Daniel Blumberg’s Minus is an astonishing work; one that weds an improvisational, free-music ethos to the rawest emotional songwriting, rooted deep in the personal turmoil Blumberg experienced whilst making the record.
Minus is an album about breakdowns: relationship breakdowns, mental and physical breakdowns, breakdowns in communication, and the breaking down of received methods and practices. And situated at the broken-down heart of the record lies a pathological preoccupation with a breakdown of trust.
But out of all this, and through the arteries of the album’s seven tracks, pulses a sense of growing fortitude and an almost mantra-like effort to create a way back into the world. Key refrains sound like the fevered incantations of a soul willing itself to recover, to find its voice again, and to resurrect the broken-down self.
The album was recorded live in just five days during a remote residential stay in Wales, amidst a debilitating breakup with his partner of seven years and the sudden death of a childhood friend, along with Blumberg's ongoing struggle with mental illness which resulted in his hospitalisation just a week before recording. “Things were collapsing around me. I became entirely monomaniacal about the record. It was as if everything came to depend on its completion”.
Still only 27 years old, Blumberg has written himself a rich musical history; from his teenage band who signed to XL whilst he was still at school, onto and through the projects of Yuck, Oupa and Hebronix, whilst solidifying close creative partnerships with the likes of David Berman (Silver Jews), Low, Lambchop and Royal Trux’s Neil Michael Hagerty (with whom Blumberg has performed as a member of the Howling Hex).
With Minus, though, there is a sense that Daniel Blumberg has finally arrived at the place he has been searching for.