Often the oeuvre of John Fahey is discussed in the context of the
blues, followed by an oblique mention of his influence on acts like
Sonic Youth and his spiritual alignment with minimalist composers.
Generally his influence on these acts is credited to his iconoclastic
and DIY persona. Less mentioned is his direct musical influence on the
experimental acts of today. Fahey was, at times, a drone artist- and
this fantastic, mysterious take of “Dance of the Inhabitants”
illustrates why he continues to remain relevant in experimental
Fahey bookends this piece with familiar blues references as his slide
meanders through pentatonic riffage, but midway he fully embraces
microtonality and dissonance. This creates a conflict between the
earthy and the ethereal- a conflict that colors much of his best
music. Often it ceases sounding like a guitar at all. This is cosmic
The resonance of the concert hall is to thank for much of the
immensity here, making this particular recording less akin to Bukka
White and more similar to Charlemagne Palestine's "Strumming Music" or
some of the more celestial and percussion-free Glenn Branca pieces.
Here you can hear Fahey not only play the guitar, but simultaneously
play the room and the air- summoning throughout the same overtones of
the drone greats.
The rapturous audience at the University of Washington were lucky to
play aural witness to this private and meditative moment, as are we
some 40 years later. This bootleg is among my top five favorite Fahey
moments (including his studio work) and I believe it stands out as
unique in his discography, bringing further into focus this remark of
Jim O'Rourke from Steve Lowenthal's recently released “Dance of Death”
“Fahey isn't an Americana thing for me [...] I didn't think of him in
the context of Bukka White- I didn't give a shit about that stuff,
Grab a cup of tea or coffee, find a private place, and enjoy! Give it
space to sink in. Happy Fahey week.