


what happened to being on staff?

joshuatree
Emeritus
August 10th 2009



3743 Comments


i wasn't sure about getting this but i will now

BallsToTheWall
August 10th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good.

rasputin
August 10th 2009



14538 Comments


Look who's back. Great review, this sounds good.

Waior
August 10th 2009



11447 Comments


Why aren't emeritus reviews in the staff review section? I think they 'ought to be

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

finally

this is really one of the best albums ive heard all year, oz is stunning. I wish it was released this year so more people would care about it, but still, glad to see this reviewed. I find this as enjoyable with each listen as i did the second time i heard it

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Roach
August 11th 2009



2149 Comments


Not too sure about this, it's good but I can't see it having any lasting value.

Waior
September 1st 2009



11447 Comments


didn't want to enjoy this so i could be INDIVIDUALISTIC but this is really good

Roach
September 1st 2009



2149 Comments


surely you could have just left it at you wanting to be individual. individualistic sounds retarded.

scotish
October 10th 2009



835 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

this sounds like it's overlooked. is this the kind of thing an AC fanboy (i.e me) would drool all
over?

plane
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2009



6092 Comments


yeah

scotish
October 18th 2009



835 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

thought this was kinda boring at first but was getting into it at the end. rating+soundoff to come after another listen or two. and yes, this is massively overlooked, it's the kind of thing alot of people round these parts would love.

scotish
November 1st 2009



835 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

well Oz is kinda good towards the end, but most of the time I can't even get past the first track. verrry mood-y album.

Enotron
December 16th 2009



7695 Comments


anybody know where I can find this streaming online?

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 7th 2011



6092 Comments


Turns out Stag Hare is a girl. Who knew?



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