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2 November 2011

John Davis - 'Pure Night' (Shrimper)

At one point, John Davis sounded so extreme to me.  The songs were so loose, so open, and so fey, that there was nothing for me to latch onto.  Over time I came to love this;  Pure Night is pretty much the Davis M.O, laid as bare as you could be.  It's an LP that was modeled after a cassette, as tape space/hiss is the main ingredient.  As minimal as this is, I'm not saying it's mostly silence - just music that is very aware of how to breathe, breathe, breathe.  'To Care Today' is the one foray into rock music, or at least it has a drumbeat, but even that feels loose and empty.  Most of the songs are just fragments, a few words, some plucked strings, maybe a phrase like 'Looking out/over fields of green' (from closing track 'Blind Love').  But Jandek this is not - Davis has a strong musicality that adheres to conventional elements of beauty, just in a totally unwrapped style.  There's a few moments of intensity - 'Angels surround' is perhaps the masterpiece, where the concrete-like tape collage and various folk/rock influences converge into a sea of madness.  'No One Around' builds on a strummed acoustic chord progression, being my mixtape choice from Pure Night.  Davis's world is barely held together, yet utterly beautiful.  Pure Impressionism may have been a more descriptive title, though the enticing glow of night skies infuses every song.  The guitars sound piercing and flanged at times, probably due to the warbling cassette 4-track this was recorded on.  I'm a sucker for music that conjures up these moments - quiet, majestic and still, perhaps a bit adolescent in the way they reflect wonder and awe.

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