Damon & Naomi on tour with Kurihara
Husband-and-wife team Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang (ex-indie punksters from Galaxie 500) seem to have cemented their musical direction of beautiful, haunting folk with this latest two-CD set. One disc features a concert of material mostly from their last album with Ghost performed live in San Sebastian, Spain; the other is a DVD disc featuring Yang’s light-hearted video diary of their European tour.
Musically, the pair makes slow-tempo, psychedelic folk with lofty harmonies and subtle instrumentation—Yang plays bass and harmonium (a breathy keyboard with an accordion-like appendage), while the pair trades mournful, intimate vocals. It’s understandable why critics label the group somnambulant, or slow-core, since the pair tends to favor languishing, circular melodies, but that doesn’t mean that the songs are boring. If you’re looking for an interesting folk experience, this is one of the most hypnotic live offerings I’ve heard of late.
The recording is excellent, with minimal crowd noise; the main difference between this and the studio record is the more tangible presence of guitarist Michio Kurihara (from the Japanese psychedelic group Ghost), whose piercing electric guitar flourishes complement the songs without ever becoming intrusive.
The Massachusetts duo also runs a small press for little known avant-literature by the likes of surrealist painter Leonora Carrington and playwright Alfred Jarry (Damon is also editor of Pulse magazine’s Classical section). Their eclectic tastes as musicologists and writers likely account for the mysterious, quasi-religious lyrics here that portend some new-age utopianism. The album is named after the included cover version of Tim Buckley’s ethereal "Song to the Siren."