“‘Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes’ – John Fahey

A duet between John Fahey on guitar and Nancy McLean on flute, recorded in St Michael’s Church, Adelphi, Maryland in 1962.

This music defies easy classification- ‘American primitivist’ meets post Debussy modernist improv?

Whatever you choose to call it, this recording has an etherial, ghostly quality to it, especially the introduction.

The whole album, ‘Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes’ is great, in both the original 1963 or the 1967 (mostly) re-recorded version.

Fahey’s music is unique. As he said:

I was thinking mainly of Bartok as a model, but played in this finger-picking pattern… Everybody else was just trying to copy folk musicians. I wasn’t trying to do that.”