songs:ohia – hecla & griper

this bears great news. a new record player, the first in several years. and it’s what enables me to place this here.

the re-release of this early recording literally coincided with jason molina’s passage into the void last year. however, the songs had already made their way into my consciousness thanks to john king who had generously shared with me all he had. so the songs of the actual ep hecla & griper are well known to me, and it’s (un)fair to say that none are my particular favourites.

i understand now in hindsight why the late 1990s weren’t my time to know this music. the spareness, strains, the distance. i just know it’s music that i would not have truly appreciated when i was 19 years old. it would have made him only 23 himself when this was crafted. so what was the difference between two people on opposite sides of the world?

the most fantastic moments on here are one after the other, right at the end on side b, with hearts newly arrived and one of those uncertain hands. both songs found their way onto the ensuing album, impala, but not in this form. here they take on a life unlike any of the others collected on this album (or for that matter, subsequently released under any name). there’s a clear urgency and alteration of musical time that you don’t hear anywhere else in his catalogue – almost heavy and loud. they are invigorating and engaging in a different way to everything else.

as sad as i will always be that i never knew the joy of seeing him perform live, all of the music he left on this world – through all its developmental phases – makes up for it.

the crackle of the vinyl. i feel like i am home again.

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