You’d have a difficult time finding a songwriter who’s words were as elemental and cosmically transportive than Robert Hunter. Through just a few stanzas, the Grateful Dead lyricist could easily beam a listener from a place of intense introspection to a windswept rocky shore on some obscure corner of the globe (or on another planet), staring face to face with death himself. On No Ear to Hear, a Robert Hunter tribute split-release, Prana Crafter and ragenap accomplish the same kind of journey through the use of their guitars and effects alone.
Newly released on Baked Tapes, this limited edition cassette is comprised of two 18-minute soundscapes that suggest stormy seas, interstellar explorations and tearful recollections.
Prana Crafter’s side of the split, “Beggar’s Tomb,” is an ambient pool of melancholic drones, clouds of distortion and guitar solos that softly ripple across—and also slash through—the track like lightning. Without a single lyric, the piece provides the listener with a cosmic perspective that guides them through the pain of loss to a place of solemn acceptance. The reaper may have no mercy, but you are walking alongside him with no fear. Hunter would approve.
Meanwhile, ragenap’s side, “NightFall,” is built around a loop of reverberating bell-like guitar notes and a multitude of fuzzed-up astral solos that weave in and around it like a gang of angry hornets. The piece drags you deeper and deeper into Space >, as it becomes louder, more textured and far more contorted. Shades of “Seastones” and the most abstract “Dark Stars” are evident, while the emotive guitar noodlings and walls of distortion conjure up the most apocalyptic of “Morning Dews.”
If the loss of Robert Hunter has left you feeling tired and broken, and your tongue’s left being twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear, then allow yourself to drift away to this sonic monument. (And do so soon, only 60 copies are currently in print!)