Review: Beyond & Between by Daniel Higgs

If Schopenhauer was right, that music is the melody whose text is the world, Daniel Higgs has discovered a melody whose text is the earth. Beyond & Between (La Castanya, 2011), the latest available aural installment in the Daniel Higgs canon, isn’t the most profound chapter in the articulation of his extant oeuvre, but it is just as chthonic as the rest. How’s that for a word of the day?

The album was recorded over a three-day period in May 2011 at a studio in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, a small located on the western coast of Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean. Whereas Higgs has played independently on his past solo releases, these sessions were accompanied by Spanish multi-instrumentalist, Marc Clos, who has also played with bands like Vistalegre, Nueva Vulcano, and in various ensembles accompanying Jordi Savall. Clos’ addition on Beyond & Between is primarily relegated to percussion. The percussive element serves toarticulate the earthen passages usually lingering in the background of Higgs correspondant compositions. For those used to Higgs parsed-down/lo-fi recordings, the percussion might seem a bit out of place. However, weighed against the album as a whole, the added instrumentation aids in expanding otherwise constricting sonic dimensions. Beyond & Between brings us farther out of the cave.

The total play time (around 37 minutes) registers the LP on the shorter end of the spectrum in comparison to the preceding releases. However, applying the same formula Higgs used on Say God for its title track, Track 6 on Beyond & Between has a total running time of 14:59 and plays like an irreverant, pantheistic paean to the poesy of cosmic worship. Those already acquainted with Higgs’ cryptic lyricism will not be disappointed.

Beyond & Between has a natural, improvised feel. Taken in at the proper moment, you can imagine yourself in the midst of the session which – though outwardly familiar – is inwardly moving. These seven tracks offer passage beyond the crust of the earth and into the mysteries hidden underneath.

The album is currently available for download on iTunes. The black vinyl (w/ download included) is currently available from Dischord Records. La Castanya may also still have some color versions of the vinyl left in their stock, though American buyers will have to pay a few Euro extra to cover the international shipping costs.

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