The first side of Half-Eaten Guitar, the sole album by the Toronto guitarist and singer Colin Bergh (aka Wyrd Visions), moves so seamlessly that you might not notice at first that it moves at all. From the opening lope of the mantric, finger-picked incantation “Sigill” through the sinister plucks and humming of “Ceremony,” and into the quietly climbing acoustic riff of the Mayhem cover “Freezing Moon,” Half-Eaten Guitar opens by creating a sort of dynamic trance.
The narcotic mood works so effectively you might not initially recognize the bewitching entrance of the crystalline-voiced Toronto singer Jennifer Castle. During the back half of the wonderful and strangely faithful “Freezing Moon” rendition, she duets with Bergh. A funereal bell tolls, and she casts her spell: “It’s night again. I’ll please my hunger off living humans.” Such a grim line might break the spell, but delivered clearly and with Castle’s masterful precision, that it folds directly into Half-Eaten Guitar‘s unbreakable twilight.
Bergh released Half-Eaten Guitar in 2006 before mostly disappearing. Phil Elverum, another nominal folk artist with a similarly idiosyncratic interest in black metal, is now rereleasing it on his own label. This beautiful and vaguely sinister little record deserves the acclaim: In retrospect, it’s tempting to hear Half-Eaten Guitar as a psych-folk gem that went overlooked as the sun began to set behind music media’s brief fascination with “New Weird America.” The flawless, uninterrupted motion of its initial three-song suite, for instance, offers a comfortable companion piece for Six Organs of Admittance’s The Sun Awakens, particularly that record’s majestic 24-minute closing fantasy “Rivers of Transfiguration.”
Half-Eaten Guitar, however, is more tidy and deliberate than that, more content with its own sense of boundaries. Consider the craggy electric riff of “Air-Conditioning,” an aggressive heavy metal nod that eventually turns into a gentle lullaby for the dark. A riff doubles over itself again and again, like light infinitely refracted. But it advances with preset focus, as the guitars eventually make space for Bergh to sing a simple hook: “Pray for night,” he offers. And soon, it all fades into silence.