Stag Hare: The Djrona Trilogy: Angel Tech / Pongdools / Gazer

Listening to this trilogy of Stag Hare cassette releases by Utah-based Garrick Biggs on his nascent Djrona label conjures the image of a lone, wide-eyed individual hermetically sealed within his home, surrounded by customized gear, and bringing into being all manner of neo-psychedelic mind-melters. You'll find precious little information about the Stag Hare project on the cassettes themselves and truth be told a little bit of detective work is required in order to find out much at all about Biggs himself, so in this case perhaps the most sensible strategy is to let the music speak for itself.

By his own admission, Biggs adopts a trial-and-error methodology in his creative process and tries to let his productions' shapes and textures form organically until they reach a stage where they simply feel right. Issued in a three-tape edition in October 2014, the Djrona trilogy consists of Angel Tech, Pongdools, and Gazer, whose twelve cumulative tracks add up to two hours of music.

The material's trippy character doesn't take long to assert itself on Angel Tech when the twelve-minute “Grays (Doom and Gloom Mantra)” rolls out a starry eyed drone as an opening gesture. But in threading into the ever-expanding arrangement an exuberant beat pattern and hazy vocal melodies, Biggs also serves notice that it would be wrong to dismiss Stag Hare as a one-dimensional drone project. As the music builds to an effervescent gallop, it begins to seem more accurate to describe Stag Hare as psychedelic shoegaze more than anything else, and the later “Shining” and “Imago” add a surprisingly pop-related dimension, too. Not all of the five tracks include beats, however: with bright twinkles fluttering alongside swollen synthesizer textures, “Djrona Blue” is about as immersive and transporting a psychedelic dronescape as one might wish for.

Pongdools achieves liftoff with “Prayers,” an epic exercise in delirious scene-painting animated by a hard-hitting groove, before Biggs changes up the Stag Hare sound once more by powering “y2 Soul Dive” with a high-velocity krautrock pulse, hushed vocals, and ringing guitars. Shoegaze re-emerges on this second part of the trilogy in the form of “Raga (Dream),” a jubilant swirl of chiming guitars, hazy singing, and swinging beats. In keeping with its title, Gazer, the trilogy's concluding part, is the most sunblinded of the three, with four long-form, guitar-fueled meditations characterized by peaceful drift and beatless reverie. Coming as it does after the intense sonics of the first two parts, the hypnotic Gazer provides an especially pleasing resolution to the Djrona collection.

As significant as anything else is the fact that in contrast to the raw and unfinished qualities one sometimes encounters in bedroom productions, Stag Hare's material exudes a satisfying degree of polish. There's nothing noticeably sloppy about the work presented on the cassettes, and cumulatively they make a strong case on behalf of Biggs' project.

January 2015