Thursday, August 25, 2011

Idaho Joe Windslow - Smoke Your Fear [Psychic Sound]

This record came out of nowhere. It is almost like some spirit out there guided it into my unknowingly open arms.
Armed with a bevy of gear including a home-made "gongtar" along with tabla machine, lehara machine, "Arabic Casio SK8-A," Pakistani Bul Bul, Tibetan creaking drum and more, Windslow integrates each element of his sound perfectly. His droning, metallic gongtar, the trippy grooves of his tabla and lehara machines, his deep voiced, lethargic delivery of lyrics about ghosts and out-of-body experiences.
Lead off track "Out of Body Experience" is still probably my favorite as it's such a perfect nutshell of what Idaho Joe does and does so well. A seriously infectious melody emanates from the lehara machine (I think) while Joe wields all sorts of creaks and glistening grind from his gongtar. His beyond sloshed vocals lay out the LPs main aim as he petitions you to "experience an out-of-body experience." This really is a track you gotta hear, gotta feel as words don't do justice to its trifecta of creepiness, trippiness and catchiness.
"Arabic Casio (Sk8-A) Sampling Function" is an instrumental interlude showcasing the, you guessed it, Arabic Casio's sampling function. Joe throws his metallic gongtar daggers over a tight match-up of tabla and lehara machines in "When Fear Overflows Into Ecstasy". He sings about fear making you feel warm and fuzzy but this song sure doesn't make me feel that way. Dude's gonna hurt someone with that gongtar.
After the 45-second warbly drum solo of "Ektar Solo," another album standout called "My Own Ghost" wraps the first side. I had never thought of "Hey this guy has a pretty good life" being a catchy refrain but man it is here. The gongtar sounds jangly rather than grisly here too which certainly contributes to its sing-along quality.
The second side opens with a fantastic piece of analog electric tamboura called "Analog Electric Tamboura." It's highly evocative, so much so I think it could be fleshed out into a film score. It makes for a perfect midpoint in the record.
"Poltergeist" brings the tabla machine hard and heavy (you may recognize it from Punch-Drunk Love) as Windslow waxes about feeling spirits around you. "Sk8-A with Distortion" makes for a surprisingly weird little interlude. I tend to have a set idea of what can be done with a Casio but Windslow wrings out some weird and squirming sounds from it.
The lehara machine crawls a lot slower on "Great Great Grand Brother." The gongtar drones come long and slow as well. I love that it ends with "you feel like the entire youniverse"
"Heaven's a Booby Trap" details what to do if you see a light at the end of the tunnel. Windslow's advice? "Don't go. Heaven's a booby trap." Windslow sounds most convicted on this track. Perhaps it's because the Casio beat and gongtar stay far enough in the distance that Windslow's voice twists comparatively naked in the wind.
This is a seriously bitchin' record. Nothing else like it my collection. Definitely do what you can track this down.
Psychic Sound did a great job putting this package together: multi-layer screenprinted front and back covers, thick vinyl, sweet labels, and very informative insert with lyrics and instrument listing for each song. Contact Psychic Sound and berate them until they repress this spooked out monster.

1 comment:

justin eagan said...

It's been reissued on more Vinyl and there is now a CDR version with the same artwork etc. Go to for some live Idaho Joe videos!