To my ears, the best music transports me to another place or time, another world, or another universe. That’s certainly what Neko Case did for me with her 2006 album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – my first introduction to her world. As the release date (9/3) for her new album draws nigh, my memories of hearing that album come flooding back.
What follows is what I wrote down in a rush after listening to Fox Confessor for the first time. It has sat quietly in my computer until now. Here is where that music took me:
I’m in a tiny boat floating on a languid river at the bottom of a narrow canyon so deep it’s in perpetual twilight, with a thin crack of gray, stormy sky barely visible miles above. The canyon walls are riven with caverns, some near and some far above, each with something to hide. Many cave mouths are stained with the ooze of old wounds. There’s one with iron bars across it, sealing its contents from entry or exit. Unidentifiable beasts glower with deep red eyes from ledges. From unknown recesses emerge the most glorious sirens’ voices beckoning me, while from others come warning. Do I hear bells tolling? Was that a winged sprite leaving fiery contrails far above? Was that a child stealing a furtive glance from a dark crevice? There’s another, staring wide-eyed, desperately reaching out to me as I float by. And in one incongruous hole lies a perfectly contented Cheshire cat with a huge, luminous grin. But what are those shadowy shapes swirling beneath the waters? Suddenly, the entire canyon shudders as if from a deep quake, and huge boulders hurtle from above, but they vanish before plunging into the waters around me. And far ahead, around some unseen bend in the canyon, is a cold blue light, and a faint roar – but is it the billowing of vast velvet curtains that will envelope me, or a deep cataract that will drown me? Whatever it may be, I welcome it with all my heart.
Since Fox Confessor, I have acquired more Case recordings, and they all transport me. To me, Neko Case is a siren, and as all sailors are, I am weakened by her song-spells, and am willingly drawn to my fate in her arms. My ship be damned.