Songs on Love, nos. 48602-48608 (1997)
Where ever it is that Haberdasher exists in space-time, it is at the onset, or Day 1, of my exposure to eclectic and innovative guitar/bass/drums music. I was 17 in 1997, still a very impressionable age, when I saw them live. And although it took years to fully ferment, it is clear now, that an incurable poisonous seed was sewn that night, a decade ago.
While still not entirely certain that I had understood what I had just seen, I remember finding the drummer after their set, caked in sweat and bleeding. His hands were shaking wildly, as I tossed some bills on the table and grabbed their CD. Songs on Love nos. 48602-48608. All the tracks were numbers:
The record begins with drums that sound like the stumbling of a dying man from a pool of his own blood. It's a slow spooky burner that builds itself over the course of five minutes to resemble some sort of out-of-control machine that either must engulf or destroy everything in it's path before it erupts in it's final cacophonous seconds. The next few tracks have all the themes of a classic odyssey, enriched by cold, eerie, guitar structures (that perhaps owe a small debt to Spiderland), and hemmed with a bit of poetry. There are brief moments of light on this record that can often be found snaking between the darker things. But these rewards will only reveal themselves when the listener decides to listen vigilantly, as it seems the album relies on it's subtlety as much as it relies on it's drama. From beginning to end, the instrumentation on the record achieves a level of restraint where most albums fail. All the instruments are all equally focused on their common agenda and loyally march towards it as one.
Sadly, this was Haberdasher's only full length LP. There are still available a 7" (the 'Quarry' 7") and a few tracks off of some old compilations, but Songs on Love is clearly the desired intention of the brief project that was Haberdasher. The band split up not long after this release. 3/4 of this outfit went on to become the whole of More Dogs, while 1/4 went on to become 1/3 of OXES.