Artist: DASKEN, PAUL
Title: Speckled Ax
Label: Paul Dasken
"(Speckled Ax) was finally shrinkwrapped and ready to go in 1988. I placed a few copies with indie distributors but the market took a pass. Im leery of manifestos--I think things should speak for themselves. Plus the thing was made so many years ago that Im a bit foggy about it all. Its fair to say that the record is a study of contrasts, and the result of diverging ideas about what music should be--this is to say that the ideas were more entwined in earlier projects, which sounded nothing whatsoever like anything on the record (starting with PUS, my first band (1978), whose instrumentation consisted of power tools). The piano pieces were an attempt to reconnect with humanity in the course of some years spent chasing wild geese across two continents (the record cover is a kind of document of this time). The earlier of the two piano pieces (Busy Day) had a more architechtural conception behind it while the other one was conceived more in terms of an accommodation to silence. For what thats worth. I dont know anything about writing music, I just feel my way along. The versions of Wichita Lineman (one of my favorite songs) can be put down to "frustration with the music business" in the broadest possible sense. Any further reference is left to the eye (ear?) of the beholder." - Paul Dasken.
"Each side consists of two elements: a plaintive piano recording and a reinterpretation of Jimmy Webbs Wichita Lineman as protest music. Dasken is a conceptualist first and a musician second; each performance is site-specific and unabashedly amateur. His piano pieces will resonate with anyone who ever sat down at a piano without a lick of training but the will to peck out a pattern of notes that almost resembles a composition, if only to the player. That is to say they are intimate, singular, �??real piano,�?� and beautiful.
The first Lineman finds Dasken taking on a manic street preacher, singing the song to a beat tapped out on a coke bottle, an abstract form of heckling that weirdly puts bogus fundamentalism in its proper, ridiculous place. The second take finds him at a 1988 campaign rally for Bush the Elder, where the wild applause that follows each of the candidates proclamations and an efficient team of secret service agents renders Daskens protest little more than a barely-noticed exercise in futility.
Speckled Ax has gained formidable resonance with the passage of time. Its a key piece of loner Americana on wax, as personal and unique as records come. In the wake of 9/11, the fears and upset of the Eighties seem almost quaint, but Daskens voice in the wilderness burns brighter than ever as a fire to warm oneself by in this very long winter in America."
Douglas Mcgowan , October 2006.
Original copies of this strange private release out of Michigan. Released in 1988, handpasted artwork over old LP jackets, limited to 300 copies.
"Sounds like Alvaro, The Native Hipsters & Charlemagne Palestine w/one hand tied behind his back". - Roland Woodbe, Siltblog.