Essra Mohawk

Primordial Lovers MM

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This single-disc release compiles two out of print recordings from one of America's rarest treasures -- Essra Mohawk. Is there another artist who can claim as diverse a résumé as Mohawk? She has been a member of the Mothers of Invention and was in an early-'80s Jerry Garcia solo band. In addition, Mohawk can be heard on not one, but two Schoolhouse Rock Saturday morning cartoon educational animated shorts. Aside from those high-profile gigs, Mohawk exerted an infinite amount of creative energy and effort into solo recordings. Primordial Lovers MM gathers Primordial Lovers and Essra Mohawk -- originally issued in 1970 and 1974, respectively -- along with two Primordial Lovers-era B-sides. Incidentally, it's Mohawk's voice behind "Interjections!" and "Sufferin' 'Til Suffrage" on Schoolhouse Rock. Ever since its release in March of 1970, Primordial Lovers has been globally lauded and hailed by journalists, enthusiasts, as well as musical peers. Mohawk indeed delivers a uniquely grounded and earthy folk masterpiece. With sparse, yet effective, accompaniment, the tales woven by Mohawk are hypnotically sweet and tinged with the tangible pleasures of humanity. Nowhere are they exemplified more directly than on the tracks "I Am the Breeze," "Looking Forward to the Dawn," and "I Have Been Here Before." According to the liner notes (as penned by Mohawk herself), the latter tune was a direct influence on David Crosby's CSN&Y track "Déjà Vu." Another musical connection to the Déjà Vu album is percussionist Dallas Taylor, who is featured on several Primordial Lovers tracks. Mohawk's vibe is notably more organic than artists such as Joni Mitchell-- whose immense shadow ultimately became a dark cloud over the recognition that Mohawk rightfully deserved. "Jabberwock Song" and "Image of YU" are B-side tracks that have never been available in any other format. While not throwaways by any means, they certainly have a lighter and less intense feel than most of Primordial Lovers. Mohawk's eponymous release from 1975 is no less intense than her previous long player. It is much more elaborately structured, which makes listening all the more interesting. The lighter arrangements have turned inward and the music has taken on a slightly more rock and less folk approach and feel. Lyrically, the album is more sensual ("You Make Me Come to Pieces" and "Openin' My Love's Doors" than her previous effort. The cover of "Summertime" is edgy, breathing new life into this classic with emphasis on the familiar imagery. The sound quality on Primordial Lovers MM is flawless, although some might go further, declaring it breathtaking -- especially those comparing worn vinyl copies to this disc. All the warm nuances and acoustic overtones are immaculately reproduced, creating a vitally fresh listening experience. The full-color 24-page liner notes booklet reproduces every aspect of the original LP releases, including the contents of the 5" x 7½" lyrics booklet that accompanied initial pressings of Primordial Lovers. An enormous bonus is the page upon page of notes Mohawk penned for this project. Her recollections and memoirs go beyond the imagery and into the artist's mindset.

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