John Fahey - Proofs & Refutations

Barcode: 781484075912


This product is currently out of stock

$44.00 Inc. GST

Product info


Recorded in 1995 and 1996, mostly in John Fahey's room at a Salem, Oregon boardinghouse, the performances on "Proofs and Refutations" prefigure the ornery turn of the page that marked Fahey's final years, drawing another enigmatic rabbit from his seemingly bottomless musical hat. Cloaked in the language of dogma -- what is he proving? refuting? -- this is Fahey dancing a jig in the Duchampian gap, jester cap bells a-jingling. True believers? He's got something for you: an uncompromising vision that you can sneer at ("guy can't play anymore and refuses to concede!") or embrace as evidence of his genius ("the reinventor does it again!"). Skeptics? He's there with you, too: sending up the fallacy of certitudes altogether. Institutions, systems, accepted wisdoms. Heroes. Alternative facts, indeed. Right out of the gate, Fahey re-materializes before us, somewhere between Oracle of Delphi and Clown Prince at Olympus. Mounting a thundering dialectic from on high, "All the Rains" resembles nothing else in his extensive discography -- betraying roots in everything from Dada to Episcopal liturgical chant -- and contains nary a plucked guitar note. You can't fool him! When the lap steel of yore appears on "F for Fake," it serves more as soundbed for an extended sequence of vocal improvisations, running the gamut from wordless Bashoian caterwauling to free-form (but decidedly fake) Tuvan, even revealing a burnished falsetto in the process. Fahey takes on a different kind of provocation in the two acoustic guitar-based tracks closing Side 1 -- "Morning" parts 1 and 2 -- the first of 4 recordings in this session that have him wrestling with the ghost of Skip James, perhaps Fahey's effort to wrench the "bitter, hateful old creep" (his words) back into the grave. Anchoring Side 2 is the two-part "Evening, Not Night," the second half of his extended cathexis on James (and the latter's avowed castration complex -- another story for another day, perhaps). Bit of a chill in the air -- where's the impish Fahey from earlier? Unmistakably working through some psychic wounds here, we might think: the unheimlich rendered in glistening viscera. Or is he playing with our notions of authenticity, of his reputation as troubadour of raw emotional states, a pilgrim of the ominous, the simmering unconscious? These cards are kept decidedly close to the vest. The opening and closing pieces again feature Fahey's guitar as drone soundbed -- employing distortion, oscillation, and an altogether absurd quotient of reverb to create texture and harmonics that are -- if we wanna go there -- not dissimilar to the sustained tonic clusters of Tibetan singing bowls, the hurdy gurdy, Hindustani classical music, or La Monte freaking Young. Portions of this material appeared on obscure late '90s vinyl in the 7" or double-78 rpm format, but as a "session" it has lain dormant more than a quarter century now. Taken together, we can now see these tracks as secret blueprints to latter-day Fahey provocations, several years prior to records like 1997's "City of Refuge" and "Womblife."

Side A:
All The Rains
F For Fake
Morning (Pt. 1)
Morning (Pt. 2)

Side B:
For LMC 2
Evening, Not Night (Pt. 1)
Evening, Not Night (Pt. 2)
Untitled (w/o Rain)

Stuff about us you might like to know

  • We are a small independent record store that's been selling new vinyl records in Melbourne, Australia since 2011
  • All delivery orders are shipped for $8.95 with Australia Post and include tracking
  • Pickup is availble from 461 High St Northcote. This is a free option during checkout
  • We go to extreme lengths to make sure our customers are happy
  • We use the best mailers available with lots of space for corner protection, and we make sure orders are packed tightly to avoid seam splits
  • We ship almost all orders within 1 business day (excluding special or preorder products)
  • If there are any issue with an order due to damage, delivery issues or faulty discs we cover all costs associated with replacing and/or returning items
  • We're happy to give free expert advice about turntables and hi-fi including setup and playing issues
  • If you want to get in touch, email If you would like to talk to us on the phone, send an email requesting a call back