Boomkat Product Review:
NYC’s minimal ambient mainstay Stephen Vitiello, DC’s Brendan Canty (Fugazi), and Hahn Rowe (Swans, Hugo Largo) unfurl a windswept drum break, strings, keys and synth into ribboning chronics for Longform Editions - one for The Necks heads and fans of Vitiello’s work with Smon Scott in Belong
“‘First’ began as an extended sketch – electric guitar resampled through modular synthesiser, with the goal of having Brendan Canty overdub drums. I knew Brendan’s work as a member of Fugazi – the greatest live band I’ve ever seen and heard. We had previously collaborated on the EP, Stephen Vitiello with Brendan Canty. In a similar vein to that EP, I expected Brendan to be a performer, contributing to a work of mine. I booked studio time in Maryland at Brendan’s preferred studio and with his requested engineer. Spontaneously, the first thing we did was add piano. I played simple plucks of the strings while Brendan added far more prominent chords and melody. Drums came next and transformed my scattered rhythms into something more alive and propulsive. I then took the tracks to Hahn Rowe in New York. Hahn had contributed to two previous CDs of mine, ‘Scratchy Marimba’ and ‘Between You and the Shapes You Take’. Hahn also played in Hugo Largo, one of my all-time favourite bands. Here, Hahn added bowed guitar as well as viola. He also kindly offered to do the final mix. Brendan and Hahn moved from contributing as performers to becoming real collaborators through their input, the track taking a form, and musicality that I never could have envisioned without them.
There are so many kinds of listening, ways in which focus and attention can be directed. I have learned to listen more carefully through playing instruments, feeling the vibration of an old wooden guitar and listening to music that I love but also through field recording, mixing, collaborating, sitting still. In 1998 I had the good fortune to meet Pauline Oliveros (along with Robin Rimbaud, Frances-Marie Uitti and Anthony Moore) at a festival in Cologne, Germany. On the flight home, I asked Pauline if I could study with her. She said, “No, start looking at John Cage’s scores and next week you’ll play a show with me and Joe McPhee”. Such an opportunity meant learning very quickly, like being thrown in the water when I could barely swim. (Stephen Vitiello)
Working with Stephen is always a joy and an adventure. I love his sonic textures and the openness of his compositions. A long piece of music such as this allows for another level of abandon when it comes to improvising. You really have to settle in and allow for the blank space to become its own rhythmic element. All of Hahn’s additional elements were truly inspired. (Brendan Canty)”