Stream Dama/Libra Claw (Stereogum Premiere)
Most coverage of Dama/Libra refers to the band’s vocalist Joel RL Phelps as being a former member of Silkworm, and that is technically true — Phelps sang and played guitar with Silkworm from 1987 till 1994, and was a key contributor to the band’s classic sophomore LP, In The West. But Phelps’ best work came after he left Silkworm, via the handful of LPs and EPs he released with the Downer Trio, including 1995’s Warm Springs Night, 1998’s 3, and 2004’s Customs/Traditions. (Those are probably the three best records in a catalog that is flat-out great from front to back.) The Downer Trio’s dire, scenic, haunting music compared favorably to godlike shit such as Red House Painters and Low, with Phelps’ Young-ian guitar and vocals leading the starkly beautiful proceedings. Phelps sort of stepped away from music after Customs/Traditions — a tragic loss for those of us who cared — but he returned in 2013 with a great new Downer Trio LP called Gala. He’s back in something resembling a spotlight now, though, with Dama/Libra, in which he provides ghostly vocals over drone soundscapes courtesy of G. Stuart Dahlquist, formerly of Sunn O))) and Burning Witch. (The two live in different cities, and collaborated on the music via email.) Dama/Libra’s soon-to-be-released debut LP, Claw, is serene and terrifying in equal measure — at its heights, it feels like hymns from an ancient church whose spirits are visibly being raised from the ground and drawn down from the heavens. We’ve got the album for you to stream in full today, and you should absolutely do so: It’s like nothing else you’ll hear this year. Hell, it’s like nothing else you’ve ever heard, or will ever hear again. And it’s fucking magical. Listen.
Claw is out 8/12 via Northern Spy.