The Golden Hour
In 2005, Firewater's Tod A embarked on what would become a three-year sabbatical through the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. He had recently split with his wife; George W. Bush had just been re-elected and New York, his home for the last 20 years, had become a cold and foreign place. He wasn't even sure he wanted to make music anymore. "I was extremely depressed. The NYC skyline looked like bad wallpaper to me. It was either kill myself or hit the road," he says. He put everything he owned in storage and left NYC with a few clothes and a laptop.
The journey Tod undertook would challenge him creatively in ways he couldn't have imagined. "I traveled overland starting in Delhi, India and across the Thar Desert, then through Rajasthan, onward through the Punjab and into Pakistan," he recounts. "I had originally planned to continue overland through Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, ending in Istanbul." But things didn't go exactly as planned. Along the way, he was drugged, robbed, detained and later struck down with severe intestinal problems. Travelers were also disappearing along the road to Kabul. As Tod puts it, "I was forced to end my trip at the Khyber Pass on the Afghan border, due to general ill health and the unnerving likelihood of kidnapping."
Recording with a single microphone and a laptop in his backpack, he captured performances with a vast array of musicians across India and Pakistan—and eventually in Turkey and Israel. Bhangra and sufi percussion would form the basis for the songs he wrote along the way—songs about the world he left behind ("This Is My Life," "Electric City"), politics ("Borneo," "Hey Clown") and dislocation ("6:45," "Feels Like the End of the World"). Tod's acerbic wit shines on The Golden Hour, elucidating both the beauty and the absurdity of the world.
Firewater drummer Tamir Muskat (of Balkan Beat Box) produced, mixed and played on the album, along with a strange cast of characters from five different countries. Tod tells the story of the trip in a short video, which includes footage from his travels. He also chronicled his experiences on his travel blog, Postcards from the Other Side of the World.
All this makes for a fine and interesting story. But at the end of the day, man oh man, this record is a nonstop party. Sweaty, pissed off and joyous.
Notable information about the release:
- First time ever on vinyl.
- Limited pressing on orange vinyl, with new cover art by Tod A and complete lyrics.
- Released in collaboration with Lone Star Records in Germany.