Dan Walsh – Fixity
3.23.17 by Kat Harding
Out on Ireland’s KantCope comes Dan Walsh’s “Fixity.” Dan’s the drummer of Great Balloon Race and the tape is his latest foray into production and composition. Released in summer 2016, the jazzy improvised and experimental tape is perfect for these flashes of winter we’re experiencing now in March. Sit by a fire, gaze out of the window, and let Dan’s controlled chaos warm you up and take you away.
With five songs on side A, there is a lot going on. The tape breaks open with “Hungry Clouds,” which gives the feeling of the calm before the storm. A mysterious bass line and rolling drums drive the song along, picking up low murmurings of lyrics and a plucked guitar along the way. We get to relax a bit with the following track “stigmatostigmata,” a meandering and calming track, breathing softly through improvisations and jazzy tones. Every track shows the pure artistry of the instrumentalists, crashing together and pulling apart, feeling highly improvised but at the same time, like the musicians have played together for years. Dan on the drums is the backbone of each track, with bass, guitar, and saxophone building up and around the sound, pushing each song further into contained pandemonium. The last track on the side, “Blue Paint,” is a more than eight minute jam, sure to raise your heart rate and pull your attention from anything else in the room. An ethereal chorus hums life into the song, sounding like angels from on high while the drums quicken. The song breaks down into the pops and crackles of electrical feedback before buzzing out completely. Were we just in heaven or hell?
Side B is just two songs, opening with “damagedgood.” A sweetly strum guitar holds the tune while fuzzy droning swarms behind it. Dan has brought us to the bottom of the ocean and we’re staring up through the clear water to the sunshine above. We’re floating and drifting along, aware of the inherent danger of the open ocean, an anxiety communicated in the background of the song. It comes to the forefront with buzzing growing increasingly louder and more prominent, competing with our trusty guitar, soon overtaking it, the screeching alone closing out the song. “Song for Tree” brings us back to land, grounding us in bass and enveloping us in reverberation. The track is warm and comforting and ends with sparkling tones that fade to silence.
This tape is for fans of experimental music, sure, but also for fans of jazz. It’s chaos coming together in a beautiful way. Pick up the tape now.