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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Gunn

Chosen One: Steve Gunn

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Interview with Steve Gunn.

‘Way Out Weather’ is available now on Paradise Of Bachelors.

http://steve-gunn.com/
http://paradiseofbachelors.com/

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Albums & Reissues Of The Year: 2014

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The following is a selection of the albums and re-issues that had the greatest impact on us for a wide range of different reasons. As difficult as it proved to settle on a final (and very concise) selection, we both turned to these special albums most often throughout the year. 2014 has been a year which has produced so many absolutely wonderful and truly special albums, here’s our personal selection of some of these (with a selection of ten albums and five re-issues).

Words: Mark & Craig Carry, All artwork: Craig Carry

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Albums of the year:

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Grouper ‘Ruins’ (Kranky)

‘Ruins’ was made while U.S. musician and artist Liz Harris was on an artist residency (set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois) during 2011 in Portugal’s Aljezur region. The location would provide a striking influence to Harris’s subsequent recordings (recorded in typically minimal fashion: a portable 4-track, Sony stereo mic and an upright piano) while the sense of both departure and a new-found freedom flow throughout ‘Ruins’ and its majestic and dreamlike eight tracks. During her Aljezur residency, Harris would embark on daily hikes to the nearest beach where she would encounter the ruins of several old estates and a small village. As Harris has said: “The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.”

‘Ruins’ is a stunning achievement which proves all the more astonishing considering the already extensive (and consistently breathtaking) recorded output of Grouper since the mid 00’s. ‘Clearing’ is arguably Harris’s most singularly beautiful song conceived to date. As Harris sings: “What has been done / Can never be undone” over a gorgeously delicate piano line we embark on yet another wholly unique and deeply personal odyssey under the stewardship of Harris’s very heart. Like a silent witness we hold our breath as we remain under Harris’s spell throughout (from the timeless ballad ‘Holding’ to the closing epic drone-heavy tour-de-force ‘Made of Air’). ‘Ruins’ is a quietly breathtaking force of nature: an album made as much by Harris’s own hands as by the moonlight’s illumination in the night sky or the evening sun’s last rays of faded half-light.

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‘Ruins’ is available now on Kranky.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grouper/
http://www.kranky.net/

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Caribou ‘Our Love’ (City Slang/Merge)

One of my most memorable moments of this past year was undoubtedly witnessing Caribou’s storming live set at 2014’s Body & Soul festival. A euphoric feeling ascended into the summer evening skyline as each transcendent beat and luminous pop-laden hook flooded our senses. The majority of 2010’s glorious LP ‘Swim’ was revisited, from the tropicalia-infused ‘Odessa’ to the hypnotic ‘Sun’ and all points in between. Dan Snaith & co’s set further confirmed the legendary status of Caribou; whose innovative and utterly compelling sonic creations (where elements of krautrock, dance, jazz, soul, hip-hop, and electronic soundscapes form one irresistible, mind-blowing sound spectrum) have long served a trusted companion for the independent music collector.

This year marked the highly anticipated fifth Caribou studio album, ‘Our Love’, which, in many ways, nestles beautifully between its predecessor ‘Swim’ and Snaith’s more techno-oriented project of Daphni. Lead single ‘Can’t Do Without You’ is an instant classic with a seamless array of melodic patterns and soulful vocals that evokes the soul-stirring songbook of Al Green as much as it spans the history of the dance floor. Several of the songs were co-written by gifted Canadian composer/violinist Owen Pallett (whose own solo record ‘In Conflict’ has been one of the most original, daring and innovative records of 2014) and Pallett’s distinctive violin-led melodies coalesce effortlessly with Snaith’s visionary dance structures.

Numerous remixes have since seen the light of day (where new perspectives and insights are drawn and re-configured) with the latest example being Carl Craig’s techno mix of ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’. Much in the same way as ‘Swim’, I know (and firmly believe) ‘Our Love’ will remain as vital and significant for many more years and decades to come.

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‘Our Love’ is available now on City Slang (EU) and Merge (USA).

http://www.caribou.fm

http://cityslang.com
http://www.mergerecords.com

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Sharon Van Etten ‘Are We There’ (Jagjaguwar)

When Jersey-native and New York-based songwriter Sharon Van Etten first announced the arrival of ‘Are We There’, Van Etten’s fourth full-length and follow-up to her 2011 seminal work ‘Tramp’, she had these words to share: “I really hope that when someone puts my record on that they hear me.” Of course, Van Etten’s wishes have clearly been fulfilled. If there’s one thing we can firmly establish by now it is this: Van Etten makes music from the real world; a world of real events and real people with real feelings. Subsequently, steeped in a sometimes harsh reality, Van Etten’s songs are imbued with fears, struggles and (often) much pain. Much like Chan Marshall’s pre ‘The Greatest’ recorded output, Van Etten bravely examines her own life’s immediate surroundings and relationships to share her most innermost confessions and feelings for us all to bear witness. Through Van Etten’s songs we too can find our own deepest feelings long hidden in the shadows of some forgotten, distant dream.

‘Are We There’ is Van Etten’s first self-produced album (The National’s Aaron Dessner produced its predecessor ‘Tramp’) and features a host of wonderful musicians, including: Torres’s Mackenzie Scott on vocals (who toured extensively supporting Van Etten); Heather Woods-Broderick (on strings and vocals); Mary Lattimore (harp) as well as Van Etten’s trusted and formidable rhythm section (Zeke Hutchins on drums and David Hartley on bass). The use of vocal harmonies (Van Etten, Scott and Woods-Broderick) is a pure joy to witness. The resultant musical arrangements are stunningly cohesive and yet genuinely innovative, providing for many moments of challenging and divine musicianship — at times wonderfully dense and strikingly tactile (‘Our Love’ or ‘Every Time The Sun Coms Up’) — other times remain starkly sparse (‘I Know’) but, importantly, such intricacies of musicianship and arrangements only ever serve the song.

“Everybody needs to feel” sings Van Etten on ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’. It’s a sentiment that best serves the phenomenal and beloved artist that is Sharon Van Etten and ‘Are We There’. It’s another step to becoming your own true self. It’s a destination no one is ever likely to realistically reach but striving for it is proving to be Van Etten (and her sacred songbook)’s true towering achievement.

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‘Are We There’ is available now on Jagjaguwar.

http://www.sharonvanetten.com/
http://www.jagjaguwar.com/

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Clark ‘Clark’ (Warp)

‘I Dream Of Wires’ is a documentary based on the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer; exploring the passions and dreams of people who have dedicated part of their lives to this electronic music machine. The splendid documentary — released earlier this year — features interviews with Ghostly’s Solvent (who co-wrote the film in addition to composing the film score), Carl Craig, Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys) and Warp’s Clark. Reflecting on this particular film now, I feel it is precisely this exploration of passions and dreams that filters into the dazzling music of  UK’s Chris Clark. The unique blend of utterly transcendent electronic creations is forever steeped in a rare beauty, filled with endless moments of divine transcendence.

This year marked the eagerly awaited release of new self-titled full-length (and seventh for Warp), following up 2012’s magical ‘Iradelphic’. The gifted producer’s meticulous touch can be felt throughout, from the cold-cut classic ‘Unfurla’ to the blissful synth-laden ‘The Grit In The Pearl’. Dance music for the here-and-now that breathes life and meaning into music’s endless possibilities.

As Clark has said: “Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever”.

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‘Clark’ is available now on Warp.

http://throttleclark.com/
http://warp.net/

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Hauschka ‘Abandoned City’ (City Slang/Temporary Residence Ltd)

Witnessing Hauschka’s Volker Bertelmann — whether in live setting during his renowned concert performances or in recorded contexts — a certain sense of magic fills the air. Sylvain Chomet’s 2010 animated marvel ‘The Illusionist’ comes to mind, as we are left in wonderment to observe the artist’s vast collection of skills and unlimited wells of talent. Known worldwide as one of the most recognizable 21st Century proponents of what is known as Prepared Piano, Bertelmann has amassed a considerable body of work over the last decade, ceaselessly weaving his own singular path — and on his own terms — to wondrous effect (much like fellow modern composers and restless souls Nils Frahm and Max Richter or such Twentieth Century masters as Eric Satie, John Cage and Steve Reich). Importantly, the album itself draws from research Bertelmann made (after the discovery of a series of photographic prints depicting the subject of abandoned cities) on the number of actual vacated cities in existence (each track title references a particular city). As Bertelmann has said: “I was interested in finding a metaphor for the inner tension I feel when I’m composing music, a state of mind where I’m lonely and happy at the same time.”

‘Abandoned City’ proves a certain milestone in Hauschka’s recorded output to date. An intriguing sense of both adventure and discovery seeps through every pore of the album’s ten compositions. Like all of Hauschka’s art, nothing is as it first seems. As we delve further into this abandoned city Hauschka has built for us we begin to lose all sense of what we initially thought was important in the process. We lose all traces of ourselves for that beautiful instant we are under Bertelmann’s sacred spell and that is what Hauschka’s divine art forever manages to do.

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‘Abandoned City’ is available now on City Slang (EU) and Temporary Residence Ltd (USA).

http://hauschka-net.de/

http://cityslang.com/
http://temporaryresidence.com/

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Steve Gunn ‘Way Out Weather’ (Paradise Of Bachelors)

The flawless North Carolina-based independent label Paradise of Bachelors has yet again been responsible for a string of modern-day Americana masterpieces, not least the latest tour-de-force from the ever-prolific, Brooklyn-based guitar prodigy and songsmith, Steve Gunn. This year’s ‘Way Out Weather’ feels like a natural culmination where every aspect of Gunn’s deeply-affecting songs — poignant story-telling quality, immaculate instrumentation and intricate musical arrangements — is heightened as the towering eight creations hits you profoundly and stirs your soul. 2013’s ‘Time Off’ was the starting point of Gunn’s song-writing path, having collaborated closely with Kurt Vile, Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, The Black Twig Pickers and a host of others in recent times.

A timeless feel permeates every corner of the record. The recording sessions took place at Black Dirt Studio in Westtown, New York, featuring a formidable cast of musicians (and Gunn’s long-term collaborators) further adding to the widescreen, cinematic sound to ‘Way Out Weather’s sprawling sonic canvas. Longtime musical brothers and kindred spirits Jason Meagher (bass, drones, engineering), Justin Tripp (bass, guitar, keys, production), and John Truscinski (drums), in addition to newcomers Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys: Black Twig Pickers, Pelt); James Elkington (guitar, lap steel, dobro: Freakwater, Jeff Tweedy); Mary Lattimore (harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile); and Jimy SeiTang (synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton.)

On the utterly transcendent album closer, ‘Tommy’s Congo’, shades of Sonny Sharrock beautifully surfaces beneath the artefacts of time. The deep groove and rhythm interwoven with this vivid catharsis is nothing short of staggering. The cosmic spirit captured on the closing cut — and each of these sublime recordings — permanently occupies a state of transcendence. As each song-cycle unfolds, the shimmering worlds of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue or the Stones’ ‘Exile On Main St.’ fades into focus. ‘Way Out Weather’ is dotted with captivating moments from the ways of a true master.

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‘Way Out Weather’ is available now on Paradise Of Bachelors.

http://steve-gunn.com/
http://paradiseofbachelors.com/

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Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman ‘Laghdú’ (Irishmusic.net)

2014 has been a remarkable year for Ireland-based composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Firstly, January saw the release of contemporary quintet The Gloaming’s stunning self-titled debut album via Real World Records. Subsequent concerts would be performed across the globe (including Sydney’s Opera House) to mass celebration and widespread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as touring with his other band, the Irish/Swedish quartet This Is How We Fly, across both Ireland and Europe, Ó Raghallaigh also performed a series of truly special solo concerts (entitled “In My Mind”, a solo fiddle and film show) across the length of Ireland for the month of October. Despite the hectic touring schedules, Ó Raghallaigh also released two stunning works: the solo album ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ (via Dublin-based label Diatribe Records) and the mesmerizing ‘Laghdú’, a collaboration with U.S. fiddle player Dan Trueman.

‘Laghdú’ (an Irish word which translates as: a lessening, a decrease, a reduction) is a hugely significant work for many reasons. Most notably, it was Trueman who first introduced Ó Raghallaigh to his beloved ten-string hardanger d’amore fiddle (custom-made in Norway by Salve Håkedal) during September 2000. It is the simple dialogue and deep connection which exists between the pair (both performing identical instruments and identical baroque bows) which is a pure joy to savor. Two traditional pieces are performed by the pair (‘The Jack of Diamonds Three’ and ‘Fead an Iolair’) while the remainder of ‘Laghdú’ comprises original compositions written and arranged by Trueman and Ó Raghallaigh. The dynamic range is nothing short of staggering — from the near-silent to the nigh-on orchestral, at times exploding joyously from their hybrid 10-string fiddles, at times barely there — holding time still in the process. The resultant eleven heavenly tracks occupy both the realms populated by the most ancient forms of traditional music as well as those thrillingly in-between spaces carved out and inhabited in modern neoclassical composition of the most utterly enchanting and truly sacred kind.

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‘Laghdú’ is available now via Irishmusic.net HERE.

http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
http://www.manyarrowsmusic.com/
http://irishmusic.net/

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Christina Vantzou ‘N°2’ (Kranky)

‘N°2’ is the second solo album by the Brussels-based artist and Kansas-born composer Christina Vantzou and, like its predecessor, ‘N°1’, was issued by the formidable Chicago-based independent label Kranky. Written over a period of four years, ‘N°2’ finds Vantzou reunited with Minna Choi — of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra — and regular contributor Adam Wiltzie (A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid) who Vantzou effectively began her musical career with when the duo made music as The Dead Texan (Vantzou was keyboardist as well as film-maker, illustrator and animator). A wide sonic palette is used throughout, from the gentle ripple-flow of piano notes on the album’s penultimate track, ‘Vostok’ and prominence of harp on the achingly beautiful ‘VHS’ to the rapturous crescendo of strings of ‘Going Backwards To Recover What Was Left Behind’ where an emotion-filled sadness engulfs every pore. Elsewhere, slowly shifting layers of brass and woodwind drifts majestically in ‘Brain Fog’ before brooding strings come to the fore, resulting in a cathartic release of energy. Layers of angelic voices appear and disappear throughout, forming not only a monumental symphonic movement but also an other-worldly choral work.

Indeed, the most appropriate analogy to imagine while attempting to surmise the sheer magic of ‘N°2’ is the act of making those frame-by-frame animations Vantzou has so patiently and laboriously created in the past: while they are meticulously worked on, over such a long and painfully slow process, the results yielded are both stunningly imperfect and remarkably pure. It’s a characteristic which runs through all of Vantzou’s breathtaking art (from her drawings and sleeve artwork to her dreamlike slow motion film works) which truly heightens all that surrounds you.

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‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com/
http://www.kranky.net/

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Birds Of Passage ‘This Kindly Slumber’ (Denovali)

New Zealand-based composer Alicia Merz has been quietly amassing a soul-stirring collection of albums under her Birds Of Passage moniker over the past five years or so. ‘This Kindly Slumber’ — released by German independent label Denovali Records — is Merz’s third solo full-length album and features Merz’s spellbinding lyricism (at times recalling Mark Linkous or Daniel Johnston in their open honesty and raw emotion). Like Grouper’s Liz Harris, Birds Of Passage’s power emanates from minimal musical arrangements (vocal takes are often first takes) where a sense of both purity and intimacy is conjured by Merz throughout, providing for an unforgettable listening experience. As we delve into the innermost caverns of ‘This Kindly Slumber’s mysterious and complex maze of real and imagined landscapes; the sensation one feels is akin to the finest of Murakami’s fictional prose or the most ancient of children’s nursery rhymes and folklore tales. Interestingly, Merz holds a deep fascination with nursery rhymes since a very young age and ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’ is combined with ‘And All Of Your Dreams’ to powerful effect. Elsewhere, the deeply personal ‘Yesterday’s Stains’ contains an openness and honesty rare in music.

‘This Kindly Slumber’ is a life-affirming journey which finds Merz navigating the darkest of nights while facing her gravest of fears. On the other side of this kindly slumber we realize that even the darkest of shadows lie closest to light: through the sacred and secret songs of Birds Of Passage we learn that in every moment of hopelessness exists hope. For that, we can be eternally grateful.

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‘This Kindly Slumber’ is available now on Denovali.

http://birdsofpassagemusic.com/
http://www.denovali.com/

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Marissa Nadler ‘July’ (Bella Union/Sacred Bones)

‘July’ (which documents Nadler’s life events from one July to the next) is the ever-prolific U.S. songwriter’s latest opus of longing and hope. The album can be read and interpreted autobiographically but, crucially, like all of Nadler’s songbook, songs are masterfully left open to the listener’s interpretation. Interestingly, Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), is at the helm of production duties on ‘July’; providing a first-time collaboration for the pair. Accompanying Nadler is Eyvind Kang (strings), Steve Moore (synths) and Phil Wandscher (Jesse Sykes, Whiskeytown) on lead guitar. However, as is always the case with such a truly unique songwriter, it is Nadler’s breathtaking voice and impeccable lyricism which quietly dominate proceedings. Like such kindred spirits as Missourri songwriter Angel Olsen or British folk legends Vashti Bunyan and Bridget St. John, Nadler’s music captivates the mind (and heart) of each and every listener fortunate enough to cross paths with her. From album opener ‘Drive’ to the forlorn closing piano ballad ‘Nothing In my Heart’, immediacy and directness prevails throughout ‘July’. Transcendental moments abound, from the poetic lyricism to ‘We Are Coming Back’ (“Still I live many miles away / So I can miss you a little everyday”) to the brooding tour-de-force ‘Dead City Emily’ which combines both gut-wrenching honesty (“I was coming apart those days”) and heart-stopping beauty as, ultimately, the prevailing sense of hope outlasts all struggle and inner-conflict (“Oh I saw the light today / Opened up the door”).

As the lyrics of ‘Drive’ return to my mind: “Still remember all the words to every song you ever heard”; I feel those very words reflect the empowering feeling in which the cherished songbook of Marissa Nadler ceaselessly awakens (and continues to re-awaken) in me.

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‘July’ is available now on Bella Union (EU) and Sacred Bones (USA).

http://www.marissanadler.com/

http://bellaunion.com/
http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/

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Reissues of the year:

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The Moles ‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’ (Fire)

Looking back on 2014, the first sounds which come to my mind is Australian band The Moles and the magical first-time discovery of their music in the form of their first retrospective ‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’, released via Fire Records. The double-album is packed to the brim with impeccably constructed pop songs, heart-breaking love songs and just about every shade and nuance in between (spanning punk, shoe gaze and indie rock). ‘Flashbacks and Dream Sequences: The Story of The Moles’ contains the band’s two studio albums; debut full-length ‘Untune The Sky’ (originally released in 1991) and follow-up ‘Instinct’ (the latter was heralded by The Sea And Cake’s Archer Prewitt as being “as close to perfection as any Beatles or Beach Boys record and it stands on its own as a classic in my book”) and a whole plethora of b-sides and rarities, culled from various EP’s and singles. Led by Richard Davies (who later would join Eric Mathews and form Cardinal), The Moles were formed in Sydney in the late 80’s and unleashed a resolutely unique songbook which would prove hugely influential on a whole host of diverse bands (The Flaming Lips, The Sea And Cake). The original band line-up consisted of Glenn Fredericks, Richard Davies, Warren Armstrong and Carl Zadra, friends from law school who were fans of Flying Nun, The Fall and The Go Betweens, drawing their name from a reference to ‘Wind In The Willows’ and spy novels (John Le Carré and Graham Greene).

What’s most apparent on this defining release is that the truly unique vision (in both Davies’s songwriting and The Moles’ music) deserves to be known — and embraced — the world over. “It’s always an adventure. There’s an element of a well that never runs dry,” Richard Davies told us earlier in the year, on discussing The Moles. It’s a sentiment which could not be more true for The Moles and their utterly visionary and absolutely essential music.

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‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’ is available now on Fire Records.

[Richard Davies Facebook Page]
http://www.firerecords.com/

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Lewis ‘L’Amour’ (Light In The Attic)

When Light In The Attic Records reissued the much-fabled, timeless cult-classic ‘L’Amour’ by Lewis (originally released in 1983 on the unknown label R.A.W.) not much was known about the whereabouts of its esteemed author, not least the actual identity of “Lewis”, for that matter. The sense of mystery only deepened when consulting the album’s liner notes: Was Lewis still alive? What has he been doing in the intervening years? What other musical treasures are lying around only awaiting to be discovered written by this elusive figure? Crucially, without even beginning to dig any further into biographical detail (or absence thereof), it’s clear that, on listening to ‘L’Amour’, Lewis created nothing short of a bona-fide masterpiece. Heartbreak is immediately evident from Lewis’s lonesome, brooding, ghostly baritone from album opener ‘Things Just Happen That Way’ (“I took her hand / She took my heart”) while a sparse set-up of whispered voice together with only piano, synthesizer (or an occasional plucked guitar) remains throughout — recalling Waits or Springsteen at their most hushed and introspective best — creating a defining album of heartbreak — and love — in the process.

And what about the biographical gaps? Indeed Lewis was, as it turned out, a pseudonym. Lewis’s true identity has proved to be that of Randall Wulff (as confirmed by famed L.A. photographer Ed Colver, who had shot the über-cool cover-shoot for L’Amour’s album sleeve). However, for the purposes of the Light In The Attic liner notes, the mystery remained unsolved (after a long two-and-a-half year search). That is, until August 2014, when the real-life Randall Wulff was found (read Light In The Attic’s amazing article HERE) — alive and well and still quietly making his own masterful music — in what must have been the year’s most enchanting and heart-warming of stories.

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L’Amour’ is available now on Light In The Attic.

http://lightintheattic.net/artists/691-lewis
http://lightintheattic.net/

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One Of You ‘One Of You’ (Little Axe)

One of the most stunning re-issues of recent times came this year via the Portland, Oregon-based label Little Axe Records (a label founded when Mississippi Records split into two labels in 2011), with it’s issuing of a self-titled LP by One Of You. The author’s name and identity remains anonymous but we do know this startling collection was made by a Czech immigrant to Canada who set up her own Scarab label in the early ‘80’s, releasing music under the pseudonyms One of You and The Triffids. Having fled her homeland in the late sixties to emigrate to Canada for hopes of a better future and life there, One Of You’s music would be imbued with a prevailing sense of loss, regret and much hardships. The music itself, written in both Czech and English, and arranged in typically minimal fashion (synthesizer, guitar, organ) touches upon outsider folk, folk-psych, Eastern European folk and minimalist music traditions. One Of You’s deeply affecting, timeless music yields moments of powerful intensity while a whole spectrum of emotions, images and textures are unleashed beautifully upon the listener all at once.

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‘One Of You’ is available now on Little Axe.

http://littleaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/one-of-you-s-t
http://www.littleaxerecords.com/

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K. Leimer ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ (RVNG Intl)

RVNG Intl. is a Brooklyn-based music institution that operates on few but heavily fortified principles, dealing with forward-reaching artists that ceaselessly push the sonic envelope. From visionary luminaries such as Julia Holter, Holly Herndon, Blondes, Maxmillion Dunbar et al, RVNG Intl. has consistently delivered some of the most adventurous, enthralling and breathtaking records this past decade. One of the label’s cornerstones has become the awe-inspiring archival series which has featured (and celebrated) musical pioneers Craig Leon, Ariel Kalma and K. Leimer. The third installment of the archival series — released earlier this year — was Seattle-based sound sculptor, K. Leimer and a vast treasure of ambient voyages entitled ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’. I simply cannot think of a more special musical document to have graced my life this past year than Kerry Leimer’s resolutely unique and deeply human canon of pioneering ambient music.

A glimpse into Leimer’s creative process is touched upon on the compilation’s liner notes: “The loop provided an instant structure – a sort of fatalism – the participation of the tape machine in shaping and extending the music was a key to setting self-deterministic systems in motion and held clear relationship to my interests in fine art.”

‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ offers the perfect entry point (across an exhaustive double-album and thirty spellbinding tracks) into the beautifully enthralling and ever-revolving world inhabited by the special soul of Mr. Kerry Leimer.

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‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.

http://www.palaceoflights.com/
http://igetrvng.com/

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Fikret Kızılok ‘Anadolu’yum’ (Pharaway Sounds)

Although technically issued at the tail end of 2013, legendary Turkish folk singer Fikret Kızılok (1947-2001)’s exquisite collection of singles from 1971-75 (compiled into a 14-track set entitled ‘Anadolu’yum’ and issued by Pharaway Sounds, a subsidiary label of Light In The Attic Records) proved — like the many equally formidable Pharaway Sounds releases — a true haven for music lovers. Merging genres and fuzing styles almost at will (as evidenced by the immense musical arrangements drawing from such diverse sources as Western influences, India and his own native Turkey), Kızılok’s diverse appetite and deep appreciation for music shines through in every one of this magical compilation’s fourteen tracks. From the heavenly and beautifully forlorn Anatolian folk masterpiece ‘Anadolu’yum (1972&1975)’ to the irresistible sitar-aided ‘Gün Ola Devran Döne’ (1971), Kızılok’s musical path would be dictated by numerous external obstacles of the day (namely, the political unrest of his native Turkey throughout the 1970’s) while a pressure to conform to audience’s expectations (Kızılok was a pop phenomenon in Turkey, regularly charting instant hits) proved immense in the intervening years, while he would become most often associated with his best known love ballads from his considerable 1970’s output.

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‘Anadolu’yum’  is available now on Pharaway Sounds.

http://lightintheattic.net/

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All designs and artwork by Craig Carry: http://craigcarry.net

With very special thanks to all the wonderful musicians and labels for the true gift of their music. And a special thank you to all our readers for reading during the year.

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Web: http://fracturedair.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FracturedAir
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fractured_Air
Mixcloud: http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/

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Chosen One: Nathan Bowles

with one comment

Interview with Nathan Bowles.

“I like the clawhammer approach to open-tuned banjo because it allows me to express ideas melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically in a way that feels closest to how I think of music in my head.”

—Nathan Bowles

Words: Mark Carry

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The Virginia-native, Nathan Bowles has long been synonymous with treasured folk and Americana music of today, having collaborated extensively with the Black Twig Pickers (banjo, percussion), Pelt (percussion), Steve Gunn (drums, piano and banjo), Hiss Golden Messenger (banjo), Jack Rose, and others. This November marks the highly-anticipated release of Bowles’ sophomore solo full-length, ‘Nansemond’ – named after the Virginia wetlands landscape that he grew up in that has long since drifted off the map – that features the windswept beauty of timeless folk gems (‘Jonah/Poor Liza Jane’ and ‘J.H. For M.P.); brooding, cinematic soundscapes (‘The Smoke Swallower’) and soul-stirring Appalachian old-time traditions (‘Sleepy Lake Bike Club’ ). The seven sonic creations contained on ‘Nansemond’ transports you to a place that has long since vanished but with each divine note and rhythmic pulse, fleeting moments of past lives and faded dreams flood into the present just like the deep blue Nansemond River that continues to find its sea.

Aesthetically, ‘Nansemond’ is a marvel of a record. The tender lament of ‘Golden Floaters’ unfolds gradually like the embers of a morning sun; a piece of music akin to Glenn Jones’ own transcendent banjo works. Moments previously, the full-blown traditional opus of ‘John Henry’ is steeped in age-old traditions that feels as if it’s at once immersed in familiar tradition and the compelling unknown. A rich narrative runs throughout ‘Nansemond’’s sprawling sonic canvas as a searching for truth and meaning serves the vital pulse to the shape-shifting compositions. Bowles is joined by Tom Carter (guitar), Joe Dejannette (guitar), Steve Kruger (fiddle/voice), and Jason Meagher of Black Dirt Studio (recording, production, mixing).

The North Carolina-based label, Paradise of Bachelors has delivered yet again another exceptional and utterly timeless work of art – hot in the heels of Steve Gunn’s careerhigh of ‘Way Out Weather’ which incidentally features Bowles’ peerless musicianship – that represents music to truly savour, now and forever more.

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‘Nansemond’ is out now on Paradise of Bachelors.

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Interview with Nathan Bowles.

Firstly, congratulations Nathan on the incredible and stunningly beautiful new record, Nansemond. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about this very special and enlightening record. I would love for you to discuss the album-title, which is the place name of where you grew up in Virginia? The album itself takes you to these wonderful places – the Chuckatuck Creek, Nansemond River, the lakes and beyond – where the music becomes an enriching experience, dotted with childhood memories and a distant past that is far removed from today. Please recount your memories from these particular places and indeed your childhood, growing up in the wetlands landscape?

Nathan Bowles: Hi, and thank you. Glad you’re enjoying the record. I’m not sure the places are wonderful in and of themselves, they’re just places that played an important part in my growing up. They’re wonderful insofar as they were the physical background for a lot of my imaginings as a child, and as a backdrop for my early music studies on piano and drums. I’m not sure what this question is asking, exactly: I can’t obviously recount memories wholesale. It was a mostly confusing, occasionally exciting, mostly introverted childhood spent between my inner world and the outer realities of muddy lakesides, times with friends romping around the woods, spacing out driving along flat, swampy roads wondering when I was going to leave… the places and feelings evoked in the record aren’t as specifically fond as much as they are specific in their confusion and haziness.

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The album itself feels like a collection of suites that are tied together by the geographical trajectory of your hometown and family roots, where ‘Nansemond’ becomes one gorgeously crafted mood-piece. Please talk me through the opening Sleepy Lake Bike Club – which serves the fitting prologue to the record’s sonic voyage – and the construction of the song’s beautiful soundscapes?

NB: The sequencing is wholly sonic; there’s no attempt to trace any geographic trajectory. ‘Bike Club is the title I gave that piece after reflecting on the images it brought it up as I was composing, scattered memories of biking around the wooded paths with a few friends and coming up with idiotic excuses to hurl the bikes into little creeks or play games of chicken around corners. It’s wistful but sad, too, maybe. Those games always ended prematurely when the sun set and came out to nothing, really.

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In terms of influences, the album is rooted in both the familiar traditions of Appalachian and folk music from the south (and beyond) and the avant-garde and cinematic drone. For example, the beguiling minimalist drone of The Smoke Swallower is wonderfully placed before the traditional folk tune of Jonah/Poor Liza Jane. Can you discuss these worlds of music that lies at the heart of your transcendent solo works and indeed the artists and records that have introduced you to these worlds of sounds? It’s clear you have one foot steeped firmly in tradition but the other is rooted in experimental and this for me, is the essence of your unique blend of music.

NB:  I’m not sure what the question is here. It’s all music to me. ‘Experimental is a pretty crappy term; I’m not experimenting, I’m playing — even the most freely improvisational elements of my music are focused in their ultimate aims. Traditional Appalachian music catches my ear as much as the best freely improvised music and everything in between, and I think I’m as picky and discerning across all of those genres. It’d be impossible to isolate what particular ‘worlds influence the music I’m making.

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The pieces on Nansemond are primarily based on your compelling banjo-based melodies. Would this often be the starting point when writing a piece of music, Nathan? Can you discuss the banjo’s possibilities and the reasons you believe the banjo is such a unique and special instrument? 

NB: The songs are generally composed on banjo, excepting instances when they’re improvised around a rhythm or scale (‘Smoke Swallower for instance). I like the clawhammer approach to open-tuned banjo because it allows me to express ideas melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically in a way that feels closest to how I think of music in my head. I feel very lucky to have found that kind of match with an instrument. I’m not sure how to express it beyond that.

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You consider yourself first and foremost a percussionist; collaborating with a wide array of the leading U.S. contemporaries, including Steve Gunn, Hiss Golden Messenger, Pelt, and The Black Twig Pickers to name but a few. I can imagine being part of these various projects must tap into (on a subconscious level at the very least) the solo music you are creating? What do you think are the values you have learned from these varied and awe-inspiring collaborative ventures?

NB: Collaborating is what makes one a truly better musician; listening, adapting, finding spaces, understanding dynamics. These are applicable to solo music, it just means you have to listen very closely to yourself and your environment. Patience is an important lesson.

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You are joined by a formidable cast of musicians on Nansemond. Please talk me through the players on these sessions and what were the sessions like? Were the pieces of music very much written and mapped out prior to recording, Nathan? Any happy accidents occur during this process? 

NB: Tom and I improvised ‘The Smoke Swallower and ‘Chuckatuck in the studio, to different degrees. ‘Smoke Swallower was built around a banjo scale and a rhythm… ‘Chuckatuck was a little more defined, though the arrangement and separate movements happened as a result of studio collaborating. John Henry is a tune that Steve Kruger, fiddler, and I play a lot when we get together around town, and Joe is a singular bassist and guitarist/recording engineer that could easily hop in on that tune. The rest of the tracks are composed but also heavily improvised during each recording.

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The album’s penultimate track, Golden Floaters/Hog Jank is my current favourite, and I love particularly how these two pieces merge together, and the slow-building banjo patterns that casts such a hypnotic spell. Can you recall writing this piece of music, Nathan? It’s such a beautiful and moving piece of music, reminiscent of Glenn Jones such is its brilliance. 

NB: Wow! Thanks. ‘Golden Floaters originated as a tuning and a kind of circular riff after a hallucinatory experience on the gulf coast of Florida. Much of the melody and arrangement was improvised during the recording. ‘Hog Jank is a slide riff that I’ve been toying with for a while now. It made sense as a bridge, tuning-wise and mood-wise, between ‘Golden Floaters and ‘Tire Swing. I’m currently integrating it into another piece I’ve been working on… we’ll see what comes of that.

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What’s next for you? I am sure you must have quite a few ideas currently floating in your mind.

NB: There’s a handful of collaborations in the works that I’ll keep on ice for the moment.  Oh, but there’s a Steve Gunn & Black Twig Pickers collaborative record on Thrill Jockey dropping in February. And another Black Dirt Oak thing in the mix… and … well, you’ll have to wait and see. Needless to say I’m very busy.

 


 

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‘Nansemond’ is out now on Paradise of Bachelors.

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http://www.nathanbowles.com/
http://www.paradiseofbachelors.com/

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Written by markcarry

November 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Mixtape: Your Heart Is So Loud [A Fractured Air Mix]

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Your Heart Is So Loud [A Fractured Air Mix]
To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/your-heart-is-so-loud-a-fractured-air-mix/

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Tracklisting:

01. Colleen ‘Your Heart Is So Loud’ [The Leaf Label]
02. Vashti Bunyan ‘The Boy’ [FatCat]
03. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis ‘West of Memphis’ [J-2 Music]
04. Linda Perhacs ‘Prisms Of Glass’ [Asthmatic Kitty]
05. The Troggs ‘You Can Cry If You Want To’ [Repertoire]
06. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler ‘Echo Sounder’ [Thrill Jockey]
07. Steve Gunn ‘Tommy’s Congo’ [Paradise Of Bachelors]
08. Xylouris White ‘Old School Sousta’ [Other Music Recording Co.]
09. Tinariwen ‘Toumast Tincha’ [Anti-]
10. Smog ‘Strayed’ [Drag City / Domino]
11. The Brothers And Sisters ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ [Light In The Attic]
12. Calexico ‘Untitled II’ [City Slang]
13. Brigid Power-Ryce ‘Let Love’ [Abandon Reason]
14. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh And Dan Trueman ‘Laghdú’ [Irishmusic.net]
15. Hildur Guðnadóttir ‘Til baka’ [Touch]
16. Stina Nordenstam ‘The World Is Saved’ [V2]

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Facebook / Twitter

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Chosen One: Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler

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Interview with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler.

“Somehow I wanted for us to make something that represented flight, maybe some kind of enlightenment, getting lighter.”

—Mary Lattimore

Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Press Photos 2014

Earlier this autumn marked the highly-anticipated release of the special collaborative work between Philadephia-based harpist Mary Lattimore and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Zeigler on the prestigious Thrill Jockey label. The debut album, ‘Slant of Light’ is a mesmerising collection of four stunning improvisations, built on the immaculate instrumentation of synthesizer, guitar and harp that seamlessly taps into a divine state of transcendence. An other-worldly feel permeates the rich tapestry of ‘Slant of Light’s sonic canvas as a deep telepathic connection is forged between the gifted duo.

In many ways, the pair’s collaborative work began with 2013’s ‘The Withdrawing Room’ – Lattimore’s debut solo record- which Zeigler recorded and mixed, as well as adding synthesizer parts to the epic ‘You’ll Be Fiiinnne’. ‘Slant of Light’ represents the latest chapter in the pair’s musical journey that continues to explore new sonic terrain; delving wonderfully into realms of folk, ambient and drone soundscapes.

The opening ‘Welsh Corgis In The Snow’ is a slow, meditative lament that contains gorgeous harp arpeggios and gentle pulses of synths, resulting in a haven of celestial sounds. A drone infused ambient opus unfolds with each sacred note. ‘The White Balloon’ immediately transports me back to cult singer-songwriter Ed Askew’s ‘For The World’ album (a record Lattimore collaborated on) as a timeless folk gem ascends into the atmosphere. The voice of Askew feels just a heartbeat away. The synthesizer parts become more pronounced on the record’s part B, particularly on ‘Echo Sounder’. The closing ‘Tomorrow Is A Million’ explores deeper into sonic experimentation as an eerie feel exudes from the scintillating soundscapes.

Both artist’s highly collaborative pasts forms a trajectory to many of the indispensable records of the U.S independent music scene. Lattimore has recorded with Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Steve Gunn, Ed Askew, Sharon Van Etten, to name but a few after years of touring with Thurston Moore. Zeigler has played with members of Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band, The War On Drugs and A Sunny Day In Glasgow in his group Arc In Round. In addition, Zeigler is the much-sought-after recording engineer in the heart of the Philadelphia music scene, recording for artists such as Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Nothing and Purling Hiss.

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Interview with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler.

Congratulations on the wonderful collaborative project. ‘Slant of Light’ is a really special record that that transports you to a magical realm of treasured sounds. On your own solo record “The Withdrawing Room”, Jeff is also present on the recording sessions so it feels very natural (and fitting) that this duo has been officially formed. Firstly, please discuss the collaborative process between you both and how you have developed such a deep understanding of each other’s music? Has the process changed in any way between ‘The Withdrawing Room’ and ‘Slant of Light’?

Mary Lattimore: Jeff recorded ‘The Withdrawing Room’ and played synth on the first piece and we’ve been playing together since then, realizing that we really like improvising together. With ‘The Withdrawing Room’, I was playing, he was in the control room playing, with the door between us closed. I asked him to add a few things, just experimenting to hear how different sounds could enhance the harp record. He played synth, but it didn’t feel like a collaboration like this one is. ‘Slant of Light’ was recorded after lots of shows and some travelling together, so it feels more conversational and informed. It’s still an experiment, but we’re more comfortable with each other and know how to react to where the melody is being taken. This time we were in the same room!

Jeff Zeigler: The first time I worked with Mary was on the day that we began recording ‘The Withdrawing Room’. The vibe was really low key and she asked me if I’d like to play on one of the pieces and I just tried to add an extra level of atmosphere and reinforce what she was already doing without stepping on it — it was a really effortless first collaboration, so I think we both felt that it made a lot of sense to continue in that fashion. The process changed really significantly after we wrote our score for ‘Le Revelateur’ — up until that point I had focusing more on texture and atmosphere than melodies, which was one angle, and definitely made everything a bit more droney and hypnotic, but when it came time to write instead of free improvise, it seemed to make far more sense to focus on creating memorable haunting melodies that glued together the harp and textural elements. So yes, the process has changed significantly on my end.

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In terms of the compositions, how much of the new music is borne from improvisation? On ‘Slant of Light’ to me, there seems to be an equal balance between experimentation and meticulous song-craft (representing the closing half and opening half, respectively!)

ML: You know, none of this one was really composed either. We just sat down, I thought of a little opening part, Jeff figured out the key, we were just going for it. The pieces are all first or second takes. They do feel a little more song-y, but it’s all just ideas that we were just feeling out in the moment, trapped in Jeff’s studio during this huge snowstorm for two days. I think the time of year really affected how the ideas were coming to us in those few days, with no light distractions of a lovely summer, just sloshing through the relentless, endless winter of 2014.

JZ: The album is essentially all improvised aside from ‘The White Balloon’. Mary or I would start playing something, the other person would join in, and then we’d jam it out for an unspecified amount of time.  Afterwards, we’d usually discuss it for a minute, maybe figure out a few different things to try or talk about the structure and then try a second take. I don’t think any of the pieces on the album, aside from ‘The White Balloon’, made it past a third take before we were satisfied with the results.

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I feel part B is more improvised-based but certainly the first two tracks seem to have been mapped out before the sessions took place. The opening ‘Welsh Corgis In The Snow’ is such a beautiful title and I love how the gentle arpeggio of harp notes blend effortlessly with the synth pulses. I would love for you to talk me through this particular harp-based composition, Mary? What are your memories of writing this piece of music? 

ML: I wish I could say that I put lots of brain-effort into the composition, but really, I think all of the songs came directly from our human hearts! Haha. I thought of the beginning part and then where it would go, with those low notes in a chorus, and then just started slowing everything down and Jeff did too. It was an intense few days – I packed a bag and spent the night in the studio where Jeff lives, as more heavy snow was expected. The next morning, we’d found out that a friend had passed away and I feel like all of the elements were there to translate some feelings, making something that marks a point in time for both of us. Jeff will be happy to hear that you like the title! He made it up! Jeff and his cute dog Baxter like winter and I’m glad he gave it a cheerier title than something goth-y I would’ve given it. I’m from the south and I go real darkside when it’s cold!

JZ: The track starts with my Korg Mono/Poly slowly fading in and droning. My whole setup is going through a Roland Space Echo tape delay, and I’m making slight adjustments to the rate of the delay by hand, which creates a woozy, seasick feel by minutely altering the pitch of the synth drone. Mary starts playing on top of that, and in another minute or so I add an octave up pitch shift, which opens up the sound, and then I start looping and layering the synth and Mary begins adding in tweaked-out harp delays. I honestly don’t remember what’s going on with acoustic strumming noises that you can hear in the room. I think I may have been playing a psaltery and just strumming it open somewhat randomly? The track becomes a bit more static around the 4 minute mark and both Mary and I are tweaking our pedals. At 4:15 or so introduce a melody on processed melodica that I continue playing and looping for the next few minutes. Elements then gradually strip away until you’re left with the initial drone and the new melodica melody, and the track fades out on the Mono/Poly drone.

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Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Press Photos 2014

Mary, you have been involved in an endless array of utterly compelling collaborations, having recorded and performed with Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Ed Askew, Steve Gunn and Thurston Moore to name but a few. These projects must be so rewarding and fulfilling to be part of. How do these collaborations feed its way into your own music and music-making process? Are there certain parallels you see that exist between these collaborations? Can you shed some light please on what collaborative works will next see the light of day?

ML: I love both collaborating and contributing to other people’s songs, writing parts. It’s fun to see how people you admire work, to see behind the curtain, to be a part of the process. For me, it doubles the magic of it, when you get to see the human trial-and-error, the scrapping something, and the million takes, and the finally getting it. I love the sitting around listening to what somebody else is doing, listening back to your overdubbed part, and trying it again but up an octave, listening back, over and over. On my own record and for this duo one, it’s a totally different process, where it’s all exorcism and improvisation, but I also love the perfectionism of working on someone’s thought-about song, and witnessing the deliberate series of choices that are being made. All the little choices, capturing a vibe and sharpening a song. Working on the new Steve Gunn record was a total feelgood delight, up at Black Dirt in upstate New York. The musicians were next level, a solid group of talented people. I just had the pleasure of making a harp and koto record with this friend Maxwell August Croy. It’ll be out next year. That one was improvised.

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Jeff, as a recording engineer you have recorded albums for musical luminaries such as The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Nothing and Purling Hiss. I would love to gain an insight into this aspect of your work. Are there certain rules or beliefs you abide by and stick by when recording? Also, I would love to know how early in life did your fascination with sound begin? Can you pin-point the moment you realized music would be the path for you to follow?

JZ: There are certain sounds and techniques that I gravitate towards, and people tend to come to me for that aesthetic, but to not break your own rules every once in awhile would be pretty limiting and counter-productive. I guess what generally appeals to me is what’s fairly evident on ‘Slant of Light’— a combination of the organic and the inorganic helping to create a unique and somewhat unidentifiable space. I’m a huge fan of luring people in with a familiar sound and then “enhancing” it in such a way that either accentuates its’ beauty or warps it in such a way that creates a sense of unease. Or maybe takes you to a place that’s less literal place then the elements suggest on their own.

I think the point at which I realized that there was no turning back was when I began playing guitar again in college and would borrow the school’s 4-track cassette recorder and just experiment with different recording techniques and unintentionally started incorporating a lot of “concrete” techniques into my songwriting, making the two somewhat permanently intertwined in my mind.

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‘The White Balloon’ is yet another stunning tour-de-force. The music evokes moods and colours in much the same way a beautiful landscape painting would create. I imagine the voice of Ed Askew will appear at any moment during the meditative harp passages- returning nicely to a previous collaboration of yours with  ‘For The World’. What are your memories of writing this particular piece of music?

ML: This song was created with my friend in mind, the one who’d passed away. I’d just seen these photos:

http://www.theparisreview.org/art-photography/5839/airship-lena-herzog-graham-dorrington

A photograph from photographer Lena Herzog and aeronaut Graham Dorrington’s sketchbook ‘Airship.’ The series details Dorrington’s dream of “pure, silent, slow flight over the jungle treetops,” which was documented in Werner Herzog’s film The White Diamond. (Paris Review)

Somehow I wanted for us to make something that represented flight, maybe some kind of enlightenment, getting lighter. I love Jeff’s playing on it. My Granny had also just died, too, so I think the piece was kind of influenced by recent ghosts of beautiful people. There’s a really nice music video for it, created the wonderful Naomi Yang (www.naomivision.com) and it was shot in my hometown, Asheville NC, at my Granny’s cabin.

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The cover painting is by Philadelphia-based artist Becky Suss, whose stunningly beautiful work also graces the sleeve of ‘The Withdrawing Room’. Please talk me through the concept of this artwork and indeed your fascination with her work? It’s so very distinctive and unique, I’m very glad to have come across her work through your music. 

ML: Becky is so talented!! She is amazing. Her work on both covers has gotten so many compliments and I feel really fortunate that she’s been so generous. I think the worlds match well, hers and mine/mine and Jeff’s. They just make sense together. A lot of her paintings are of rooms of her grandparents’ house. The style reminds me so much of a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house or something. Nature, collections and treasures, clean shiny big windows, weird sculptures, thoughtful and layered memories of an empty house – I feel like I can smell what the house smells like just looking at them. It was, sadly, demolished and she’s painted from her memory of it. Her website is www.beckysuss.net. The best.

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Please discuss the current music scene in Philadelphia, Mary? What a time it is right now with the likes of The War On Drugs – as ever – going from strength to strength.

ML: My friend Kathryn just put on the greatest event of the summer, the second Kensington Picnic. All of the buddies from the neighborhood came out and lots of good genius friends played –  Laura Baird, Fursaxa, Randall of Nazareth, Spacin, Hohlraum, Strapping Fieldhands, the amazing Birds of Maya, and Jeff and I played too. We have a great community in Philly. Our great pals Purling Hiss have a record coming out on the same day as ours. Yeah, War on Drugs are killing, Kurt Vile and those guys are gonna be working on a new one, Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel band are always awesome, Jeff is working on a great solo record, Watery Love are gonna be playing the night before my birthday, so that’ll be a treat. Feel lucky to know a ton of sincerely creative, driven people and it all feels really supportive.

JZ: Philadelphia’s music scene is pretty insane right now! There are so many great bands and artists working on so many different fronts and it makes me really happy. There’s generally a ton of support and positivity and a bunch of different scenes that exist outside of each other but still tend to cross-pollinate to some extent. There are some exciting newer bands — Amanda X, White Lighters and Myrrias spring to mind, and also a bunch of lifers like Chris Forsyth, Purling Hiss, Kurt Vile, the War on Drugs guys, etc that are just doing what they do and have been for ages because it’s their thing. I think the fact that Philly is still relatively cheap and very central just draws a lot of people to it who have a common purpose. It’s getting increasingly gentrified, which worries me, but I think we’re safe from getting as soulless as New York has for at least a few decades.

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Jeff, your band Arc In Round creates such a mesmerising wall of sound. Please discuss the inception of this band and plans for an upcoming release?

JZ: Thank you! We are unfortunately on a semi-permanent hiatus. I’m currently recording an amazing LP for Myrrias, the new band of Mikele Edwards, who was the other creative half of Arc in Round, and I’m in the process of finishing up a solo LP that’s sort of in line with the AiR material, but aside from the occasional show and possibly a loose album of extended improvised music I don’t foresee us doing much. I should have this new as-yet-unnamed project up and running in the Spring and am also currently working on a beat and sound design-heavy record that will probably include some pretty great Philly rappers on it too.

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Last December, the both of you performed a live score for Philippe Garrel’s 1968 film ‘Le Revelateur’ in Marfa, TX. Can you please recount your memories of this particular night? What is the process and experience like when performing a live score to a film? Do you have plans to do this again in the near future? I hope you and Jeff tour this new record of yours, before too long.

ML: Yeah, we definitely have plans to tour! We played the score with the film in Philly and Chicago in September. We’ve been on tour with Steve Gunn for the first two weeks of October, which has been real cool, but not with the film.

We were asked to compose and perform a score for a silent film for Marfa’s annual event that happens around New Year’s Eve. Jeff and I got together and wrote some themes that corresponded with images and scenes, with bits of improvisation connecting the themes. The film is very beautiful and strange, intentionally silent, but we were able to get Garrel’s blessing. I’d never been to Marfa before (Jeff had been there with his band Arc in Round) and so it was such a treat to check out that little town in a new part of the country.

Saw my first shooting stars out there!! It worked out really well, I think, and we’re looking forward to diving into the film again and getting reacquainted with the music we wrote.

JZ: It was amazing! Nicki Itner and everyone else from Ballroom Marfa are great people and were such a pleasure to work with. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, as it was only the second time we had played along to the film on a large screen instead of a laptop, so it was harder, for me at least, to recognize cues, which was slightly nerve-wracking but once we started everything fell into place pretty naturally. Process-wise, things worked in a manner that’s fairly similar to how we wrote the album: one of us would come up with a part for a scene and the other person would try to enhance it, we would go through the scene, discuss what worked and what else we might be able to do, and then go from there. Since it’s all semi-improvised there’s a bit of wiggle room…..but not much.

 


 

 

Mary Lattimore   Jeff Zeigler - Slant of Light Cover - 374

 

‘Slant Of Light’ is available now on Thrill Jockey Records.

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https://www.facebook.com/lattimorezeiglerduo
http://www.thrilljockey.com

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Ten Mile Stereo

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GOAT ‘Commune’ (Sub Pop)
“Music is everything. The biggest secret of humanity,” as said by GOAT’s leader Mr. Stonegoat. ‘Commune’ is the hugely anticipated follow-up to reclusive Sweden psychedelic maestros masterful and otherworldly debut album ‘World Music’, released in 2012 via Rocket Recordings. Originally from Korpilombolo, Northern Sweden, GOAT have been self-described as a musical tradition as opposed to a band in the classic sense. The band fuse psychedelia, Nigerian afro beat, funk and soul to disco, rock, garage, blues and German krautrock to soul-stirring effect. GOAT’s second LP ‘Commune’ will be released by Seattle-based independent label Sub Pop this Autumn.

‘Commune’ will be available on 23 September via Sub Pop.

www.facebook.com/goatsweden
www.subpop.com/artists/goat

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Craft Spells ‘Nausea’ (Captured Tracks)
Released earlier this Summer, ‘Nausea’ is the wonderful second full-length by Craft Spells’ Justin Vallesteros. Preceded by lead single ‘Breaking The Angle Against The Tide’, ‘Nausea’ is the follow-up to 2010’s debut LP ‘Idle Labor’ and 2012’s subsequent ‘Gallery’ EP. Crucially, the album stems from a bout of writer’s block for Vallesteros; who subsequently put down the guitar for a year while studying the piano which provides the basis for all the tracks on ‘Nausea’. Released on the ever-formidable Brooklyn independent label Captured Tracks (DIIV, Mac Demarco, The Soft Moon), ‘Nausea’ confirm Craft Spells as a hugely exciting and promising artist for the present and the future alike.

‘Nausea’ is available now on Captured Tracks.

http://www.craftspells.com
http://www.capturedtracks.com

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The Bluebells ‘Exile On Twee Street’ (Cherry Red)
The Scottish independent music scene has always been one of the richest sources for innovative, timeless and endearing indie/pop music. The likes of Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub and The Pastels have consistently made the kind of perfectly crafted and yet highly individual strand of pop music during the nineties and noughties, while before them, the early 1980s was a golden age for Scottish pop, with such bands as The Bluebells, Orange Juice, Altered Images and Lloyd Cole & The Commotions all making their own beautiful indelible on the music scene of both Scotland and the world. ‘Exile On Twee Street’ is a particular treasure (to be released by London’s Cherry Red at the end of the month) as the vast majority of this twenty-track compilation (with the exception of ‘Happy Birthday’) has yet to see a release previously.

‘Exile On Twee Street’ will be available on July 28 on Cherry Red Records.

https://www.facebook.com/bluebellsofficial
http://www.cherryred.co.uk/

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James Blackshaw ‘Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat’ (Tompkins Square)
The genesis for this special release by Hastings-based English guitarist and pianist James Blackshaw stemmed from a personal invitation by renowned French composer Yann Tiersen to partake in a special centenary celebration of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas silent film series at the Théâtre de Châtelet, Paris on October 31st 2013. On the night Blackshaw performed an original score for the fifth and final film in the series, ‘Le Faux Magistrat’. Blackshaw is joined for his set by Duane Pitre and Simon Scott (Slowdive) contributed drums, electronics, synth, bowed guitar, bass and more to Blackshaw’s nylon string guitar and grand piano; Charlotte Glasson contributes violin, vibraphone and several wind instruments to the truly stunning 75-minute score.

‘Fantomas : Le Faux Magistrat’ is available now on Tompkins Square.

http://www.jamesblackshaw.com
http://www.tompkinssquare.com

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Steve Gunn ‘Way Out Weather’ (Paradise Of Bachelors)
The last few years have been remarkably productive for the Brooklyn-based guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn (Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Kurt Vile’s The Violators). Only this summer, RVNG Intl issued the splendid ‘Cantos de Lisboa’ as part of their ongoing FRKWYS series (where contemporary artists are paired with their influential predecessors), where Gunn performs alongside the inspirational British folk legend Mike Cooper in Lisbon, Portugal. Last year saw Gunn release his timeless classic ‘Time Off’ album, showcasing not only Gunn’s mastery and versatility as a highly distinctive guitarist but also a hugely talented songwriter and lyricist. ‘Way Out Weather’ expands significantly on Gunn’s previously recorded output; most notably where a newfound lush and panoramic wall of sound is created by a gifted artist (and band) in gloriously full stride.

‘Way Out Weather’ will be available on 7 October via Paradise Of Bachelors.

http://steve-gunn.com
http://www.paradiseofbachelors.com

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The Chills ‘Molten Gold’ (Fire Records)
Originally formed in 1980 in Dunedin, New Zealand, The Chills are today regarded as one of the country’s most legendary of bands. Fronted by Martin Phillipps, the band lineup would change over the course of the following decades; the band would enjoy significant critical acclaim early on releasing a string of classic records via the legendary NZ label Flying Nun (‘Kaleidoscope World’, ‘Brave Words’). The band later re-located to London (while subsequently the band signed to Warner’s subsidiary label Slash in ’88) before returning to their homeland of NZ as national treasures. With the announcement that US indie label Fire Records have partnered with The Chills and their label Far South, expect a treasure chest to be unleashed in the coming months and years.

‘Molten Gold’ EP available 28th July on Fire Records.

https://www.facebook.com/thechills
http://www.firerecords.com

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Kölsch ‘Papageno/Cassiopeia’ (Kompakt)
As part of the indispensable SPEICHER record series by revered Cologne-based independent label Kompakt, installment number 79 welcomes back the peerless producer and electronic artist Kölsch, whose most recent full-length, the monumental ‘1977’, has been hailed as one of the most defining modern electronic records. For SPEICHER 79, Kölsch has created a two-track gem with side A’s ‘Papageno’ (featuring Nikolaj Manuel Vorsild of When Saints go Machine on vocals) and the heavenly ‘Cassiopeia’ on the flip-side (where Kölsch is joined by classical composer Gregor Schwellenbach).

‘Papageno/Cassiopeia’ is available now from Beatport HERE.

https://www.facebook.com/kolschofficial
http://www.kompakt.fm

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deafcentre_sonicpieces

Deaf Center ‘Recount’ (Sonic Pieces)
This August marks the long-awaited and much-anticipated return of beloved Norwegian duo Deaf Center (comprising the hugely acclaimed duo of school friends Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland). Three years on from their landmark LP ‘Owl Splinters’, a darkly textured, ambient modern masterpiece; ‘Recount’ comes at a time when both Skodvin and Totland have been immersed in numerous side projects of their own (including Totland’s debut solo full-length and Erik K. Skodvin’s stunning 2014 LP ‘Flame’, the follow-up to 2010’s ‘Flare’). ‘Recount’ features two  longform pieces recorded in 2008 and 2012.

‘Recount’ will be issued by Sonic Pieces on 29 August.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deaf-Center
http://www.sonicpieces.com

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Broken Twin ‘May’ (Anti-)
Broken Twin’s ‘May’ is one of 2014’s most intimately personal and utterly timeless albums by Danish songwriter Majke Voss Romme. ‘May’ is the gorgeous first full-length LP by Romme, who has previously released last year’s ‘Hold On To Nothing’ and ‘Sun Has Gone’ EP’s. An innate ability for song craft combine with constantly gripping, beautifully open-ended lyricism which quietly yields truly moving songs in the process. As Romme has said: “I wanted to get back to basics, seeking a sound that was warm and lo-fi; minimal and spacious and focused on the songs”.

‘May’ is available now on Anti-.

http://brokentwin.com
http://www.anti.com

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Max Richter ‘Retrospective’  & ‘Recomposed’ (Deutsche Grammophon)
This summer Deutsche Grammophon issued the 4-cd box set comprising German neoclassical composer Max Richter’s albums ‘The Blue Notebooks’ (2004); ‘Songs from Before’ (2006); ‘24 Postcards in Full Colour’ (2008) and ‘Infra’ (2010). Only this year, the ever-prolific Richter released his spectacular re-interpretation of Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’; simply entitled ‘Recomposed’, Deutsche Grammophon’s wonderful package also includes a host of remixes and a stunning live concert from Berlin as a bonus DVD.

Both ‘Retrospective’ and ‘Recomposed’ are available now on Deutsche Grammophon.

http://www.maxrichtermusic.com
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com

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Written by admin

July 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Chosen One: Steve Gunn

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Interview with Steve Gunn.

“Writing the words to songs has been a bit challenging, but I really enjoy the process, and look forward to doing more. To me singing is another instrument, so it adds a bit more to some of the guitar pieces that I’ve come up with.”

—Steve Gunn

Words: Mark & Craig Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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The Brooklyn-based guitarist, Steve Gunn is one of independent music’s true treasures, having released a plethora of records through various guises and collaborative projects over the past decade. Gunn’s guitar prowess is revelatory that ceaselessly inspires and illuminates. To think of Gunn’s masterful musicianship, an array of guitarists spring to mind – Dirty Three’s Mick Turner, Glenn Jones, Michael Hurley, William Tyler and Jack Rose – that lovingly embodies the spirit of an age-old tradition with which a dedication to the artist’s craft lies at the heart of all the creator’s works. If you were to listen to these gifted guitarist’s career-spanning works, one feels a journey evolving which traverses vast plains of sound, styles, emotion and possibilities. Steve Gunn’s latest masterpiece, ‘Time Off’ – released on the North-Carolina based independent label Paradise Of Bachelors – conveys the guitarist’s most affecting collection of songs thus far.

‘Time Off’ was recorded at Black Dirt Studio, Westtown New York and produced by Jason Meagher. The personnel include Gunn (vocals and guitar) aided by the gifted talents of John Truscinski (drums), Justin Tripp (bass), Helena Espvall (cello), Jason Meagher (flute) and Tyson Lewis (piano). The album feels a culmination of all Gunn’s previous incarnations that have come before; Gunn’s solo works, sometime-guitarist in Kurt Vile’s Violators, one half of the Gunn-Truscinski Duo and a member of GHQ. A new emphasis is drawn to Gunn’s use of vocals here that makes ‘Time Off’ a richly absorbing body of work that encompasses both the art of song-writing and the power of unrivaled musicianship. This deep musical telepathy that exists between the trio of Tripp (bass), Truscinski (drums) and Gunn (guitars/vocals) serves the blood-flow to ‘Time Off’s resolutely unique world of sound.

‘Lurker’ – the album’s second track – perfectly embodies the spirit of ‘Time Off’ as Gunn’s central guitar motif conjures up the sound of an utterly timeless psych folk exploration. The hypnotic bassline supplied by Tripp and Truscinski’s soaring beat serves the ideal backdrop to the song’s vivid sense of searching and longing that permeates throughout. The refrain of “Found a spot to kill time and look around” invites the listener to explore the Brooklyn neighbourhood and city streets and in turn, lose yourself to the multitude of senses and flavours that surround you. A brooding mood develops as a beguiling guitar interlude comes to the forefront of the mix some five minutes in. A towering crescendo is reached that gradually comes to a resolution. Before too long, the gloriously meditative guitar motif returns like the arrival of a long-lost friend.

‘Old Strange’ is the album’s centerpiece. The song’s sprawling canvas is a joy to savour that serves a celebration to Gunn’s dear departed friend and muse, Jack Rose. At a recent Glenn Jones show, it was strikingly clear what a presence Rose has had – and continues to have – on the guitarist’s life and music, as a prevailing sense of loss was etched across the face, and indeed the music of Jones. Similarly, the spirit of Rose is wonderfully portrayed throughout the shape-shifting eleven minutes of Gunn’s ode to a dear friend. A cathartic energy is released by Truscinski’s majestic drum-work that serves the heartbeat and pulse to Gunn’s swirling rock rhythms. A symphony is formed where raw emotion exudes from the player’s trusted instruments. Elsewhere, Gunn’s twelve-string guitar-based ‘Trailways Ramble’ contains an Eastern – near cosmic – feel as an irresistible groove is formed by the rhythm section of Tripp and Truscinski. The soothing melodies of ‘Water Wheel’ serves the perfect opening of the enriching voyage. ‘Time Off’ is a marvel of a record that will long serve my trusted companion for many years to come.

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‘Time Off’ is available now on Paradise Of Bachelors.

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Interview with Steve Gunn.

Firstly, congratulations, Steve, on the absolutely incredible ‘Time Off’, it’s been on constantly since I first listened to it during the summer and it is such a breathtaking record. It feels like such an enriching journey – a sort of cross-country road trip of an album – and the songs form such a beautiful, cohesive whole which linger for such a long time afterwards.

SG: Thanks so much for the kind words on the album. I’m really happy to hear that it provided a bit of a soundtrack to your summer this past year.

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What I’d be really interested in hearing about, firstly, is that ‘Time Off’ is your first album with a “band”, featuring the wonderful talents of both John Truscinski on drums and Justin Tripp on bass. Of course, you also have been heavily involved with many collaborations over the years, not least as half of the magnificent Gunn-Truscinski Duo (alongside John), as a member of The Violators and numerous other bands and records. Did recording as a band mean a departure for you in how you approached ‘Time Off’? When did the writing and recording of ‘Time Off’ begin?

SG: Recording as a band was a bit of a departure, because it wasn’t just me recording alone anymore. We worked on the songs on ‘Time Off’ for a while in a band setting before going into the studio. This was the first time I took songs into a studio with a band. It was a long time coming, but a bit of a departure for sure.

I never really knew that I was writing for the album per say. I realized that it was time to make an album because I had enough songs and felt that they were ready to be put together. It was a span of a few years that I got all of these songs together. Some of them developed over a long period of time and playing them live, other songs were writing pretty quickly and not played live. It was mix of different times I suppose.

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I would love if you could talk a little about the playing of both John Truscinski and Justin Tripp on the album. Together with your own incredible guitar playing (and vocals), the musicianship on the whole is so breathtaking – the sense of rhythm and in particular how everything combines so organically is such a delight to behold. How and when did you first meet both John and Justin?

SG: I met John in New York City about seven years ago through mutual friends who played music. We were jamming together here and there with different people, and we decided to start collaborating as a duo. We’ve played together a lot and developed a real sense of each other musically.
Justin is a close friend that I first met in Philadelphia. We’ve known each other for a long time and have played in all different kinds of bands, and share a similar sense of and appreciation for many types of music.
Both John and Justin have had a lot of experience in studio settings, which has been really valuable. I look forward to working with them on this next record.

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I get the impression that the six pieces on the album must have been such a long time in coming together, they really feel like a culmination of a particularly long time. How did these songs come to light? Additionally, were they the result of improvisations or were they carefully assembled and imagined from the outset between yourself, John and Justin?

SG: I wrote these songs and played most of them quite a bit as a soloist. I intended to try them with a band, but it took a while. John and I had been working on duo instrumental recordings for a few years, and I was doing my solo stuff separately. Finally it was the right time for me to incorporate John into my songs. Justin was a logical fit as well, because we go way back and have an acute understanding of what we wanna try to do in the studio and when we play live. I also have to mention Jason Meagher, who is the engineer at Black Dirt Studios, where I’ve worked on a many recordings. He’s also been a big help when I try to figure out what to do with the songs and question how to incorporate different instruments, etc. He knows how to set the scene and vibe perfectly in the studio.

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When did you realize you wanted to record vocals on your album? I love how your voice adds such a beautiful new dimension to your music. The imagery in the lyrics also add another realm to the feel and mood of the album (for example “the sun goes down / the dogs will sound” from ‘Water Wheel’). I imagine it must have proved a challenge in the sense you were adding another “layer” to the process, so to speak?

SG: Thanks. I always wanted to sing, but it took a while for me to get used to it. Touring as a solo performer was a real learning experience for me and I’ve grown more comfortable singing live. I’m still working on it.
Writing the words to songs has been a bit challenging, but I really enjoy the process, and look forward to doing more. To me singing is another instrument, so it adds a bit more to some of the guitar pieces that I’ve come up with.

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There’s such a natural and stunning unfolding to each song – whether in particular arrangements or subtle shifts in tempo and so on – I imagine the album must have been challenging not only to write but also to capture to tape in a manner you were satisfied with?

SG: With these songs, we’d rehearsed and played them out live quite a bit before going into the studio to record them. That made the process easier when we finally got into the studio. The album was mostly recorded live, and we’d already developed what we wanted to do before going in to record.

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Where does the title ‘Time Off’ originate from?

SG: It comes from me taking a long time to make a record.

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My current favourite is the magnificent ‘Old Strange.’ It’s got such an expansive, hypnotic and meditative quality to it. The visceral quality (as well as those wonderful strings) reminds me of Dirty Three or Velvet Underground recordings. Also, the lyrics are beautiful, I particularly love the “what was real” and “it’s strange coming back around” lyrics. How did this song emerge for you? Did it stem from that repeated guitar phrase at the beginning?

SG: The song did stem from a repeated guitar phrase at first. I guess that’s how all of my songs come about, really. This song was a dedication to a friend, Jack Rose. I wrote this song for him.

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In terms of musical styles and traditions, you seem to be able to draw inspiration from so many diverse avenues, yet you can distill them so beautifully into your own distinctive sound (blues, country, psychedelia, free jazz and spiritual jazz, German Krautrock and so on), and call to mind many musicians (Jansch, Cooder, Chapman, Thompson, Dylan, for example). I would love to know the albums that, for you, hold the most resonance as both a musician and as a songwriter?

SG: Here is a short list of some of my favorites:

Michael Chapman – Rainmaker
Sonny Sharrock – Black Woman
Richard & Linda Thompson – Pour Down Like Silver
Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes
Sun Ra – Lanquidity
Moby Grape – 1969

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Can you remember the moment you first realized music was going to be your true path in life? What were your formative influences to be a musician when growing up?

SG: I got really interested in music in middle school, and starting playing guitar in high school. First I was into skateboarding and punk rock stuff. Later I discovered jazz and older rock records and my whole world opened up.

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In terms of your own guitar playing; I would love if you could talk about your development as a guitarist over the years?
There is also such a richly diverse number of guitarists making such wonderful music today – William Tyler, Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman and Cian Nugent to name just a few – it must be an exciting time for you to be able to receive the attention and acclaim from audiences that you so much deserve?

SG: I started getting serious about playing the guitar in college, more than fifteen years ago now. That’s when I started practicing a lot, started listening to and drawing from a wide range of music. I still try to practice often and make time for it. I am mostly inspired by my friends who play music and those who are generous with their playing and listening, those for whom it’s always about the music itself. I’m fortunate to know a lot of really talented and dedicated musicians, and I’m humbled by the attention I’ve received, inspired to keep working at it.

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‘Time Off’ is available now on Paradise Of Bachelors.

http://steve-gunn.com
http://www.paradiseofbachelors.com

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Written by admin

January 20, 2014 at 10:14 am