In our world, the life of the artist is very easy on one hand, due to his ability to record in his bedroom and spread his music all around the world easily. Genres that used to be specific and geographically related, expands and become available to the masses and if in the past you had to be Thai to love Thai psychedelia, or at least a big collector of the genre – today you can just go to the internet and learn everything you need to know about the genre. What used to belong to the elite, is now a common knowledge.
The Frankfurt School who challenged the control of the bourgeois, elite status on the communication methods and asked to reserve the high, elitist culture, to itself – totally collapsed and today, though the trash pop music controls the medias everywhere and talks face to face to the lowest common denominator, everyone has the ability to discover the high culture, consume it and maybe even create in its field. On one hand, it can develop the culture, but it can also demolish it when undeveloped people (in the high culture field, that is) are messing around with it, and every 13 year old guitarist with a delay effect is doing ‘post rock’. But in the end of the day, if you’re an artist in the modern age, you can have access to every house in the western world that has a computer. You just need to be clever to enter through the port.
On the other hand, the life of the artist are very hard because the competition is big and if in the past, a band’s status was high because ‘they sound exactly like XTC, only brand new’ – today there are so many bands that all of a sudden discovered XTC and this discoveries led to the creation of imitating bands, because the origin became so massively exposes and belong to the masses.
The same process happened to me as well, as a musician. One day I was in London and happened to catch Jack Rose live in concert, and it was only couple of days after I heard Glenn Jones‘ debut album and the combination of both discoveries flipped me and I started making the music I’m doing today. Suddenly, many of the guitarists who emerged lately, just like me, and that were influenced deeply by musicians like John Fahey or Robby Basho and the whole Takoma Records circle. So many guitarists in this new wave that wrote on their wall the sentence ‘How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life’ that Fahey once name his book after, that it’s very hard to point the differences between them, to the inexperienced listener. This is why me and my peers are exposed to critics who blame us for being Fahey imitators.
I don’t care that much, maybe others do, but one should listen and focus deeply to find the little differences between these musicians and this wave of criticism will pass and the media could accept the fact that not everyone is an inventor of a musical genre, but everyone tries hard to have his own say. Not every sax player who plays free-jazz is a John Coltrane imitator, and Albert Ayler, Ornett Coleman and Pharoah Sanders have identities of their own, got their own respect as musicians, even though the influence of the great father of them all, is obvious.
C Joynes is a guitarist who operates in the John Fahey region and therefore exposed to criticism, like me, like Glenn Jones, Ben Reynolds, Jack Rose and the rest of the guitar players that haven’t released their album yet but practice really hard on divide their right hand to two – thumb and the rest of the fingers.
In his new, second album, Revenants, Prodigies and the Restless Dead, Joynes succeed to avoid totally from falling to the dangerous Fahey-imitator traps, as he manages to write an visionary, imaginary album, with varied influences from several musical directions. He walks the traditional road while bringing new sonic statement and approach to a music style that has hard time in reinventing itself.
The album, that was released in the great label Bo’Weavil Recordings on cd and on limited edition with Immune, turns out to be one of the best albums of the year in this genre, and this is the year Jack Rose released two albums, Glenn Jones released one and Ben Reynolds released one. What a great year.
Pretty Little Divorce that opens the album, is a wonderful peek to an imaginary soul and serves the characteristics of riding a long and winding road, with occasional right and left turns that doesn’t change the general direction. The cello that appears in the middle of the piece with the low drone and the banjo that takes the listener to a new place, turns the exposition of the album to a fascinating introduction to a long journey that its beauty isn’t fully revealed entirely in its beginning.
Mob Happy is a Fahey-esq slide piece that has enough character of its own and creativity that keeps it out of that Fahey honey-trap that I mentioned, but I Love You Funny Huji, with its magical musicbox vibe and the little mandolins, turns this piece to something very unique in the contemporary guitars zone, and declares a new development of the American blues music, which is the main influence of the album, and turns it to a Japanese Haiku.
Nyambai Sawmill is something completely different. A complex of dobro noises led by an undefined melody that doesn’t interrupt the rhythmic character of the piece. I can see Joynes in my imagination, sits and drums on the tin body of the dobro and the snare skin of the banjo, in a tribal joy that reminds some sort of a rain dance.
The electric fingerpicking of Bones For Dogsi, panning its way in mind to the wonderful Ecim album by Cul De Sac while Poison On The Well is a freak-folk thing that blinks to Espers and Lights and Arborea.
The surprising piece of the album is probably The Autumn Leaves, a bizarre cover to a chewed up jazz standard, that I thought there’s nothing new to do with it, but, apparently there is.
The new album by C Joynes is a fascinating, brilliant, eclectic mixture of sounds, colors and imagination, of a thrilling musician that takes his DNA struck British Folk music, together with the Delta blues and John Fahey, and assembles a terrific, influential, multi-layered album, that just a bit before the end of the decade, shows why 2009, on the contrary to what all the over-hyped websites says – was a great year after all.