Monday, March 22, 2010

J. Spaceman's Guitar Loops

J. Spaceman.

For whatever reason, there are frequent and long periods during which I forget how much I adore the music of J. Spaceman (née Jason Pierce)—Spacemen 3 through Spiritualized and his solo and collaborative work. There's something about the discography that I find too easy to take for granted; then every few years I stumble back upon The Perfect Prescription or Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. The Treader label has put out a couple CDs by Spaceman: the entirely solo Guitar Loops and SpaceShipp with pianist Matthew Shipp. I've only heard excerpts of the latter, but I was reminded recently just how exquisite the 35 minutes of Guitar Loops are.

J. Spaceman - Guitar LoopsBefore I get to the music, the packaging deserves its own praise. As with all of Treader's output, designer Frauke Stegmann has adorned the cover with a gorgeous gold-foil-embossed dove. It was originally released in an edition of only 500, each signed and numbered by Pierce (I believe even the second, non-signed edition is now out-of-stock).

The record—a single track, a little over a half hour—starts off with the sound of a broken connection, skin tapping a hot cable, plugging in and tuning out, human contact masquerading as digital glitch. From there it's schizo, free-form, autoschediastic collage. There is a salient homage to and mimicry of gamelan sonorities and rhythms. There are string scrapes and scraps of buzz and feedback, Thurstonian screwdriver flare-ups and gentler taps that skate across the frets with a wild deftness that echoes Derek Bailey here and there (?). It sounds like it was certainly never intended for release, which imbues it with an almost voyeuristic intimacy. As suggested by the generic title, it plays like a patchwork of tossed-off snippets and extemporaneous ideas.

There's a point almost 32 minutes in when some buzzes abruptly fall off, another loops cuts out, and the initial bell-like harmonic taps return. It's a strange denouement, peeling away a veil from the technical processes that otherwise felt entirely human and visceral. The sharp and disorienting edits (or switches between loops) throughout the recording oddly manifest as very organic and human, despite being a collaboration between Pierce and technology, especially considering that much of the sound is basically Pierce conceding to the feedback and loose connections and spontaneous errors. But as noted, the experimentation is nakedly human. You can hear the flesh on the strings, the playful and curious manipulations of drones, the almost puckish impatience with certain loops, the anti-narrative (or meta-narrative?) juxtapositions...

Anyhow, it's a bunch of noise worthy of that lovely packaging.

Since it is no longer available for purchase, I don't feel bad pointing you toward this download.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, loved your blog. Can you reup the album. I love everything J. Spaceman does. Please, i would be greatful.

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