Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Greg Davis and Jens Lekman.
Listed: Greg Davis + Jens Lekman
After years of working with hip-hop groups, jazz combos, free improvisation, and experimental composition, greg davis moved toward the world of computer-based music around 1996. At Depaul University in
Chicago, Greg studied classical & jazz guitar alongside composition and jazz studies. In 1997, he started his own label, Autumn Records, to release his own music and the music of others. Greg moved to Boston in 1999 to pursue a master's degree in composition which he received in June, 2001. As an active performer in the Boston music scene, Greg
Played many shows by himself and as parallel with Don Mennerich. Since then he has released two full-length records: Arbor (Carpark, 2002), and Curling Pond Woods (Carpark, 2004). Curling Pond Woods was recorded following Greg's move back to Chicago, where he currently resides. Forthcoming releases include a duo cd with Keith Fullerton Whitman on Carpark, 'Gather / Scatter' 7" on Tonschacht, a duo cd with Steven Hess, a cd of drone pieces entitled Somnia and a number of compilation and remix appearances.
Some of Greg Davis' favorite nature music:
1. Jeph Jerman - "Four Track Recording Using Driftwood"
This is one of the first recordings I heard of Jeph Jerman's music and it blew me away. It is the a-side of a rare 7" released in 2002 by my friend Steven Hess. Jeph multitracks himself playing pieces of driftwood to create an incredible sound field improvisation (something akin to Anthony Moore's Reed, Whistle & Sticks from 1972). I subsequently got in touch with Jeph and we've traded lots of recordings and also made sounds together on two different occasions at his home in Cottonwood, Arizona. Jeph is probably one of the most underrated and undertalked about sound makers around. He is uncompromising, undifferentiating, present, and a superb listener. I wish more people were like Jeph Jerman.
2. John Cage - "Inlets" from Credo in US...more works for percussion
Players tip amplified conch shells partially filled with water to produce unpredictable bubbling and gurgling sounds. The piece also includes the sound of burning pine cones (live or taped) and a loud single long tone played on a conch shell trumpet. This piece was part of Cage's idea of contingency improvisation meaning 'improvisation using elements in which there is a discontinuity between cause and effect'. Other works by John Cage that utilize this idea are "Child Of Tree" and "Branches."
3. Christian Wolff - "Stones"
This piece from 1968 is a part of Christian Wolff's marvelous Prose Collection (1968-74). It is a set of text score event compositions. The performers are asked to make sounds with and using different sizes, types, and colors of stones for an unspecified period of time. The only recording available of this piece is by the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble.
4. Extradition - "Original Whim" from Hush
Extradition was an Australian psych folk ensemble that released their sole album in 1971. Revolving around their friends from Tully, Extradition were drug-free vegetarian devotees of Meher Baba, synthesizing their love of British folk music, classical music, and world music. There are two tracks that really stand out to me on this album. The first being "The Water Song" (not a cover of the ISB song of the same name) which has short musical phrases that ebb and flow out of a background of splashing water and chimes. Then there is "Original Whim" which begins in the first half with the band playing stones, sticks, palm leaf, and percussion. We hear sparse rhythms that are continually trying to coalesce into a regular pattern. Then in the second half of the song it opens up into an assortment of gamelan-like bells and gongs. I can't imagine what people thought when they read the credits for this song on the back of the album: Doug Ashdown 'stones', Colin Campbell 'sticks', Shayna Karlin 'palm leaf', Bob Lloyd 'drums, slit drum, timpani, Chinese and Turkish gongs, Lebanese bell tree, chimes, tom-tom'. Wonderful!
5. Bridget St. John - "Ask Me No Questions" from Ask Me No Questions
This beautiful song starts with Bridget singing with her guitar and excellent counterpoint by John Martyn on second guitar. Just when you thought the song couldn't get any better, a chorus of beautiful birds comes in at the start of the third verse and we also hear Bridget singing in harmony with herself. The guitars fade and we are left with the birds and the sound of distant church bells. Then the guitars fade back in, improvising and playing on the melodic theme of the song. This is one of my favorite moments in all of music and probably one of my favorite songs of all time. An absolutely perfect touch to a perfect song. 'For the brightest piece in my mosaic'
6. The Incredible String Band - "The Water Song" from The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The song opens with a trickling water sound and we hear Robin singing a couple verses with recorder and portative organ accompaniment. Then in the middle of song, it breaks into a wonderful collage of sounds. panning high pitched finger cymbals, scraping and rustling percussion sounds, flowing water sounds, and the water harp. Oh! The water harp. Robin bookends and finishes the song by repeating the opening verse. "Wizard of changes teach me the lesson of flowing."
7. Keith Fullerton Whitman - "Birdsightings"
One day, several years ago when I was still living in Boston, I remember being at the Reckankomplex and Keith opens up a dresser drawer that is packed with minidiscs and DATs full of field recordings and sounds. He digs through the drawer for awhile and excitedly pulls out a DAT and says "listen to this." It's a mono recording of birds eating bird seed at a birdfeeder. Keith goes on to explain that he ran an extra long mic cable out of his window and positioned an octava mic really close to the birdfeeder and basically recorded all day directly to hard disk. Some years later when I started the 'Leaves series' on my Autumn Records imprint, I instantly thought of this recording and begged Keith for a copy. We hear birds crunching away quietly on bird seed and playing around the feeder. It perfectly captures Keith's love of birds and a lazy happy May day in Somerville.
8. Donovan - "Song Of The Naturalist's Wife" from A Gift From A Flower To A Garden
This song begins with the sound of a baby crying, then we hear Donovan singing a lullaby through the back of his banjo (which was bought for Derroll Adams) with the different melody notes sympathetically resonating the strings. This gives way to the sound of seagulls and a beautifully simple three verse lament for voice and banjo. "Pockets full of shells from your day by the sea."
9. Akio Suzuki - StoneBack in early May, I was on tour in Berlin and I made Frank (F.S. Blumm) go with me over to the incredible Gelbe Musik store. I shopped for awhile and listened to a few things. After we've scoured the small store, I take my pile of records and books up to the counter to pay and Akio Suzuki walks into the store. Well it turns out that I just happened to be buying Akio's book/cd called Stone. So Ursula introduces me to mr. Suzuki, we chat a bit and he tells me in broken English how the buldings in Kyoto block the view of the beautiful mountains and I have him sign my book in Japanese. What are the chances of someone from Chicago on tour and someone from Kyoto meeting in a music store in Berlin and that someone from Chicago is buying the book of that someone from Kyoto? A very strange coincidence indeed. Anyways, the cd is mostly recordings of Akio's stone flute which is a stone with various holes drilled into it. He produces different sounds by blowing into the different holes. There are also a few pieces for what sounds like stones rattling on different surfaces.
10. Alvin Lucier - "Sound On Paper" from Sferics - Lucier uses 6 pieces of paper of different weights and densities framed and mounted on easels. Behind each of the pieces of paper are small loudspeakers which are playing an oscillator wave tuned to 32 cycles per second. This causes the papers to vibrate sympathetically creating a wonderful range of sounds determined by the different kinds of papers. Sound on paper was composed in 1985. It appears on the Sferics LP.
11. Toshiya Tsunoda - "Cider Forest On A Windy Day" from Pieces Of Air
Toshiya Tsunoda creates consistently wonderful work. Many of his ideas are a clear and natural extension of Alvin Lucier's work. This is an amazing field recording of wind blowing through trees creating a mass of woody resonant squeaks and creaks like old wooden doors. Field recordists and listeners dream of being in situations like this. Trees are the doors to the sky.
12. Beach Boys - "Vegetables" from Smile
Well we all know this song. Somehow Brian got the other Boys to crunch various vegetables in rhythm during the verse. It creates an amazing loose organic varied sound. I'm sure this just added to the fact that the other Beach Boys thought Brian had gone off the deep end. But nothing is too crazy for the sake of the sound and listening. I always ask 'why not?' instead of 'why?'.
13. Joe Jones - Solar Music 1983
Joe Jones was a fluxus instrument inventor. On this recording, we hear an alien orchestra of instruments playing away. Something that sounds like a glockenspiel and a mandolin and a dulcimer and some drums and maybe a harmonium and a chime. A continously shifting non-synchronized static mobile of pitches and rhythms. About 20 minutes into the first piece, a drone comes in. Then we discover that all of these instruments are solar powered and that the sun is playing them. Hands free, no human interaction. Just pure sunshine light music. Genius!
14. Sitting on a dock on Potato Lake at midnight in Weyerhaeuser, Wisconsin - August 11th, 2004
I recently took a trip up to Northern Wisconsin to an area where I used to go every summer as a child. We stayed in a small cottage on Potato Lake in Weyerhaeuser. Around midnight, I gathered up my field recording equipment and walked down to the dock in the pitch black darkness. I sat on the end of the dock and listened for a long time. All I could hear were fish nipping at insects on the surface of the water and the distant howling of wolves. It was one of the most intense extremely quiet situations that I've ever been in. My ears were ringing and buzzing from city overload and every small sound scared the hell out of me. What has happened to us that we can't really listen anymore? Our ears have become so desensitized from the constant barrage of sounds of the city and media that we can't seem to enjoy small quiet detailed nuanced sounds anymore. Our society has lost its ability to be patient focused undifferentiating listeners. I think it is time to leave the cities behind.
Jens Lekman is a 22 year old singer-songwriter from Göteborg, Sweden. His eps (The Maple Leaves and Rocky Dennis in Heaven) were pop sensations, selling out almost immediately. His debut album, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog reached number two on the Swedish pop charts. His on-the-books influences include the Carpenters, Harry Nilsson, the Magnetic Fields, Runt-era Todd Rundgren, Smog, the Modern Lovers, Rufus Wainwright, and Belle & Sebastian, but from the sounds of his US debut ep, You Aren't The Light Lekman has been steeped in all sorts of French and lounge pop. When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog was recently released in the U.S. by Secretly Canadian.
1. Arthur Russell - "Get Around To It"
He's my all time favorite singer. His voice is just hovering above the beats. I've never heard anyone sing about sex and intimacy as tenderly as he does on this one.
2. Vic Godard - "The Devil's In League With You"
We played at the same festival this weekend and I was reminded of how much I love his music. This song is from his weird 80s Trouble LP. Tango!
3. MIA - "Sunshowers"
Nonsense lyrics over a beat like Dizzee Rascal. But then suddenly a chorus sweeter than honey. It's like Talking Heads' "Naive Melody" or something by the Tom Tom Club.
4. The Embassy - "It Never Entered My Mind"
I played at the Cannes film festival this year. It was pure beauty, I played on a beach under the stars with models making out in the sand and the sound of waves accompanying my songs. Afterwards when we played records we played this song over and over until the sun rose above the Riviera.
5. The Concretes - "Warm Night"
School ends, it's the beginning of June, I'm in the 7th grade, my hormones are bubbling, I'm in love.
6. Lydia Lunch - "Spooky"
So many have covered this song but no one does it like Lydia.
7. The Brothers Lionheart theme
I don't know who did this but its my favorite theme song from a TV show. It sounds sacred and dreamy. It's one of Astrid Lindgren's best books, too..
8. Nagisa Ni Te - "Me On The Beach"
This is the most beautiful song I've ever heard until around 5:25 when they ruin it totally.
9. The Brothers and Sisters - "Just Like A Woman"
I finally got myself a record player that can play this whole song. The last one couldn't cope with the last part of this Bob Dylan gospel cover. I'm not a big fan of Bob or gospel but I like when a lot of people sing together really loud.
10. Joanna Newsom - "The Book Of Right-On"
My love for harps finally materialized!
By Dusted Magazine