The year ends and I have brought two projects to completion. Commonwealth is done, done, done, expertly mastered by Ernst Karel and headed to the label tomorrow. 23Five should be rolling it out January or February. “Music For Piano And Voice Vol.1” goes to Students of Decay this week. Not sure when Alex is gonna put that out but we will see. Soon, I bet.
To be totally honest, with the exception of some minor things in “Piano”, the actual music hasn’t changed on either of the records for awhile. What has changed is what I think of the music, how I want it to be heard and presented and what I think it actually attempts to express. Both pieces grew out of an idea I had long ago to make very static music, with not a lot of “scene changes” if you will, but still keeping the compositional elements that make my music what it is. How to do that? Easy. Dump the field recordings.
Field recordings have always been in my work. Recordings of nature, water, folding chairs, shallow breaths, my wife and I talking about where will watch the Oscar telecast and the TV in the other room have all made it into my records (I am not telling you which ones). I’ve always tried to encode/decode the meaning of these sounds before/after I place them in a piece of music and come up with reasons for using them that reveal nothing but a trace of a memory I wanted to keep (or, more often, a memory I wanted to invent). In other words, it’s manipulative in the wrong way for me. Often, I found I would use a field recording to link two disparate sections of music together. That isn’t really postmodern or thoughtful in my mind. It just seems like a weird trick I am playing on myself. So, for awhile, I am swearing off of them as source material. It feels a little more honest. I still reserve the right to release cds of all field recordings, probably under another name. Maybe.
I am totally obsessed with the new Six Organs Of Admittance record. I’ve always loved how his records are each a little self-contained universe. That is what a record should be. This one is no different, in my mind, despite the fact that it does not maintain a uniform fidelity or style throughout. Each song has its own particular shape and sound. Tim Green served as the producer, I think, and his Concentrick record, also released on Drag City earlier this year, does very much the same thing with radically different material. Everything sounds as if it is supposed to be together, even if it all a little different. That takes work. I like to hear something like that. That is a reason to buy a record.
This year: I was happy to see Battles and Deerhunter live. I loved their records as well. Oren Ambarchi totally schooled everyone again with “In The Pendulum’s Embrace”, “Lost Like A Star” and “Stacte Motors”. “Through The Panama” by Sightings is some kind of modern studio masterpiece. I loved “Person Pitch”, as well as Eric Copeland’s solo record and the new Black Dice collection. I liked Burial’s new one a lot, but really wanted to hear a mix with just the vocal treatments, which are impressive and new. Jean-Francois Laporte’s “Soundmatters” was impeccable and long overdue. As I write, I am finally hearing “The Radiant Mirror” by Flower/Corsano duo, which is very quickly becoming one of my new favorite improv cds along with the new Vic Rawlings/Tim Feeney duo cd on Sedimental, which is a hot burning white hole of a session. So much fire in both recordings, though they burn quite different. Did I just say that? The Astro CD on Blossoming Noise was great. Tons of great ones this year.
And next year? Watch out for my friends:
M.Deragon makes beautiful guitar drifts and drones out of LA. He and I went to school together. We will try and work on something.
Matthew Landry is another guitar player I’ve known for a long while. He’s been woodshedding for many years and has a really cool processed sound that isn’t droney tabletop guitar (not that I don’t liek that). Lots of loops and bending. Think Henry Kaiser, some Sharrock, maybe even Bill Frisell. If you are in Seattle, book him and go see him play. He’s made some recordings that I was lucky to hear that I hope someone checks out. It’s well outside any EAI type of playing, which is maybe why I like it (again, not that I dislike EAI or whatever).
Asher is in my neighborhood, but we don’t get to see each other much. He is very busy and so am I.He makes long pieces with Dr. Samplers and cassettes with little processing. More Asher records I hope.
Richard Garet has bulit an complete website that hosts all of his videos and most of his music. Go check it out.
Chuck Bettis stomps the planet into dust every time he plays.
Okay, too big a post. More later.