It must be many years since I last heard a musical saw, perhaps on a TV programme like Opportunity Knocks in the 70s. It seemed like a purely novelty instrument and just made a funny noise.
So, I was a little surprised to hear that warbly sound on the album “The Earth and All That Is In It” by The Roe Family Singers. You would imagine a band with that name, and a predeliction for banjo music and musical saw to be just a cutesy bunch of hicks from the sticks. But, have no fear, once again I have gone to visit Gothic Country. It’s the sort of place where the dead bodies rise from the ground if you don’t bury them deep enough. Many of the tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on a “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack album but the extra lyrical twists (and an entrancing female voice) make it very special.
The musical saw is used on some of the strongest stracks. On Shallow Grave it becomes the spooky backdrop that evokes the dark creepiness of back yards where zombies might roam. White Horse is a grim tale of Heroin addiction and some of its affects (killing an unborn child for example) and the musical saw adorns it like a wasp that won’t go away. The closest equivalent I can think of to the way the musical saw is used here is Eno in Roxy Music or Allen Ravenstine in Pere Ubu and the way they used un-musical sysnthesiser noise to unsettle the listener.
White Horse by The Roe Family Singers (Clip)
After dipping my feet into that particular well, I decided to catch up with The Scaramange Six’s latest epic – the album “Songs Of Prey”. You can bet the down-to-earth Northeners aren’t going to messsing about with Woodworking tools. No chance….
Songs Of Prey #2 by The Scaramanga Six (Clip)