Mark Eitzel (American Music Club) Talks Damien Jurado’s Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is a good name for a record that spins like a top shooting sparks. The production is enormous: lots...

Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is a good name for a record that spins like a top shooting sparks. The production is enormous: lots of chaos, quiet acoustic guitars, and choirs dolled up in sheets with holes for eyes. There are actual songs. There are crazy drums surrounding and never touching “the one.” It’s a big, generous mess, like when someone puts a river in your hand. I think Damien was trying to catch you in that place of truth right before you form a word.

It’s a supercharged production. It is. Sometimes it’s Moody Blues and sometimes it’s Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd (but with a better drummer) — and overall it sounds like a messenger from 500 years in the future sending back warnings in an advanced language we can almost understand. A language based on serendipity.

The hardest thing about making an album or writing a song is to avoid touching the ground. You want to balance all your dishes on your sticks and keep them spinning for three minutes without them breaking — and without thinking about it. The goal, no matter if it’s plates or vintage keyboards, is to give the listener a sense of freedom, especially from the people making the music.  We don’t need politicians with ideologies, or priests with bleeding hands — we want generosity and kindness of spirit. Also, thanks for all the wildly fucked-up reverb (especially good during the holiday season, when I wrote this).

“Jericho Road” is a kaleidoscopic leap out of the Spruce Goose — the huge wooden plane Howard Hughes built before he stopped believing in anything except betrayal and silence. But it is my duty to tell the listener, don’t make the mistake I made: he does not say “We are secret souls,” he says “We are secrets sold.” Important business.

“Suns in Our Mind” has such nice details, like someone snoring and an absolute abandonment of narrative — but it reads, “Some lights are not meant to shine” and all words come from dreams. Our minds are black boxes.

From the beautiful simple acoustic “Silver Joy” (my new favorite song) to the damaged “Metallic Cloud,” this record has its own secrets, and it jolts them all over your room like Frankenstein’s monster. (“Friend? Are you friend?”) I really hope this is some kind of breakthrough for Damien because there is an objective attempt here to really reach out by doing what he does well.

“Silver Timothy” is a dream that could easily be mistaken for a biblical story. The one where everyone’s speaking a meta-language in the desert and it has the most addictive chorus that I have found myself singing inappropriately. It’s either The Clash of the Titans in 3D or it’s a Castaneda biopic featuring Harry Dean Stanton as Crow.

“Silver Malcolm” delivers full dollops of apocalyptic pleasure, even as our commentator holds us in one eye and in the other holds a burning tower.  The background voices are patrons at the bar at the end of the world party — and it’s addressing the aliens. Absolutely.

Come on, I love the way this rolls in — “Silver Donna” is like having a mind filled with colorful sugary animals who do a Busby Berkeley on a little piece of diamond where you touch infinity. (Yes, I have done acid.) It’s all there and it is essential. You kind of think George Martin is going to add an orchestra any minute.

“Silver Katherine” is that kind of blessing that you say because you need to hear it as much as the one you are advising. You realize that in order to give to someone it needs a change in yourself. But this is just how I see it — I think everyone who listens will get something different.

So this record is all about silver. To quote Wikipedia: “Silver is produced from lighter elements in the Universe through the r-process, a form of nuclear fusion believed to take place during certain types of supernova explosions.”

During the holiday season, my matron’s bellicose gaze often searches wearily for the Hallmark Channel. Because of this, I know all about magic. I know it answers a child’s wish, brings unlikely couples together and turns the bitter toy store owner’s humbug into a carol. But seriously, what is Santa’s source of power? Goodness? Heaven? Does he bugger dour Blitzen in a Lucifer-raising ceremony? If the First Law of Thermodynamics simply does not apply when it comes to the North Pole — then that’s where this album is. It’s a trip to the headwaters of the river of light — yep, I know how that sounds — while the real world drowns in blood and despair. It’s the dawn chorus, the calm at the eye of the storm, the sparking chaos. Like I said at the top: It’s a friendly man who says, “Close your eyes and hold out your hand” — and then throws a river in it.

Talkhouse Contributing Writer Mark Eitzel used to be certain that the aliens would listen in on his dreams where he wrote amazing pop songs. Then they would record them and release them illegally the next day. He used to listen bitterly to the radio for his stolen songs. He has many tragic flaws. You can follow him on Twitter here.