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by: D. Charles Speer

Album Artwork

(Thrill Jockey)

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, David Charles Shuford (aka Speer) moved to New York in the mid 90s and played in groups such as No Neck Blues Band, Enos Slaughter, The Suntanam, Egypt Is The Magick # and Coach Fingers. Speer released his first solo album, Some Forgotten Country, in 2007. Then Speer began playing with the band the Helix. Speer's second solo album, Arghiledes, focuses on mostly lyric-less acoustic songs with a wide range of instrumentation.

The official bio states this about the collection of Speer's songs: "Arghiledes is a trip to the underworld. One Greek in Hades vying to enchant the shades. Steeped in the sounds of
the 1930s Piraeus Quartet, this selection of recordings is the outgrowth of a decade long engagement with the rich heritage of early 20th century Greek music. Utilizing an array of traditional instrumentation (including trichordo bouzouki, baglamas, worry bead percussion on whiskey glass, zills and many more), Arghiledhes is a work infused with improvisational fire and constructed on the emotionally cutting modes of Anatolia.

"Heavy influence is drawn from the music of Markos Vamvakaris, the renown patriarch of the bouzouki; his composition “The Sniffer”, a musical portrait of a malevolent drug addict, is given a faithful rendition. Another of his songs “At Phaliro Where You Swim” is interpolated into the lead off track, which takes a more experimental sound-based approach. This LP is an attempt at working within the tradition of hasiklidika, hashish songs which spilled from late night dens of iniquity known as tekedes. Though inspired by music of greater vintage, these pieces also sup at the altar of 60s and 70s psychedelia and dub as evidenced by the head turning grind and swirl of tracks like “Tsamiko Hijaz” and “Harmanis”."

The murky "Marcos Cave" begins the disc. Indeed, this sounds like opium den music. This is not your Friday night party record...unless everyone is gathered around the hookah with the lights dimmed. A gypsy quality emanates from this music, especially the track "O Sinachis".

The hypnotic "Lost Dervish" carries a subterranean spirit. "Harmanis" retains a middle-eastern drone that truly sounds unearthly. Speer departs from any conventional sense of song structure, yet the album contains a streamlined wooden sound. "Tsamiko Hijaz" sounds as if it were recorded in some far East cavern filled with blue smoke.

Speer delivers a spoken word narrative on "Wildlife Preserve", which sounds like Townes Van Zandt on acid. The closer, "The Heavy Heart of Ando-Yeap" emanates a spooky, apocalyptic mood...where the sky turns blood red...a black moon rises...and the Four Horsemen descend from the mountain.  Arghiledes should contain a warning sticker on the cover that states: Warning! Very Potent...

James Calemine


Jack Rose, D. Charles Speer & the Helix: Ragged and Right

The History of Fonotone Records

The Art of Field Recording Volume 1

The Art of Field Recording Volume 2

Goodbye, Babylon


related tags

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