In the immediate aftermath of Daniel Bachman's widely celebrated self-titled offering in 2016, he found himself at a crossroads. Burned out from traveling the endless road and disoriented by a dark reality ushered in by Donald Trump's presidential election, he retreated to his native Virginia after a long sojourn living in North Carolina. He spent the next year-and-a-half in solitude working on various sound and folklore projects.
Making folk music can require consultation with the dead. In his semi-autobiographical short-story collection, How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life, from 2000, the late luminary John Fahey ascribed supernatural powers to his six-string, calling it "the road to the unconscious past." Eighteen years later, these remain insightful words about an American musical tradition brimming with ghost stories. Heeding this wisdom throughout his young career, Daniel Bachman has paid tribute to the rhythmic nuances of American Primitive, ragtime, and folk with virtuosic guitar playing.
One of the most captivating hallmarks of the subgenre of folk guitar known as 'American primitive' is the fact that it looks so far beyond the pastoral, the Romantic, the historical and the traditional to conjure its special fizzing energy, as defined by its greatest proponents from John Fahey and Robbie Basho through to more recent candle holders Sir Richard Bishop or William Tyler. Fredericksburg, Virginia's Daniel Bachman has undertaken a journey in recent years further and further down this path. His 2016 album River found him sliding and picking in a manner that recalled his late, great Three Lobed Recordings labelmate Jack Rose, or even the canonical works of a Jansch, Renbourn, or Graham.
Photo by Greta Svalberg The Morning Star by Daniel Bachman The nearly 19-minute "Invocation" that opens The Morning Star doesn't sound like anything you might have expected from a Daniel Bachman record. The first two minutes consist solely of reverberating gong tones, different notes ringing out lengthily, undertones growing in the surrounding air like wild yeast taking root in a sourdough culture. The guitar, when it emerges, is nothing more than a rumble of amp tone, then violent swathes of bowed tone which scrape over each other like heavy machinery.