Glen Galloway, of noise-gospel avatars Soul Junk, said of Dan Zimmerman, “Think about when you found all those Scott Walker albums, all those R. Stevie Moore tapes. There’s a personality preserved in its own space, an old friend you knew nothing about …”
You probably haven’t heard of Dan Zimmerman, whose full-length Cosmic Patriot is being released by Danielson’s label Sounds Familyre. But if you have, bets are you’re probably one of the obsessives that considers this huge influence on artists like Daniel Smith and his family, Sufjan Stevens, and Half-handed Cloud, among others, to be strong enough reason to check in and see how the well over 50 year old poet-painter/singer-songwriter is doing.
My wife and I enjoyed Zimmerman’s independent cassette releases in the early 90s, even before I met his son Matt, who was the bass player in a Portland band I lived with back then. Matt took me home and I met this gentle, provocatively intelligent, Renaissance man who painted huge amazing murals merging biology with divinity, which reflected what we had been listening to in his voice: A prophetic baritone inherited from his Methodist preacher father he grew up listening to on Sunday mornings in the front of the pews. Zimmerman moved out to New Jersey with his wife in the mid-90s; you can chart his attachment with Danielson at least from there.
As described by the PR, it’s “Cosmic Patriot” is made up of “spirituals” and “beautifully slow tweed-amp explosions” and “rousing home-fire sing-a-longs.” I would add that it is a very unusual record for someone in their 60s to make, it croons and grinds and roars like a cantankerous uncle of Woven Hand’s; and for those who have come to appreciate the loosely defined “American Gothic” genre of the past few years, it will sound like something they’ve been listening to all along. Which is somewhat the truth; those tapes my wife and I had obviously got around to many other people.