Posts Tagged ‘ ester drang

btv071 Unwed Sailor : Circles

Unwed Sailor
Circles (btv071)
Buy Online | cd 2xLP
Track listing:
1 Circles I : Mist
2 Circles II : Mesa
Johnathon Ford went to Bloomington, IN to work on some remixes of an out-of-print Unwed Sailor 7”, The Magic Hedge, in the spring of 2005 with Dan Burton (Early Day Miners, Ativin). The two had previously worked together on the first Unwed Sailor full-length, The Faithful Anchor,and the Stateless collaboration between Unwed Sailor and Burton’s Early Day Miners. There were good vibes in the Burton basement studio and the remixes were quickly engulfed by the goal to finish the new full-length, The White Ox. Ford’s bass, guitar, keyboard, and percussion parts were joined by Burton‘s guitars, extra bass from Phillip Blackwell (Questions in Dialect), and drummer Matt Griffin (Early Day Miners) to mix up their medicine drawing on ambient production influences from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (with whom Dan Burton had interned). The Circles ep is a sprawling 16+ minute opus with two separate movements, “Mist” and “Mesa”, originally intended to be part of The White Ox, but strong enough and different enough to stand alone and precede the full-length’s arrival in late August. UK artist James Marsh was enlisted for the cover artwork for both Circles and The White Ox. His distinct mystical images have also graced the album covers of every one of legendary band Talk Talk’s releases.

Born in Seattle in 1998 at the tender age of intent, Unwed Sailor is helmed by Oklahoma-born songwriter Johnathon Ford. The basis for the instrumental project came into being while Ford was still writing with Seattle luminaries Roadside Monument; pulling toward a bass guitar oriented sound, the songs he’d begun to craft did not wholly feel right for Roadside Monument, thus the unbeknownst predestined forming of Unwed Sailor. Not aiming for Unwed Sailor to fall into the regular confines of a typical band, Ford’s ever-evolving cast and crew has been tirelessly composed over the years of good friends and company, as the band has since been relocated and based out of cities across the United States including Chicago, New York, Jackson, MS, Little Rock, AR, and back now to Seattle. With over 13 U.S. tours and 4 in Europe, the band has traveled almost as much as it’s evolved.

Since their 1998 debut release Firecracker, the band has continued to endeavor side door studies into the pictures behind sound, opening myriad avenues of instrumental excavation on their first full-length The Faithful Anchor to short-film soundtracks for filmmaker Chris Bennett, resulting in Stateless (a full-band collaboration with Early Day Miners) and the music to For Johnathan alongside bands like The Album Leaf and Tarantel. In 2003, the shape of Unwed Sailor changed dramatically as the sound ensued less a standard suite of songs, becoming more like a growing creature, cinematically operated and tell-tale both in its sonic and packaged presentation. The resulting album was recorded and released as The Marionette and the Music Box; music set to tell the painted story of a lonely little marionette in search of a cherished, lost music box. Describing the picturesque rushes and swells of a rather unique orchestra, Ford has become a maestro in his own rite, leading his band through pieces as suited for concert halls as they are the hot, impassioned stages of dark nightclubs from city to city. And as a live performance, the music is only more chaotic in its finely tuned restraints; here audiences are treated to a powerful performance, played out as though on the screen, and walking away from the shows as though from a theater, excited and curious about the world again. On stage, Unwed Sailor as people melt away, becoming nobody and everybody at the same time; a two-hearted octopus with every arm working twice as hard.

The band toured four times during 2005: a brief stint in the spring with three keyboard players, bass, and drums; a European tour with Burton and Ford playing as both Unwed Sailor and Early Day Miners and collaborating to perform their Stateless material, August and September as a five piece with keyboards, two guitars, bass, and drums; and the fourth during November and December as a four piece with two guitars with boomerang pedals, effectively doubling to four guitar parts, bass, and drums with members of Louisville bands Parlour (Temporary Residence) and Elliott. Johnathon Ford has recently moved back to Seattle and has made some final additions to the sounds of The White Ox. He’ll briefly hit the road with Ester Drang (Jade Tree) this spring and take a Seattle-based Unwed Sailor on the road to both the U.S. and Europe later in the Spring and Summer. Circles marks the return to recording for Unwed Sailor as the first new material in over 3 years and will be released in early 2006 as the band embarks on the lonesome, always stretching road.

 

 

btv074 Efterklang One-Sided LP

Efterklang
one-sided LP (btv074)
Buy Online | one-sided LP
Track listing:
1 Falling Post
2 God Vind, Kaptajn!
3 Tu Es Mon Image - Featuring Martin Hall
Efterklang’s incredible 2004 full-length Tripper (The Leaf Label, UK) was among my favorite releases of that year. My Danish friend posted their debut EP Springer on a shared ftp server since it was sold out and only available in Denmark initially. (We’re big supporters of file sharing at Burnt Toast Vinyl which resulted in the Mt. Eerie : Live in Copenhagen 3xLP collaboration between btv and Denmark’s Washington Inc.) Soon after, I invited Efterklang to do a one-sided LP and we worked out the details over the course of the year. Of the three tracks on One-Sided LP, one features Efterklang collaborating with famed Danish singer Martin Hall who provides the vocals for “Tu Es Mon Image” and another features Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir and Hildur Àrsælsdóttir from Amiina as guest musicians. The LP jacket features a faraway portrait of the band in keeping with the portrait theme for cover artwork in the Burnt Toast Vinyl one-sided LP series. Efterklang’s One-Sided LP is the latest in a series which includes Damien Jurado, Early Day Miners, The Six Parts Seven, Yume Bitsu, Ester Drang, Mt. Eerie, Starflyer 59, June Panic, Aspera, and Bosque Brown.
–Scott Hatch, Burnt Toast Vinyl

The Danish ensemble Efterklang was formed in January 2001. The following year and a half saw its founding core members Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, Thomas Husmer, Rune Mølgaard and Rasmus Stolberg develop Efterklang into what it is today.

The film-maker Karim Ghahwagi joined the ensemble in the beginning of 2003 and accompanied the band’s well received debut EP Springer with extensive video collage work. Springer was released on Efterklang’s own label Rumraket and came packaged in white fake fur in only 500 copies. The band played their first live shows in Denmark in the spring of 2003 bringing audiences a subtle blend of acoustics, electronics and video imagery.

The development of Efterklang’s first full length studio album Tripper began in the fall of 2003 in the band’s own recording studio in the heart of Copenhagen and incorporated violins, brass instruments, a Greenlandic choir and a fully integrated video collage score. 34 guest musicians played on the recordings of Tripper among them Hildur Àrsælsdóttir and Edda Rún Olafsdóttir from the Icelandic string quartet Amiina who is known for their extraordinary work with Sigur Rós.

In July 2004, Efterklang signed to The Leaf Label (UK). In October, Tripper was released in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, China, Australia and South Africa. Tripper became the fastest selling debut record in Leaf’s 10 year history. It has received remarkable good reviews and airplay on radio stations across North America and Europe. The Guardian wrote “this is the album to spend your tokens on. Five stars.” Pitchfork rated it 7.9 and wrote “Astonishing… this music should continue to reverberate in your memory for a long time to come.” In late 2004, the MTV program This is Our Music did a 30 minute documentary on Efterklang.

In February 2005, the song “Swarming” taken from Tripper was released as a radio and iTunes single with remixes including one by Bjørk producer Thomas Knak aka Opiate and a music video by Karim Ghahwagi. In April 2005, the debut Springer EP (2003) was re-released by The Leaf Label worldwide on cd and vinyl. Efterklang toured throughout Europe as an 8 piece band with performances at several high profile summer festivals including Roskilde, Hultsfred, Quart, Sonar and The Big Chill. Efterklang plan to tour the US in winter 2006/2007 in support of their forthcoming full-length.

 

 

btv086 Denison Witmer : Carry the Weight LP

Denison WItmer
Carry the Weight (btv086)
Buy Online | LP
Track listing:
A Side
1. Beautiful Boys And Girls
2. Life Before Aesthetics
3. From Here On Out
4. Carry The Weight
5. Isn’t It Poetry?
6. Catholic Girl
B Side
1. Song Of Songs
2. If You Are The Writer
3. One More Day
4. Chesapeake Watershed
5. Carry The Weight (Acoustic)
6. Two and a Glass Rose (LP Bonus Track)
Burnt Toast Vinyl is proud to release the vinyl version of Denison Witmer’s new album,Carry the Weight. btv and Witmer have had a special relationship since meeting in 1997 when btv’s Scott Hatch designed Witmer’s self-released version of his Safe Away debut. The partnership resulted in a re-issue of Safe Away (2000) on cd and deluxe 180g LP version (2007), as well as the full-lengths Of Joy and Sorrow (2001) and Philadelphia Songs (2002), the eps The ’80s (2001) and River Bends (2002), and a special mail-order only Live release (2003). The vinyl version includes alternate cover artwork, a special LP only bonus track, and a coupon for a free mp3 download of the album and bonus track.

Denison Witmer doesn’t care if people like his new album or not: “I just want them to think I am being honest with them and that I made a valiant effort.” And if listeners happen to notice that Carry the Weight is also a beautifully produced, thoughtful nod to the laid-back ’70s California pop he’s long cherished, the 30-something Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter would be just delighted. But mostly Witmer wants people to embrace hope—something that’s easier than might first seem possible with a soundtrack this polished and assured for inspiration. Songs such as the gently affirmative “From Here On Out” and “Chesapeake Watershed,” the album’s gently emphatic title track, and the chiming, charming sing-along Luddite anthem, “Life Before Aesthetics” mark Carry The Weight as a classic—for fans old and new.

For this, his seventh release, Witmer teamed up with Blake Wescott—noted producer of albums by The Posies, Sarah Shannon and Damien Jurado, among others, and drummer for Pedro the Lion. Previously the Witmer and Wescott worked together on Witmer’s Of Joy And Sorrow, but Witmer—a veteran of home-studio recording for nearly a decade—was eager to record at a professional studio. “I’ve never liked the idea of making the same record twice,” he states. “I consciously seek out ways to change the sound and arrangements from album to album.”

What made recording Carry the Weight so special to Witmer was the opportunity to work at the London Bridge Studio in Seattle, where Soundgarden’s Louder Than Love and Pearl Jam’s Ten were recorded. “I wanted to make a record on the same equipment they used,” he explains. “It was really fun to have access to a uninterrupted recording environment, first-class equipment, and instruments I can’t afford—like a $40,000 grand piano. Blake encouraged me to take the leap into structuring a project from start to finish in a way that would allow me to maximize my time and budget, as well as get me into a bigger studio to see what could be done.”

Dollars and fancy gear aside, what emerged from Witmer’s sessions with Blake is surely the modest troubadour’s strongest and most cohesive album thus far. The pair’s shared veneration of the music of such luminaries as Carole King, Jackson Browne and Leonard Cohen—plus Wescott’s technical know-how—served Witmer’s new batch of wistful, unpretentious tunes most admirably. “Blake knows the records I love in and out, and he knows how to recreate the sounds we love from those records. We’re been able to push and pull each other without a lot of drama,” Witmer says, “and the outcome has always been something we both feel great about.”

Though much of Carry the Weight was written on the road over the last few years, with certain aspects of songs and arrangements developing over time, he’s quick to admit that, to him, there is no such thing as the definitive version of any song—recorded or live. It’s all about “the moment” for Witmer: “I try not to get things too figured out before I get to the studio,” he continues, “because I like the element of surprise. There’s a lot of freedom in letting go of the ‘perfect version of this song’ style of recording and just embracing the process of it all… What’s captured is a time and place, and whatever feeling that comes from that.”

Though Witmer doesn’t have a band, per se—he usually tours as a solo acoustic act—close friends called in to make Carry the Weight resonate with the sort warmth and fellowship that only comes from a strong affinity and shared aesthetic: “Everyone involved in this project came together in a natural way,” he relates. As before, Witmer’s lilting voice and deceptively straightforward guitar are the bedrock on which the album is built, but a confident sonic expansiveness is achieved through the perfectly conceived contributions of his chosen fellow travelers: Noah Harris, who plays piano and sings; Rosie Thomas, a friend whose most recent record Witmer co-produced, and who here graces several songs with her luscious vocals; Jeff Shoop (Ester Drang, Sufjan Stevens, Rosie Thomas), a guitarist/keyboardist and former tourmate; and drummer James McAlister (Ester Drang, Sufjan Stevens), longtime friend, collaborator and fellow player with Witmer in Sufjan Stevens’ “Michigan Militia” band.

Though never forced or falsely cheerful, Carry the Weight offers a very humanistic, transcendental message—one that was a revelation to the songwriter himself, who describes the last few years of his life as “rather difficult.” The main difference between the new disc and Are You A Dreamer? (Witmer’s last full-length, from 2005), Witmer admits, is that he wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful when he started writing songs that eventually became Carry the Weight. “Whether it was the political deterioration of our country, watching terrible things happen to good people, or the repeated mistakes I was making in my own life,” Witmer confides, “I had given in to a lot of pessimism. Carry the Weight became an argument with myself about whether or not the hope I have left is real—or just idealistic naiveté. I’m happy to say that hope won the argument.”

“Can’t you see how much I’m trying?” asks Witmer on the album’s haunting closer, “One More Day.” Anyone who has a heart surely will.