Fear of FlyingReleased 28/04/2008
David Karsten Daniels is a Seattle, WA based songwriter, with a diverse musical background. A childhood of hymn singing; a high school jazz band; formal university training in composition, theory, free improvisation and performance art - not to mention the broad range of influences and inspirations that have been embraced over the ensuing years.
Following fairly swiftly in tow of 2007's incredibly accomplished FatCat debut, 'Sharp Teeth', 'Fear of Flying' is nevertheless a somewhat different proposition. Spreading itself over a more diverse sonic terrain, 'Fear of Flying' traverses a wealth of styles and ideas, presenting a more disparate yet immediate record, with David managing to pull the reigns in tight enough to give the album coherence, context and meaning.
That said, if asked, he is likely to tell you that he has no idea what his new record is about (that is, it's not easy to explain) - often close friends will tell him what they think, to which he'll reply, 'oh, that never occurred to me', or 'yeah, that's not at all what I meant'. He figures that's a success, since this time around, he actively set out to make a record that doesn't ask you to arrive at any particular conclusion. How do we come to terms with the death of loved ones? Is there any faith to be found in tragedy and loss? These are but two of the questions that David ponders aloud, as he trades in his ruminating on the past for a healthy consideration (or an unhealthy fear perhaps) of the future, the passing of time, the decay of the body, and mortality within the family structure.
There is a rawness prevalent on 'Fear of Flying' which David attributes in part to a rekindled fondness for his nylon strung guitar, which was played throughout the writing and recording of the album (and completely absent on the preceding record). A gift from his father 15 years ago, it lends a personal, familiar tone, less formal, not as polished. Yet in spite of a more apparent roughness, every second of these 11 songs is again meticulously arranged, full of carefully orchestrated details (crickets, mellotron flutes, super-quiet reedy distant organs to name a few) as well as far less subtle gestures (destroyed, distorted drums, choirs of nasally oboes, ragged guitar solos, the skronk of huge saxophone sections). As with it's predecessor, David's natural affinity towards pop music, and the sounds and subjects of the South are still present (in places, the album has far more overt Country leanings), though this time round such tendencies are juxtaposed with strands of modern composition, and framed by a broader pallete. 'Fear of Flying' gives clear nods to the past, but its ambition transcends its influences. David concurs: "Somehow, I think this record manages to be both more of a pop record and more of a noise record. I set out to make a classic rock album, and I'm not sure where I ended up, but I don't think it's in the 70s."
As with all David's recordings to date, 'Fear of Flying' was self-recorded at home, aided and augmented by an array of like-minded, mutually supportive musicians from the Chapel Hill based Bu Hanan Collective, which he co-founded with Alex Lazara, Daniel Hart and Perry Wright. An immensely talented artist deserving of a wider audience, David is a truly engaging, emotive performer, whether backed by his amorphous collective, or solo, with just an electric guitar as accompaniment.