A Hawk and a Hacksaw

You Have Already Gone to the Other World

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Visceral, intoxicating, occasionally difficult, and wildly inventive, the sixth studio outing from former Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost (both are multi-instrumentalists) -- the sole official members of Albuquerque, New Mexico-based, Eastern European-influenced experimental rock outfit A Hawk and a Hacksaw -- was forged on the road. Prior to the studio sessions for You Have Already Gone to the Other World, the duo had spent a great deal of time touring their live soundtrack to the 1964 art house film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Parajanov around Europe. The countless viewings and performances eventually inspired Barnes and Trost to expand their tribute to the film, which was a hallucinatory, early champion of magical realism that took place in a Hutsul village in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, into a full-on studio project that used traditional, regional Ukrainian music as a springboard for new variations, motifs, and themes. Produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof and interspersed with snippets of dialogue and incidental music from the film itself, the 16-track collection contains some powerful moments. The incredibly dynamic, Barnes-penned title track, with its feverish, saber-clashing percussion and serpentine melodies; the goose bump-inducing "Wedding Song," which features a choir backed by accordion and violin; the similarly affecting, dulcimer-kissed "Bury Me in the Clothes I Was Married In," which segues into the ethereal, jew harp-led " Marikam, Marikam," and the pastoral, reverent, and playful closing piece, "On the River Cheremosh," all find the duo at the top their game, effortlessly weaving the past into the future (and vice-versa) with undeniable skill and refreshing amounts of empathy .

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