Grubbs, David / Howe, Susan – “Souls of The Labadie Tract” – [Blue Chopsticks]
1694 Dutch utopians fled to Maryland, included among
their beliefs was a renunciation of marriage, the
liner notes (also spoken by Howe on the first track)
provide some illumination. The sect all but vanished
by 1722, but somehow linger on like the forms of
drone delivered here by Grubbs (of the mighty
Gastr del Sol and label leader of Blue Chopsticks).
Grubbs greets us first, with a striking, but not quite
piercing pitch from a form of kheen. Less percolating
then its use in Molam music, here it is contemplative
and more akin to a pressure cooker. He adds overtones
but mostly allows Howe’s litany to own the audio
spotlight. Her initial section, is a sensible
synopsis, as time unravels, she spins a poetic yarn.
“We’re the past, we’re too close to covet”
Her voice, stark but not icy or distant, like a
favorite college professor you sense is a lot weirder
outside of the classroom. She doesn’t sound 70 (her
age when this was released) she sound both much
younger and much older. Perhaps like the Labadie.
Grubbs is subtle but strong in his support, at times
resigning to silence. Turning the page in a way.
On first listen, I found his tone shrill, now it
feels perfect. May send some KFJC listeners dialing
away, but others will be transfixed. Echoes of
lost lives found…. “loose ramshackle poem”