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Say God

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Album Review

As the frontman for D.C. post-hardcore legends Lungfish, Daniel Higgs reached transcendent levels on more than one occasion with his cryptic punk poetry and often hallucinatory lyrical imagery. Backed up by the band's repetitive rhythms and droning pastoral guitars, Higgs often took on the presence of a crazed prophet, just a few decibels short of tipping over to ranting madman. With Say God, Higgs has officially climbed atop the soapbox and donned the cap of the frothing self-appointed pastor in the park, spouting his sermons to a congregation that may or may not be imagined. With two discs and over 85 minutes of material, Say God is mantra-like to say the least. Themes of religion and otherworldliness pour over disjointed electronic drones and wandering banjo playing. The title track repeats its message to the point of numbing disorientation, pulling the listener through an endless list of times and places for recognizing the existence of God as buzzing organ drones and processed found sounds churn below for more than ten minutes. "Christ Among Us" relays a lengthy parable of the universe's endlessness and God's might over menacing Jandek-like banjo figures, while "Root & Bough" goes on for over 17 minutes in a similar sermon over a reedy harmonium drone and odd electronic passages. "Drone" becomes the operative word for Say God. Its roomy field recording-style fidelity and monotonous delivery both vocally and musically push all of Higgs' droning talk of portals, temples, and universal consciousness into an easily tuned-out thundercloud looming somewhere in the distance. The thousands of words and sounds take on more or less the same impact, and even the occasional drastic shift in any given song isn't as shocking or dynamic as it should be. The longer tracks are broken up by shorter but still meandering instrumentals like the Eastern-flavored solo banjo of "Song for Azariah" and the improvised wobbly organ of "Jewel of the East." While Say God feels exhausting at first, it becomes clear that these expansive meditations are designed as a Siddhartha-esque journey, one for listeners to come to when they're in the right headspace to commit completely and see where it takes them. Concerned more with a spiritual exploration than any regularly accepted sonic achievements, Say God is an epic collection whose value doesn't come from how enjoyable it is to listen to. Fortunately, in the right mental landscape, it can be deeply enjoyable, and even a cursory listen will have you wondering if sermons have ever been quite this psychedelic.

Biography

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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Say God, Daniel Higgs
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