Daniel Higgs portrait by Marcin Lewandowski. Taken at Black Sun at Camden Palace Cork, 2011.
Triskel Arts Centre / Saturday May 4th / Tickets on the door: €10
Daniel Arcus Incus Ululat Higgs is a musician and artist from Baltimore, Maryland on whose behalf superlatives are destined to fail. It’s not that his artistic output – spanning three decades, numerous albums, books of poetry and collections of drawings – simply eludes classification, it defies it. Often we hear that a true work of art is meant to speak for itself, and with the work of Daniel Higgs the maxim rings truer than ever. His art is of the cosmos, we on Earth merely lucky that it happens to be confined to our atmosphere, in our lifetime.
Higgs is known primarily for his work as the sole lyricist and frontman of the band Lungfish, a four-piece dedicated to charting, in this listener’s estimation, nothing short of the evolution of all species, known and unknown. That the band has undertaken this pursuit in the guise of a humble rock outfit, in the absence of any public relations fanfare, metanarrative, or manifesto has been enough to endear them to tens of thousands. They are enshrined as one of America’s last true folk bands, and Higgs anointed as a patron saint to artistic purity.
In recent years, Higgs has released a number of solo outings that can only be described as the ultimate in isolation, worlds away from the hypnotic, communal rock of his band.
//// WOVEN SKULL
Woven skull is the vessel with which the sound of larks, lakes and the high breeze off tree tops travels from its source to the comfortable confines of rigid amplification, battered drumskins and rusty chimes into repetitive dark melodies.
Since 2008 the core trio that makes up Woven Skull have been gathering together in the remote area in the north west of Ireland known as Leitrim. Known for its tales of ghosts, ‘tree folk’, under water creatures and the constant battle calls of the ancient Tuatha De Danann that can be heard on Letirims Iron Mountain. These are the surroundings and forces that influence the sound that Woven Skull create: A contrast of minimal drones, repetition and psychedelic distorted riffs all layered in constant unconscious rhythms.
As well as the 3 core members, Woven Skull often take other people with them when playing live or during recordings. Other ‘players’ have included members of United Bible Studies, Gnod, Core of the Coal Man, Raising Holy Sparks and more. When playing live the group incorporates visuals and creates an intimate setting with candles and dim lighting. They have a number of self-released CDs as well as a tape release (Moods of the Hill People) on Fort Evil Fruit (Dublin) and a release coming out on Golden Lab Records (Manchester).
//// BLACK SUN CINEMA PRESENTS ::
In Deference to the Squeamish I (Willie Stewart, 2013)
This haunting track from Divil A’ Bit’s upcoming album is graced with an exceptionally lyrical and eerily delicate music video that entices viewers into discreetly experimental woodland reverie. Music by David Colohan, Natalia Beylis and Willie Stewart.
CHUMLUM (Ron Rice, 1964)
Ron Rice, director of the influential beatnik romp The Flower Thief (1960), has been called “the great tragic figure of the ‘60s underground film scene”. He completed only a handful of films before his death at age 29, but the playfully gorgeous androgynous swoon Chumlum (1964), starring Jack Smith and featuring a score by Angus MacLise (ex-Velvet Underground), remains emblematic of early ‘60s New York experimental filmmaking at its most dizzyingly creative. Shot on breaks between takes on pioneering gay underground icon Smith’s film Normal Love, it captures Smith’s cast in their full ‘Arabian Nights’ regalia decadently draped in hammocks, their bodies layering up and intertwining like the exquisite superimpositions of images Rice employs throughout. Bodies, fabrics, colours, images blend and blur into a hypnotic erotic reverie that encompasses the mind and senses like a delicate but inescapable net of the finest lace. Amongst the ‘flaming creatures’ on display in the cast are Barbara Rubin (director of the sexually graphic experimental classic Christmas on Earth) and Warhol superstar Mario Montez.
“All of yesterday’s parties seem to have exploded in the air… A hallucinatory micro-epic […] and one of the great “heroic doses” of ’60s underground cinema, a movie so sumptuously and serenely psychedelic it appears to have been printed entirely on gauze…
Chumlum [manages] to capture with unnerving fidelity the murky glories, the sudden temps morts and temps mutant, not to mention the inevitable malaise of a rich but fading high.”