Freitag, 10. Dezember 2021

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Illuminations (1969)

In the year 2000, the Wire magazine picked this spaced out gem from Native American folksinger and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie as one the "100 Albums That Set the World on Fire", originally released in 1969.

 Interestingly enough, it's a record Sainte-Marie doesn't even list on her discography on her website. It doesn't matter whether she cares for it or not, of course, because Illuminations is as prophetic a record as the first album by Can or the psychedelic work of John Martin on Solid Air. For starters, all of the sounds with the exception of a lead guitar on one track and a rhythm section employed on three of the last four selections are completely synthesized from the voice and guitar of Sainte-Marie herself. There are tracks whose vocals are completely electronically altered and seem to come from the ether -- check out "Mary" and "Better to Find Out for Yourself" as a sample. But the track "Adam," with its distorted bassline and Sainte-Marie throwing her voice all over the mix in a tale of Adam's fall and his realization -- too late -- that he could have lived forever, is a spooky, wondrous tune as full of magic as it is mystery and electronic innovation.

The songs here, while clearly written, are open form structures that, despite their brevity (the longest cut here is under four minutes), break down the barriers between folk music, rock, pop, European avant-garde music and Native American styles (this is some of the same territory Tim Buckley explores on Lorca and Starsailor). It's not a synthesis in any way, but a completely different mode of travel. This is poetry as musical tapestry and music as mythopoetic sonic landscape; the weirdness on this disc is over-exaggerated in comparison to its poetic beauty. It's gothic in temperament, for that time anyway, but it speaks to issues and affairs of the heart that are only now beginning to be addressed with any sort of constancy -- check out the opener "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot" or the syncopated blues wail in "Suffer the Children" or the arpeggiated synthesized lyrics of "The Vampire." When the guitars begin their wail and drone on "The Angel," the whole record lifts off into such a heavenly space that Hans Joachim Rodelius must have heard it back in the day, because he uses those chords, in the same order and dynamic sense, so often in his own music.

Some may be put off by Sainte-Marie's dramatic delivery, but that's their loss; this music comes from the heart -- and even space has a heart, you know. One listen to the depth of love expressed on "The Angel" should level even the crustiest cynic in his chair. Combine this with the shriek, moan, and pure-lust wail of "With You, Honey" and "He's a Keeper of the Fire" -- you can hear where Tim Buckley conceived (read: stole) the entirety of Greetings From LA from, and Diamanda Galas figured out how to move across octaves so quickly. The disc closes with the gothic folk classic "Poppies," the most tripped out, operatic, druggily beautiful medieval ballad ever psychedelically sung. That an album like Illuminations can continue to offer pleasure 32 years after it was recorded is no surprise given its quality; that it can continue to mystify, move, and baffle listeners is what makes it a treasure that is still ahead of its time.  -     

01. God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot
02. Mary
03. Better To Find Out For Yourself
04. The Vampire
05. Adam
06. The Dream Tree
07. Suffer The Little Children
08. The Angel
09. With You, Honey
10. Guess Who I Saw In Paris
11. He's A Keeper Of The Fire
12. Poppies

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Illuminations (1969)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

14 Kommentare:

Anonym hat gesagt…

Oh nice, thank you. Here´s a nice little feature in german:

Regards C.

zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot for the link and the interesting feature! Greetings...

Doug hat gesagt…

Thanks.Have some tracks on a Vanguard compilation.Will be interesting to hear the whole album.

zero hat gesagt…

You are welcome!

Razor Moon hat gesagt…

Thank you for this ZERO G. Buffy is a force of nature, and still a shining star for the 'first people' here in Canada, and for all the rest of us who came here later...we owe those people more than we yet realize...some of the stories generating out of our linked history here this week are so sad. We should all be as strong as Ms. Sainte-Marie. On a more up-note, in the form of a request...any chance of re-upping 'Little Wheel Spin and Spin' from 1966? Race (no doubt) and rarity, make this very difficult to find...actually her catalogue is enormous, endlessly experimental, and seems to disappear upon release...but I expect it will linger in the background somehow long after a lot of other material has turned to dust and blown away...tchuss!

zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot for your feedback. Hope to find the Little Wheel-file, then i will reup it. All the best!

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

Thank you so much for posting Sainte-Maire's music. She was adopted by parents living in, and grew up and attended university in my home state. Her unique voice and lyrics have haunted me for forty five years and, although I have many of her albums, I am thrilled to find these posts. Her music and, for that matter, folk music can still be found on radio there and clubs and coffeehouses throughout the New England region.

I profoundly appreciate your posting so much folk music, Van Ronk, Peter Seeger, Joan Baez, the Farinas, the Muldaurs, Jim Kweskin, Tom Paxton, Tom Rush, Eric Anderson, Malvina Reynolds, Utah Phillips, Ewan McColl, and so many others. Frankly, I can think of no other blog as devoted to posting their music as your blog is. Paxton, Sainte-Maire, and many others are still active or have inspired younger artists and I hope this blog prompts readers to seek their past and current music. They are not merely relics from a by-gone era and frankly their music is more inspiring and topical that much of what garners airplay today. Again thanks for all you do. Every visit here inspires one!

zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot, Feilimid O´Broin, i am very lucky that you and others enjoy the music featured on this blog. Best wishes!

Anonym hat gesagt…

Thank you. Great album!

Anonym hat gesagt…

Buffy Sainte-Marie is Native-Canadian not American. I'm just saying...Thank you

zero hat gesagt…

Glad you like that music. Best wishes!

rosbeliobones9223@gmail,com hat gesagt…

Gosto de todos os estilos musicais . Do gospel (Sou evangélico Cristão) Mas não fanático!!! gosto de death metal ate clássica, Beethoven Vivaldi,ravel "bolero de ravel" é lindo meus vizinhos e amigos me chamam de louco!!! Isso é bom. "os loucos não errarão o caminho do ceu" Bíblia!

Rhodb hat gesagt…

Thanks for the Buffy share a great artist


zero hat gesagt…

You are welcome!

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