Kristin Hersh, is, without a shadow of a doubt, a wonder to behold. She’s been producing spikey challenging work either solo or with the very wonderful Throwing Muses for nigh on thirty years now. Besides the nine albums with the mighty Throwing Muses she’s delivered another nine solo albums but still retains an almost impenetrable air of mystery, strangeness and sheer whacked out bonkersness!
This terrific double album is the result of five years work and is released as a combined book and cd project with twenty four new songs on which the mighty Ms Hersh plays everything. Make no mistake that’s not just your usual guitars, bass drums and keyboards. Right here we have electric and acoustic guitars, cello, horns, some strings, and playing inside the piano, alongside strange unnamed sources of music.
The guitars sound fractured and spooky and occasionally recall the squalling feedback laced noise of Sonic Youth with the strutting bass of Kim Deal in the Pixies. The predominate instrument is the 12 string acoustic guitar with stuttering lead breaks and strange tempo changes mid song. There’s snatches of conversation here and there too ,all of which makes for a very weird record.
The package comes as a book and each song title makes up a chapter of that book. Quite how they fit together isn’t really clear but Kristin claims that all the songs and chapters are “true”. Now, this is a surprising and baffling ride but it’s by no means unpleasant and if you stick with the roller coaster it’s a very rewarding journey indeed. That’s mainly because the thing is so unpredictable and that just because any song starts off as a cute ballad doesn’t mean it’ll remain that way. There are some great songs on here like ‘Secret Codes’ that bounces along with a stuttering bass line and some chopping guitar. ‘Bubble Net’ commences with a slow banjo, some rainwater and Hersh’ cute vocal. That lasts for around 30 seconds before a discordant guitar and organ lift the song and take it somewhere else. ‘Christmas Underground’ kicks off with a Spanish guitar flourish before heading off in a slightly punky direction. It almost seems that Kristin is being wilfully playful in order to prevent anyone from being able to say where any song will go next.
The title of the album is taken from real life. There was an empty building close to her recording studio and her autistic son, Wyatt, took to exploring the building whilst she was busy recording. The building, abandoned by humans, was now the home of a bunch of coyote’s – hence that enigmatic title.
This is a strange and beautiful record and the book is dark and mysterious and that’s as good a reason to dive in as any. Long may Kristin Hersh remain such an enigmatic mystery.
See you at the next gig.....