The Old Man and the C: Come Get Psalm

There is so much more to an album than what fits in a 250-word review. In the case of Philip Blackburn's Ghostly Psalms, this is particularly distressing because of the immensity of the project and the sound universe within. The director of the excellent recording label Innova describes his inspiration for the titular work as follows:

"Ghostly Psalms sprang from the recurring anxiety dreams of an ex-chorister. But not the usual ones of being left behind on tour, singing a spectacular false entry, or holding the music upside down in front of a paying audience. This memorable one, from 1982, was about crawling uphill through a rocky desert with a crystalline trickle of clear water flowing uphill, entering a fortified mediaeval village (like Conques, perhaps) on the hilltop through a culvert, and walking into the abbey while voices played all around. The ceremony highlighted several ways of parsing the universe and making sense of how it all worked: through pure harmonic number ratios, dynamic ecosystems, vibration, brain activity, memory, order, and chaos: organic, mechanical, mystical."

This reminds me, tangentially, of the nightmarish sequences in Tarsem Singh's terrifying 2000 film, "The Cell". While Blackburn's writing is less likely to keep me checking and re-checking the front door locks at 2am, the music here is no less expansive in scope.

My favorite track on the album, truth be told, is Duluth Harbor Serenade (2011). I grew up spending summers on Lake Superior in Bayfield, WI, and the sounds of nearby Duluth recorded here are intimately familiar. Driving north toward Bayfield, you'll pass through Superior, where the steel is rusty and the ships are a constant fixture. Take a listen, and get lost in a symphony of lift bridges and chain saws. Not THOSE chain saws.

Here's my TimeOut review.