Henry Flynt is a riddle inside a puzzle inside an enigma - we may never figure him out but it’s nonetheless fun to try. A violinist and composer, Flynt is a shadowy figure in the avant garde world - he’s been associated with other towering tres avant
icons including Yoko Ono and proto-minimalist La Monte Young, as well as briefly playing in The Velvet Underground - his music has been more heard-about than actually heard. Sometime in the 80s, he stepped away from music to devote himself to philosophy in the academic zone, and it’s only been since the late 90s that his music is being released on small labels (where else?).
Flynt’s music is not easy to categorize, mainly because he purposely tries to blur and shatter the divisions betwixt "high" and "low" art forms, between country/rural blues and "hillbilly" (bluegrass, Appalachian mountain music) and minimalism and ecstatic free jazz. (John Coltrane’s 60s music made a big impression on HF.) On one of the two longer pieces here, "Acoustic Hillbilly Jive," Flynt sounds like a demented cross between free jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins and the jazz-inspired bluegrass and country fiddle Vassar Clements as he goes from a Terry Riley-styled mad "hoedown" into a bluegrass version of Albert Ayler’s euphoric, energized flights. In a naively beautiful fashion, "Blue Sky, Highway and Tyme" explores the secret affinity between country/Delta blues, minimalism and Indian/Pakistani raga forms - Flynt plays bottleneck guitar and moans/chants like Blind Willie Johnson.... if Blind Willie came from Nepal, that is. Back Porch Hillbilly Blues Vol. 1
is a strange, truly out-there piece of history - it springs from a confluence of Bill Monroe and John Coltrane, of North Carolina barn-dances and NYC Fluxus/Exploding Plastic Inevitable happenings, of the wild mutant things collectively known as American Music.