When we first heard a preview of this album a few months back, everyone at VT was floored. It came out of nowhere, the work of one Zachary Hay. He was writing out of Montana, of all places, but he seemed to have recorded most of the album in various locations dotted around Ohio and New Mexico between 2007 and 2009. The music was played on four and six string acoustic steel-string guitars as well as harp and, on one track, piano. The atmosphere was immediately striking. It spoke of empty rooms and secret lives, of the backroads of America, as eloquently as the first couple of CD-Rs from Ilyas Ahmed or Jandek’s acoustic recordings. Some of the music could be vaguely described as American Primitive but it was reflected through an odd, almost Corwood-style aesthetic. In the liners Hay talks of how his recordings are often drawn from the first time he ever plays an instrument and there’s a naive, slightly faltering quality to the music that is extremely affecting. He plays as if he is stumbling across the melody for the first time, obsessing over two or three notes and wringing them of emotional nuance. Then there are the ambient sounds in the recordings themselves, a car somewhere nearby, a voice, the echo of the room itself. It’s an album that has a beautiful sense of space. The solo piano piece is especially poignant, the perfectly simple technique of Vikki Jackman or Christina Carter put to the service of a lonely winter hymnal. Really, this is a magical record, with an atmosphere that would stop time. If you’re a fan of the real American Primitive – a tradition that includes Jandek, Charalambides, Matthew Valentine, the Tommy Roundtree/Arian Sample axis and Loren Connors as much as Jack Rose and John Fahey - then this is the perfect postcard from oblivion. It’s also beautifully packaged, privately pressed by Hay himself in a hand-numbered edition of 305 copies in pro-printed sleeves with inserts and liners. A classic out of nowhere underground side. Highly recommended.