Collaboration with Fennesz

Christian Fennesz and I have collaborated on a song called “Guru,” utilizing the poem of the same name for the second volume of ‘Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America’.

This exciting tribute celebrates the 50th Anniversary of beloved poet Allen Ginsberg’s “The Fall of America: Poems of these States”, 1965-1971. In the fall of 2020 with the 50th anniversary of those poems fast approaching the curators of this release reached out to many of Allen’s musician and artist friends. Many responded enthusiastically about interpreting these poems to music; even those poems that presented more of a musical challenge. All proceeds will be donated to HeadCount.org, an organisation which promotes voter registration and participation in democracy through the power of music.

The first volume, featuring Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo, Angélique Kidjo, Devendra Banhart, Yo La Tengo and more is available from allenginsberg.bandcamp.com

Our track will appear on Volume Two this fall alongside a humbling cast of artists including Miho Hatori, Steve Hillage, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ai WeiWei, William Basinski, Philip Glass, and more.

Mur

March 26th saw a new release from me, titled Mur, the first solo full-length since my last, Fallen, in 2018. This release comes on the wonderful Dauw label out of Belgium.

Objects I’ve Been Given – a creative series for 2020

AVAILABLE ON BANDCAMP

Objects I’ve Been Given is a monthly creative project I’ve embarked on for the year of 2020. The project is based around small sound-making objects given to me over the years by friends and family, maybe for a birthday, or as a gift when visiting their country, and in some ways is a return to the more experimental work of mine from the early 2000s. The objects range from a tiny brass bell, to a handmade sculpture to an antique wooden zither,  from the simple to the ornate. To me they are much more than simple gifts or noise makers, they hold stories and memories and have been cherished over the years.

During each month of 2020 I will create a piece of quiet, longform music with one or two of the objects and, for the sake of purity, will use the barest minimum of recording equipment and a set of self-imposed limitations in the studio. The idea is to explore not just the sounds these objects are designed to make but to also highlight their surfaces and materials. My hope is that you hear the material of each object as they are struck, bowed, or scratched as I try to utilize the entirety of their form, musical or not. Experimental in nature, I will not set out to create grand pieces of ambient composition but rather small, personal sonic odes to these humble forms.

At the conclusion of the 12th piece I will write again reflecting back on the entirety of the project and how I felt the objects influenced the process.

This project is a thank you to those who have given me these special gifts and is dedicated to my friend and fellow artist Steve Roden. Steve’s amazing early recordings with non-musical objects have been a huge inspiration to me over the years. The trajectory of my entire musical career wouldn’t be the same without his work.

Music I Really Enjoyed In 2019

Not a”top 10″ list… just 11 albums I listened to a lot in 2019 that definitely are not all from 2019.  Spending so much time in the studio mastering means I don’t have a lot of studio time to listen to music, but I bought a lot and listened to a lot of music this year. Mostly in the car, or while going to sleep, or on airplanes (Mark Hollis’ solo album still remains my #1 start-an-airplane-flight album). This list is in no particular order:

Valiska “Numbers”
I discovered Valiska’s music this year. Bought most of it, love it all. This just happened to be the first one I listened to.

M. Grig “Mount Carmel”
I try not to put 12k music on my lists, as I’m a bit biased. But I’m particularly happy to have found a new roster member in Michael Grigoni and what he brings to 12k is decidedly different than anyone else. He plays a beautiful lap steel.

Damien Jurado “In The Shape Of A Storm”
By far my favorite album from Damien. Beautiful, arresting music, through and through.

Great Lake Swimmers “The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic Version)”
Tony Dekker is one of my favorite songwriters. His music as Great Lake Swimmers has deeply touched me over the years. Unfortunately the last couple of albums have left me disappointed as the music has become a bit safer, the lyrics not as deep and the instrumentation and production less vulnerable. I long for what he did with his first three or four albums but also know that artists like to move forwards, not back. With the latest GLS album I didn’t find too much within  that resonated with me… that is, until Tony stripped it all away and found the core of the songs with his wonderful voice and acoustic guitar. Then I knew that, at their core, these are Tony’s song and his touch hasn’t gone away… it’s just been buried a bit. I’m very happy that he released these versions and hope he visits his stripped-down roots more often. (oh, and if you read this, tony, bring back Greg the drummer! he was so unique and complimented you and Erik so well)…

The Tallest Man On Earth “Shallow Grave”
I discovered TTMOE this year as well and immediately loved it all. Raw and powerful and often beautiful as well.

Various Artists: Thesis Recurring
My favorite kind of music is music that goes nowhere. I mean that as a highest compliment. Recurring, from the Thesis Label is an adventurous project of 100 seamless, beautiful 1-minute looped compositions from an amazing set of artists. Music that just starts and goes and the beginning and end have no meaning or authority.

Frankie Rose “Seventeen Seconds”
My good friend and collaborator Stephen Vitiello introduced me to this record as his “guilty pleasure”….. maybe feeling a bit cheeky for liking this song-for-song cover album of The Cure’s classic “Seventeen Seconds” album. While not terribly adventurous, mostly sound-for-sound covers, Frankie Rose does an amazing job and gives me an alternate version of one of my favorite albums. Her rendition of “A Forest” was played many, many, many times in my car this year.

Rafael Toral “Constellation In Still Time”
Rafael’s music and style has never stayed in one place too long but it his quiet ambient music that I love the best and this album, released in 2019, is a welcome return to that form. A longform, extended piece, that accompanied my sleep many times in the past months since its release.

Federico Durand “Musica Para Manuel”
I listened to a lot of Federico’s music this year. And I’m honored to be able to call him a friend, labelmate and collaborator. It wasn’t easy picking an album of his for this list, but this one is from a cassette he gave me a few years ago that was put on a shelf and not listened to until this year. While I regret missing out on a couple years of being able to hear this beauty It will certainly accompany for many years to come, as with all of Federico’s music. Which, to me, isn’t just “music” but really his spirit of kindness being given to us in aural form.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions “Bavarian Fruit Bread”
Hope Sandoval’s voice accompanies me around the world. Mazzy Star always…. but this year I listened to some of her later work more often and find it just as comforting and captivating.

Corey Fuller & Break Ensemble “Live In Tokyo”
As if Corey Fuller’s Break album weren’t a feat enough somehow he managed to turn the whole thing into a scored live concert for an ensemble in tokyo. Please check out the audio and video of this work, it’s really something. Corey’s heart and soul are in this music and an insane amount of emotion and struggle.

Other Labels Podcast: 12k

Was a joy to talk to Scott Orr from the Other Songs label who has a few series of podcasts and YouTube videos about music, the music business, and recording studios. We chatted for his Other Labels podcast and you can hear the full interview wherever you get your podcasts. iTunes link is here.