Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Composer Duane Pitre and ample samplers Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford.
Listed: Duane Pitre + Javelin
Most people aren’t so lucky as to do what they love for a living once; Duane Pitre’s done it twice. The Louisiana native gave up skateboarding professionally for Alien Workshop to become a new music composer. In 2009, he compiled The Harmonic Series, a collection of music composed using the alternate tuning system called Just Intonation; amongst its participants were Pauline Oliveros, Greg Davis, and R. Keenan Lawler. Pitre’s own music has come out on the Root Strata, Basses Frequences, and Important labels, and his latest album Feel Free manages to reconcile indeterminacy and the exacting pitch relationships of Just Intonation in effortless fashion. Below are Pitre’s top 10 musical influences, in reverse chronological order.
1. John Coltrane – 1960s works: Africa, India, A Love Supreme, etc
In 2009 I read a fantastic book called "John Coltrane: His Life and Music." Super inspiring and had a big effect on how I’d organize/compose the group version of Feel Free, which structurally and organizationally took inspiration from certain Coltrane (and other Jazz) music. The depth in John’s work, from this time-period, also had an impact on the group version of Feel Free, as it gave me the desire to add emotion into the work, so whereas it went beyond just interesting sound(s)…giving it a deeper "purpose" (if only for me).
2. Traditional World Musics:
Japanese Music - It taught me about space, about silence, about what not to play.
North Indian Music - It showed me a path of purity, clarity, and depth.
Middle Eastern Music - It showed me a new approach to ecstaticism.
3. La Monte Young – The Well-Tuned Piano
I learned about Just Intonation from La Monte’s works. This tuning system has helped shape my work in many instances. It opened a whole new world (or rabbit hole) to me as far as sound was concerned. What one could achieve with simple acoustic sound when tuned in whole number ratios. This led me to experience resonance like I’d not had before…which was very important to my work.
4. Terry Riley – Persian Surgery Dervishes (if I was to pick one)
He was my introduction to the weirdness that could come out of music university students. When playing in ecstatic hardcore bands in the late 90’s, in San Diego, a friend put In C and some Glenn Branca on a mix-tape, certainly had an affected on me, mentally at least, but took years before it actually influenced my work. I’ve been most influenced by his late-60’s and 70’s keyboard works, though I guess that’s not very apparent maybe. I highly admire how he was able to bring psychedelia somewhere else, tighter I suppose…maybe coming from his "classical" training (that he rebelled against).
5. Brian Eno - Music for Airports
This record set the stage for me to understand simplicity in music, non-obvious repetition, and stillness. It was also a small opening into my understanding of "space," that I’d later understand more thoroughly through the Japanese music I’ve mentioned above.
6. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
First truly (and fully) blissed-out record I ever heard. The "goth" in me gravitated toward this record for sure…and it would later become one of my all-time favorites, still is. Texturally, it had a HUGE influence over my development.
7. Ministry - The Land of Rape and Honey & The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
These two records were surely part of the soundtrack to my teen angst years. The intensity and abrasiveness of this era of Ministry struck a chord with a certain part of myself quite a bit back then…still does now, yet on a smaller level though. Industrial Music was huge in the downtown New Orleans scene; it meshed with the city’s dark side quite well.
8. The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs
Important record and band of my teens; the juxtaposition of gloom and happiness was and still is very satisfying…and uplifting.
9. Dinosaur Jr. - Dinosaur….through Green Mind
This was the start of the musical path I’ve been on for many years, up to the present. Before this I was into rap, some punk, metal, and some loose ends. Still love all of that stuff, but Dinosaur was the band that brought me into the world that would get me really hooked on music and lead me to search the loose lineage (even if my own self-created one) that essentially makes up all that I’ve listed above, even if out of order.
10. Led Zeppelin -I through Physical Graffiti
I’m not sure how to explain the impact they’ve had on me...and of all that I’ve mentioned above, it might be the most complex to explain...oddly enough. See, it has historical roots within my being. As a child, my parents were late hippies/rockers, both with hair down past the middle of their backs, they named me after Duane Allman as a tribute (he died shortly before I was born), and they saw Zeppelin (Sabbath, Allman Brothers, and a long list of such bands) prior to my birth. Zeppelin was all over the radio growing up in New Orleans. Throughout life it always gave me a good feeling when hearing it, my reaction to it was always positive. And later in life I started to understand them in an "adult" way, a musician’s understanding I suppose. Shit...I just can’t connect it all with words, but it’s in me, it’s deep. Blues/folk/Indian/heavy/dark/psychedelic …a splendid blend. If I had to pick a favorite band/artist, it would be them. And I’ll just say this: Listen to Feel Free, and then go search for the Zeppelin song that (subconsciously) inspired certain aspects of the piece (especially the solo version).
Cousins Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford are real proud of their record collections. Most of the wax came from beneath mountains of junk at thrift shops. Javelin uses these found and previously unwanted audio tracks and restates them into delightfully funky electronic lace. The duo released its debut album, No Más, on Luaka Bop in 2010. Since then, the twosome have appeared in several galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art and The Clocktower Gallery in Manhattan. They also released a short film in conjunction with last year’s Record Store Day 10”, Canyon Candy. The duo will reissue two EPs, Javelin and Javelin 2, on April 17, and a new full-length is expected later this year. Javelin strayed from the norm for this week’s Listed: Instead of specific albums, Van Buskirk listed and explained things that lend recurring inspiration to him and his creative kin.
It’s hard to overstate the influence radio has had on our musical lives. Radio listening usually takes place in a car. The car is moving through an environment. You may be sitting with people you love. The transmission you are receiving was probably recorded at least a decade ago and has either remained timeless or is wrapped in nostalgia—maybe both. What you are listening to has been chosen by someone. You’ve probably heard it multiple times before. It could be a faceless corporate power structure choosing it or an illegally operated pirate radio station—in which case you probably haven’t heard it. Your task is to cycle through these given choices until you find something that suits the occasion (the environment, the people in the car). The resulting pastiche of advertisements, static and bullshit become the backdrop for finding the real nugget—The Jam. This is why we love radio.
2. Thrift stores of southeastern New England
Like radio, the thrift store record bin has the quality of the devalued past. Outmoded technology as a concept may be itself soon outdated. We are so familiar with obsolescence and transience that we recognize its quality in new things almost immediately. Whereas once it would take a few decades for a technology or an aesthetic to become outmoded, we now expect new things to go through the standard vetting and implosion process almost as quickly as we find out about them. The thrift store remains as a museum of cheaply useable material for art—fabric, music, videos, etc.—that reminds us of when cultural memes existed long enough to remember them.
3. Technological limitations
Working with somewhat older, more limited technological means can provide a defined architecture that ultimately makes the work more rewarding. By no means are we luddites nor do we indulge in the expensive habit of buying tons of old gear. I guess it’s that we shy from purism in any form—including the antiseptic cleanliness and extreme loudness pursued in most modern studio techniques of the last four or so years. The destruction of our beloved radio is mainly owed to these engineers and producers pushing the technology of the day to its sonically exhausting yet inexhaustible limits. I know the same argument could be made over the years for radio loudness wars and cheap bubblegum production—but the difference is today we are not complaining about too much noise or out of tune racket—it’s overproduction and attempts at hyper-perfection we detest.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of being a musician is getting to spend time all over the place—but it’s also the thing that trips people up. You have to take command of the time, or else you can end up crammed in, exhausted, hating the road. The repetition. The ups and downs. Listening to music in the car, bus, plane or whatever, plays a big role in staying inspired on the road. I read an interesting quote from one of the guys in AIR, claiming that the only time people really listen to music is in transit. You might say the same for reading a book cover to cover. Traveling is "dead time," but it also can be the most active and enjoyable way to spend time.
5. The moment when you walk into a room or change the dial and fundamentally mishear whatever music is playing.
This happens all the time. You wander into a musical phrase that you’ve never heard before and your ear completely misinterprets where the "one" falls on the beat. Or how fast the song is, something elemental to the song. I tend to savor this moment—I can tell that I am mis-hearing the song, but I like my misheard version and don’t want the real version to take over. Sometimes this misheard version inspires a song—if only I can remember it.
6. The misunderstanding of and fixation on older siblings’ teenage musical tastes.
When you are a kid and have older siblings, their tastes are your frame of reference. Because of them you listened to The Velvet Underground when you were 10. Equally, their of-the-time listening habits filtered in and were interpreted with reverence and wonder. You are an alien, absorbing their ways and trying to understand them. What is new jack sewing? Who is Shardé? What is Blues Traveler? The imagination runs wild. And did.
7. Autumn in New York
8. Spring in Los Angeles
9. Artists discussing things other than art with other artists
In school, I had the singular good fortune of taking class with the poet Robert Creeley, who was in his ‘80s. I did not know how transforming it would be to my developing self, and to the vague ideas I harbored about what it was to be an artist in the world. It was not the discussions on art or poetry that altered my view,—although they did, too—it was discussing the material source of such practices… life, the conscious organism, the world, our place in it, etc. These discussions would benefit anyone, especially students, but they are surprisingly hard to find. Everyone should be interested in discerning reality closer to its fact—even as we may be built to do just the opposite, perhaps for our own survival.
10. Musician as author
Some of our favorite music comes from the mind and activity of one person, or one person with a small number of people helping to finish the recorded product. Any number of historical examples exist—but maybe what are returning to today is close to an amalgam of them all. The medieval lyric poet (equipped with lyre and words), the Classical composer (equipped with solo keyboard instrument and notes), the dub producer (equipped with multi-track tape machine and dub plates), the bedroom producer (equipped with computer and internet connection). And so on. It’s not that they are working entirely alone or without any help—it’s that they can be. The creation of a musical recording can be like the creation of a poem, or painting, or photograph with its extended editing and re-touching, etc. The musician then travels outside their studio to give "readings," which are hopefully very much LIVE and transmit the emotion and life-force of the music.
By Dusted Magazine