The knowledgeable and generous Bob Husak, owner of Fremont music retailer Leary Records (and drummer for Seattle band the West), handed me an album at Sunday’s Art Ache flea market at Vermillion titled Song From the Hill by an entity known as the Wind Harp. “Take this,” he said, passing me the $18 record. “I think you’ll like it. If you do, just pay me later.” Such trust. I was touched by the gesture.
Song From the Hill’s cover features a little girl holding a flower in a desolate field next to a huge Aeolian harp. A double LP with a gatefold sleeve, Song From the Hill came out in 1972 on United Artists. On the inner sleeve, there’s some text rendered in slanted, fancy script, like you’d see in a sentimental Hallmark card: “Sometimes she sounds like a ghostly house and sometimes like a flying saucer but mostly she sounds like everything singing far, far away.”
The music itself is eerie, gently fluctuating, quasi-metallic drones caused by, yep, wind rustling the harp’s strings. The text above does not lie. This is some otherworldly, haunting stuff, of which the clip below will give you the gist (and the geist). Reader, I bought the record.
There are four sides of these subtly unsettling oscillations, issued by a major label in the United States. It cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be filed under New Age. In fact, it foreshadows much of the "dark ambient" music that would deluge the underground in the '80s and '90s. Who thought this was a money-making idea—and why do I want to give him/her a retroactive raise? So much has changed in the music industry in the last 40 years...