Library #9

ROW – Live Den

Row (like a boat) or row (like a fight) are interchangeable when Cheryl and I pronounce this name, and lately I’ve been calling it Rest of World (like when yr shipping international), but she doesn’t like that as much, so sometimes we compromise with capitals – ROW or R.O.W. – to keep it mysterious and to make it look like the letters stand for something, maybe it’s a secret history or location (like rippling old willows), a place you could go to and to be hypnotized by.

Cheryl moves at a different pace than I do with recording and putting together albums, her Sealadder project is a lesson in patience and non-ego, letting it go to come back to later, nothing attached from before and no conceptions or philosophies taking it into the future. Just listen, make minor changes, listen some more, and let it rest. A monk tending to her garden, getting out of the way, letting nature and photosynthesis do the heavy lifting, guided by the wind shaking the branches and the sun and rain texturally changing the colours.

She won’t think twice about cutting out or editing around material, where I tend to work more in salvaging/repurposing, and a hell of a lot faster, which is my achilles heel. I move too fast, one project’ll bleed into the next and I’m going right after it, fired up, staying up way into the night on work nights and the weekends, almost hurriedly lose no time Kerouac-blues gunning for elated or high-feeling euphoria in-the-moment, sometimes I’ll get close, but never a direct hit, which keeps me cycling back to the paper-scroll of typewriter streams of consciousness.

First thought is always best thought when I work, I tend to blow right by things that most likely need another once-over or two, and I tend to get ahead of myself on every project I work on. That sentence has a lot of I’s, and that’s another problem.

This material has been sculpted and dug out from almost two years of recording, working purposefully quiet to slow-build the tracks.

This is much dirtier and grittier than our first album. The bright and trebled melodies have been replaced by claustrophobic, alleyway landscapes where soil and concrete overlap and turn grey. We wanted to go a bit deeper into our psyches/spirits and like a bad-trip vision quest you have to flip out a bit before you settle into yr own skin. We want the work to teeter on the edge, be more realistic, stripped of the shine and our idealistic naivete, it should include mysterious-feelings of our existential what’s-this and less feelings from us simultaneously. Blanker, content yet sympathetic, trying to get out of our own way, a natural flow where you can trace the direction and the path.

A blistering hot hike for hours inside a canvas of growth and brush, only secondary moments of sinking sun and winded breeze as relief, the meditation and endurance plays tricks and is the trick itself.

Magic is a state of mind.

Call it amateur electronic dub and chant communication. Things slip out of time, parts don’t totally line up as they probably should, there’s frequencies that are skying out of the frame, and that’s the wind blowing through the trees. We’re trying to build this from scratch and we’re winging it, and that improvisation and home-made craft-effort hopefully transcends the means and pushes this closer to that ecstatic environmental-sounding hallucination we’re after, or at the very least, it’s a step in that direction.

North/northwest and climbing.

I may have rushed this album a bit compared to how Cheryl would like to work, but that’s because I deeply believe in it (her as well) and think something happened along the way with the recordings we were collecting, a synchronous infinitive before-now-after, a strange feeling that they have been waiting here for us and will continue to grow out from our own rougher roots as transmissional sign-place, here-now and gone, flying off on their own cycle unattached.

Cheryl said that one track made her feel like she was in another world, and maybe we’re hoping that would actually be the case, a signal-spark at a microscopic level colliding with a floating oral history, only preserved by jumping tides. One can dream.

From the both of us, we hope you give a listen and we sincerely thank you for sharing your time with us.

Tapes were done in a small edition dubbed at home, in an edition of 25. Digital is free. Get in touch via email (powermoveslabel at gmail dot com) if you want a cassette, they’ll be free, we just ask that you can cover post, but we can work that out later. A few copies will be made available on bandcamp too if that’s a better/easier choice for you.

Take care,

Library #7

Layne Garrett – Reportage

Layne Garrett interview for his new release Reportage (Power Moves Library #7) available now.

hey layne, it was great meeting you recently and i’d love to get a little more inside yr work and process so why not start with this new album, what tools were used for this recording and what kind of instruments are you playing? what am i hearing?

let’s see – side 1 is tapes and feedback recorded live. some of the tapes are 30-second loops, some of them are regular cassettes, some 4-track, all of them are stuff i recorded, me playing god knows what. and then played back through various players and speakers – it’s been awhile, but i think there’s feedback happening probably via contact mic’d speakers.

the first track on side 2 is prepared resonator guitar recorded live, with roommate kitchen sounds in the background (hi-fi stuff i know). and then the patsy cline cover, if you can call it that, it’s three layers of homemade electronics and a vocal track, recorded to 4-track.

how do you know when you feel you’ve got a good recording/take and do you have any flow or rhythm in mind when you are building the collages?

i like to think i can feel it when interesting things are happening, but sometimes ya know you can get sucked into something that feels good but that isn’t necessarily worth trying to get anyone else to sit through. i remember reading a william s burroughs essay where he talks about whenever he feels like he’s written something good, it’s invariably trash. i don’t agree with that sentiment, but i do kind of keep it in the back of my head to check myself, to remember to listen with an extra critical ear when i’m feeling particularly ebullient about something i’ve played.

are slice-of-life verite moments just as important as the musical elements and what kind of sounds do you have in mind before you start recording/archiving?

i try not to have too much in mind before i start. i think it’s possible that what you’re hearing as ‘verite’ are me attempting to make music, ha. i can’t think of any moments in these recordings where i’m using source material that wasn’t initially intended to be musical.

what were you listening to/reading/watching/thinking about when producing this album?

eesh i dunno it’s been 6 months to a year since i made these recordings. one thing is that i’ve been compiling a tragic song playlist in my head for some years now, and the patsy cline song is on that list. some personal drama was behind a convoluted impulse to make that recording and the emotions released therein. in general no matter how detached i may try to be, music for me is certainly a conduit for accessing and expressing certain emotional realms. i think there can be direct and indirect parallels to psychological processes.

tied with the question earlier, instead of saying what are yr influences, i like to think about it more in terms of what are some of the feelings/ideas/thoughts you have about other powerful music/art that sits with you as yr creating, what sort of things are seeping into what you do? and this can be anything, not necessarily music-related, if that’s the case.

think i answered this one above. i’ll add that for me any art or music i’m particularly engaged with at any time is on a continuum with lived life, with relationships, conversations, interactions with the world around me. i have a four-year-old, you met her, i imagine maybe you could sense that she is a major source of inspiration, fount of energy, producer of all sorts of powerful feelings. i’ve also been spending a bunch of time on my friend’s farm in recent months, which is a source of sounds (incredibly loud frogs, wow; glass bottle dumps in the woods; longform bird conversations,…) and of calm – the landscape is open in a way that frees up some of the knots in the brain…

do you have any preference when it comes to tape or digital? any go-to recording devices?

well, my tiny portable digital recorder is definitely convenient for live recording and field recording. i usually use tapes more as an intermediary.

do you distinguish between found or field recordings and musical sessions when you archive? or do you compile on the fly and know where yr headed?

i have some recordings that are well-labeled, date, source, etc, and then i have piles and piles of unlabeled tapes and files, years and years, piles and piles……

you build instruments, when did you start to play around with that and how has the process and progress changed, if at all? what are some of yr favourite builds? do you have a workshop to get lost in? have any advice for someone looking to start building musical objects?

i lived in phoenix for awhile forever ago, i was into music but hadn’t yet been turned on to anything really out there, certainly had no knowledge of the array of experimental instrument builders that exists scattered all around. one day someone tossed out a box of random metal debris, small stuff, machined parts of i dunno what – for whatever reason i was fascinated. grabbed it, built some wind chimes for some friends who were about to get married. i remember spending tons of time on them and being really happy with how they came out, and at some point realizing i was probably way more excited about them than my friends were going to be, but giving them anyway. (first in a long and continuing string of realizations that no matter how endlessly fascinated you and i may be by the drip of a certain water pipe or the hum of a certain bathroom fan, etc, that it ain’t always a translateable feeling. that’s one thing that’s been so refreshing about having a kid, is that you can see with a blank-ish slate how open a person is to being enthralled by just about anything….)

anyway – instruments – my process is intuitive. if i start with a plan, the plan changes along the way. i always work with found/reclaimed materials, so part of it is a function of that – opening to what i’ve got and seeing where it takes me. it’s kind of an opposite path to the current emphasis on ‘makers’ and the importance of the design process, all of that. i find that stuff a bit hard to take. fostering creativity ultimately in the service of capital. like, hey, let’s design our way out of this shit-show, who are we kidding.

mmhmm – instruments – i’ve made a few sets of hanging gongs out of found car metal, i really like those. each piece of metal has a tone/tones all its own, many with distinct pitches, lots of wild overtones. i’m really into random tunings, things that kind of impose a shape from the start that as a player you’re then working with(in). also let’s see, i made this thing called the hadron collider, it’s a board with about 12 or 14 strings on it, stretched across a 5-inch speaker, so the speaker acts as the bridge, and then there is an acoustic guitar pickup under the strings near the nut. so i can either play sound through the speaker and process it through the strings, or more recently i’ve been using it primarily as a feedback device, so the pickup goes into the mixer and straight back out through the speaker, it’s a very expressive way of manipulating feedback, by varying the tension of the strings by putting varying amounts of pressure on them behind the speaker-bridge.

what are yr ideal recording situations/environments? what about ideal gear? do you scout out locations for some of the recording or does it just come natural, more in the moment?

i’m not picky about this kind of thing.

yr interested in free gift culture, was there any thing or moment that helped push you into that philosophy? i’ve always been interested in offering things like a library would, archived and ready to listen to/share, and i’d rather have it all out there (even if under water). i think value can be defined in multiple ways and we sometimes get a little locked into how things have always been, and it’s interesting to me to bounce outside of that and to try out different ideas or options. how do you define value or artistic growth vs payment? can they be separated?

well politically i’m on the spectrum of communist-leaning-anarchist. if someone wants to hear something of mine i want them to hear it. surviving as an artist, well it’s not possible unless you teach etc. which, it’s great for artists to teach. the thing for me (and i imagine for many others) is that the whole system of value is just so fucked. i guess as an artist you have to choose to what degree you want/need to subject your art to a system of valuation you don’t believe in. for me just living life, making the smallest decisions can sometimes be paralyzing, the alienation just becomes so overwhelming. i guess the right thing to do is to push through that, which in art maybe means to create things/experiences that straddle the line, that are accessible within the current paradigm and that point to possibilities so much more interesting, more human.

yr heavy into prepared guitar/banjo, what are some tricks/treats that you employ and when did you mutate/modify away from ‘traditional’ playing? and are you looking for weird scales/tuning systems or is sound as natural raw material the idea yr after?

yeah, i used to do alot of fingerstyle playing in crazy tunings, i think i got bored with the timbral limitations, so now i shove lots of things between the strings and investigate the results. been playing with rubber bands alot lately, to sort of half-mute, bring out hidden harmonics.

you make sculptural/musical creations and invite others to play and share in them, do you have any new ones taking shape and whereabouts are some of the pieces you’ve built floating around? the large sculpture/wind-gongs in the backyard of rhizome dc is amazing!

thanks! most of the larger-scale stuff i’ve made was never meant to be permanent, and as such the components are currently ‘floating around’ in piles in my studio awaiting their next assignment.

what do you look for in collaborations? what makes a strong community? benefits of lonerism vs collectives?

in collaborations: connection, defined somewhat intuitively. alchemical potential – wherein what is produced is more than the sum of the parts. also, growth potential. will this person and i push each other in new directions?

you have a world of sounds/vision, completely to the side of other ‘noise/experimental’ acts/persons, when/how do you think that vision started to take shape? or do you view yrself as constantly evolving and trying new things/ideas? no time to take the temperature?

well thanks, yeah i think my vision is cultivated on the fly, i just try to keep things interesting.

when did dissonance and deep listening become crucial to what you do? did you have to learn to listen at all? have you always been curious with sound? would you rather know how to play an instrument or play it for the first time?

i’m getting fuzzy, going to skip this one.

do you have any other intensely-focused hobbies or avocations? anything that uses parts of the brain in the same way? what about totally differently?

well, for me sex / physical bodily connection reaches into realms of consciousness that can overlap with those accessed musically. also, focused awareness of strong physical stimuli of whatever kind – cold water, meditative listening in nature, overwhelming flavors,…

other than that, parenting can be an intensely focused activity, in ways that range across the spectrum.

thanks for doing this man, it’s always great to dig deeper, isn’t it?

thank you kevin!

The Reportage tape is in a small edition of 20 copies, dubbed and assembled at home. Digital is available as a free download on Free Music Archive and Bandcamp.

We hope you like this, from the both of us, thanks so much for reading/listening!

Talk soon,

Library #6

Talugung – Folded Spring

Ryan Waldron/Talugung interview for his new release Folded Spring (Power Moves Library #6) available now.

hey ryan, so i count this as number 9 for the talugung project, as you’ve had a number of tapes and cdrs put out by a few different labels, including housecraft and sloow tapes and a bunch of other good-ones, how did you approach this collection of pieces versus the other works earlier in yr history and how has yr set-up/process evolved?

For some of my albums, especially the early ones, I overdubbed parts in real time; actually playing the instruments. With this new album I only did a little bit of live playing, mostly I’m working with short samples. The one thing that links the albums is the use of some favourite sounds.

i know that we talked before a little about how yr working these days, which is more computer-based and with samples and with layering/collaging, what are some of the instruments that yr recording or how are you getting the more organic/acoustic-sounding material?

I recorded some things at home – bowed wood paint sticks, bowed gongs, wine glasses, autoharp, cello, drums, glockenspiel, toys etc. Besides my own recordings, I also sampled some acoustic sounds from records – trumpets, violins, metallophones, flutes, and birds. I kept a lot of untreated acoustic sound in the final mixes.

i also hear quite a few sounds and ideas peppering throughout the entirety of the work, does this collection feel like one giant composition or are the segments/fragments purposeful and distinct to you?

The material I assembled was a bit modular, in that I put all the samples into the same tuning so that anything could fit with anything and still be in tune, so in that sense everything is like a big piece. I also used similar approaches with some of the songs, like the use of scattered drum sounds – but once I got working on the individual tracks, I wanted to give them an individual character.

when did time and rhythm become essential to talugung? yr a guitar player too and have always been tripped out by odder rhythms, i know that we always talk about charley patton and robert pete williams and joseph spence as being particularly complex and funky, and i know that you love african music and did a short-lived radio show at cfbu in st catharines, what is it about those elements that wow you? and do you try to hit at those types of ideas/movements? how would you describe that upbeat rhythmic thing that yr after?

I’m drawn to stuff that has fast interlocking rhythms, but with this album I’m trying to fake that feeling somewhat in that things are happening fast but without really lining up. I’m trying to make the mess of things happening sound a bit less like a mess – I think you can get part of the way there because our brains seem to want to find order in a sequence of sounds. A listener can supply their own sense of pulse to events happening that aren’t in strict metrical rhythms. An image I like is rain drops falling on water – it’s both random but highly patterned at the same time.

continuing with time, yr new stuff is getting freer and freer, it’s almost an insane computer free jazz, when you think of these pieces beforehand (if you do) are you structuring it or seeing it play out this way? or do you want to get in and work on the computer and let the pieces sort of dictate what flow they should take?

Once I start testing out sounds with other sounds, I’m looking for little sequences that seem to click – it’s almost like finding a riff that can be varied and expanded. I search for different textures that work together and then trying to arrange them into combinations where they sound like they’re interacting with each other; sounds colliding in the air and bouncing around.

it seems that the complexities and aural bulk is key to making the work for you, but you’ll find a way to have one sole instrument or sound or scrape stand alone for a brief second, is that contradiction or push-pull something yr going for? having a busy music fade out into simpler, more minimalistic tones?

One of the interesting things that happens when you start overdubbing sounds is as soon you add a sound to another sound, you’re subtracting part of what made the original sound interesting when it was standing by itself. I made a conscious effort to have the music swing back and forth from stacked sounds to silence. Hopefully this adds some interest; and you can’t beat a well-timed pause –

the sounds that all of yr releases have share a commonality with just intonation-type ideas, really neat and strange tunings and alien island sounds and more of a made-up language and system, and then when you think about music concrete and acousmatic musics, and computer and analogue editing and looping and manipulations, how do you find working on the computer with tuning systems versus playing around with stringed instruments? what are some of the ideas that yr after with tuning? dissonance? open strings?

I tuned instruments and samples to a simple just intonation scale that is pretty consonant but varies from standard tempered tuning. The computer allows you to pitch shift things around. Using a different pitch system makes the music sound different and creates different combinations of tones – everything vibrates differently. I like to use sliding pitches to add more variations as well. In the end, the just intonation ideas held up in some of the songs more than others. It’s hard not to get carried away in adding more noises and indeterminate pitches.

you’ve built several instruments over the years, can you tell me a bit about yr favourite ones and what kind of notions were at play for wanting to make them or create them? was it more of a function of finding different and newer raw sound? or did you want to make newer sounds with different tunings that you weren’t getting from the guitar, ideas in yr head that you weren’t able to get elsewhere?

One of my favourite sounds is bowed wood. It has a great vocal quality. If you use paint sticks cut to different lengths you can get a wobbly scale. Also bowed metal prongs have that similar vocal, moaning kind of sound. You can also bow metal things like coffee cans. One of the most interesting things I’ve done was adding stretched springs to an instrument to create a natural acoustic spring reverb that’s pretty similar to spring reverb in a guitar amp.

tying in with that, did you use any of the instruments you’ve built on this particular record? and what kind of instruments did you record/sample from yr stash and what kind of sounds were you looking for beyond yr collection/material?

I did use a few of my instruments I built on this album, mostly discussed in the questions above. For sampling other sounds, I tried to find some nice drum and synth sounds. I was favouring a pretty dry sound to keep everything defined and I didn’t worry about bass very much except I plunked bass drums here and there.

one theme i’m hearing on this tape and the one previous for power moves label proper, multiplying dead ends, is the use of children’s voices/cries? are you recording yr son and daughter?

Yes, my kids sing and vocalize on the tracks; just little snippets. It felt good to tie the music back to the specific time and place when it was created, plus my kids loved yelling into the microphone and then hearing the playback.

down the line, what kind of family band to you envision for the waldrons?

What’s the best example of a family-based band to aspire to? Maybe something like ESG?

what were some of the input sources that came along with the output recording and working on this record? what were you listening to/watching/reading/thinking about?

I’ve been taking out a lot of books from the library on 20th century artists. It’s interesting how my perception of artists has changed over the years – I think I appreciate everything more than I ever have but my taste is a bit different than when I was 20. I notice different things. For music, while I was making this album I was listening to some old and new electronic music. I was trying to tie this album into some of the ideas, approaches and sounds used in electronic music from the 50s and 60s and 70s.

I also can’t avoid a steady diet of West African music. I found out recently that the Syliphone Archive at the British Library is now available for streaming. There’s almost 8000 songs recorded in Guinea between the 50s and 90s; so much great music and with 8000 songs it feels almost endless.

yr art walks similar paths to yr music, do you view them as in parallel? does one reflect back on the other? are there ideas or themes that correlate?

I think with both drawing and music I want things to be a bit perplexing.

if you could have an ideal live gig or recording situation, what would be some of the tools that you would want for that? what are some of the dream instruments to play on? what are some of the historical computer or synthesizers or machines that you’d want a go at?

It might be interesting be able to play midi guitars where you can load your own samples and choose different non-tempered tunings. For historical stuff, Buchla Synths and mellotrons would be fun to have a look at.

and finally, back to this tape, do you let chance and randomness get involved in the work? and how much do you try to plan out or manage as yr recording and layering? meaning, do you have specific types of sounds or moves in mind when yr collaging and adding melody? and do you have specific outcomes or patterns that yr thinking about ahead of time or as yr going? how much improvisation plays a part?

There was a lot of initial work to set up a library of sounds for the whole album. Once that was ready to go, I just start putting things together to see what works. Once there are a few things working together, I’ll have ideas for additions and then slowly expand the time from a 10-20 second loop to something longer. Then I’ll change the different sections of things to try and find a balance between repetition and variation. These pieces don’t change that much from beginning to end except that the different sounds and motifs are playing in different combinations. For all the randomness, I was hoping I could stumble across some melody in a patchwork kind of way.

The Folded Spring tape is in a tiny edition of 17 copies, dubbed and assembled at home. Digital is available and free to download on Bandcamp and at the Free Music Archive.

From the both of us, we sincerely hope you give it a listen and we hope you dig it.

Talk soon, more to come,


Rotational Review

I’ve started a music blog for writing reviews on the shorter, freer, more stream-of-consciousness side of things. First and lasting impressions. Hoping to do a few interviews too.

If you want to send me anything, any format, send an email to rotationalreview(at)gmail(dot)com for the address. Links/downloads are more than fine too, if you wanted to save some cash on postage.

Keep me in the loop with your work.

Rotational Review



Library #5

Kevin Cahill / Ryan Waldron – Two Headwaters Historical

The fifth release for the library is a paired zine/chapbook of poems and linocuts by Ryan Waldron (Talugung) with a short mini-album of voice I recorded on my cassette and microcassette handhelds. The audio contains five longer form pieces I had included in my original collection for the book, but due to the format and the spacing and density of the work we both chose to keep the pages tidier and more structural in look and feel.

I call these folk poems as I was thinking about earlier (and earliest) civilizations and how they communicated with themselves and the natural surroundings, as ideas and mysteries and specialties get carved up into more abstracted, but personal meanings and takes.

Getting lost inside your movements and surroundings, calling it something, putting meaning on the words but allowing them to float away with the tides and change over time as well. Allow the sand and the dirt and the winds to kick it up and move it someplace else, for further deciphering and code-breaking. Taking out the idea of rivalry and thinking about connectedness through the same motion and workload, the same approach to getting up and tackling what that day will need, how the weather shapes that, how the sun follows everything, how the ideas of new things will always innately sit inside us all along the way too, and how everything we’re facing is similar despite our eras-ago geographies.

The audio is the second half of the civilization riff, thinking about how we got from all those years ago to now, how we face similar natural and spiritual mysteries and how things get more and more complicated and complex as years pass. If we still think in a subtle old-way way where is the end of our wonder and where is the beginning of our lethal cynicism?

I know I didn’t come close to putting any of this to feel with this short zine Ryan illustrated. His linocuts are really something else, so take a strong hold of them and let them carry the whole piece.

Ryan has been one of my fave artists forever, since we met many years ago.

This collaboration has been long in the making, long talked about, long thought about, finally put to action. It’s simplicity and lightness seems perfect for the amount of detail that shadows it.

I’ve added a PDF to the audio that is free to grab on the bandcamp, so that download contains all of the works. Here is the chapbook-stand-alone, that doesn’t contain the other audio poems where I mess about with voice and stereo technique: PDF link.

We only did a very small amount, to give away, so only 20 copies of the physical zine/chapbook are out there, and sadly they’ve been spoken for. We’ve put everything up digitally though, so we hope you can enjoy that. Give it a quick read and/or listen, we appreciate the eyes and ears.