Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

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out Feb. 11, 2022

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You is a sprawling double-LP exploring the deepest elements and possibilities of Big Thief. To truly dig into all that the music of Adrianne Lenker, Max Oleartchik, Buck Meek, and James Krivchenia desired in 2020, the band decided to write and record a rambling account of growth as individuals, musicians, and chosen family over 4 distinct recording sessions. In Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon, The Rocky Mountains, and Tucson, Arizona, Big Thief spent 5 months in creation and came out with 45 completed songs. The most resonant of this material was edited down into the 20 tracks that make up DNWMIBIY, a fluid and adventurous listen. The album was produced by drummer James Krivchenia who initially pitched the recording concept for DNWMIBIY back in late 2019 with the goal of encapsulating the many different aspects of Adrianne’s songwriting and the band onto a single record.

In an attempt to ease back into life as Big Thief after a long stretch of Covid-19 related isolation, the band met up for their first session in the woods of upstate New York. They started the process at Sam Evian’s Flying Cloud Recordings, recording on an 8-track tape machine with Evian at the knobs. It took a while for the band to realign and for the first week of working in the studio, nothing felt right. After a few un-inspired takes the band decided to take an ice-cold dip in the creek behind the house before running back to record in wet swimsuits. That cool water blessing stayed with Big Thief through the rest of the summer and many more intuitive, recording rituals followed. It was here that the band procured ‘Certainty’ and ‘Sparrow’.

For the next session in Topanga Canyon, California, the band intended to explore their bombastic desires and lay down some sonic revelry in the experimental soundscape-friendly hands of engineer Shawn Everett. Several of the songs from this session lyrically explore the areas of Lenker’s thought process that she describes as “unabashedly as psychedelic as I naturally think,” including ‘Little Things’, which came out of this session. The prepared acoustic guitars and huge stomp beat of today’s ‘Time Escaping’ create a matching, otherworldly backdrop for the subconscious dream of timeless, infinite mystery. When her puppy Oso ran into the vocal booth during the final take of the song, Adrianne looked down and spoke “It’s Music!” to explain in the best terms possible the reality of what was going on to the confused dog. “It’s Music Oso!”

The third session, high in the Colorado Rockies, was set up to be a more traditional Big Thief recording experience, working with UFOF and Two Hands engineer Dom Monks. Monks' attentiveness to song energies and reverence for the first take has become a huge part of the magic of Thief’s recent output. One afternoon in the castle-like studio, the band was running through a brand new song ‘Change’ for the first time. Right when they thought it might be time to do a take, Monks came out of the booth to let them know that he’d captured the practice and it was perfect as it was.  

The final session, in hot-as-heaven Tucson, Arizona, took place in the home studio of Scott McMicken. The several months of recording had caught up to Big Thief at this point so, in order to bring in some new energy, they invited long-time friend Mat Davidson of Twain to join. This was the first time that Big Thief had ever brought in a 5th instrumentalist for such a significant contribution. His fiddle, and vocals weave a heavy presence throughout the Tucson tracks. If the album's main through-line is its free-play, anything-is-possible energy, then this environment was the perfect spot to conclude its creation — filling the messy living room with laughter, letting the fire blaze in the backyard, and ripping spontaneous, extended jams as trains whistled outside. 

All 4 of these sessions, in their varied states of fidelity, style, and mood, when viewed together as one album seem to stand for a more honest, zoomed-out picture of lived experience than would be possible on a traditional, 12 song record. This was exactly what the band hoped would be the outcome of this kind of massive experiment. When Max’s mom asked on a phone call what it feels like to be back together with the band playing music for the first time in a year, he described to the best of abilities: “Well it’s like, we’re a band, we talk, we have different dynamics, we do the breaths, and then we go on stage and suddenly it feels like we are now on a dragon. And we can’t really talk because we have to steer this dragon.”

heterologous booster (morrisp), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 17:17 (two weeks ago) link

excited in a vague melancholy way

it isn't even a Fraktion (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 17:18 (two weeks ago) link

dang, "time escaping" really pops for a song with no bass!

just staying (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:03 (two weeks ago) link

Regular readers of these threads will know that I've been obsessed w/"Time Escaping" since the concert footage on YouTube last year, and have been waiting for this moment. This recording is... very different from what I was expecting! But I like it!

heterologous booster (morrisp), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:22 (two weeks ago) link

wow the studio version of "time escaping" is really quite different, that's a wild sound. it's great though.

crazy to think there could easily be another double album coming after this with all the material they recorded.

ufo, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 19:53 (two weeks ago) link

i don't think they've played full-band versions of "heavy bend" and "the only place", and i don't think "no reason" and "love love love" have been heard at all

though there aren't good bootlegs out there of all the songs they have been playing but based on what's out there this album's going to be at least 90% fantastic

ufo, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 20:01 (two weeks ago) link

Recent video of Adrianne performing Time Escaping

distortion’s secret telеphone (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 03:42 (two weeks ago) link

I like the album version, it's cool. I'm struggling a little with the newest material overall so far (and also with that album title!) I feel like they've gone in an extremely stonery direction that I don't know if I love.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 04:00 (two weeks ago) link


"i'm actually imagining this part being really big, in my head"

just staying (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 05:52 (two weeks ago) link

i'm also worried that the very hippie band who recently released an album that was short for "UFO Friend" might have discovered marijuana

Clay, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 06:22 (two weeks ago) link

here's the early 2020 live version of "time escaping" for anyone who's curious

ufo, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 08:47 (two weeks ago) link

It's music! :)

J. Sam, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 10:38 (two weeks ago) link

Change 4:55
Time Escaping 3:48
Spud Infinity 5:34
Certainty 3:07
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You 4:43
Sparrow 5:11
Little Things 5:44
Heavy Bend 1:36
Flower of Blood 4:24
Blurred View 4:06
Red Moon 4:19
Dried Roses 2:35
No Reason 3:47
Wake Me Up to Drive 3:43
Promise Is a Pendulum 5:12
12,000 Lines 2:59
Simulation Swarm 4:12
Love Love Love 4:13
The Only Place 3:14
Blue Lightning 3:51

here's track times

ufo, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 10:54 (two weeks ago) link

They're obviously hippies, but (not to split hairs) I don't really get a "stoner" vibe from this era... it's more focused, conscious, and "present" than that.

The final verse of "Time Escaping" knocks me out:

Only the winter wind survives
After the heat rush feeds and thrives
After the bushfire burns and dies
Frozen and bitter
Desert ground so cold and clean
Spreading out like a magazine
Reading the dirt like gossip
What do the weeds say? They say
“Everything, everything, everything falls through
Each dimension breaks in two
Like the two hands clapping
Like the two wings flapping
Everything, everything, everything for free
As it all eventually
Turns to dust and petal
Molten rock and meadow"

distortion’s secret telеphone (morrisp), Wednesday, 17 November 2021 16:40 (two weeks ago) link

i have always been lukewarm on this band but i like all these songs and am now officially stoked for this long-ass album

alpine static, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 19:57 (two weeks ago) link

love that there is a new thread for this new album, really looking forward to this

Bee OK, Thursday, 18 November 2021 00:28 (two weeks ago) link

just watched a couple of live videos

they all just fit together so well. the four of them, i mean.

alpine static, Thursday, 18 November 2021 06:38 (two weeks ago) link

I'm pretty lukewarm on most of the new songs released so far but I like the studio Time Escaping more and more. Hope there is more stuff like that that goes in interesting new sonic directions and not just the woodsy folksy stuff like Change (which is not *bad* but seems a bit by the numbers).

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 18 November 2021 16:22 (two weeks ago) link

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