The collaboration between Arnold Dreyblatt and Megafaun at last year’s Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh was met with some understandably raised eyebrows. Dreyblatt is a respected, rhythmically inclined minimalist composer residing in Berlin, but born stateside 50 years ago. Megafaun is a Durham-based folk trio of much younger men with a taste for playful noodling and robust noise. The gaps between them—both generationally and stylistically—are many, but it turns out that their music moves with the same manic energy, a commonality they exploit on Appalachian Excitation, the collaborative LP they’ll unveil on Sep. 17 via Northern Spy Records. That's the album cover at the bottom of the post.
The album was tracked at the Pinebox Recording studio in Graham following their Hopscotch performance. That show reunited the artists, who first worked together when Megafaun backed Dreyblatt on a 2008 tour, and excited them about the possibilities of their collaboration.
“Right away, I realized that there’s a folk element and instrumentation that was available to me suddenly,” Dreyblatt said of Megafaun before last year’s Hopscotch. “These guys have such a wide musical background. They’re familiar with the whole avant-garde. They can play folk music, rock music. They’re songwriters. They’re incredibly flexible and just put their heart right into it.”
Dreyblatt’s work, refined and strengthened over decades, utilizes unique time signatures to wrestle chaos into driving catharsis. Excitation retains that power, augmenting it with skewed old time elements overflowing with effects and occasional blasts of steely distortion. The opening “Recurrence Plot” lumbers slowly to militaristic drums, allowing the feedback from intermittent guitar strums to grow into intoxicating plumes. “Radiator”—the last, longest and best of the four tracks—builds a magnificent clutter across its 10 minutes. What sounds like reverb-doused dulcimer is offset by jagged guitar jabs as the drums and bass shift quickly. The similarly insistent "Home Hat Placement" is streaming below.
Their collaboration may seem unlikely, but on Appalachian Excitation, it also feels inevitable.