As you may have heard, guitar legend Glenn Jones has a new album out. I still need to dive into the album but what I’ve heard so far was just as amazing as I could expect from Glenn.
Oh, I couldn’t resist, you gotta see the new video by Glenn:
Meanwhile, two guitarists grabbed my attention with their fabulous acoustic guitar works.
A new EP by Sean Wrubel is available for a free download. He mentions Jack Rose, Steve Gunn, John Fahey, James Blackshaw, and Daniel Bachman as influences but I could definitely hear some Robbie Basho there and surprisingly, in the last track, even Steffen Basho-Junghans (which is great as I haven’t listened to his music for a long time, thanks for the reminder!). Really powerful and slightly psychedelic, I enjoy it a lot.
It’s interesting to hear the differences between Sean’s music and the beautiful, more peaceful album from Daniel Halliday, available on BandCamp for a reasonable price.
(The front cover brings Steve Tibbetts to mind. Maybe it’s just me)
You can hear that Hauntsis released by a UK musician. It is rich with melodies, the picking is gentle and brings to mind the works of John Renbourn and Jansch at times, but he also lists John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Leo Kottke, the Durutti Column, David Pajo, Jim O’Rourk as influences. It is really intimate and moving and to be honest I can’t stop playing it in the last couple of days.
So there you have it, two beautiful albums by two fine guitarists and composers. Just when you think you’ve heard everything, the world gives you more and more surprises. Fun.
Foundations is a series of posts by artists I like, who write about their musical inspiration when working on their latest project. Untouched or edited by me, an interesting peek into musicians’ worlds
A couple of weeks ago I’ve posted about the beautiful and very special album by Padna. I was curious to know what inspired him and what influenced on his choice of sounds and melodies. So I just asked Nat Hawks, the man behind Padna, and I got a track-by-track list of inspirations. The list is fascinating and here it is in Nat’s words:
Track 1-Ddiigdugggg Influence: Binaural Beats/Secret Messages in Music
Home Binaural Beat Systems
For years I had been curious about binaural beats: scientifically researched sound frequencies with slight variation between left and right channel. When the human body receives these signals, its own frequency is affected. Supposedly some frequencies help with relaxation, others with memory, etc. Whatever. Fun stuff to think about!
Last year for my birthday my wife bought me a binaural beat home entertainment system. You can play specially coded music that trigger lights in the accompanying goggles, creating an awfully immersive experience.
The opening track for Burnt Offerings is meant to act as a gateway into the album, a palate cleanser. There are binaural beats embedded in the track, but I also wanted to organically explore the idea that sound is affecting the listener in mysterious, secret ways. When science informs music, good things tend to happen.
Influence #2: Carrax/Sound as Language
Another inspiration for “ddiigduggg” is Leos Carrax’s short in the film Tokyo about an odd character who crawls out of the sewer and speaks an unknown language. Playing this song live, I would use a long sample of this, which was greatly trimmed down for the album version.
I’m interested in communication that travels around language. We are designed to translate audio stimulus into a code that informs our reactions. We personify the world around us. It’s quite corny, but sounds, literally, speak to us. Trippy.
Track 2-Caphonic Fog Influence: Strange Objects/Sad Animal Sounds
Great interview with Eye from Boredoms in which he picks up objects in his home and makes exciting sound with them.
The space where I make Padna music is always littered with cheap knick-nacks from local 99cent stories, thrift shops, and street-finds that I hope will make an interesting sound. In this track the strange, mournful scraping sound is from a plastic cup with a string attached and a piece of sponge tied to the end. Picked this “duck call” up in Vermont at a country flea market from a colorful character who used them to play pranks on his neighbor. He cackled when he told this story. Personally, I think it makes a very sad sound.
Animal Sounds Can Make Us Sad
I’ve been attracted to sad animal sounds for a long time. They are sort of the purest sad noise produced in nature. Human voice sadness is too often too literal. For me, human sadness should be communicated through other sounds, but that’s probably because I can’t sing.
Track 3-Pelts Influence: Crank Sturgeon’s Artifacts/Sounds in Context
I’ve been picking up nifty homemade sound objects from Crank Sturgeon (noise artist/object creator) for a while now. On “pelts” I use one of his contact mics and scrape it on a wood floor. I love how sounds hold shared associations for many of us and also such personal ones. To me this scraping, in this context, is like a burrowing animal that’s trying not to draw attention… or something.
I’m also fascinated by how a purely textural sound that is without note or rhythm, when placed in a highly melodic and rhythmic environment is forced by our minds to be in accord. In another context, this same scraping would be creepy, horror movie stuff. One of my goals with this track (and on this album) was to have challenged that line and that relationship. I want to explore more how these relationships draw the listener in as participant, as ears struggle to make sense of odd juxtapositions.
Track 4-Never Let Me Go
Influence: Autechre-“Known (1)”/Odd Pairings are Psychedelic
Autechre is probably my favorite band ever. I’ve learned so much about sound and composition from listening to them. Super grateful for those guys. I also really, really loved Oversteps and was pissed that others didn’t agree. I particularly like the third track, “Known(1),” with it’s futuristic, Baroque melody and that insane squelch that solos on top. I have never heard anything else like this track.
Anyway, “Never Let Me Go” very much mirrors the elements of “Known(1).” Over the plunky acoustics, the noise solo comes from a mysterious black box I bought at a record fair. I also like how the noise blends into some good ol’ sad animal samples (my go-to’s).
I’m really interested in different forms through which ‘psychedelic music’ can occur. For me it can be as simple as the element of surprise. Presenting unfamiliar relationships to create something new can put the listener into that special territory.
Track 5-Shoeg. Influence: New York City
Similarly, mix in with ambient…
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for over a decade now, so I guess I can start calling it home. I love it so much. I love listening to demo tracks with my headphones and tuning into the sounds around me that blend in. I take notes of ones I like, then re-create them at home. This track has the sound of a styrofoam cup rolling down the street and a metal rail clanging, both heard while walking the city listening to an early version of this track. I love the idea of adding layers of my own experience with the music (you now hear the cup on the street on your headphones as I did). Hopefully then, too, the listener is more inclined to be in tune with the sounds of their own environment as they listen, and mix them into the experience.
Again, our brain, if we trust the intent of the author, tries to make sense of these disparate elements, finding notes and patterns that weren’t meant to occur. This process naturally makes the listener a participant.
I enjoy listening to the city sound moments that come through the window as I go to sleep. A lot of narrative in those sounds.
Track 6-Never Let Me Go (Reprise) Influence: Old Keyboards/Rich Sounds from Cheap Gear
(BSC’s Challenger album was a realization for me: DIY aesthetics making something elegant.)
I’m crazy for cheap, old keyboards. This track uses a lot of Casio SK-1, a simple sampling keyboard. It can do a quick, 2 second sample, and mine is broken so I have to hold it at a really specific angle so I lose my sample constantly, which I got used to, and became part of the fun. When sampling house-hold sounds, it has a nice analog-sounding quality.
The closing keyboard used was this oddity I stumbled upon (at a stoop sale buried under broken toys) that has a weird dial feature that warps the sound in a nice, twisted way, adding atypical harmonics.
It’s very satisfying to make something you’re proud of from disposable plastic things. I have long prided myself on championing quantity over quality of gear. Which is probably pretty immature.
I really love what Aaron Dilloway is doing these days. This track off Modern Jester has such an incredible broken succession of loops. It comes off as aggressive and abrasive, but it’s just pure joy. It is so intentionally busted, I can’t stand it.
The opening loops for “green plastic prism” are from a skipping Phillip Glass vinyl of North Star. I really love when a sound device malfunctions and something usable comes out. I try to use everything I record in some way.
The squawking sounds are from a green plastic prism-like toy I got at a 99cent shop that acts like a little horn and a light goes off when you sound it, for no reason.
The vocal-sounding wave towards the middle is just a ton of micro loops from the green plastic prism through an old, cheap delay pedal that has a lovely warble, creating a nice effect that mirrors a human chorus.
The otherwordly noises towards the end are from a children’s auto-tune karaoke toy. If you hold the mic up to the built-in speaker you get insane feedback noises.
Trying to make cool noises by using toys wrong. I’m not a terribly proficient musician, so this is one of the ways I try to get around that. Also, as the easily accessible computer sound palette seems to currently value immediacy over uniqueness, having access to your ‘own sounds’ has never felt so empowering.
I’m excited. Just found out that there’s a new documentary in the making about the life and enigma of Robbie Bahso, one of my favorite musicians ever and a true influence on my music.
The film, by UK director Liam Baker, is now in the stages of crowd funding via Kickstarter.
Robbie Basho to me, is way way more than a musician. Aside for his brilliant musicianship and his ability to merge influences from Persia and Middle East, Japan and Classical Music, American Native and Jazz, his approach to the spirit in music is fascinating. The way he saw colors in chords and musical modes and his following of great eastern wisdoms are inspiring.
I’m curious about him more and more as a person, as I feel lately that music in my life should serve something, that is bigger than the music itself.
Music is a vessel that I fill in with emotions, and empty upon need, in order to fill it again when the next ‘wave’ comes. I’m not too sure that music itself has an importance other to deliver, not sure that it stands on its own as a ‘thing’ in the world.
Or in short – it’s a journey to lose the ego. That’s one of the resolutions I understand now, after been working with Farthest Southfor the last two years.
That’s also how I see Basho’s music. The music itself is almost not important, and the blend of styles is just a pure projection of stormy mind and heard that Basho carried in his short life.
I guess that Basho has been just one these rare souls, who happened to be musicians, and whom were sent to this planet to deliver a message of love to mankind. Furthermore, he was to deliver a message about the real importance of music as an entity that is only meant to deliver soul and heart chemistry, in such way that people can engage better and perhaps understand.
Also, a live, previously unreleased Basho track was restored by the good guys in Grass Tops Production. They will also reissue his 1978 Visions Of The Country album on CD and will be out on August 2013. This recording is hauntingly beautiful.
Tel Aviv based musician. I've released two solo guitar albums (see here). Also playing bass in the experimental/improv band Farthest South (see here)
I write about music that fascinates me, and do it on my spare time.
If you would like to remove your music from my blog, please drop me a line at yair at smalltownromanceblog dot com.
If you wish to tell me something or ask for a post, please note that this is a non-commercial-I-do-it-when-I-have-time-and-interest-blog-with-all-that-it-means.