Sam Amidon – The Following Mountain (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 41:24 minutes | 451 MB | Genre: Folk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Nonesuch
“The Following Mountain” is the seventh full length album from Samuel Tear, better known as Sam Amidon, a Vermont folk singer currently based in London. Created with producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Regina Spektor) and frequent collaborator Shahzad Ismaily, The Following Mountain represents a new approach for Sam Amidon, who shifts here from his previous norm of re-working traditional folk songs and presents nine wholly original compositions, with some lyrics drawing on traditional sources. The album features a rare guest appearance by drummer Milford Graves, known initially for his work in the 1960s with free jazz legends Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock.
“The Following Mountain” was made during two distinct recording sessions: an initial weekend in Brooklyn where Ismaily and Amidon brought in Graves, percussionist Juma Sultan (Jimi Hendrix), and saxophonist Sam Gendel for a heavily improvised session; followed by time in the studio over the summer in London, where Amidon worked with Leo Abrahams to shape and develop the songs.
Despite howling “I’m out of ideas” to open one of its tracks, The Following Mountain marks a notable change in approach for musical raconteur Sam Amidon. After establishing himself over the course of several albums as a reinterpreter of traditional folk tunes, this is his first record to consist entirely of original songs. He began the recording process with a largely improvised session with legendary jazz drummer Milford Graves, Jimi Hendrix percussionist Juma Sultan, and saxophonist Sam Gendel, along with frequent collaborator Shahzad Ismaily. He then met with producer Leo Abrahams (Regina Spektor, Paolo Nutini) to build songs out of segments of those recordings, with Amidon on occasion borrowing from public domain poems and songs for lyrics. (“Warren,” for example, contains lyrics from a 17th century poem by Thomas Flatman). By nature of its creative process, the album has a more meandering character than much of his prior material, but still renders Amidon’s ramshackle, instinctive-sounding style and elemental arrangements, which can make synthesizers and programming seem downright rustic in context (“Another Story Told”). Contributing to this impression are pre- and post-song studio clatter and commentary. “Juma Mountain” opens with the subtle hum of electronics before acoustic guitar, congas, bass, and eventually atmospheric electric guitar and drum kit set a sentimental mood as Amidon contemplates a moment in time. “Gendel in 5” is busier, with – as indicated by the title – complex time signatures and an extended saxophone solo dotted by harmonic passages built from voice, flutes, acoustic guitar, and synths. It maintains a reflective, almost haunting tone. The album does take a turn on the final track, “April,” which consists of the final nearly 12 minutes of the initial hour-long jam session. In the liner notes, Amidon wrote of the song, “It’s where we got to.” With the possible exception of that improvisation, by combining his appreciation of both free jazz and Appalachian folk music, Amidon seems to be creating a traditional folk for the future.
01 – Fortune
02 – Ghosts
03 – Juma Mountain
04 – Another Story Told
05 – Gendel In 5
06 – Blackbird
07 – Trouble in Mind
08 – Warren
09 – April (feat. Milford Graves)