Dark Canyon – “Dark Canyon” – [Nudie Records]
Thurston Hunger 5/10/2023 12-inch, A Library
Once Upon a Time in the Midwest. Dark Canyon comes riding out of the long cinematic shadows of Chicago. We get The Good, the Bad and the Very-Well-Produced in this devoted homage from Mike Novak to guitar-inflected Westerns a la Morricone and Leone. For the imaginary soundtrack flair, there is a lot of tumbleweed acoustic guitar work, along with that sort of clean/dirty distorted/reverb electric guitar on top. Gleaming trumpets recorded atop mesas shine high, subtle and steady drum work here and there, a flute wanders in like a child through a gun fight. the Grosby choir soars whenever they appear, a jaw harp slithers in, a mellotron circles the wagon. The instros oscillate between lonely fugitive fugues and heroic crescendos. A couple of pieces feature vocals, “Through The Badlands” and “Old Blood Runs Thick” and “Pray for Rain” along with the familiar cover “A Taste of Honey” to close. Does the album have whistling on it? You bet, not just the last track but do not miss the towering “Bullets” as well. The album clearly is a labor of love, including the packaging with a gatefold full of the bandidas and bandidos who worked with Novak on this lp. In a way Novak here reminded me of Adrian Younge, modern studio sorcerers able to polish up every cranny and crag of sound that hearkens back while shining now. Dark Canyons in vinyl grooves well worth exploring. I’ll be curious to see if Novak pines for his own gold or becomes in demand by other audio pioneers.