FRACTURED AIR

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Chosen One: Rebecca Foon

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“It is wild looking back at songs like that with a certain sense of bewilderment of how it came out of me, almost like they were created from some transcendental state – a space where the conscious and subconscious meet.” —Rebecca Foon

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The renowned Canadian-born composer Rebecca Foon released “Waxing Moon” this February via Constellation Records, her first eponymous album, after a string of widely acclaimed albums under her Saltland guise. Best known as a cellist and frequent contributor to many of the most influential and celebrated groups in the thriving Canadian independent scene (Montreal, to be precise, where Foon is based), Foon has been a founding member of Esmerine, and a key contributor to the world-renowned Set Fire To Flames and A Silver Mt. Zion. Foon is also the co-founder of Pathway To Paris, a nonprofit organization set up in 2014, dedicated to turning the Paris Agreement into reality through finding and offering innovative and ambitious solutions for combating global climate change.

What’s immediately apparent on listening to “Waxing Moon” is the predominant use of the piano here, and when combined with Foon’s hauntingly beautiful and soul-stirring lyrics, the startling effect is akin to listening to the works of Liz Harris’s Grouper, Cécile Schott’s Colleen or Alicia Merz’s Birds Of Passage, such is the divine spell it can’t fail but impress deep into the heart’s core. It’s what music is truly made for, as it feels like a communion-like dialogue occurs between composer and listener alone, both sharing that same intangible, indefinable timeline, that sensory-heightened, shared and sacred space.

While the album most predominantly features piano, Foon still performs cello across the album, often layered over the piano and vocal lines. Indeed, this slow, time-honoured practice of layering tracks one-by-one certainly feeds into establishing the tone and mood for the album: there isn’t a single note that isn’t anything but perfect and yet the album never feels as though it’s overly polished or bathed in too strong a light; rather, it feels as though it could have been struck in one rapid, inspiration-fueled take such is the sense of the present moment distilled throughout. They are songs from a room which have been suspended in time indefinitely.

“Waxing Moon” is framed beautifully by a pair of instrumental piano compositions – “New World” and it’s “Reprise” counterpart – the former introducing us to Foon’s truly singular realm of divine, immersive artistry (much like Lubomyr Melnyk’s “Pockets Of Light”, as the piano keys pulsate and reverberate like a true force of nature) while the latter is all about the spaces between notes, as they intertwine with the memory of each and every other distant note of Waxing Moon’s ten staggering compositions, as they endlessly permeate, weave, and navigate the stratosphere of Foon’s unique realm.

“Pour” has the direct immediacy that hits the marrow of the bone as Foon sings, mantra-like:

“I want to dive
Into your heart
And feel it pulse
To the depths of my core
Expanding like wings
Into something greater”

The repetitive, hypnotic electric guitar lines echo Set Fire To Flames or “Moon Pix”-era Cat Power, while the vocal delivery (like all of Foon’s songbook) could be sung a cappella and the effect would be no less earth-shattering or dripping with poignancy and urgency. How the lyrics slowly reveal themselves across bars, lines and verses (think Bill Callahan’s “Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle”) is a thing of real beauty, it feels like one’s heartbeat is slowing to the particular beat of Waxing Moon’s own sonic universe, for we are suspended in a new timeline now as we continue to orbit the sun of Foon’s universe.
Later, electric guitars are also used to hypnotic effect on the glorious, PJ Harvey-infused track “Wide Open Eyes”, an acute sense of yearning to be free is offset against the backdrop of frenzied guitar and cello lines as they enter a cathartic dialogue with one another. “Wanting so much / To be free / From the heartbreak / Of this world” sings Foon on the outro as the deepest of one’s most innermost realisations rise to the surface, all the while an unrelenting guitar strum and drumbeat pulsate and reverberate as though from some distant, faraway shore.

“Give me your hand / And I’ll take you / To the ocean of love” sings Foon on the majestic “Ocean Song”, a song dripping in so much soul-baring honesty and poetic lyricism, it could score only the most touching of moments in fiction, think Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” or Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood”. It’s hauntingly beautiful lyrics (“The child between us / Melted me / Helping me believe / In almost anything”) could be penned by the folk greats such as Vashti Bunyan or Shirley Collins, while, once more, the sense of both the finite and the infinite lie side by side here, creating (and holding) an unrelenting tension throughout.

Elsewhere, both the album’s title-track and “Vessels” (the latter finds Foon sharing vocal duties with Patrick Watson) effortlessly journey to even greater depths of emotion, as they reflect our own deepest regrets and innermost fears in the process. Waxing Moon’s title-track is predominantly piano and voice (while ghostly traces of reverberating notes hang in the air magnificently) which once more only serves to highlight the sheer power and mastery Foon possesses as both a songwriter and composer. As Foon sings: “This beautiful waxing moon” repeatedly on the song’s outro one feels a celestial, godlike light being emitted far and wide, slowly lightening the most far-reaching bands of darkness and pain.

Witnessing “Vessels” for the first time is – like everything across Waxing Moon’s orbit – a soul-stirring experience: how lines of cello and voice (alternating between Foon and Watson as if in private dialogue through dreamlike reverie) beat in unison is a thing of such true beauty, it recalls Arthur Russell or Robert Wyatt at their most poignant and beautiful. “The future seems / So half written” sings Watson as Foon continues: “Can we Foresee / Vessels of love / Boundless love”. The alternating chorus lines between Foon and Watson (as cello lines fill the same sacred spaces) is one of the countless moments of epiphany found on “Waxing Moon”.

Lyrically, the magnificent “Waxing Moon” powerfully (and quietly) reveals its central themes to be that of the dual co-existence of both the temporary and the permanent, the finite and the infinite. One can’t help feel one’s own very small, limited place in a world so vast, unrelenting and unforgiving. And yet, importantly, a sense of true hope co-exists here: there is the (real not imagined) hope that this very place one occupies (as finite or temporary as it is) is indeed one to be valued, one to be truly appreciated and cherished closed to heart always. It’s the true testament of Waxing Moon’s staggering beauty that such an affirming feeling can be arrived upon, through mere notes or chords of sheet music, words on a piece of paper. But such is the true artistry and divine spirit of the composer, by entering other realms of Foon’s making we can set foot to earth once more with hopes revived, faded dreams rekindled and spirits reawakened. “Waxing Moon” is an album which continues to profoundly touch and inspire long after the last tides of the moon have ebbed and flowed.

“Waxing Moon” by Rebecca Foon is out now on Constellation Records.

https://www.rebeccafoon.com/
http://cstrecords.com/

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Interview with Rebecca Foon.

Congratulations, Rebecca, on the magnificent “Waxing Moon”, it’s such a singularly unique and truly moving listening experience, with so much fragile beauty throughout. Even from your two previous Saltland albums, this new album seems more intimate and personal, with more of a focus on the piano with your vocals too. I’d love to know what the starting points were for you in the making and genesis of “Waxing Moon”?

Rebecca Foon: Oh thank you so much, I am so happy to hear it speaks to you. This definitely is the most raw and intimate album I have ever made. I wanted to challenge my foundation of composing, and decided to write most of the songs from the piano, which I have never done before. This carved out a different type of space for me to sing and write lyrics to. The lyrics are definitely the most personal words I have ever put to music, and touch on intimate moments in my life, while linking them to the current state of our world, the sadness and heartbreak around us, while also trying to offer a sense of hope.

I love how the instrumental piano piece “New World” guides us into the universe of “Waxing Moon” (while it’s reprise is the fitting farewell to the journey), the compositions are reminiscent of Peter Broderick or Lubomyr Melnyk in their beauty and timelessness. It must be really liberating to have piano-based compositions such as this, especially when you’re principally known as a composer with regards to the cello instrument?

RF: Aw thank you, yes I truly fell in love with playing the piano while making this album, and it has been so deeply fulfilling to immerse myself in this new approach to creating, as well as being able to add cello to my own piano compositions. This has been a whole new way of composing for me, truly taking me out of my comfort zone.

Would you have been taught the cello or piano first, when growing up? Which piano composers and cellists would you mostly admire or influenced you the most in your formative years I wonder?

RF: I grew up studying classical cello, and only recently started playing the piano, however have always loved improvising on the piano ever since I was young. Philip Glass, Eric Satie, Arvo Pärt, Pablo Casals, Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich are all composers and musicians that have deeply inspired me over the years.

I love how there’s always that sense of dichotomy at the heart of your music, a sense of both the micro and macro, permanent and temporal, the self and the universe… The really breathtaking part of “Waxing Moon” is the quiet realisation that one feels on listening to it is arriving at that sense of feeling our own place in the universe around us.
I guess it must stem not only from your technical skills, lyricism and sensitivities with arrangements and collaboration and so on but also your love and passion for nature and the natural world too?

RF: I am so glad you feel this from the album, this truly is what the heart of the album is all about. Over the last few years I have been doing a lot of climate change and conservation work, and the environmental reality we find ourselves in is always on my mind. The waxing moon is when the illumination of the moon expands over time. I chose this title because it seems more than ever humanity needs to become more enlightened and recognize how deeply interconnected we are in order to carve out a sustainable path for ourselves. So in essence the album speaks to some of my own personal heartbreak over the last few years as well as my sense of wonder from being alive together and connects these emotions to the current state of our world, while also offering a sense of hope for our collective future.

The lyrics and songwriting in your music is always so transcendental, there’s that sense of dreamlike reverie and heightened atmosphere there. Even if the recordings were done with just voice alone the affect would be no less moving. I’d love to know how you approach songwriting, for instance with songs such as “Ocean Song” and “Dreams to be Born”, would you have the piece of music written first, prior to adding voice or can it be the other way round? Is it difficult to “let go” once songs like these are finished?

RF: I usually write the lyrics to my songs separately from the music and then put them together in a second phase – one I have a foundation of the chords and some lyrics on paper. But sometimes I am blessed with songs just pouring out of me, and I have no control over it. “Ocean Song” and “Dreams to be Born” are examples of this. It also happened with “Light of Mercy” on the last Saltland album. It feels almost like it just comes from an open channel. “Ocean Song” is the most intimate and deeply personal song I have ever written. It is wild looking back at songs like that with a certain sense of bewilderment of how it came out of me, almost like they were created from some transcendental state – a space where the conscious and subconscious meet.

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“Vessels” is another sonic gem on “Waxing Moon”. That repeated “Vessels of love / Boundless love” in the chorus is so beautiful. I wonder did you write the song with the knowledge that it would be sung in a collaborative way? It must have been a great experience having Patrick Watson sing and add his voice to “Vessels”? It must have been very special hearing the finished recording back for the first time?

RF: It is funny I actually had no idea Patrick was going to sing on “Vessels”. Patrick is a very dear friend, and he came by the studio to hang out and listen. I played him that track just after I had added the vocals, and he asked Jace and I (Jace was recording and co-produced the album) if he could go into the vocal booth and try something. And so Jace set up a mic, I showed him the lyrics, and he just started playing around with vocal melodies in the vocal booth. I had no idea what was going to come of the takes, but in the mix it organically fit so incredibly together, and then we had the idea to mix it so we each sang certain lyrics separately – and the repeated “Vessels of love / Boundless love” together. Patrick truly has an incredible ability to create stunning melodies, and his falsetto voice works so beautifully in the song, it truly was a magical experience creating this together.

I also love the more guitar-based tracks, such as “Pour” and “Wide Open Eyes”, they both add another dimension to the album in their immediacy and directness, and are powerful parts to “Waxing Moon” and its trajectory, I love how they almost act as counterpoints to the piano-based compositions. I’d love for you to talk about how these songs were born?

RF: I wrote “Pour” on the piano, but it just didn’t seem to work, I couldn’t get a good take of the vocals, and it wasn’t capturing the emotions I was trying to convey. So I asked Jace if he could try the piano part on electric guitar, and it totally solved the problem, and I could finally sing on it. After writing and recording “Pour”, I wanted to have one other song on the album that was driving with electric guitar and drums. So Jace and I worked on ideas together in the studio and Richard Reed Parry (another close friend who would come by and hang out during the sessions) came in and wrote a bass line, which became “Wide Open Eyes”. I think this song might actually be my favorite song on the album, it was so fun for me to sing on this song, and record all the counter vocal melodies.

Collaboration is of course something that naturally you’ve done so much over the years, whether when having other musicians on your own albums (and indeed to the many groups you’ve been closely associated with or founding members of). I love how such musicians add their own fingerprint to your albums, for instance Warren Ellis on “A Common Truth” or Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld on “I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us”, or here with Richard Reed Parry, for example. It must be a really rewarding part of the making of an album having such musicians and composers contribute to your albums?

RF: Yes absolutely, I feel so blessed to have such incredible friends who are also incredibly inspiring musicians. The Saltland records and “Waxing Moon” are such personal records for me, and everyone that has played on them have been an enormous part of my life in different ways, and I am so grateful. I absolutely loved playing cello to Warren’s violin on the song “Magnolia” on “A Common Truth” and also writing those instrumental songs on that album together. I absolutely love playing with Colin and adore his epic swirling circular saxophone tonalities on the first Saltland Album. Sarah and I have known each other since I was a teenager, and we are involved in multiple projects together, at this point she feels like a sister, and playing with her feels like an extension of myself. It was also so wonderful to have Sophie Trudeau play on “Waxing Moon”, as we hadn’t played together since our time in Mt. Zion.

It must be incredibly enriching and a source of much pride to be part of Esmerine and also having contributed so much to so many other groups, such as A Silver Mt. Zion and Set Fire To Flames also, especially as their songbooks and discographies are such treasured and revered music for so many independent music fans, they’re very much up their with the likes of Rachel’s, Dirty Three and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in terms of their influence and importance.
I’d love to gain an insight into what the writing process was like for Set Fire To Flames? Listening to both “Sings Reign Rebuilder” and “Telegraphs In Negative / Mouths Trapped In Static” over the years, the mystery and wonder only grows as time goes by. It feels like it’s the entire ensemble improvising and finding their path organically while sharing the same room, in that magical, timeless way. Would pieces have been rehearsed beforehand or did you all have separate ideas prior to recording them? I’m sure you have treasured memories of live shows together in Montreal around this time too?

RF: Yes those albums truly shaped me as a musician, I was so young then when we recorded them, and it is how I met so many incredible musicians in Montreal that then led me to playing in A Silver Mt. Zion and forming Esmerine with Bruce. Those Set Fire to Flames albums came from a deep desire to improvise together in spaces that deeply moved us, only to discover what could come out of our time together, delirious from fatigue from hours and hours of recording and committed to a love to create together. Some of us were just getting to know each other through that time, and so many musical projects evolved from those new found relationships. Set Fire to Flames holds a very special place in my heart and I am so grateful to Dave for his vision in it all and asking me to be a part of it as it truly shaped the trajectory of my music life to date.

Being in Montreal and part of such a thriving independent music scene (as well as being part of the Constellation Records family, of course) where there’s such always such an amazing spirit of community there must be a constant source for much inspiration?

RF: It definitely has profoundly shaped me as a musician, and has allowed me to collaborate with so many incredible musicians over the years, that has also led me to working with musicians from around the world and co-founding the Non-profit Pathway to Paris with Jesse Paris Smith.

I could not be more grateful to be part of the music scene here and all the touring I have been fortunate to be a part of (especially now thinking back during these wild times).

Your taste of music is always so special and wide-reaching. I wonder what albums have you been listening to the most lately?

RF: I have been listening to a lot of quiet, introspective music lately like Nils Frahm, Nick Drake, Arthur Russell, Lhasa de Sela as well as Simon Diaz and Alice Coltrane.


“Waxing Moon” by Rebecca Foon is out now on Constellation Records.

https://www.rebeccafoon.com/
http://cstrecords.com/

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July 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm

Mixtape: A Safe Harbour Vol. 2

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A Safe Harbour Vol. 2 [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/a-safe-harbour-vol-2-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. This Is How We Fly ‘Lonesome Road’ (excerpt) [Playing With Music]
// Bryce Dessner ‘Interview’ (excerpt) [Fractured Air]
02. This Is The Kit ‘Vitamins’ [Brassland]
03. Amiina ‘Rugla’ [Bláskjár, Ever]
04. Iarla Ó Lionáird ‘Scathán Na Beatha’ [Real World]
05. Julianna Barwick ‘The Harbinger’ [Dead Oceans]
06. Linda Buckley ‘Error Messages’ [Heresy]
07. Donnacha Dennehy ‘Misterman’ [Heresy]
08. Richard Reed Parry ‘Quartet for Heart and Breath’ [Deutsche Grammophon]
09. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Buried Light’ [Ergodos]
10. Sam Amidon ‘Blue Mountains’ [Nonesuch]
11. Lisa Hannigan ‘Flowers’ [Hoop Recordings]
12. Skuli Sverrisson ‘Volumes’ [Sería Music]
13. This Is How We Fly ‘Pelargonens Död’ [Playing With Music]
14. Bryce Dessner (Copenhagen Phil, cond. by Andre de Ridder) ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ (excerpt) [Deutsche Grammophon]
15. The National ‘Sorrow’ [4AD]

Listen to ‘A Safe Harbour’ Vol. 1 HERE.

Sounds From A Safe Harbour is a festival of music, art & conversation, curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner, taking place on 17—20 September 2015 across various venues in Cork, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.

http://soundsfromasafeharbour.com/
https://www.facebook.com/soundsfromasafeharbour

Chosen One: Bryce Dessner

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Interview with Bryce Dessner.

“I think that music is the great collaborative art that musicians exist in dialogue with each other and also in community with the audience.”

—Bryce Dessner

Words: Mark Carry

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Sounds from a Safe Harbour is a brand new festival of music, art and conversation, curated by Bryce Dessner of The National. Two years since its inception by Bryce and Cork Opera House CEO, Mary Hickson, Sounds from a Safe Harbour will bring a huge international creative cast to Cork this September to celebrate the port city’s place on the world’s stage in a unique setting.

Alongside Cork’s spectacular harbour environs, themes of waves, water and movement have been the inspiration for the festival, and will be explored through many new commissions and collaborations specially programmed for Sounds from a Safe Harbour. The festival will activate the City through many art forms including visual arts, conversation, dance, film and music. Collaboration and shared experiences are strong themes in the festival, and audiences are encouraged to immerse themselves and form part of the conversation.

One of the festival’s centerpieces will be ‘Wave Movements’ – a new composition by Bryce Dessner and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) – performed at Cork Opera House by the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and accompanied with film by the celebrated Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Also on the truly inspiring programme will be the award-winning seminal Irish ensemble The Gloaming; The National’s Aaron Dessner’s collaboration with universally-acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan; Shara Worden’s My Brightest Diamond; celebrated English organist James McVinnie; New York So Percussion and Nadia Sirota; Icelandic producer and composer Valgeir Sigurðsson with Icelandic compatriots Amiina,Ragnar Kjartansson, Kjartan Sveinsson and Skúli Sverrisson; Swedish / Irish fusion outfit This Is How We Fly; Parisian new-wave multi-instrumentalist Mina Tindle; US choral-based sound sculptor Julianna Barwick; American songsmith Sam Amidon; Kate Stables’ endearing folk outfit This Is The Kit plus many more.

http://soundsfromasafeharbour.com/
https://www.facebook.com/soundsfromasafeharbour 

Interview with Bryce Dessner.

The announcement of Sounds From A Safe Harbour was wonderful to see and a truly special lineup awaits us in September. It shows the spirit of collaboration and how over the last few years, there’s been so much fascinating and adventurous music. I’d love for you to discuss this whole aspect of collaboration as it’s something you’ve always been doing.

Bryce Dessner: I think that music is the great collaborative art that musicians exist in dialogue with each other and also in community with the audience. I think this is what pushes us forward, it opens new creative worlds for us as musicians. And also what’s interesting to me about doing this in Cork as a place is that in Ireland being a place of such tremendous music culture – for a small country it has such a huge global reach – of traditional music and the great bands and singers that come from there and all that. And then Cork being this gem of a city, this small city that feels like a village with so many beautiful venues and spaces, and the harbour and canals. The idea of bringing artists there is as much as about them bringing their music to Cork as it is Cork opening its doors and being a place for the musicians to discover, especially to interact with the Irish musicians who will be there. I mean that’s the stuff that makes me really excited and the driving force in my creative life is collaboration and community and embracing this more creative style of music.

I can’t wait to see your live performance of ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ because it’s such an amazing piece of music.

BD: Thanks. ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’ is a significant piece for me that I wrote for my brother and I to play with orchestra and it’s very much about how we play music together but pushing it quite far structurally and formally and something quite ambitious with the orchestra. It’s going to be really fun and It’s not something we can do very often and to do it with such a great orchestra and conductor is a really amazing opportunity for us. The festival has a lot of these rarely heard before performances which I think is a big part of what’s exciting to all of us and hopefully part of the draw for people to come is for the stuff you’re not going to hear elsewhere.

I wonder Bryce in terms of the writing process for a composition like ‘St. Carolyn by the Sea’, I can imagine it evolved over quite a long period of time? It feels like it did as there are so many different aspects to it.

BD: I mean the actual writing of the piece which takes six months or so and then the music itself takes a lifetime in a way where the sounds and ideas that may have been somewhere in me or developing somewhere back then so once it’s time to write it down, it almost feels like it’s been there and you just have to figure it out. I always wonder how many of these pieces one has and how many more of them I can do but that piece has a lot of colours in it that I am proud of.

Another highlight will be the new piece you wrote with Richard Reed Parry, ‘Wave Movements’.

BD: Yeah that piece is a commission for the festival and there is quite a few commissions and new works that we’re doing. The Irish sisters from Cork, Linda and Irene Buckley are creating a new piece; there’s a more electronic group Eat My Noise who are doing a big collaborative work and there’s a couple of visual artists who are doing some new projects. I think that side of the festival is super important to us. Richard Reed Parry and I are really close friends and collaborators and we wanted Mary Hickson at the Cork Opera House who talked about the harbour and the theme of the water and sea is a big part of the Cork identity so we wanted a piece that would respond to that in some way. So, ‘Wave Movements’ is a string orchestra piece that all the rhythms are generated by the ocean. We actually spent time recording the ocean, I spent time in Cork on the sea there and spent time in the city thinking about the role of the sea there. It’s a sixty minute piece but what’s significant about it is in addition to co-composing it which is not a very traditional thing to do but incredibly fun and interesting process. The whole thing as a visual side of it, Hiroshi Sugimoto who is an amazing Japanese photographer did a film for it. It’s a really, really stunning piece of work and I think there’s a trailer up so you can see what it’s going to look like.

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As you say too Bryce, it must be this fun element when you’re working with close friends and family obviously with your brother, that’s the beauty of it when you’re sharing ideas with each other and creating something from that.

BD: I always say that my brother and I were born to collaborate- we’re twins and we’re playing in a band and it extends beyond just collaborating with one another. Aaron is writing a new set of songs with Lisa Hannigan, the Irish singer for the Cork festival and we being brothers that have always worked together, it really helps us and something we’ve learned from an early age on how to be good collaborators. And ultimately when you think of creative people there’s always the creative ego and the desire to express oneself but actually the stronger part of the creative life is being open and learning from other people and that’s why I do it and it’s always so interesting to learn from other musicians and other artists.

Another beautiful thing with The National is all the wonderful collaborators that are involved, for example some of the Bedroom Community artists and guest musicians who work in the studio on your songs so you can feel that special spark in all the National recordings too.

BD: There’s the five of us but then there is this really broad community of people like Richard Parry or Sufjan Stevens or Sharon Van Etten. There’s many many different people who have been a huge part in our career. The music itself is a good vehicle for that. In a way, The National sound is singular, it sounds like nothing else but it’s the sound of many voices and it’s not just us. I think that collaborative power of music is definitely part of The National story.

In terms of scoring music, it must be a lovely feeling when you hear an orchestra such as the Copenhagen Philharmonic performing the music that you wrote?

BD: Especially in our current world that is so digital and so virtual and the experience of the internet and always being online, the actual performance of things and the live event and the communal aspect of coming together to hear something or to play something or to experience the notes that are written on the page and then there’s the notes that you hear in the theatre and the things that aren’t written or sung in our minds and that aura of performance and there’s nothing to replace that. I think something like Sounds From A Safe Harbour is very much about that and like I said it’s very much about the artists as much as it is for the audience. It’s important for artists to have that opportunity to come together into an intimate environment to really have the possibility to work together, to work with different musicians and to encounter a new culture in public. I think that’s what pushes the creative world forward and hopefully offers people something new and some kind of transporting experience.

It definitely will, there’s no question about that. I wonder are there certain records you’re listening a lot to lately in the last few months?

BD: As far as things I’m listening to recently is a record that I worked on by a friend of mine, Sufjan Stevens new record ‘Carrie & Lowell’ which has been my soundtrack when I drive upstate a lot in New York, I have a little house in the mountains and I always put that on. I just think he is one of the most interesting musicians of our generation and that’s a record that I love. Also a record by a young singer This Is The Kit who will be playing in Cork as well- that record my brother produced, it’s called ‘Bashed Out’ and it’s a really, really beautiful record.

The whole aspect of scoring music and this idea of collaborating, it’s great too because as you say with the current age of downloads and digital, there’s a lovely sense of being in the moment and taking risks as well in obviously the best possible way.

BD: I think so. I think it’s always interesting when you spend a lot of time working on something, it’s like tending your own garden and then it becomes like reading your own palm and something that’s so familiar that maybe you’re missing. It’s always interesting when someone comes to me from outside and says, ‘Oh did you notice that at all?’ that little corner over there and you haven’t seen it before. To me that’s the beauty of collaboration is hearing the way other people respond to your work and that’s also the role of an audience and how they respond to you. It happens so often with the National songs where you get people developing their whole own personal narratives to a song and tell you after and I’m like ‘I never thought of that before’. But it’s a really beautiful way to make work is to share.

For instance, working with classical musicians who spend their lives playing instruments and really have developed such a fine ear, the way they tune and that’s part of having strings on a National record is that you spend six months working on a track and then to bring in just for a day, a really good group of musicians and have them channel their musicality at it and even just the way they would interpret the pitch or tune against it really gives it this human element that’s been really important to our recordings.

I love too how witnessing The National’s live performance how you are struck by the energy and rawness of the performance.

BD: I think we never felt the need to duplicate the records like the experience of us live is different from the album and I like artists that feel that freedom to make something new for the live show.

 

 


 

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‘Music For Wood & Strings’ is available now on Brassland.

http://www.brycedessner.com/

http://soundsfromasafeharbour.com/
https://www.facebook.com/soundsfromasafeharbour