A Tuneful Tribute To Friendship: Max Eider’s Duckdance

Max Eider

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First there was the Beyonce’ surprise.

Next was the U2 intervention.

And then came the Eider offensive.

Lacking the high-profile spectacle of those before him, last year, as the calendar ticked dangerously close to the end, Max Eider quietly released a rather stunning album.

Duckdance slipped in under the 2014 wire almost undetected—a low-profile release from a quiet guy who plays the most elegant guitar lines and writes some of the most moving songs you’ll ever hear.

Joe Strummer once said, “Without people, you’re nothing,” and Duckdance is an echo of that sentiment—it’s a sonic polemic on the subtle nuances of friendship and the rare luxuries those longtime relationships afford us.

The spare, but lustrous opener is a jazzy stroll that finds Eider reflecting on the comfort of having the 4am lifeline that’s just a few buttons away:

So I’m calling you/I’ve hit an all-time low/God knows I’ve scoured the land/And I’ve nowhere else to go/Yes I’m calling you/The only help at hand/You’re not the most acute it’s true/But I know you’ll understand

No one makes bearing witness to the hard truths of life sound more graceful, but lurking behind Eider’s smooth delivery is an attendant sadness that he realizes can always be mitigated by a familiar ear.

“Pilsner Sunshine” is a breezy romp through the raucous past of Eider’s former band, The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy. Embroidered with references to the JBC’s road adventures, at first the song sounds like a cautionary tale, warning against rock and roll hedonism, but it’s nothing of the sort. If anything, it’s a warm-hearted look back at youthful recklessness that’s punctuated by the bittersweet realization that “…life is dull without the Conspiracy.”

Later, “INTP” is a playful jab at Jung’s Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that finds Eider wondering what the point of it all is anyway when the great equalizer is throwing back a few drinks with a pal:

And now we are older
I get sickened, I grow colder
But one drink with you my friend
My anger melts and sorrows end
We just laugh at it all

“Lucky Man” is a tuneful tribute to times spent leaping around Tryfan Mountain with a close pal; ” 心配しないで (Shinpai Shinaide – ‘Don’t Worry’) is sung charmingly (and impressively) in Japanese and the album closing “The Duck Dance” is a mini-Eider epic. It’s thirteen lush minutes that are achingly lovely, poetically ponderous and acutely profound.

The result of this aural meditation is a kind of hushed reverence that ends with deeply stirring backing vocals (courtesy of longtime collaborator June-Miles Kingston).

“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find,” Shakespeare once wrote. Duckdance is a celebration of that faithfulness and frankly, there’s no finer way to celebrate friendship than with this quiet little masterpiece.

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