Danielson: Trying Hartz
Trying Hartz samples the first decade of the Danielson/Danielson Famile/Br. Danielson oeuvre (all the years before Ships), attesting generously to the movement of the work as a whole, from proto-minimalist eccentric gospel band to prog-metal-dread outfit to music hall choir to indie rock one-man band to outsider art celebrity to family man and family member. It’s a perfect starter volume for listeners who have not had the pleasure of engaging with the evolution of this unusual, surprising, and incredibly moving musical consortium. And yet: please note that no verbal account of the work can possibly summon the effect of the decade digested in this assemblage. After all, as Daniel sings, “My Lord is known by His song.” Not by His press releases. The ecstatic vision of the Danielson project is the unnamable part, the impossible to describe part, and this ecstatic vision is cumulative. It’s not what Daniel says, though he always says it well, it’s the circumstances in which he says it, with family gathered around him, whether related by blood or not; it’s the reiteration of the spiritual thematic material, a reiteration that sounds nothing like early 20th century gospel—it’s far more poeticized, it’s far more elemental—but which has all the seriousness and all the joy of that long ago music. Ecstatic vision. You won’t get it by reading these lines, nor even by reading the lyrics. You will get it by listening to this distillation of ten years’ work and the earlier albums and going to the shows. Then you will experience the humble but devious and complicated grassroots movement that is Danielson. Trying Hartz is an essential place to start.