Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Avant-garde legend Harold Budd and Montreal fingerpicker Harris Newman.
Listed: Harold Budd + Harris Newman
Creating a quietly original soundprint from strands of beatific west coast minimalism, post-bop jazz, and open-minded engagement with the world, composer and pianist Harold Budd has been an important voice in new music through four decades. Budd was born in California in 1936, and his musical development was influenced deeply by the many currents of change and discovery rippling through American music and visual arts during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Budd’s work with Brian Eno brought him a wider audience by the 1980s, and the years beyond brought collaborations with pop artists like The Cocteau Twins and XTC’s Andy Partridge.
While Budd has worked masterfully with electronic textures and ambient washes, it is the graceful, painterly sense of melodic gesture he brings to the piano that makes him utterly inimitable. Harold Budd's music might offer the lovely paradox of a wandering restlessness emanating from a still, restful center.
Budd released a digital album, Perhaps, last week on David Sylvian's Samadhi Sound label in memoriam of his late friend and colleague James Tenney (1934-2006). Information on the tribute can be found here, while the album itself is available for download here We're honored to present some of his favorite recordings in this week's Listed.
1. Lennie Tristano - Line Up (Atlantic)
1955, right hand lines like the beads from a broken rosary. LT tape manipulation: I could never figure out what it actually was, but everyone can hear it. Jon Gibson told me the chord changes are "All of Me".
2. Steven Brown - Say You Love (Sub Rosa)
From Steven Brown Reads Keats - an unimaginably haunting two minutes ... I will be buried with it.
3. David Sylvian - Blemish (Samadhi)
Astonishing break from received convention. To me, upon first listening, I likened it to Claudio Monteverdi's late so-called madrigals: open and naked without faux sentiment and really raw, scraping sentiment. Earthbound interludes by the late Derek Bailey ... those alone are hard to forget.
4. Stan Getz - Indian Summer (probably a Prestige 78)
It changed my life, I was no longer a teenager; but it's only a memory in my bones. 1954?
5. Arnold Schoenberg - Transfigured Night (London)
The quintessential "artist boiling in his own juices" but, Jesus!, what a slow boil.
6. Luigi Nono - A Carlo Scarpa, architetto (Astree)
Scarpa, Nervi, Wright, Aalto, Corbu, Mies ... Listen to yourselves!
7. Alva Noto + Ryuchi Sakamoto - Vrioon (raster-noton)
Minimal beyond words -- sorry! (Eds. note: We'll take care of that.)
8. Andy Partridge - River of Orchids (TVT)
I first heard this piece - a rough demo - in Andy's shed in the early '90s. It was, even at that stage, so expert in its conception that it discouraged me till we laughed.
9. Bill Nelson - Manipulating The Phonograph (Lenin Imports)
Dance, anyone? How about you, my dear?
10. Frederick Delius - "Intermezzo" from Fennimore and Gerda (London)
English landscape painting on a par with Constable - a picture of the world "over there".
Montreal is certainly one of pop music's epicenters these days. But don't forget that its scene reaches well beyond the blogs. Harris Newman has been one of the city's most respected musicians for about a decade now. After stints in the bands Sackville (Constellation) and Esmerine (Madrona), Newman went out on his own in 2003 and has since released two new folk records on Portland, Oregon's Strange Attractors Audio House and the excellent Triple Burner record last year on Madrona Records (with Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Bruce Cawdron on percussion). Newman is also an expert behind the scenes, as the head engineer of Grey Market Mastering. On tap for 2007 is a much-anticipated solo album for Strange Attractors, a Hrsta album for Constellation Records, and many live performances with Triple Burner. We're
My relationship with music over the last decade has been a strange one, in that I listen to music for a living, all day every day, and it has in many ways curbed my exploration of new releases. So, with rare exception, the things that have influenced me the most are from my so-called "youth" or artists that have landed on my plate via either mastering work or through touring. So, direct from the land that time forgot, here are 10 reasons why I play music.
The Jesus Lizard - Goat (Touch and Go)
One of my earliest windows into life beyond the power chord. Terrifying in both content and execution, what grabbed me about this band more than anything was how adept each player was at their respective instrument. I will have led a full and successful life if I can ever play half as creepily as Duane Denison. This album and Liar stand for me as the high water marks of rock music. I don't know if it was the cause or the symptom of them softening their sound, but I believe it was over for them as soon as they started chasing the Maltese Falcon of mainstream success. It would be wonderful to be scared by these people once again.
Fugazi - Steady Diet Of Nothing (Dischord)
Another band that I can't really pin down to one particular record, and one of the very few where I can truthfully say their entire discography makes it in into circulation on the living room stereo once in a while, but this album is special to me for its weirdness, and for the time in my life when it was released. Ten thousand listens later and that first bassline entering in "Reclamation" still gives me the shivers. Although this was truer of their later albums, Red Medicine in particular, Fugazi have always been my benchmark for what, from a sound and production standpoint, a rock record should aspire to.
The Ex - live
While I appreciate some of the Ex's albums, especially the Tom Cora collaborations, their live shows eclipse their recorded output so completely that it is the only context that makes sense for me. I was introduced to them when they opened for Nomeansno in 1991, and I'm pretty sure most of us in attendance had never heard of them, and I don't imagine anyone left that concert and didn't immediately run home and start a rock band. The Ramones of the avant-rock set, if you will. If I'm ever compelled to make a list of my top 10 concerts, two or three of them will be Ex shows (one of which I believe is going to see the light of day as a Jem Cohen film soon).
Mule - If I Don't Six (Touch and Go)
I realize it's starting to sound like I'm on Touch & Go's payroll. I'm really not sure what it says about me that I'm still trapped in 1994 - I have wondered if it's simply nostalgia, or if the records really were better back then. And I'm neglecting a bunch of good ones, it would be criminal if I made it through this list without mentioning Drive Like Jehu's debut, or the Melvin's Lysol. At any rate, I love how P.W. Long was never afraid of a little cheese and machismo, and apologetically mined the white boy country blues when it was decidedly uncool to do so. Those first two Reelfoot albums are really sleepers as well.
Phleg Camp - my bootleg cassettes
The other band on that fateful bill with Nomeansno and The Ex, a Toronto group that never had lady luck on their side, and never really managed to capture their essence on an album. What they did do right was synthesize angry, angular rock with full on 1970's anthemic grandeur. In a good way. I can see why reading that might not sell you, but go soulseek Ya'red Fair Scratch, and if you can forgive the dubious production you'll see what I mean. Guitarist Eric Chenaux went on to birth a large and twisted oeuvre of inspired, otherworldly music, including last year's Dull Lights LP.
Six Finger Satellite - Severe Exposure (Sub Pop)
I count myself amongst one of the 19 people that appreciated The Pigeon Is The Most Popular Bird, but was in no way prepared (and initially a little repulsed by) their sudden change of gears with this album. Totally bizarro production, songs about concentration camps and rabies sufferers, what was there not to love? In the last decade I've heard a hundred bands recycle this sound in the name of electroclash or noiserock or whathaveyou, but none of them have had the chutzpah, the assault, or the disco bliss of this record. Rick Pelletier, wherever you are, please move to Montreal and make records with me.
Dreamcatcher - Nimbus (Ohnono)
I'm far from an authority on this universe, but so many of the self-badged "noise" acts I've been exposed to strike me as a bunch of kids who saw Lightning Bolt once and then ran home and poured beer on their drum machines until they sounded broken. All style and no substance (and lord knows I'm not accusing Lightning Bolt of anything here, except maybe some healthy borrowing from 6FS). Maybe this is just because I'm old, but I need to feel some kind of underpinning concept, or foundation, or philosophy to convince me that I'm not just listening to a bunch of twits who think they invented feedback. Dreamcatcher have me convinced. They also have hot beats.
Micah Blue Smaldone - live
I'm not sure how many times I've seen Micah play, but it's been quite a few, and there's never been a night where I wasn't sad when it was over. If you can see someone play every night for three weeks and still feel this way, it's proof of something special. And Micah Blue busting out the P.G. Six covers? Holy moley.
Sam Cooke - Portrait Of A Legend (Abcko)
This has been the sole occupant of my living room stereo for about four months. Has nothing to do with why I play guitar, and everything to do with why I drink too much Scotch. In fact, this probably should go on the list of reasons I don't make music, as it's been distracting me from getting anything else done.
Sandy Bull - Still Valentine’s Day 1969 (Water)
There are only two sources I have willingly and intentionally plundered, Bull's Blend sides and Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas. Triple Burner, in concept and in spirit, was basically born as a tribute to Bull's collaborations with Billy Higgins. Fortunately, I'm even not sure Bruce has heard these albums, which has kept us from descending into outright plagiarism. But the momentum and energy of these recordings is something that really spoke to me, and convinced me of the potential of such a raw, stripped down sound. I've been waiting for a live Sandy Bull record for a long time, and am glad that something this complete and inspired has finally surfaced.
By Dusted Magazine