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Metempsychotic Melodies

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Album Review

As his post-punk band Lungfish slides further and further into being an occasional hobby, Washington D.C. eccentric Daniel Higgs has been paying more and more attention to his solo career. 2007's Metempsychotic Melodies, Higgs' fourth solo release under his own name (not counting two earlier solo releases under the names Cone of Light and the Pupils), is triangulated somewhere between the Sun City Girls' fractured takes on various forms of world music, John Fahey's idiosyncratic reworking of traditional American folk music, and Jandek's oddly tuned weirdness for its own sake. "Leontocephaline Rhapsody," a lengthy psychedelic freak-out featuring a repeated loop of a main riff, over which Higgs lets fly with a heavily processed, bagpipe-sounding solo that's a remarkable exploration of just how varied a piece of music can be while technically remaining a drone. Elsewhere, on "All Cherished Things," Higgs sings in a sort of affected back-country whine over a hypnotic repeated guitar figure, while the nearly 15-minute epic "Love Abides" features Higgs as his most impressionistic and Fahey-like in his slowly unfolding psych-folk melodies. Opening track "Universal Saturation," for overdubbed and amplified banjo, buzzes and rings like one of those psychedelic-era attempts at a rock & roll raga. It's all a bit precious, and slightly too aware of its own put-on strangeness, but overall, Metempsychotic Melodies is an enjoyable bit of acid folk nostalgia.


Born: 1964 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With the appearance of a heavily bearded tattooed prophet, Daniel Higgs emerged from the early-'80s Baltimore/D.C. hardcore punk scene as an underground icon with a near-mythological status. He sharpened his teeth in the music scene as a wild-eyed vocalist in the legendary Baltimore hardcore group Reptile House. Brewing a dark psychedelic sound with early-'80s hardcore energy and aesthetics, they earned a solid following and a lasting reputation due to debauchery at their live shows. The group disbanded...
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