Library #16

chik white – soft shapes

New release for the library is a long form improvisation by rural Nova Scotia’s chik white called soft shapes, for jaw harp, voice and microphone.

Put your ear against the vibrating speakers, like they’re at the end of a cone, overtones moved by lung and squeezed by vocal cord, rattling the inner spirit to make you see things that aren’t there.

I asked Darcy Spidle, aka chik white, if he’d be interested in releasing something a little more off the beaten path (you could argue all his music is) and he mentioned that he was working on meditation-type close-microphone practice, using voice and breath to improvise in jaw harp holds, stretching out time and testing the body’s thresholds for sustain and durability, pushing himself into places musically and physically, while holding on. This piece is a snapshot of that ritual-like exercise.

When I think of avant-garde modern takes on folk music, what carries the traditional and oral histories along and into new waters, even if inside a more abstracted idea of folk proper or completely inside my own head, Darcy’s music comes to mind. I’ve been into Darcy’s music for awhile now, tracking his discography and productivity along the way. He runs the DIVORCE label and distro in Nova Scotia and founded and ran OBEY Convention, up until recently, as he’s moved to film production with close friends Seth Smith and Nancy Urich, co-founding/running CUT/OFF/TAIL now, where he tackles screenwriting and acting. He’s an active sort, and if you followed him around you’d be stumbling into all types of great shit. He’s been an inspiring figure for Power Moves all along, and I’m super happy we were able to work together and that I can call him a friend now.

Back to this newer folk idea, say a Canadiana music that takes in the surroundings and environment and is hip to lineage and archive, it still has to push itself into and come from a personal place. Free jazz and noise help shape the full picture then, these forms are needed to reveal where the personal music flows from, from folk-like principals and sounds (be it the instrumentation or recording in the field in real time, etc) into dynamic and expressive new music territory. I struggle writing what I’m thinking about, and we don’t need to get philosophical or to put any words on this project to turn it into something that it’s not, but chik white makes a super interesting and unique and humble music that is part process: by being in lock with his instrument and its characteristics, and articulation: having the ability to navigate breathlessly between cavernous, rude, free improvisational blowing and clean, crisp, rich in-the-pocket traditional/ethnic music-like delivery. We both share that love for fire music and daily experimentation, and his trajectory as a musician will always embrace rawer texture and voicing along the way, thankfully.

So this is his own music then: music that’s risky and on edge and sometimes fired up and all-the-time fascinating.

Tapes were dubbed at home in a small edition of 30 copies. Side-B has a bonus field recording of Nova Scotian wind quaking and feeding back under the pressure, only available in physical form on these dubs.

Digital is free and available on Free Music Archive and Bandcamp and we want you to pass it on, if you can.

From the both of us, we hope you enjoy.

Take care and talk soon,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s