(Heligator Records, 2016)
So I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately, mainly because the week that I write this, the week of January 11, is the week that we lost both David Bowie and Alan Rickman (both 69 years old! Spooky). I’m a little embarrassed about this, but I lost it for a moment – I hit “Quicksand” on Hunky Dory, spinning it as I was in memoriam, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. It was brief, it was heartbroken. I couldn’t believe that I was living on Earth and Bowie was not. It reminded me of how finite everything is. By the time Alan Rickman, an actor whom I love, passed away that Thursday, I was numb, and that was it.
So instead of turning to something familiar, something comforting, something that I was sure would make me feel nostalgic and sad and loved all at once, I hit play on this, Sierra Highs, a single-track release by Amulets, the recording moniker of Austin-based dronesmith Randall Taylor. (You can find a previous review of his I II III IV V VI cassette here.) I was hoping for a narcotic, something to dull the pain and allow me to simply drift through the moments without feeling too much, something to reverberate in the background and pacify my restless mind. I didn’t expect such a deep, enveloping meditation.
Over its thirteen minutes, “Sierra Highs” does one thing, and one thing only: project infinite beauty and tranquility. Above what sounds like a sample of a crackling campfire (and I hope that’s what it is), Taylor’s guitar and effects rig shimmers and glows like galaxies glimpsed on a cold night from the wilderness of a forest clearing. His playing exhibits a vastness, a magic, one that refuses to separate the human spirit from the immeasurable nature of the universe. It’s at once comforting and humbling, and the perfect companion to accompany me – or you, or anybody – through times like these. It probably also sounds pretty good removed from situations like this. Download it and give it a try!
And great news – you’re helping out a good cause too: “All proceeds from this single (and every Heligator release) go directly to the funding of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library. Please consider purchasing as a donation and as a gift to yourself. Check out the library’s progress at our blog: malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com”