Pay attention: if, like me, you have hitherto only sketchy knowledge of the solo work of Daniel Higgs, get familiar before the 28th. Over eighteen years and eleven albums, his band Lungfish perfected emotional, combustible, transcendant post-hardcore before ceasing in 2005. Since that time he’s made sporadic visits to the UK, mostly solo – here backed by two musicians – and beaten an idiosyncratic path through outsider/folk art territory taking in art, poetry and several albums thick with folkloric/religious/mythologic imagery and hypnotic, meditative drone-folk. 2010’s double album Say God is the apex of this journey, deep and spiritual, a mesh of banjo plucking, electronic drones and contemplative mantras. Fascinating and rewarding stuff, should be an intense and rewarding listen up close.
Ratatosk is pretty much the most perfect counterpoint to Higgs’ work, his two self-released and utterly essential albums under that name presenting two sides of Rhodri Viney’s talents. The instrumental swells of Archipelago Vol. 1 are described as “the first in a series of diversions” from the dense, lyrical tales of high-seas madness, loneliness and desperation of C’est La Vie Tragique, but they’re no less affecting. Building from simple loops of guitar and vocal with saw, pedal steel and melodica, they achieve stirring, uplifting results every time. By contrast, Newport’s Lt. Meat revels in the simplicity of his one-man set up; bloke called Dave plays twangy surf-rock guitar and rowdy garage over self-made backing tracks played through his laptop. Often he’ll be dressed in steampunk garb. Always he’ll be an engaging stage presence with a bunch of lost B-movie soundtracks.
Lesson #1 keep bringing this goodness to you. Get down there and give thanks.
THURSDAY 28 APRIL
LESSON NO.1 PRESENTS
DANIEL HIGGS TRIO
What can we say about Daniel Higgs? The ex-Lungfish legend and his banjo returns to the UK, this time as a trio on several of the dates, backed by Maya Dunietz (piano/accordion) and Ram Gabai (drums), after his jaw-dropping 2-disc release on Thrill Jockey last year, Say God – a record that is spare, spacious and quite possibly his most transcendental record to date.
After 11 albums (10 for the esteemed Dischord), Lungfish seemed to grind to a halt in 2005 following the release of Feral Hymns. Simultaneously, Higgs’ solo activities took off, leading to his series of hypnotising outsider excursions for Holy Mountain, Thrill Jockey and others.
Higgs is renowned as a hypnotising and charismatic live presence with a ferociously ardent following. If you haven’t caught the Higgs bug yet, get yourself to one of these rare and sporadic shows and feel it all fall into place.
The most recent incarnation of Cardiff-based musician Rhodri Viney, Ratatosk (named after a creature from Norse mythology) is maybe his most DIY venture yet. He has recorded two full-length albums which you can buy at the link below. If you spring for the CDR versions you get really great fold-y card packaging and that, as well as a collection of songs featuring sad Francophile folk, wailing musical saw, ambient drifting, lots of loops and lyrics about mad sea captains.
Lt Meat is a fellow from Newport called Dave who has been in several punk bands, but on his own he produces a combo of country, garage, blues and surf-rock. When he plays live, his feet bring the bass drum’n’cymbal stomps while his hands provide the upbeat twang. And his face tells jokes and relates tales. It is a fine spectacle.
ALL HAPPENING AT: 10 FEET TALL, Church Street, Cardiff
£6 on the door