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coverpic flag US - New Mexico - Full Moon 113 - 12/15/05

A Hawk And A Hacksaw
Darkness at Noon

Jeremy Barnes was the drummer in Neutral Milk Hotel (NMH), which makes him one of the gods for me. On his own he's done a lot of, uh, different stuff after the fab NMH just...disappeared. Such as the avant-improv-jazzy Bablicon, or as Marta Tennae. He played drums for his former NMH colleague Scott Spillane with his band the Gerbils. He's also A Hawk And A Hacksaw. Making him a man of mystery. Pulling out a mystic album called "Darkness at Noon".

"Darkness at Noon" is the second A Hawk And A Hacksaw (AHAAH) album, and it was "shot on location" in Enderby, Leicestershire (UK), Prague (the Czech Republic), and his hometown Albuquerque, New Mexico. Making his music as nomadic, explorative and ethnographic as possible - sound and attitude as well as content and soul. Giving the record sort of a cinematic feel. Like it could've been the soundtrack for a (Eastern European) film Philip Glass didn't do. The instrumentation is experimental and exceptional. Along with pianos, organs, accordions, trumpets, tuba, flute, and more 'normal' drums and percussion, there are harps, ouds, Turkish cumbus, dreamy backing vocals, and jaw harps [on AHAAH's first album Barnes used the sound of a chicken, some geese, cats, a duck, gongs, spoons, pieces of tin, as well as various melodic instruments...]. Making everything sound like a real adventure, some fantastic voyage.

Side one is maybe the more Slavic expedition, with most fitting titles for our full moon kafé: "The Moon Under Water" and "The Water Under the Moon". But the Slavic journey continues as we flip over. Side 2 starts with "Europa", which is sort of an Eastern-meets-Western-meets-Southern theme. A Slavic mariachi folk song. "Pastelka on the train" waltzes us out of Eastern Europe, over to Great Britain, back again to the European continent, before the music crosses the Atlantic, ending up in the USA. With a cover of Derroll Adams' anti-war song "Portlandtown".

Musicians include: Jeremy's mother Sheila Barnes on harp, trumpeter Dan Clucas (who toured with Arthur Lee's Love on recent tours), and tuba player Mark Weaver, and Heather Trost on vocals, violin and piano. Even Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel came to New Mexico to contribute.

An indeed vital, whimsical and playful record. Refreshing. Thrilling. And quite peculiar.

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our A Hawk And A Hacksaw article/review: Délivrance.

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