Jason Molina – Long Desert Train
The album Pyramid Electric Co. was released in the transitional period between Jason Molina retiring Songs: Ohia and establishing Magnolia Electric Co. as the main band for his songs. Played entirely by Jason on guitar and piano and recorded by Mike Mogis, Pyramid Electric Co. is a dark album, but never oppressively so as it finds space to reflect on that very darkness.
A way Molina and Mogis achieve this reflection is in the sequencing of the album. The first four songs – consisting of voice, brittle electric guitar and piano – push the listener to a place that’s uncomfortable perhaps. But from the song ‘Song of the Road’, and the switch to acoustic guitar, hope is felt as a sense of stillness is broken. This progression to something other than darkness concludes with the last song ‘Long Desert Train’. This song, concerned with survival and the mystery of that survival, makes a warm (comparably so) and tender finish to the album.
It was five years on Friday since Jason’s death. As a fan of his music I still feel the loss. But listening to the music, for a brief period, you can shift your focus from the waste of his early death to the fullness of his life and music – the two never easily separated.