The White Ox (btv072)
Buy Online | cd / 2xLP
4 Night Diamond
6 The End
|Johnathon Ford went to Bloomington, IN to work on some remixes of an out-of-print Unwed Sailor 7”, The Magic Hedge, in the spring of 2005 with Dan Burton (Early Day Miners, Ativin). The two had previously worked together on the first Unwed Sailor full-length, The Faithful Anchor, and the Stateless collaboration between Unwed Sailor and Burton’s Early Day Miners. There were good vibes in the Burton basement studio and the remixes were quickly engulfed by the goal to finish the new full-length, The White Ox. Ford’s bass, guitar, keyboard, and percussion parts were joined by Burton‘s guitars, extra bass from Phillip Blackwell (Questions in Dialect), and drummer Matt Griffin (Early Day Miners) to mix up their medicine drawing on ambient production influences from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (with whom Dan Burton had interned). Back in Seattle, Ford later enlisted the help of Kevin Barrans (Rosie Thomas, Damien Jurado) to add pennywhistle and accordion parts which were recorded by Josh Myers, who recorded Jeremy Enigk’s forthcoming World Waits album.
The White Ox continues on from where The Marionette and the Music Box left off with “Shadows” echoing those staccato melodies, but channeling them through a dark dream of ambient effects. Here, Ford and Burton are challenging their audience, the fans who loved the upbeat melodies of The Faithful Anchor and were charmed by the sweet fairy-tale aspects of Marionette. The White Ox is brooding, washed in the night air darkness to which “Shadows” alludes. Surprisingly, for the traditionally instrumental Unwed Sailor, both “Gila” and “Numbers” feature Burton’s vocals, with Ford’s murmuring falsetto providing the haunting background for “Gila’s” almost gothic melody. Johnathon Ford grew up in Oklahoma and there are hints of Native American imagery in the album’s themes and spacious sensation and “Night Diamond’s” shimmering countermelody evoking nocturnal sounds in open country, culminating in “Pelican’s” airy, birdlike pennywhistle melodies. These music elements all connect to the cover images of both the Circles ep and The White Ox album. UK artist James Marsh was enlisted for the cover artwork for both. His distinct mystical images have also graced the album covers of every one of legendary band Talk Talk’s releases.