četvrtak, 4. srpnja 2013.

David Karsten Daniels - I Mean To Live Here Still (2010)

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San Francisco-based artist David Karsten Daniels collaborates here with Richmond, Virginia-based 9-piece avant-jazz collective Fight the Big Bull. Their debut album together - ‘I Mean To Live Here Still’ - is the product of two decidedly individual, but musically (and geographically) distant sets of musicians.
David Karsten Daniels is an immensely talented, formally-trained composer/musician with a background in hymn singing and four-track experimentation, and a release history of gentle, acoustic, plaintive folk music embellished with touches of orchestration and jazz. He has released two full length records through FatCat – 2007’s Sharp Teeth and 2008’s Fear of Flying – following a handful of albums released through his own Bu_Hanan Collective label.
 Daniels made a tentative connection with Fight the Big Bull in 2008. The latter, a nonet led by composer/arranger/guitarist Matthew White, exist loosely in the Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Ornette Coleman plane of jazz, yet are fiercely, often unpredictably, unique. The band’s head-spinning spirals of instrumentation and experimentation, a modern counterpart to fundamental traditions of experimental jazz, to Ascension and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, are described, aptly, as “messy, glorious, big-hearted.” Comprising trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, trombones, upright bass, electric guitar, percussion and drums, their instrumental pallette is truly broad in its scope despite its markedly traditional makeup.
Significantly, both artists’ musical heritages are firmly rooted in North American traditions. Both simultaneously exemplify and transcend their foundations, bringing together a sound that that implies both, but is galvanised and transformed into a record that sounds like neither.
The collaboration took flight over 2009, as Daniels worked on a new set of music, taking lyrics from the poems of 19th Century American author-poet Henry David Thoreau. Daniels began sending sketches of songs to White in September 2009. White scored arrangements – meticulously, masterfully put together – that flutter, trill, groove and crash, bracing and swelling around Daniels’ honeyed voice, dodging harmonies unexpectedly in places and densely weaving a vast, jubilant collage of sound in others. Contributing as much reserved, considered ensemble playing as free-jazz vibrancy, Fight the Big Bull’s attention to detail and subtlety in their performance also yields a result comparable in places to the West Coast minimalists - Terry Riley/Pauline Oliveros/La Monte Young etc. – whilst noticeably referring to various strains of trad. jazz in others. A departure of sorts for the band, but one that beautifully interacts with Daniels’ songwriting. - fat-cat.co.uk/

David Karsten Daniels is what you might call a folk composer. While he lives in San Francisco, his music's earthy tunefulness and gospel influences honor the rural South of his birth. But straight folk has an unvarnished spontaneity that Daniels permits only intermittently. While his core tunes are perfect for strumming on the porch, he dresses them up in arrangements and orchestration from jazz and classical music. His FatCat debut, Sharp Teeth, earned wide praise and equally wide comparisons to Will Oldham, mainly because of Daniels' voice. In practice, he's more like Sam Amidon-- placing at least as much emphasis on the setting as the song-- with a hint of the outsized sincerity of Saddle Creek-style emo-folk.
Daniels next album, Fear of Flying, squandered his gifts for arrangement on undercooked and punitively somber songs. The grimness was understandable, as the record was about his grandparents' physical decline. But his third major release, I Mean to Live Here Still, proves that he can address mortality without the doldrums. With new collaborators, robust hooks, and an energetic take on Daniels' signature sound, it's his best record yet.
I Mean to Live Here Still is a collaboration with the Virginia-based, nine-piece jazz ensemble Fight the Big Bull. The songs, with lyrics adapted from Henry David Thoreau, were worked out via mail, and then recorded all together in Virginia. As a result, they feel painstakingly assembled but not sterile-- in fact, they flirt with controlled chaos. Horns are a huge presence and span the tonal range from free-jazz splatter to Dixieland gaiety. The album's spirit of joyous lamentation often calls to mind New Orleans funeral marches, especially on the chipper "The Funeral Bell". But you're just as likely to hear cerebral percussion breakdowns and pattern weaves.
The drawback is that the songs occasionally get lost in the arrangements. The long, squalling breakdown of "Die and Be Buried" sets up an awesome drop, as does the sharking bass and percussion workout in the middle of "On Fields". But Daniels' voice is so crucial to his music's personality. It's supple and comfortable even at the limits of its range, where it tends to linger. When his voice disappears for long stretches, the album can slip out of focus. It creates the odd impression that the nine-piece band has muscled him out of the room.
But Daniels' ambition pays off when the band is more fully integrated. "All Things Are Current Found" is one of those big syrupy numbers he does so well, where layers of voices and instrumentation pile up sweetly, but with hints of impassioned sourness. The horn player on "Through All the Fates" earns an MVP award for his highly musical but comical turn: At one point he makes the horn "sing" the la la la's from the vocal melody; a good-natured razz. And this jazz unit is also able to handle more formal ideas, like the carefully stacked intervals of the slow-dawning "Each Summer Sound". Daniels is still working his way through some equivocation between art music and folk music, but this is the closest he's come yet to sealing the seams. - 
Brian Howe

“Mr. Daniels hollered those lines from Thoreau’s “Maine Woods” in his loudest and plainest voice, over needling brass fanfares and a slow bass-and-drums groove; suddenly something startling was happening, and the audience noticed it.”New York Times

“Exuberant, messy and glorious”NPR

“A beguiling example of the kind of risk taking that is sadly missing in most modern music”The Music Fix
“A riveting record and perhaps his best yet”Bearded Magazine

“The artists bring together a common musical heritage rooted in North American traditions, and the result is brave and brash, ‘I Mean to Live Here Still’ is a truly big-hearted record”The Line of Best Fit

“Honestly, it’s pretty unbelievable that with such lofty goals this album is not super corny. It’s actually really rad.”Fader


Fear of Flying (2008)

“…a very serious and brave LP, full of grand pronouncements and soaring arrangements.”
Stool Pigeon
“[Wheelchairs]…is front-runner for opening track of the year.”
Drowned In Sound
“David Karsten Daniels’ latest album, Fear of Flying, is as thorough and thoughtful a musical examination of mortality as I’ve ever heard.”
Williamette Week
“Daniels has produced an intimate, fragile treasure of an album; an album of rare and ethereal beauty which truly sets him apart from most of his peers.
Music Magazine

“With Fear of Flying, recent Seattle immigrator David Karsten Daniels has crafted another intricate and accomplished contribution to the FatCat Records catalog. This speedy follow-up to last year’s Sharp Teeth was, as are all of Daniels’ solo releases, self-recorded in his home with the aid of a few friends. The funny thing is that the album couldn’t be further from the fuzzy tape-hiss and mic-clipping that this distinction might imply. While Daniels and his guest performers are able to maintain a spontaneous, one-take atmosphere in these songs, Fear of Flying boasts lush production and recordings full of brilliant nuance.”
Tiny Mix Tapes

Falling Down

Falling Down (2008)

Martha Ann

Martha Ann (2008)


Sharp Teeth (2004)

“With discreet orchestration worthy of Van Dyke Parks and poignant, quavering vocalizing, D.K. Daniels’ fourth release, Sharp Teeth, is a collection of musical dramas rife with ambiguity, wry understatement, and majesty.”
Mark Keresman, SF Weekly

Track review, Pitchfork
“….a kind of junior Jim O’Rourke, a musical polymath whose records have the potential to spiral off in any or every direction”
The Wire
“An intriguing debut”
Andy Gill, The Independent
“…A film set with deserted forecourts, snow shoes and front porch singalongs…”
James Cowdery, bbc.co.uk
“…A compelling exploration of moral ambiguity and human disconnection peppered with religion and politics, [Sharp Teeth] sees Daniels obsessing over right and wrong and searching for that elusive truth that’s haunted him since his childhood spent growing up in the Deep South… Listening to all of the album’s 10 tracks back to back is an immersive experience; one that tugs and pulls at the senses, cloaking intricate songs with a heady emotion…”
Norven Kane, The Stool Pigeon
“Eschewing the complex calculus of what makes music “good,” David Karsten Daniels’ first widely available LP, Sharp Teeth, is a reminder of what makes it necessary.”
Brian Howe, Pitchfork
“…the North Carolina-based songwriter’s Sharp Teeth (FatCat) is an ingeniously arranged exploration of post-Bible belt relijun-related worries and concerns, majestically rendered with slide guitars, Dixieland drums and brass, and sweeping strings.”
John Payne, LA Weekly
“Whether it’s a boney acoustic number (“Jesus and the Devil”), a lush and crowded boiler (“Minnows”), or a permutation of both (the rest of the record), Sharp Teeth never sags under its own weight, balancing light and dark masterfully.”
Robbie Mackey, XLR8R
“…sweeping, shadowy indie hymns that soar from a harmonious commune of voices and breathtaking orchestration to tender, softly psychedelic piano and acoustic guitar.”
John M. James, Anchorage Press

Track review, Paper Thin Walls
“…There are grandiose dimensions here, a sense of majestic darkness, complex but natural textures, while still keeping the songwriting expression as the central element. It’s an ambitious and very well produced record, with beautiful arrangements and melodies…”
Didier Goudeseune, Derives.net
“Sonambulant songster walks into our hearts”
Lisa Holmes, New-Noise.net
“One of the newest additions to a Fat Cat label roster that has included Sigur Ros, Mice Parade and To Rococo Rot, David Karsten Daniels is a cofounder of one of the Triangle’s appealing talent stables, The Bu Hanan collective. Like his peers, he cloaks intricate songs exhuming emotions and examining archetypes in adventurous sonic constructions. And his voice saddles somewhere between pain and hope.”
Grayson Currin, The Independent Weekly
A marvellous piece of epic folk from Daniels on his first release for FatCat.”
Ben Bollig, noripcord.com
Sharp Teeth is the first big surprise of 2007.”
“It could be Neutral Milk Hotel with prettier instrumentation or the Brian Jonestown Massacre without the self-importance. And yet David Karsten Daniels’ fourth album, Sharp Teeth, is an entirely new kind of animal, one whose energy expands and contracts to the beat of Daniels’ imagination. Inhale: acoustic simplicity. Exhale: pulsing strata of strings, horns and rich choral power. His strength is in his diversity of sound and ability to surprise, with a grandiosity of vision and execution that never strays into turgidity. Instead, he maintains equilibrium by offering complex arrangements played with drowsy grace or minimalist folk songs performed with ardent intensity. It’s not surprising, then, that Daniels’ musical upbringing includes everything from church hymns to high school jazz band, from college-level theory classes to an embrace of Neil Young and the Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler. Daniels’ songs sound free and open, yet they still seem arranged with meticulous exactitude.
The music leaves you feeling vulnerable, but it’s the lyrics that go in for the kill. His songs are melodic questions that ponder religion and human folly – questions that, for all of us on at least some days, have no clear-cut answers. On “Jesus and the Devil”, Daniels seeks to distinguish between the two title characters; both can be seductive, and both want to claim Daniels’ soul. But, as is the case with the rest of us, sometimes he can’t tell who is winning.
From the jarringly beautiful piano solo, “Sharp Teeth I”, to the rumbling orchestral crescendo of “Minnows”, Daniels offers up a musical web of a world woven from haunting images and darkly human stories, giving voice to the questions we all pose on the days we stop to think.”
Kat Amano, Performer
“The art for this album shows a stick-figurish male chomping on the intestines of a prone female, both surrounded by a serene and starlit pine forest with mountains in the distance. It’s possibly a metaphor for an album as lovely and calm as it is primitive and disturbing, depending on the moment.
David Karsten Daniels is a North Carolina-based songwriter with three home-recorded albums to his credit. On this, his fourth and the first with Fat Cat, he brings in a near orchestra of backing players, including a full string section and most of a big brass band. As a result the songs have a way of surging from lo-fi vulnerability to swaggering, full-on baroqueness, then subsiding again into modest porch folk. The opener “The Dream Before the Ring that Woke Me,” for instance, has the dreamy aura of a Circulatory System song, as Daniels murmurs the verse “There is a feeling you can’t explain / There is a joy you can’t contain” over and over again. It starts with just Daniels and an acoustic guitar before building steadily, picking up other voices, drums and violins along the way, until it nearly explodes into mystic exuberance.
Similarly, “Jesus and the Devil,” one of the album’s best cuts, begins in utter simplicity, Daniels’ muttering about his inability to tell Jesus from his wicked alter-ego over a folky guitar strum. Yet as the cut goes on, it turns darker, laced with drunken swoons of trombone and slide guitar. The words, too, evoke a primitive world, a place where gods and devils walk beside us, meet us in our gardens and homes and can sometimes be reasoned with. Though Sunday School simple at times, the words hide a modern sensibility grinning at us sardonically from humorous corners. Daniels thinks he saw Jesus walk on water but as he notes, “it’s hard to be sure.”
The album is structured in two halves, broken by a piano-only interval called “Sharp Teeth I”. (The penultimate track is very similar and called “Sharp Teeth II”.) And while each half has its religious folk ditties, both also have some very odd cuts that are much harder to classify. “American Pastime,” a strident rhythm of a song ostensibly about baseball has the off-kilter, post-everything charm of a Menomena song, despite its down-home subject matter. “Minnows,” just after the break, could pass for a Clogs piece for its first few minutes, all whirring insect string sounds and submerged discord. Then suddenly it changes, halting for a big choral interlude. Anyway, the point is that despite his North Carolina roots and his signing to Fat Cat, Daniels is anything but a lonely bedroom folk singer. His canvas is much, much wider than that.”
Jennifer Kelly, Dusted Magazine
“I can’t say I’ve ever come across North Carolina-based David Karsten Daniels before but on the strength of the rather fabulous cover art I just knew this record would appeal to me. Featuring a gorgeously inked drawing of a naked (and rather hairy) feller eating the winding intestines of his female (and similarly hirsute) companion I was left wondering if there was any way I couldn’t fall in love with David Karsten Daniels. Well thank goodness then that the music is just so darned good, not long into the opening track it becomes clear that Daniels is a singer songwriter with a difference, and he isn’t afraid to shock people into submission. Fans of Sufjan Stevens, Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy, Elliott Smith and Fat Cat’s own Amandine should no doubt take note, but what struck me as soon as I was greeted by ‘The Dream Before the Ring that Woke me’ (a sentiment I’m sure we’re all familiar with) was the songwriter’s similarity with the wonderful Aimee Mann (and her collaborative work with producer du jour Jon Brion). Eschewing the glossy production of Brion, Daniels instead revels in a home-recorded charm with tape noise and saturated percussion taking centre stage, and this works surprisingly in the album’s favour, giving it a warmth and sincerity rarely heard in the genre. Daniels’ charm as a vocalist too is evident from the off, as he lends an intelligent mind to the lyrics without sounding pretentious, and dwelling on the melancholy while letting a humour and lightness sink in. A gorgeous album and a fantastic addition to the Fat Cat roster, it’s rare we get albums of this quality so early in the year so I implore you not to overlook this softly spoken gem. Huge recommendation.”
“Sharp Teeth may rely on the clichés of the heartland, but its unusual analogies and twisted visuals create a differing view of American classics. Preying on the idealized, David Karsten Daniels has deconstructed the myths of Americana with witty and introspective lyrics — pile on the many musical forks in the road and what’s left is an album ready to show you the lesser-known places amidst our pastimes and celebrations.”
Jspicer, Tiny Mix Tapes
“This North Carolina songwriter cajoled 19 friends into helping with his third [sic] full-length – a veritable orchestra of strings percussion, guitars and woozy brass. Even so, Daniels’ songs sound hushed and personal, like wry confessions elaborated by New Orleans funeral marches. In “Jesus and the Devil,” the songwriter is unable to distinguish between the two adversaries and accidentally dons the devil’s noose (“I thought I’d wear it just loose” he explains). There’s a split between naturalness and deep surreality, a fluctuation from stripped-bare revelation to lush, dark jazz flourishes. Still, at his best Daniels hits a vein of pure Gnostic simplicity. “There is a joy that you just can’t contain/There is a feeling that you can’t explain,” he sings at the start of the album, strumming like Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum at Boy Scout Camp, and for once the lyric and its effect match exactly.”
Jennifer Kelly, Harp
“This offering from the North Carolina-based songwriter is his first to receive proper distribution, and his debut outing on the reliably excellent Fat Cat label. Melding desolate folk with horns, choirs, and electrifying bursts of guitar noise, Daniels finds a neat balance between gentle finger-picking and noisy freakouts, especially on the splendid Beast.
A fascinating climax to the record, We Go Right On is a wonderful song, and maybe the best indication of what David Karsten Daniels is capable of achieving. Sharp Teeth is a warm, unusual and intricate record; entirely bewitching and bearing the hallmarks of a great discovery.”

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post
“…the troubador has that extra something where songwriting is concerned. His songs seem familiar yet distant. Not only that, his voice – while devoid of attention-getting devices so common of his ilk – is emotive without the whiny factor causing the listener to roll his or her eyes every few minutes. He sounds passionate and locked into the mood of each song, and as you hear him dissolve his being into a flurry of chords you’ll find yourself drifting away with him, clinging to every subtle creek of his voice. As he often takes his sweet time to get his tracks off the ground, be prepared to stay a while. Take your shoes off, smoke a pipe, light a fag; do whatever it takes to keep you planted in your seat for the entirety of Sharp Teeth. As it sinks its bicuspids into your brain you’ll realise what a talent Daniels really is, while also wondering how he excels without the showiness we’ve come to associate with multi-instrument rock. Then you’ll realise some mysteries are better left unsolved: don’t question the hive if it yields fresh honey.”
Grant Purdum, Drowned in Sound
“Sharp Teeth could prove an early contender for album of the year.”
“The cover art is certainly memorable: A crude drawing of a naked, bearded man eating the intestines of a hairy-legged female corpse in the middle of a starlit forest. Thankfully, it has absolutely nothing to do with the music inside. Sharp Teeth, the fourth album from North Carolina singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Karsten Daniels, isn’t some bloodthirsty death-metal assault. It’s a rickety, homespun batch of shambling alt-roots and baroque chamber-folk, with 18 guest musicians (including string and brass sections) supporting the creaky, fragile troubadour as he offers up idiosyncratic reflections on Jesus, the Devil, life and the universe. Expansive and ambitious yet rustic and revealing, Sharp Teeth is an odd little gem worth uncovering. So maybe it does have something in common with its cover art after all: It’s strangely unforgettable.”
Darryl Sterdan, Winnipeg Sun
“For all the precision playing, there are jazzy detours and hairpin turns aplenty, usually in the direction of hazy Americana and alt.country. From baseball to piano instrumentals (Sharp Teeth I, Sharp Teeth II) Karsten Daniels offers beautiful arrangements and wry observations from the heart.”
Sinéad Gleeson, The Irish Times

“…David Karsten Daniels has traversed a fair amount of American musical ground…”
Philip Hoile, zapbangmagazine.com

Angles (2004) streaming                     

“I might be wrong, but Angles leaves me with the impression that David Karsten Daniels doesn’t much care what I think of his music. Well, not me specifically, but rather he is more concerned with attacking his musical and lyrical impulses and getting them down on record than what the casual listener might think. This is a noble way of working, and one I can entirely sympathize with. The resulting album varies in its accessibility, and is occasionally a difficult beast, but is overall a rewarding experience.
“Goodbye,” the first song, starts off innocuously enough, with a mellow, Radiohead-ish, synth & drum machine sound. Towards the end, however, Daniels throws it over the edge and into your face, as the refrain gives way to a droning coda, with added tracks of someone angrily yelling, a very effectively disturbing touch. This song paves the way for the rest of the album: moments of stark beauty intertwined with interludes of creeping discomfort.
“Goodbye” is followed by the lush, Beatles-esque pop of “Note to Self,” which manages to stuff its 61 seconds with slide guitar, strings, marimba, and even tympani, without seeming overdone. The juxtaposition gives you a great feel for the breadth of Daniels’s musical vocabulary. These songs are so different from each other, and both so well executed, that one is left more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt for some of the album’s harder-to-digest tracks.
As is likely whenever an artist takes risks and goes with his gut in the making of an album, Angles is not without flaws. There are occasions when I wish the songs would hold together a bit better, or develop their themes further. There are times when I wish more attention had been paid to recording and performance quality. But the rewards here greatly outweigh the risks, and all flaws are forgiven about halfway into “Give Up . . . And You Are Changed,” the album’s final track. Here the song breaks down and the mantra-like chorus (“You are changed . . .”) is repeated by male and female harmony vocals, with organ accompaniment, ever intensifying, and literally sending shivers down my spine (take it from me that this is a rare occurrence, as I’m not usually one for physical responses to music, no matter how lovely). This is a song that takes a strong hand to refrain from skipping back to the beginning as soon as it’s over. You should try to resist this temptation until the album is completely over, however, as you might miss a lovely little slip of a song tacked on before the track ends, replete with twittering birds and lovelorn vocals. It’s unclear whether Daniels considers this song as a coda to “Give Up . . .,” or if it’s merely one of those not-so-hidden tracks that tend to pop up on CDs more often than not nowadays. Either way, it’s a beaut, and it does seem to fit in with the themes of “Give Up . . .” (resignation, forgiveness and, of course, change).”
Angles is a re-release of an album Daniels originally put out in 2004, which means he’s well overdue for some brand new goods. I, for one, am greatly looking forward to hearing what he’s come up with in the past year or two.” Lee Klein, Slightly Confusing to a Stranger

“The third solo album from Go Machine multi-instrumentalist David Karsten Daniels is a sparse and doleful affair. Meddling with an array of indie-rock influences and a wealth of instrumentation, Daniels indulges in that most fearsome of concepts, the “break-up” album, inspired by his own struggle to maintain a long-distance, cross-coastal relationship with his girlfriend of four years. This might seem like a horrifically self-indulgent prospect, but it’s handled with a fragile, confessional elegance that grows more intriguing with every listen.
It’s not without its reference points. There’s a pungent whiff of Radiohead in the opening “Goodbye”, mournful nods to Will Oldham in “Scribble Your Name In The Dark”, and even the sad-eyed lamentations of the Radar Brothers in “Alcohol”. Nonetheless, Daniels’ individuality shines through by way of the intimacy of his rambling, conversational delivery. The songs arrive almost as fleeting thoughts, scraps, moments, frozen stills or notebook scribbles, making for a deeply personal record as commendable for its frail honesty as it is for its misty-eyed songwriting.
Likewise, the album flows with a curious mood-swing logic that works in tandem with the “break-up” conceit. The smoldering internal drama of “Goodbye”, for example, gives way to the deceptively cheery acoustic ditty “Note To Self”, in which Daniels asks, “How could you be so silly as to think we could grow together’” From there, “I’ll Just Play Guitar” gives Daniels a chance to console himself in song, “Holding Pattern” is a compelling, wandering ambient insert, and “Marriage Proposal” is the record’s centerpiece — a sorrowful acoustic waltz that burns and crackles like the embers of a charred heart. It’s not all misery incarnate, though. Fittingly for a “break-up” record, the album comes to rest on “Give Up… And You Are Changed”, and this track’s elated chorus ends the proceedings on an almost optimistic note.
Ultimately, Angles is a sparse but beautifully poignant account of falling out of love. It’s certainly a grief-stricken listen, but Daniels mostly sidesteps self-indulgence by translating his own experience into something universally resonant. It’s highly recommendable, not only as a willfully disconnected and confessional album of battered indie-folk, but also as something of a self-help manual for the broken-hearted.”
Allan Harrison, Splendid Magazine

“Sometimes it’s not totally apparent to fans of music how much artists pour their hearts into their recordings. Oftentimes, a listener will dismiss with a simple press of a SCAN button what took months of introspection, hand-wringing, pacing, and sweat. Why does this happen’ Somehow, the agony of the pouring out of one’s soul into the art simply does not come across in a few minutes of sounds emanating from one’s speakers. However, once in a while, the listener stumbles across a recording that vividly captures the emotion an artist puts into a recording. With its heartbreaking narrative, lyrical catharsis, manic-depressive shifts in musical mood, and wrenchingly emotional vocal performances, Angles by North Carolinian songwriter David Karsten Daniels is one of those CD’s. Sounding something like a man perilously close to losing his mind, David Karsten Daniels sings about the agony and bewilderment that comes as one slowly realizes that they’ve lost the love of their life. Angles is a graphic encounter of heartache and grief that will draw the listener in and make them weep along with Daniels.
Sonically, Angles sounds something like a cross between Pedro The Lion, Radiohead and The Castanets, only rawer, more animated. The music can be referenced vaguely as singer/songwriter, as a number of Daniels’ songs utilize his plaintive voice and thoughtful guitar strumming. However, infused throughout the whole of Angles are references to Americana, folk, pop, ambient, and Daniels somehow even adds a hint of electronica on a couple of songs. “Goodbye” immediately introduces the listener to the tragic narrative of Angles (in which a couple in love is forced to separate due to diverging life paths). Capturing perfectly the emotions running through the head of the couple as they separate, Daniels sings, “You tried to put us at ease, gave instructions and kissed me to numb the hurt…‘see you later’ you corrected, tried to put it in perspective, just to hide what it was…goodbye”. Sung over a mournful electronic beat, minimalist keyboards, and building to a cathartic wall of emotion in which Daniels insanely screams in the background of the music, “Goodbye” is masterful and powerful. The quick, 1 minute, “Note To Self” follows, sounding almost like a stripped-down Half-Handed Cloud with it’s quirky fun melody, clean vocals, and variety of sounds and instruments. “I’ll Just Play Guitar” is mostly just that…Daniels delicately strumming an acoustic guitar while lamenting about his situation, while very subtle key sounds add depth to the sound. Another short track, “Holding Pattern” is just under 2 minutes worth of ambient sounds that are soothing. “Marriage Proposal” is one of the more fully developed songs, yet starts out very stripped down and quietly. The guitar work and lazy drums give this song a southern dark-folk feel, while retaining its musical freshness with Daniels’ vocal harmonies. The anguish of this song is that Daniels is writing a song of total devotion to a lady (even naming her by her first name) that cannot return his love. “Scribble Your Name Down in the Dark” beings with eerie samples of female voices, then turns on its head to become an under-produced rock jam (sounding like a male-sung b-side off of PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her). The song just gets going with a dirty guitar lead when it abruptly ends, giving way to “How Turn to Stone”, a slow folk song that builds to a cacophony of out of tune acoustic guitars and busy drums. “To Tire” is another masterful track, as Daniels sings after a minute or so of odd samples “I’m tired of you wrecking of my life”. The music is dissonantly beautiful, as strange sounds underlie Daniels’ frustrated vocals. “Alcohol” is a classic rock/folk jam, featuring soulful layered vocals, electric guitars, a languid and patient pace that ebbs and flows along with the emotions of the song, and ends in a haze of guitar feedback. “Siamese Hearts” is a simple song, combining folk elements with sugary pop hooks, in which Daniels longs to be reunited with his long lost love. Angles ends with the curious “Give Up…And You Are Changed”, in which he finally resigns his love and casts himself to an uncertain future. Starting as an uncomplicated folk song, “Give Up…And You Are Changed” slowly builds to, of all things, an electronic-beat driven refrain of “you are changed” sung in harmonies with female vocals that reminds me of the kind of music one would hear from Sufjan Stevens (minus the drumbeats). Finally, some time after “Give Up…And You Are Changed” ends, an untitled extra track featuring Daniels, his acoustic guitar, and field recording background sounds comes on. On it, Daniels transparently sings of the fact that his loss of love is still prevalent on his mind and heart, but that the pain eventually fades away. It’s a contemplative and touching end to this see-through account of heart break.
Despite what one may think of the eccentricities found in the music of Angles, no one can question that Daniels empties his heart and bears his soul on this release. And, that he does so in such a compelling music style, with strong songs, a grand sense of experimentalism, and is still able to perfectly convey the sense of chaos and dread that surrounds grief is noteworthy. In fact, due to the explicit portrayal of strong emotions found on Angles, the CD can be a hard listen at times, as the listener is swept up in the pain that Daniels projects. But ultimately, Angles concludes on a positive note, and though the singer (and listener) move on feeling a little scarred, there is a conveying of hope for the future. For this, Angles is a very worthy listen for the broken-hearted, grief-stricken, or adventurous music listener looking for something a little different challenging in their music collection.”
5/5 starsBrent Diaz, Somewhere Cold

“Délicieux moment d’apaisante mélancolie comme en offre également l’album de David Karsten Daniels édité par Bu Hanan, label américain qui accueille en outre The Prayers And Tears Of Arthur Digby Sellers présent sur notre volume 8. Avec Angles, David Karsten Daniels mène une analyse à portée universelle sur la déliquescence d’une relation amoureuse. Rien de véritablement neuf certes mais la manière dont l’artiste s’ouvre à nous sans retenue touche au cœur et… au foie. On reste en effet le souffle coupé à l’écoute de ses onze titres exigeants. L’écoute d’Angles coûte, en effet. Et l’on s’en extirpe vaguement triste mais nettement ébranlé. David Karsten Daniels travaille une écriture folk classique pour mieux l’ajuster à son propos. Il s’autorise ainsi excursions expérimentales ou bruitistes et tord le fil de ses idées mélodiques. Un peu comme si l’on étudiait l’effet du visionnage d’un film retraçant les moments douloureux de leurs vies respectives sur la musique de Neil Young, Will Oldham ou Wilco. Pas franchement un moment de déconnade débridée, Angles n’en devient pour autant pas un exercice d’auto-apitoiement pénible.”
A decourvrir absolument
“In a perfect world, the title of David Karsten Daniel’s [sic] solo album wouldn’t be Angles. Instead, it would be the singular Angle, a reflection not only of the months Daniels (of Chapel Hill space-rock trip, Go*Machine) spent locked away in his home writing and recording the material for this, his third, solo effort, but also of the singular, direct focus of the work, a melodramatic case study in how to get left behind by a woman who has dreams of her own and, more importantly, just how to survive her.
But, seconds into Angles, you get the intense feeling that the world isn’t perfect. “‘See you later,’ you corrected/ Trying to put it into perspective/ Just to hide what it was,” Daniels moans from somewhere inside of a barrel, keeping time with the dirge plodding in the background as a salvo of synthesized noise barges in on his forlorn nostalgia. “The goodbye, goodbye.” Daniels spends the next eleven tracks reckoning with the demons stemming from a trans-continental flight and the unrequited, confused love that followed, leaning on his acoustic guitar, Jeff Tweedy and Connor Oberst for precedent and support. He nails Elliott Smith’s sad-eyed swing with the accusatory “Note to Self” and tackles the Bright Eyes methodology of testimonial pursued by cathartic cacophony for the album’s midsection. “I’m going to learn how to be an alcoholic/ Hard as I think that would be,” he declares during “Alcohol,” the fatalistic suicide glimpse in which he disavows food and sleep moments before the dawn of the next three numbers.

That resurrection begins with “Siamese Hearts,” a wistful number that finds Daniels looking for a Midwest rendezvous point for him and his paramour. It ends with “Give up…and You Are Changed,” a gorgeous, if tangled, anthem for the broken-hearted. “I can’t do much more to fix this,” Daniels demands time and again before relenting to a three-minute chorus of angels chanting “You Are Changed!” above an enormous pedal point. And so it ends, the album and the relationship, the latter prompting the former and the former–an especially vulnerable, extremely unsettled look at a man with little left to lose–eventually curing the latter.”
Grayson Currin, The Independent Weekly

Out from under Ligne 4 (2001) streaming

The Mayflower (2000) streaming         

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