The release of the compilation coincides with 1001 Nights (Factory 25), a DVD that collects tour diaries filmed and edited by Yang over the course of their European and Japanese tours with Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara, a pair of live performances in Tokyo, and three stunningly minimal short films by filmmaker Cedrick Eymenier set to Damon & Naomi songs. The collection of Sub Pop releases allows us to hear the two getting comfortable with themselves: Krukowski’s pining high vocal trails riding confident atop thick acoustic chords; Yang’s ghostly campfire croon gliding in and out of focus against her harmonium; Kurihara’s guitar lines coursing through the songs like a bloodstream. But the film lets us witness it all happening.
“Those were the moments that we started to feel good about playing,” Krukowski recalls of the tours. And when he describes their travels in Japan as an immersion course, he’s not talking about just language. The past few years have been an immersion course in themselves — a relearning of everything they had, for a moment, entertained forgetting.
“We had let the whole band concept go before we started doing this again,” he says. “So the big question was ‘Why? Why do it?’ ”
The Sub Pop Years provides as clear and ringing an answer as we’re likely to get. The two have never sounded better than they do right now — or, more to the point, than they will Friday at the Cambridge YMCA. And as always, the present is the moment they attend to. If we’re lucky, theirs is a picture that will never finish developing.
DAMON & NAOMI + A HAWK AND A HACKSAW | Cambridge Family YMCA, 820 Mass Ave, Cambridge | September 18 at 8 pm | $15 | 617.876.4275 or www.worldmusic.org
: Music Features
, Dean Wareham, Michio Kurihara, Naomi Yang, More