Damon & Naomi Revisit The Sub Pop Years

It wasn’t so long ago I posted about Galaxie 500 reissuing their original three albums and, in the process, brought up Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang’s Damon & Naomi, Magic Hour, and the renaissance couple’s twenty-year old Exact Change Press. Now the duo are releasing The Sub Pop Years, which compiles their favorite tracks from their four Sub Pop albums (The Wonderous World Of Damon & Naomi, Playback Singers, Damon & Naomi With Ghost, Songs To The Siren: Live In San Sebastian), spanning 1995-2002. There are so many beautiful, evocative, and (to these ears) classic songs on the 15-track collection, but I chose “The Great Wall” because it comes from my favorite of their SP albums, Damon & Naomi With Ghost, the 2000 collaboration with the mesmerizing Japanese psychedelic group Ghost. So it’s to mark that release and also because of the way it moves into a mantra then takes off via Michio Kurihara’s guitar playing after the 5-minute mark. It’s hard to explain how exciting this collaboration felt when it first happened, but before you listen, here are a few sentences I scribbled when writing about Ghost’s Hypnotic Underworld five years ago:

I was floored in 1995 when Ghost and Magic Hour went on tour in the U.S. and Japan. To my ear, both groups benefited. On one side, the trip inspired the jingly acoustic-centered instrumentals, “SunsetOne” and “SunsetTwo”, on Magic Hour’s final opus, Secession ’96. It also planted the seeds for Ghost’s 2000’s full-length collaboration with ex-Magic Hour rhythm section, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang on the best Damon & Naomi record in some time. For Ghost, Magic Hour’s rock excess invaded their pristine habitat, leading to the mastery of a heavier, rock-monster strain of psychedelia on subsequent releases.

Damon And Naomi – “The Great Wall” (MP3)

Byron Coley’s notes on the song from around the time of the original release:

The function of objects created outside of our cultural referents is always mysterious, but Kafka postulated that The Great Wall was the first truly secure foundation for a new Tower of Babel. The end portion of this Great Wall was designed as a secure foundation for [Michio] Kurihara’s guitar “thing.”

You can hear the also awesome (and also included) “Mirror Phase” over at damonandnaomi.com.

The Sub Pop Years is out 8/31 via Damon & Naomi’s own 20-20-20. Keep watch for a DVD that includes live performance and videos as well as a new D&N album in 2010. Before that, they’re on tour supporting A Hawk And A Hacksaw:

09/03 – Manchester, UK @ Dulcimer #
09/04 – London, UK @ Cafe Oto #
09/18 – Cambridge, MA @ YMCA Theatre %
09/19 – New York, NY @ (Le) Poisson Rouge %
09/20 – Washington, DC @ Rock ‘N Roll Hotel %
09/23 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall %
09/24 – Atlanta, GA @ The Melting Point %
09/25 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl %
09/26 – Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light %
10/08 – Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland %
10/09 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent %
10/12 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir %
10/13 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern %
10/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge %
10/16 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive %

# w/ Amor de Dias (new project from Alasdair Maclean of the Clientele)
% w/ A Hawk and A Hacksaw