Great art has the power to enrapture, to put you into imaginary worlds where nothing exists but the creation you’re experiencing. It doesn’t matter where you are—a packed subway filled with mindless chatter, a plane hurtling through the sky at 38,000 feet—but this is the experience which the Medicine Singers’ self-titled debut provides. A chimerical blend of experimental powwow, psychic jazz, and gritty no-wave punk weaves throughout its runtime, ranging in atmosphere from meditative to terrifying while at times offering up the perfect soundtrack for any background task.
Led by the chanting vocals of Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson, Clan Chief of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation, each of these cinematic dreamscapes bleed into each other. Fused together with the psychedelic-prog blues guitar lines of Yonatan Gat—not to mention the accents of horns, sputtering drum fills, and ambient washes of pure sound—this is an album that demands revisits.
Upon second listen, you’ll derive your own meanings from titles like “Daybreak,” “Hawk Song,” and “Shootingstar Press,” while the iconic rockabilly warble of Link Wray’s “Rumble,” reinvigorated on “Sunrise (Rumble),” provides a sense of familiarity. Elsewhere you’ll get lost in the instrumental soundscapes and constant musical reprises between tracks—in one case a trumpet line offers a Spaghetti Western flair before being met with an infectious powwow chant. The deconstructed, raw guitar solo in the middle of “Sunset” summarizes all of the best sounds of contemporary rock, while the haunting falsettos on closer “Reprise of a Cry” bring to mind a strange and longing conclusion.
Medicine Singers is a piece of work concocted by musicians who know how talented they are, but don’t create to flaunt that talent. It's an album that will no doubt inspire the creation of new bands and artists, a collection of songs that record store employees will recommend to unsuspecting kids looking for something out of the mainstream, and who are ready to have their minds warped. This album has true spiritual power—like the unexplainable phenomenon of ball lightning, bubbling on the surface, never to be recreated.