Posts Tagged ‘ saxon shore

btv066 Saxon Shore : Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of Nothing

Saxon Shore
“Luck Will Not Save Us from a Jackpot of Nothing” (btv066)
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Track listing:
1 July 5
2 May 26
3 April 14
4 June 23
5 November 16

Video : 8.23.03
Video : Secret Fire, Binding Light

With the departure of Seattle drummer and cofounder Joshua Tillman, Saxon Shore has become more of a collaborative group than ever. Anchored by guitarist Matt Doty, a fluid roster of contributors helped create the latest EP, Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of Nothing. The album leans heavily toward synthesizers and programming, yet still retains the dark guitar-driven intensity of previous albums. As before, lyrics are absent and unnecessary to telegraph the band’s themes of hope, beauty and despair.

Relying less on traditional verse/chorus/verse patterns and more on warm keyboard sounds, Saxon cofounder Doty devised the basic song structures and melodies at his home in upstate New York. He then sent them to Matt Stone in Philadelphia and Oliver Chapoy in Washington, D.C. for collaborative input. Stone provided guitars and synthesizer parts and Chapoy added guitars, programming, keyboards, and sampling. Additional tracking and production was done with John Hill in New York City.

As a nod to the importance of file-sharing in creating this album, the song titles indicate the dates on which Doty started sessions on his computer. The EP title refers to a nickname the band used for a tour in support of their 2003 full-length, Four Months of Darkness (Burnt Toast Vinyl). On the road for eight continuous weeks in the summer, each night was a crap-shoot as to how many people would come to the shows, Doty says. “It was a ‘jackpot of nothing’ because even if a few people showed up one night, it wasn’t guaranteed the next,” he says. The EP is also a reference to the film The Fog of War and a Robert McNamara lesson in diplomacy that luck was the force that prevented nuclear holocaust during the cold war.

That bleak darkness is captured on a short documentary about Saxon Shore that premiered at Sound Unseen, the Minneapolis film festival, alongside Low’s documentaryLow in Europe. The tension and turmoil of touring hardships portrayed in the documentary ultimately led to both brother Tillmans’ (Josh and Zach) departure from the band. The new EP features two live videos that were featured in that documentary: here, the energy and creative angst of such a tour is on display for all to see.

Moving forward, Doty expects to continue incorporating electronic elements into the Saxon sound. The upcoming full length, which will be produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Low, Mogwai), will more closely evoke the overpowering rush of the band’s live shows. It will combine the strong melodies of their debut Be a Bright Blue (re-issued Spring 2005 by Burnt Toast Vinyl) with the natural and textured sound of Four Months of Darkness, while retaining the analog keyboard strains of the EP. Luck Will Not Save Us from a Jackpot of Nothing is an introduction to that forthcoming release,The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore, due in the autumn of 2005 from Burnt Toast Vinyl.

Over the last year, Matt Doty has been taking a break from the Saxon touring jackpots, writing and recording for Elkland’s debut release on Columbia and adding guitar parts for a track on the new Earlimart album on Palm Pictures. Album titles aside, Doty is taking it all in stride and remains hopeful for 2005. Look for Saxon Shore on tour with Doty, Stone, bassist William Stichter, new drummer Steve Roessner, and other members of the Saxon collective in support of this new EP and full-length.



btv069c Soporus : Atómové Elektrárne

Atómové Elektrárne (btv069c)
Buy Online | cdep/2xLP

Track listing:
1. Bohunice
2. 3.29.79
3. Surry II
4. Pripyat

Soporus (Latin meaning to lull to sleep) began playing live in autumn 2005 and was founded as an ambient side project of Saxon Shore’s Will Stichter and Matthew Stone. In early 2006, they scored the soundtrack for a documentary short film, “Re Enactment”, where children in war-torn Uganda explain tactics used by militia groups to recruit children for their war purposes. Their friend Andy Bruntel (Rilo Kiley, Bonnie Prince Billy, Mountain Goats) edited the film and enlisted their support. The duo began working on an ep for a 4 band 2xLP split for Burnt Toast Vinyl, resulting in a 4 song cdep with an alternate fifth song to be used for the vinyl split.

Atómové Elektrárne is thematically influenced by Stone’s childhood growing up in Central PA. The events at Three Mile Island on 29 March 1979 are interwoven in family folklore. His father was working in Harrisburg, PA and was sent home with an evacuation seeming likely. His family lived less than 5 miles away at the time. Stone was only a year old at the time, but his interest in the nuclear power and accidents continues. The song titles are all connected to nuclear reactors that have experienced accidents. The title of the album, Atómové Elektrárne, is the Czech company which opened the nuclear powerplants in present day Jaslovské Bohunice, Slovakia. “Bohunice” was the site of a nuclear accident in 1977 which resulted in the closing of one of the reactors at the site. “Surry II” is a reactor in Virginia where workers were scalded to death in both 1972 and again in 1986. The album closes with “Pripyat”, referring to the location in the Ukraine that was home to perhaps the most devestating of all nuclear accidents–Chernobyl.

Soporus’ ambient music draws a parallel to these nuclear themes, tightly harnessing music of powerful energy and concentrating it in a beautiful, subtle package. Stone composed “Pripyat” while looking at a photo of a Ferris wheel in the town post-Chernobyl and the song reflects the bleakness, sadness, and quiet beauty of the empty place. Elements of Soporus’ ambience can be found in the mix of Saxon Shore’s work, but for Atómové Elektrárne it is the focal point.

This is part of a four instrumental band series where each band was commissioned to fill an LP side with new music. Burnt Toast Vinyl will be releasing the four bands together as one double-LP set, but also as individual cdeps. The series includes Foxhole’s Push/Pull, The Magic Lantern’s s/t, Soporus’ Atómové Elektrárne, and Questions in Dialect’s The Ghost Wishes to Speak.



btv070 Saxon Shore : The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore

Saxon Shore
“The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore” (btv070)
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Track listing:
1 The Revolution Will Be Streaming
2 This Shameless Moment
3 With a Red Suit You Will Become a Man
4 Silence Lends a Face to the Soul
5 Isolated by the Secrets of Your Fellow Men
6 The Shaping of a Helpless Joy
7 Marked with the Knowledge
8 A Greatness at the Cost of Goodness
9 How We Conquere the Western World on Horseback
10 The Lame Shall Enter First
The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore is the culmination of a year of collaborative recording and member bolstering that also yielded the previous cdep, Luck Will Not Save Us from a Jackpot of Nothing, at the halfway mark in the spring of 2005. The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore is characterized by Saxon Shore‘s lush, intense, melodic brand of instrumental rock. The full-length is a vibrant mix of electronics and acoustic instruments, from the white label 12″ sounds of “Marked with Knowledge” to the metallic refrains of “Isolated by the Secret of Your Fellow Men ” to the pop sensibilities and hooks of “With a Red Suit You Will Become a Man,” all filtered through the expert and artful ears of engineer, producer, and mixer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Sleater-Kinney). Through 10 songs, Saxon Shore explore the story of their own hypothetical death complete with a moment of silence to close the album. Their allegory of life and death is depicted through artwork from Philadelphia artist Ben Volta who collaborated with the band through the year long recording process of the ep and full-length. Volta developed his fleshlog painting motif colored through The Exquisite Death filter. The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore exhibits the reincarnated, resurrected, resuscitated spirit of the band.

In the summer of 2004, Saxon Shore faced what seemed to be the end. The departure of brothers Josh and Zach Tillman (drums and bass respectively) left founder Matt Doty alone, wondering what should come next and questioning his desire to continue on withSaxon Shore. A former ceramic engineering/business double major, Doty decided to test his worth in the corporate marketplace and after almost accepting a position as a financial planner, he decided that Saxon Shore was not ready to be put to rest.

The autumn of 2004 brought about a new vision of Saxon Shore. Doty began working on music with Oliver Chapoy and Matthew Stone, both of whom he had met by way of their previous bands sharing performances with Saxon Shore. Audio files were shared over the internet which seemed the safest way to go about keeping a distance with minimal commitment. It was also somewhat necessary since they lived no closer than 3 hours from one another: Doty in NY, Stone in Philadelphia and Chapoy in DC. The result would be released in its final form as the spring 2005 EP release, Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of Nothing. In the meantime, the trio continued working on programming for additional new songs and assimilating bassist William Stichter for live shows and creative input.

January 2005 brought about the final restoration of Saxon Shore with the addition of drummer Steve Roessner. The group began rehearsing and touring, playing 43 shows across the east coast, midwest and down to Texas for SXSW before the spring’s end. For the band, the stakes were raised high and they continued to hone their method of song development. Members added their individual flavors and textures on top of base melodies developed by band mainstay and founder Matt Doty. With a week for tracking and another week for mixing, Saxon Shore had a lot of work to do to make sure everything would be just right with such a tight schedule for their full-length recording. Doty and Chapoy continued to work diligently on the programming and sent these mixes over the Internet to other members who tracked their parts for the demos. After several months of work, the band was ready to enter the studio to record the album that had been conceived before the Tillmans had even left the group, The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore.

The band had established a relationship with Dave Fridmann over the past year and had booked the initial studio time with him for November 2004, before the initial break up. Being foremost a friend and fan of the group, Dave worked with Doty to accommodate the sessions within his already congested schedule which included working on new recordings for Low, Sleater-Kinney, Flaming Lips, Phantom Planet and a tentative mix for the new Sigur Ros album.

The album sessions were characterized by long days of recording, the band continuing to lay down and develop tracks after Fridmann had left for the day. He would return the next to find what his elves had created the night before, utilizing the gear in the well-stocked studio, including equipment left by the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. Chapoy and Doty continued to create electronic tracks after the studio sessions, just prior to the final mixing sessions. The Saxons and Fridmann also developed a repertoire of activities that included frequent badminton games, late night trips to BJ’s, Fredonia’s watering hole and small venue, and even later nighttime dips in the pool.

Now for the fall of 2005, less than a year after the near-death experience of Saxon Shore, the band presents what is by far their most accomplished work to date. The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore is a rebirth of sound and energy, filtered through the expert ears and hands of Fridmann’s production technique. The investment and commitment of the new lineup is more than Doty could have hoped for with Stichter, Chapoy and Stone all leaving secure full time employment for temp work between tours, and Roessner deferring his enrollment into grad school. “I feel very fortunate,” says Doty, with a once again optimistic view for the future of the group, now poised for domination.Saxon Shore is already touring to promote this new release, with dates set for October, November, and December.