Monday, January 26, 2009

Ben Collins - Tapeworks/Guitarworks (vol. 1)


So I'm in Fayetteville right now, packing my bags to leave for Los Angeles on Wednesday, two days away. And I was just importing some recordings that Simon and Wesley and I did the other night as a sort of farewell to the classic Black13 set up we do. I'll post that record soon, but listening to it got me thinking about the guitar and the guitar style my friends and I play and I started mentally wandering down old musical roads in my mind, some of the places I've been, and things I've recorded and what not. And I suddenly remembered an old album I made in 2003/2004 called "Tapeworks/Guitarworks."

So I was about nineteen years old (yes dark tower fans) when I made this album, although I'm sure there are pieces of it that were recorded when I was younger, the gist of it was made in my house in Savannah GA, during my sophomore year of college. What the record is, as the title might imply, is a collection of tape collage and guitar composition. This was really my first foray into either form and even now I find the results pretty satisfying.

The tapeworks are, it should be clarified, cassette tape works, which are comprised of various sounds and musics recorded by me over a few years and then dubbed together in different ways. A few interesting notes on the sounds: the drumming that opens the first track is played by myself and a then eighteen year old Jessica Calleiro and was intended to be used in Kevin Phillips' film Silo. Also in that track you can hear what is probably my first use of full-on noise, which I believe is achieved here by playing a data disc in a CD player. On the second track there is a lot of screwing around with amps and feedback stuff and then there is a big section of guitars (all played by me) being layered out of time so that they sound like two people, instead of the same recording played on two tape players simultaneously. Then there is a bit of dialogue from "L'Avventura" and at the end is an extended blues guitar part that I have never in my life remembered playing, even only a month or two after finishing this album. I can tell it is me, but I'm not sure I even know how to play like that now.

The Guitarworks are simple enough, I had not reached the point of being comfortable with myself as a solo improv player, nor really did i have any understanding of what the idea meant. So these tracks are sort of imrov, in a sense. "Guitar 1" is three tracks of guitar and the other tracks each has four. Each track is played improv on top of the others but probably with some thought before-hand. I did not have any effects pedals at time and I don't remember using any of the built-in effects on the digital recorder I was using, probably a little bit of reverb though.

All in all I am proud of this record. It's probably one of the best things I've done. It stays true to itself and seems pretty comfortable with its existence. It doesn't sound too dated, to me anyways, I would have been proud to record this album yesterday, not to mention when I was still a teenager and I had never heard Keiji Haino, or Ray Russell or Loren Connors or even Derek Bailey or most of the other people I now revere on the guitar.

Not to get too sentimental, but very soon I am moving forward, so I thought it might be nice to look back a little bit at a previous time in my life where I made something I was happy with. I only hope that I can still be as uninhibited now as I was as a the weird kid who thought this record was a cool way to spend afternoons and weekends while in college.

So again, all sounds by Ben Collins, except I think some drums at the beginning played by Jessica Calleiro and the movie clips which are obvious.

Download HERE

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wesley Rose - Agressor's Energy is Key


And now the Rose's third album is upon us. The mere existence of this record came as a surprise to me, one day Wesley just told me he had another album and then he gave it to me. I'm not sure when these tracks were created, only that they were, like his other albums, using Audiomulch software.

I've listened to it three times already and I don't really know quite what to tell you. Obviously the fact that I listened to it that many times is a positive thing. I could tell you it is mellower than his other two records, but I don't want to make it sound like he lost his balls somewhere and started burning a lot of incense or something, but it definitely has a different tone, while still seeming to be a continuation. Fans of noise will have a lot to be happy with here, but there is still the presence of Wesley's acoustic guitar changing things up and a few turns that will probably surprise anyone listening.

I'll just tell you that Wesley is one my favorite people making music today. I say this because he is making things that are new to him with very little to guide him and when I listen to his music I feel that excitement and uncertainty and it is refreshing. When I listen to Merzbow or Prurient I am hearing the sounds of a seasoned vet, dudes who have been doing this stuff for a long time and know how to do it right. But with Wesley's music it's the sound of a dude just trying to figure out what he wants and whether or not anyone else will give a damn. And I think that is an attitude most of us could understand.

This is raw, fresh, exciting music, good for headphones or out loud. It's electronic, it's noise, it's improvised and yet tight and composed.

It's real and I think you should check it out.

All sounds by Wesley Rose.

Cover art by Ben Collins

Download HERE