Speaking to Jason Gross for a 1997 Perfect Sound Forever interview, John Fahey dismissed his early work as “cosmic sentimentalism.” As it turns out, this was a fairly accurate summation of Fahey’s art. The guitarist’s ambiguous, open-ended country-blues extrapolations did often skirt the cosmic and the sentimental. Yet Fahey’s music cast an impassive gaze at a reality that was dark, melancholic and full of struggle. If this is sentimentality, it’s sentimentality at war with itself.
The best tracks on I Am The Resurrection make a case for Fahey as an obsessive and sometimes wayward composer, and further reveal him as a great almost-pop artist. Cul De Sac’s “The Portland Cement Factory At Monolith, CA” fascinates in its simplicity; this is expressionism morphing into impressionism and back again, a rich slice of the American sublime. Granddaddy’s “Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Philip XIV Of Spain” is a sardonic, ominous blues, while the Fruit Bats perform “Death Of The Clayton Peacock” as a slice of wordless 1960s pop that reinvents the pastoral in a manner similar to Syd Barrett’s.
What makes I Am The Resurrection work is the way these artists bring out the latent warmth of Fahey’s conception, as on Sufjan Stevens’ “Variation On ‘Commemorative Transfiguration & Communion At Magruder Park’”, a sun-dappled idyll. Still, there’s tension underneath it all, and a sense of tremendous energy (not to mention sadness) concealed under Fahey’s compact forms.