LP - Dave Bixby - Ode To Quetzalcoatl
In the early '70s, there was a subgenre -- still being excavated and discovered by collectors -- of privately pressed, or quite limited-edition, singer/songwriter folk albums that sounded like burnt-out leftovers from the hippie era. A percentage of these, in turn, were recorded and released by musicians with fervent if rather inarticulate religious beliefs. Dave Bixby's Ode to Quetzalcoatl is one of these, and though its purpose seems to have been to celebrate his deliverance from evil after embracing Christianity, it nonetheless sounds quite despondent and isolated in its mood. With acoustic guitar usually serving as his only instrumental accompaniment (and a bit of flute and harmonica heard at times), Bixby sings in a moan-lilting, slightly echoing voice whose sad and lonesome feel gives the impression that his demons have by no means been wholly exercised by salvation. No doubt this wasn't at all the intention, but it certainly isn't an effective testament to positive change, not if such change is associated with increased contentment and happiness. There's much to criticize here on musical grounds: the mood is oppressively isolating, the singing is irritatingly plain and low-energy, and there's much dreary sameness to the oft minor-key songs and the guitar work. At the time, if only relatively speaking, it's not bad for its slight genre; you can hear genuine spookiness in Bixby's music, somewhat like an amateur Skip Spence, with a touch of Neil Young at his most despairing. You probably wouldn't want to spend much time alone with Bixby, but as an evocation of a confused era in which some of the more disoriented constituents of the counterculture didn't know where to turn, the LP has its limited worth.