A Journal Of The Dark Arts
I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE, the most recent project of local mystic Davis Hooker, is the perfect segue from Folk Week, into our next exploration, Portland Week, which will begin in earnest in a couple of days. I’m getting an early start, however, as I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE is one of my favorite musicians, anywhere, and he’s playing a show, here in Portland at the Foggy Notion, and i’m just too skint to go, so i’m staying home and listening to his gnostic ruminations, instead. Which seems oddly fitting, in a way, as Davis Hooker’s music hangs back, behind the curtains of space and time, hiding behind a mask, like Mark Twain’s Mysterious Stranger. Like that stranger, you get the feeling behind I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE, there is only empty space, which explodes into light like AIN SOPH AUR, when you gaze long enough.
I’ve written about I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE once before (twice, if you count the old blog), so enamored was i of those old Demo recordings (which are now gone, alack). I’ve been meaning to write about this tape since it came out in August, but was caught up in new releases and themes and struggles. I am finally finding a way and a time to write about all the music that i love, and that you will love. I’m figuring out new and innovative ways of organizing it on the daily.
Davis Hooker is the perfect segue from last week’s Folk theme, and into Portland Week. Not that he’s particularly representative of any cohesive collective or anything. That’s part of why i write, i suppose, part of why this blog exists. It’s a home for the homeless, for the nameless. We don’t gather, we don’t wear masks, we’re out in the night, running in the shadows. Pursuing real art, fine beauty, actual magick.
That’s what this is: real art, actual magick. What i was initially attracted to, with the demoes, was the airy, roomy lonesome quality. It was like folk music, recorded on a laptop. Or on a handheld tape recorder in an empty hotel room. It had that Robert Johnson murk, or the warmth and roominess of that first Califone record, or an old, good Tom Waits album. There is a rough-hewn, handmade quality, which is continued on his Great Horned Owls tumblr, which is all backwards macbook photographs. The whole thing is like digital impressionism, it’s an eerie lo-fi that is even more experimental, in a certain way, than the cassette tape underground of the late ’70s/early ’80s. This is the sound of soundcloud humming, chanting, gibbering and invoking in the dead of night, when everyone’s sleeping.
Unfortunately, since i last wrote those Demos have vanished, leaving me to consider that Unread #135 is the intended form for these songs. It’s weird, but this is one of the records i was most eagerly anticipating, curious to see what kind of document the man would produce. Thankfully, the “album” is just as raw as the demoes, but it’s a 4-track rawness, full of walkmen smear, static and multi-tracking. It sounds fucking awesome – Hooker’s music is blasted on the tape in all the right ways. His nylon string cowboy pluck saturates the tape like a doomy John Renbourn – as ringing arpeggios fall down like rain around the songs of Demon Princes, the air, the wind, the nothing, the rulers of the world. Its great to hear these songs in a fuller state, little echos of voice and delayed guitar, scrape and rumble and digital noise. It’s all covered in white fuzz and occasional found-sound samples. It contains all the charms possible within a 4-track apparatus. It’s got the concrete folk symphony of the best John Fahey records, further illustrating a nexus between Noise and Folk.
These could be blues songs by an end-of-days preacher, a conspiracy nut, and i get the feeling they may be somewhat based in fact, that Davis Hooker himself may be kind of wide-eyed, screaming at the sky. The man is equal part cowboy, dead letter bohemian and gnostic poet. I’ve seen him shout down a room full of people with only his stomping feet and acoustic guitar. When he speaks of demons and princes of the air, he seems as if he knows them by name, has stalked the pages of the Dictionarre Infernal, spent some time with Stolas and Belphegor. He’s a little singed around the edges.
The quality that i find in I Am The Lake Of Fire is one i find difficult to find elsewhere, and is hard to put yr finger on. It’s a feeling of inverse religiosity. He may be singing of the Devil, humming hymns to Lucifer, but you get the feeling he is talking of a beautiful Angel of the Pit, of the darkness, of the nighttime, which are three very different things indeed. You’ve got to know yr enemies. You’ve got to name yr demons. When he comes near the end, with “I Am The Exposer Of Demonic Kings”, talking of the rulers of the world, of defiling infants, of pervasive pornography, “that’s how they let the demons in”, it seems like some Hollywood illuminati drug rant, except i think he may be right. Wickedness abounds. Shallowness reigns.
So we go out in the night, and call on the old ways.
I’m not starting with I AM THE LAKE OF FIRE because he is representative of the “Portland Sound” (there isn’t one, which is part of what i’m here to tell you), it’s that i’d like him to be. I want to find more music like this. Where is it? Give it to me! And also, because this is some of my favorite music on the planet, and i want more people to hear it. Let’s carve the stars, let’s sculpt the air.
there is a kingdom
there is a king
[?] is his dominion
everything that ever was or ever will be.
o lonely soul
how lovely you are to behold
you are not alone
it is high time you come home.