Thursday, November 10, 2011

Harbinger - Second Coming (us 1970)

Harbinger - Second Coming (us 1970, Private Press Lp - AE 100)

* Dave Bixby,
* Brian Macinness,
* Sandy Johnson,
* Don DeGraaf.

A1. Cosmic Energy   4:44
A2. Time to Clear Your Mind   3:30
A3. Control   2:42
A4. Circus World   7:19
A5. Harmony   3:27
B1. The More You Know   4:04
B2. Rainbow   5:08
B3. All of the Truth   3:34
B4. Open Doors   3:39
B5. Ode to Elias   5:21

I think Harbinger is all over a more interesting LP than "Ode To". I might even say, crucial. To me this hits like the American 70s equivalent of a fantastic piece of dire Russian literature from the 19th century. Dark, brooding, simultaneously obsessed and utterly confused by God.
Transcendental in its outcome, musically massive and stormy like its name promises. A true one of a kind ticket to.... a place very few christian records ever go. One of the hands down heaviest, hauntingly soul searching LPs I've ever heard! The raga-ish buzz he gets out of the 12 string on some of this is absolutely to die for in this context, and sets a pivotal edge between some kind of Dark Ages seeker vibe and a full blown evil post-flower power cult mentality brushing wings with the Dark Lord himself! Mind games, ego death, time travel, ancient apothecaries stirring boiling cauldrons... it's all here. I've played the hell out of this and it only continues to open up to me. Chords, time signatures, lyrics, get stuck and echo through my universe like the tolling bells of the apocalypse. Totally unreal.
 ~ Joaquim Peso.
“Excellent acoustic lost folk psych with 12-string that sounds like a sitar at times, harmony vocals. A strange little beast full of murky strum darkness, cosmic imagery, and rich vocals.
Hard to know what this group was aiming for with an equal mix of cosmic and biblical references. Musically, this has more in common with Leopoldian despair than any Jesus Music counterparts. They even appropriate the melodies to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and the Beatles’ “You Can’t See Me”! File under: Tripping For Jesus. …’the psychedelic sounds of the dirty circus grounds’.”
 ~ by [RM] Acid Archives.
To those of us under the age of 30, Dave Bixby’s spiritual hippie-folk songwriting will likely elicit a collection of grimaces. To those who attended liberal arts colleges where ‘townies’ trolled about campus with their white-boy dreadlocks and secondhand garb, Harbinger’s Second Coming isn’t going to do much to gratify. Let’s face it: we’ve been dealing with this shit for years. There’s no possible way that some dude with an acoustic guitar and ‘spiritual’ (but not religious!) lyrics could break through our calloused anti-hippie disposition. But while Harbinger’s Second Coming (recently re-released on Guerssen) will be an easy record to overlook, it doesn’t have to be.
Taken earnestly, Second Coming really is quite beautiful. Although you might have to circumvent a few temporal biases in order to enjoy it, Dave Bixby’s songwriting is a powerful product indeed. He hopes, he mopes, but above all else, Dave Bixby feels god’s influence in his every movement. A similar spiritual affinity characterized Bixby’s previous work (the devastatingly lonesome Ode To Quetzalcoatl), but on Second Coming we discover that he’s finally pulled himself together.
As a result, the work is much more optimistic than its predecessor; instead of appealing to god through his isolation, Bixby expresses his spirituality more directly. He’s not writing explicitly for himself anymore — Second Coming finds a recovered Dave Bixby, and he wants to tell you about what he’s seen.
 ~ by Orange Julius.
Well as you can likely see by my recent finds post both of my Dave Bixby albums showed up yesterday. Once I found out that the Spanish label Guerssen had reissued both of his albums I was first in line to get my hands on a copy, and sure enough they're hot out of the plant, beautiful 2009 pressings. Since yesterday I've listened to them both through twice and I must say that I still favor Ode To Quetzalcoatl because of just how personal it's lyrical content is. It's almost haunting in how revealing and troubled Bixby sounds on it, a man lost but trying desperately to find his way out. It's brilliant.And that brings me to Harbringer's Second Coming Lp, which is after all Dave Bixby's second effort. It's mostly made up of songs that were written around the same time as Ode To Quetzalcoatl and while some may think it should sound the exact same, well it doesn't.
The most striking change is the level of accompaniment Dave has on the songs. Instead of a strict solo effort like the 1st album now you have layers to contend with, and that's not always a good thing on Second Coming.
Right from the intro track "Cosmic Energy" one can tell that the timing of the guitars seems off, as well as out of tune. You'll also notice that the lyrics are seemingly nonsensical compared to any cut off of Ode To Quetzalcoatl. That aside I think when you forget about his first album and concentrate solely on this record you will see it's brilliance. It's just the constant comparison between the two that end up faulting this album.
One thing that I did find very interesting though was taken from the incredibly informative insert included with the album, it's that during this time Ode To Quetzalcoatl had done quite well for Dave and they were selling the album at all of the shows they played. In fact so successful that the seemingly guru like Don Degraff chose to use Bixby's talent for his own profit. Using the Second Coming recordings (which were already made) he slapped his picture on the front and titled it under a group, "Harbinger" which tied it directly to the cult known as "The Group". This was a group of people that came later to worship Don religiously, and it was something Dave apparently always felt really leary of. He has since been associated with The Group but was never a full fledged member. This is all likely why this album is even harder to find than his first, it was not only a private pressing but strictly a cult album, which was sold as services and concerts. When those responsible for the reissues were looking for source copies of the albums (no master tapes exist) they could only track down 2 copies of Second Coming. That just shows how rare it is.
Anyways, listen and decide for yourself.
 ~ (this quote was taken from "THE WORLD ON A STRING" by GBTG).

Download Link:
Harbinger - Second Coming (us 1970)