Album Reviews

Dag För Dag – Shooting From The Shadows EP

(Saddle Creek) UK release date: 4 May 2009

The one-string guitar riff is usually the preserve of the beginner. It usually winds up being a rough approximation of Smoke on The Water regardless of whether the novice even knows how Deep Purple’s classic goes – it’s just one of those primal things. It’s like the human species has been pre-programmed with Smoke on The Water. Quite how cavemen or indeed any musician up until the fateful day of that Zappa concert had never played those notes in that order is beyond comprehension.

Dag For Dag were obviously elsewhere when the Purple Program was being installed. Opening track Ring Me, Elise suggests that when they picked up a guitar for the first time, they decided that they only really needed to learn one note and to learn any others would be far too elaborate a concept. And so it is that Ring Me, Elise is perhaps one of the most hamfisted and poorly played songs we’ve ever heard.

Still there is something unbearably loveable about it. This is mainly down to the haunting vocals of brother and sister duo Sarah and Jacob Snavely which sound bruised and androgynous and beautiful. Style over passion does not have a home here. This is all about belief. This is about forming a band when you’re 11 and can’t even play an instrument yet. It’s about the need to play music. It is therefore, weirdly brilliant.

Pirate Sea consists of somewhere in the region of 3 notes, but is totally driven by some haunting vocals that shiver your timbers until they crumble into a pile of soggy but satisfied splinters. A vessel manned by Jim Morrison and with a figurehead in the shape of Kate Bush would sail the oceans to the sound of this shanty.

Words is a slow and creeping accordion piece that wouldn’t be out of place at a sea burial. You can practically see a dense fog pouring from your speakers and filling the room as the song floats around you like the spirits at the end of Raiders of The Lost Ark – the nice ones that is, not the ones that cause your face to melt off. It does make you wonder how a band that started a record with a one-fingered salute to musicianship can come up with something so beautiful on the same record.

You Holler You Scream is another seething grind of a song. A vocal line that reminds us of the much missed but never heard of Die Cheerleader sits on top of some rudimentary but effective angular guitars. When the layered vocals collide and compliment each other, the effect is stunning. Rather like an expulsion of raw unbridled emotion in an empty church, its both redemptive and terrifying in equal measure.

The remix that closes this mini album can’t capture any of the original’s verve, and is a missed opportunity and a waste of the listener’s time. You’re better off skipping back to the beginning of the CD and marvelling in how something so simple can be so effective. The first few notes you’ll hear of Dag For Dag will have you snorting with derision, but by the end you’ll be enraptured.

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Dag För Dag – Shooting From The Shadows EP