Damien Jurado – ‘Maraqopa’ (2012)
It’s rather astounding to consider that this immersive record came to be fifteen years into the career of Damien Jurado. This is one of those sensational unexpected outings where I’m forced to look beyond the artist’s image on the cover, take into account the nature of producer Richard Swift and what he brought to the table, allowing this ever changing record to encompass an entire listening space, rather than simply coming at you through two speakers.
The album floats like some evocative fictional atmospheric story, unfolding slowly, yet determinedly, even exploitively, poking around your brain, lacing together delightful disjointed harmonies, woven with layers that seem sewn together with a thread so fine, these songs often feel as if they’re going to fray at even the gentlest of touches. It’s the sort of music that plays in the background of your dreams, a semi-conscious haze draping itself over you, feeling unfettered, unreal, even distant, aimlessly bringing back lost images of something nearly remembered, dazed and disjointed … though when the record’s over, you’re left unsure that you’ve actually heard anything at all, as not one of the songs registers with anything memorable, simply a translucent haze you’ll wish to slip back into time and time again.
Maraqopa is entirely luminous, remote, an aberration, nothing you’d ever expect from this Seattle artist, where he redefines dream-pop with an intoxicating weariness, moving his sound into a sort of spooky dream-pop psych of mazes within mazes. The story held within these grooves is that of a man who for some reason known only to himself disappears from society, stumbling upon a mysterious and captivating place known as Maraqopa, where he discovered things about himself that he’d not considered, aspects that are actually interesting, regarding who he is, his journey out of the world he knew, and where he might like to venture next. The culmination of the story goes that this man ends up leaving Maraqopa as mysteriously as he arrived, gets involved in a car accident, leaving me with the notion that this is perhaps a real experience, a hallucinatory dream created while in hospital, under sedation, where the car accident was the genesis for the vision in the first place. That being said Jurado has always danced around the edges, nearly obsessed with who we actually are and how we fit into our own lives, yet alone into the lives of those we blissfuly meet along the way.
Maraqopa is an effortless fine warm adventure, intimate and expansive in the same breath, a psychedelic masterpiece of distilled time and vision, where the past and the present are all happening in the now, where freedom only has to be imagined to make it real.
This is the sort of album I’d always considered Syd Barrett would have created had he given himself permission to do so.
– Jenell Kesler