Buck Curran: Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas
Obsolete Recordings / ESP-Disk – 23 March 2018
The day before the snow returned I was walking around a field with the dog, hat on, hood up, earphones in, trying to keep as much of my face as possible out of the wind that was gusting to forty mph. Inside, I was warm and in my head, the deceptively simple guitar of Buck Curran provided light and spring to an increasingly grey and wintery outlook.
Despite the weather, the top of the field proved to be quite the space to be in to listen to Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas. Buck’s work has always been involved with the natural world, finding an outlet for a number of years through Arborea, which has reached a hopefully temporary break. This juncture has allowed Buck to look to things that he wanted to do before teaming up with Shanti Deschaine, and to things that he would like to do now, all of which seems to still involve playing the guitar.
There is an illusory naivety about Buck’s guitar work that makes it at once entirely accessible yet invites you to explore more. Repetitive phrases, sometimes almost non-verbal verses, are surrounded by choruses. At other times, themes are developed that are unpredictable yet non-threatening. Certainly, the ebb and flow of nature shines through. This is easy to see with River Unto Sea: standing by the stream, the water playing against the sides of the banks and around the stones in the bed. There is that curious feeling that travelling is taking place, a logical movement downhill toward the sea but at the same time, the same things, the same sounds occur, the same water seems to splash in the same places, the same whorls appear to go round in the same curve in the bank. (River Unto Sea and Sea of Polaris appeared on Buck’s previous album, Immortal Light. This time they are gentler and more rounded.)
Time and again this idea of ebb and flow is apparent. The overall feel of the album is one of gentle delight, one to wake up to as the sun flickers through the gap in the bedroom curtains, its rays interrupted by the material gently blowing in the light breeze.. The bright guitar brings you to the day but allows you to reflect. The word ragas of the title suit it well. This music is subtle like a true Indian raga, a suggestion yet not an explicit description – a mood. There is no surprise then that Bhairavi Rovelli provides just that. It features the breathy notes of the Indian flute of Nicoli Melocchi, who studied under Hariprasad Chaurasia, that float through the air and meld with the flowing manipulations of Buck’s guitar. The mood is created.
The album is dedicated to his children with Song for Shylah, Song for Liam and Francesco Joaquim’s Morning Haiku bringing them to us. And no, I have not worked out if the tune is in a 5-7-5 structure, but I am sure that someone will tell me one way or the other. Another dedicatee is Peter Green, a great influence on a young Buck and repaid here with Taurus, a track with more reverb and guttural depth than much of the album.
Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas is an album of poetry in guitar music. The space around Buck Curran’s music allows it to grow and change, to become part of the landscape yet also allows you to become part of it as well. Join in.
Music with spaces.
Embrace cycles of nature.
Add your own voices.
Order now via Bandcamp (Digital)
Also on CD via Forced Exposure
Will be released on vinyl in late May/June.