Monthly Archives: August 2010

Let’s Call it Adventure

I’ll let you know something: when it comes to tech, I’m a bit of a Luddite. I have a natural aversion to reading about anything that ranges from synth manufacturers to recording software.

The same goes for guitar pedals.

But my brother, Noah, loves pedals. And I love all sounds. And the sounds that come from these pedals are fucking awesome.

Including this one:

As you can read, it is an “echo/chorus/vibrato” pedal. The long and short of that is that you can improvise along to short snippets of yourself playing. I think they call it “delay”, but one would have to be tech savvy to know for sure. For me, it’s enough to hear myself repeated.

And when I do, I have visions:

The soundtrack to this movie (Dead Man, by Jim Jarmusch) has stuck with me more than any quirky detail from any of his quirky movies. And it has probably had as much, if not more, influence on my concept of “guitar music” as anything else. Including John Fahey.

That being said, I offer this humble gloss on the blues as I read through Huck Finn and can’t help but feel: alright then, I’ll go to hell.

Let’s Call it Adventure

PS – There is a version of the Dead Man soundtrack that features no spoken interludes over the music. If someone can find this for me in any format (mp3, CD, LP) I would be grateful.



No Roads Are All Roads Lead To No Roads

Certain things you hear hit you and hurt you. I remember coming out of my punk rock phase into the arms of “Money Jungle” by Duke Ellington and being enthralled. What were these sounds? Who could make such noise and thunder with just a piano and bass and drums? Was there really rage after (for me) and before (for chronology’s sake) punk? How could one note on the piano express such beauty and such discontent?

The Duke has been with me ever since.

And so has his most detested label: jazz. But by the time I came to buy “Unit Structures” by Cecil Taylor I had (like most arrogant youths) a pretty good idea of what was and what wasn’t jazz. And what jazz wasn’t was Cecil Taylor. Muscular, sure. Full of rage, you bet. But to my well seasoned ears (I had been listening to hard-core punk since I was 11 and Duke Ellington since I was 15) Cecil just didn’t have the goods. So at the tender age of I6 gave up on Taylor and all the subsequent avant-jazz and became a mouldy fig.

At 18 I came back and tried with no results.

Same at 20.

Again at 22.

I kept coming back to “Unit Structures” and I kept getting rid of it. In fact, it is a record I have bought and sold 5 times.

Which brings me to the moment where a sound hits you and hurts. The next time I came back to Cecil I decided to skip “Unit Structures” and hear “Silent Tongues” and “Air Above Mountains (Buildings Within)” – two records of Cecil in his grandest form playing live and solo. I was devastated. I heard it all. Everything that arrogant critics claim they can hear: Brubeck, the church, and most of all Ellington. It was all there, just waiting for me to hear it in the right way at the right moment and for it to sucker punch me in the right spot.

I don’t try to convert people to Cecil. You can’t. All you can do is tell your loved ones over and over again “His music is beautiful, just keep listening”.

It is.┬áIt hasn’t stopped inspiring me yet.

I want to be rich…

Have I told you yet that I hate it when people hear my music and say: “That would make great movie music”?

It’s not meant as an insult. And probably shouldn’t be taken as one. But the underlying logic I hear is: “Your music is not good enough to listen to on its own.”

That being said, I recently saw a movie that had some wonderful movie-music in it. It was called “I am Love” and featured the music of American post-minimalist John Adams. The music was all composed before the movie was made. It works wonderfully. The music, in fact, is one of the most important characters in the film. And, I hate to say it, it makes really good movie music.

Another “character” in the film is the upper-upper class. There is something very satisfying for me in watching rich people do the things that they want to do as they are want to do them. (I know, I know. The whole point of the movie is picking simple pleasures over the cold and heartless traps that come with being rich.) Regardless, I want to be rich.

One practical way for me to do this would be to have my music used in a major motion picture.

A fanciful way would be to name a piece of music for Karl Lagerfeld and have him become my friend. I don’t want money. I just want to be flown on private jets to Paris for fashion week and get drunk with royalty. Is that so much to ask?

For Karl Lagerfeld