2023 has been a bonus year for Big Blood completists. Fans of this amazing unit from South Portland ME have been presented with vinylizations of 2008’s Big Blood & the Bleedin’ Hearts (FTR672) and The Grove (FTR671) as well as two versions of their newest album, First Aid Kit (FTR722). Now, because too much of a good thing is still never enough, here is a lathe LP of a digital-only session from 2019 entitled Deep Maine.
The band here is credited as a quartet, with Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin being joined by A. Mae and R. Philistine (who may or may not be present on our current plane of existence.) Suffice to say that the sound here is definitely pre-Quinissa’s ascendance, and displays a relatively “plain”-if-freaky folk-psych-gospel vibe that has commonalities with 2015’s Double Days sequence.
In the context of Big Blood’s current Wall-of-Baroque approach, Deep Maine is a lean and glistening dive through the weirdly sub-aquatic universe they explored back in the day. The music has a languid quality that always makes me think of hippies in deep water diving suits throwing down in the sort of slo-mo fashion you’d have to when stuck on the ocean’s floor.
Not that there’s anything particularly naval about this music’s themes or textures. If anything the sounds retain the dark woodsy mystery tendrils that were part of the band’s sonic signature early on. It’s a difficult sound to explain, but seems to owe equally to traditional UK folk outfits like The Watersons for vocals, and warped instrumental prog groups such as the Third Ear Band for musical motifs. There often seems to be a seasonal or ritualistic underpinning to the compositions, but it’s never overt, so maybe I’m just imagining things.
Whatever the heck is actually going on in the background, there is plenty of the central ecstatic pulse that powers all of Big Blood’s music on Deep Maine. So pass the drool cup while the notes pour down like honey. And make a little more space on your shelf. You’ll need it.
-Byron Coley, 2023