“The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore” (btv070)
|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.