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Sam Amidon The Following Mountain

Sam Amidon — The Following Mountain (May 26, 2017)

  Sam Amidon — The Following Mountain (May 26, 2017)
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   Amidon draws comics and makes videos. His work has shown in the galleries Kuhturm in Leipzig, Audio Visual Arts in New York City, and in a multimedia performance at New York’s Museum of Art and Design.
Born: June 3, 1981 in Brattleboro, VT
Aliases: Samuel Tear
In Groups: Doveman, Stars Like Fleas
Location: New York
Album release: May 26, 2017
Record Label: Nonesuch Records Inc.
Duration:     41:12
Tracks:
A1 Fortune     2:20
•   Drums, Percussion, Piano — Chris Vatalaro
•   Vocals, Acoustic Guitar — Sam Amidon
A2 Ghosts     2:02
•   Drums — Milford Graves
•   Drums [Drum Processing] — Leo Abrahams
•   Vocals, Violin — Sam
A3 Juma Mountain     3:38
•   Drums — Chris Vatalaro
•   Percussion — Juma Sultan
•   Percussion, Electric Bass — Shahzad Ismaily
•   Saxophone [Saxophone Breathing] — Sam Gendel
•   Synth [Synth Bass], Synthesizer [Synthesizers & Programming] — Leo Abrahams
•   Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Violin — Sam
A4 Another Story Told     4:38
•   Drum Programming [Beat Programming], Electric Guitar — Shahzad Ismaily
•   Drums — Chris Vatalaro
•   Synthesizer — Leo Abrahams
•   Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Violin — Sam
A5 Gendel In 5     4:28
•   Alto Saxophone — Sam Gendel
•   Drums, Flute — Chris Vatalaro
•   Electric Bass, Synthesizer, Synthesizer [Moog] — Leo Abrahams
•   Vocals, Acoustic Guitar — Sam
B1 Blackbird     2:46
•   Accordion, Synthesizer — Leo Abrahams
•   Drums — Chris Vatalaro
•   Vocals, Banjo — Sam
B2 Trouble In Mind     5:01
•   Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Fiddle — Sam
•   Drums — Chris Vatalaro
•   Loops [Drum Loop], Drum Programming, Bass [Moog], Synthesizer — Leo Abrahams
•   Organ [Hammond], Electric Bass — Shahzad Ismaily
B3 Warren     4:32
•   Drum Programming, Electric Bass, Synthesizer [Moog], Sampler [Sampling] — Leo Abrahams
•   Drums — Chris Vatalaro, Milford Graves
•   Electric Bass — Shahzad Ismaily
•   Saxophone [Sampled Saxophone] — Sam Gendel
•   Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Saxophone [Saxophone Triggering] — Sam
B4 April     11:47
•   Alto Saxophone — Sam Gendel
•   Drums — Milford Graves
•   Featuring — Milford Graves
•   Synthesizer [Moog Rogue], Electric Bass — Shahzad Ismaily
•   Vocals, Banjo, Fiddle, Acoustic Guitar — Sam
Credits:
•   Composed by — Sam Amidon
•   Design, Painting — Ben Tousley
•   Engineer [Additional Engineering by] — Adam Hirsch, Brett Shaw, John Spiker, Leo Abrahams, Shahzad Ismaily
•   Engineer [Engineered by] — Leo (tracks: A1 to B3), Sam Owens (tracks: B4)
•   Executive Producer — David Bither
•   Illustration [Drawings by] — Sam Amidon
•   Lacquer Cut by — CB
•   Management — Tony Margherita Management
•   Mastered by — Guy Davies
•   Mixed by — Leo Abrahams
•   Producer [Produced by] — Leo Abrahams (tracks: A1 to A3, A5 to B3), Leo (tracks: A4), Shahzad (tracks: A4), Shahzad Ismaily (tracks: B4)
Notes:
•   Engineered by Leo in London, except for “April,” engineered by Sam Owens at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn. Additional engineering by Shahzad Ismaily and Adam Hirsch at Figure 8, Brett Shaw and Leo Abrahams at 123 Studios in London, and John Spiker at Studio Supreme in Los Angeles.
•   The lyric for “Blackbird” is traditional; “Trouble in Mind” contains elements of the traditional Kentucky fiddle tune “Trouble on My Mind,” as learned from my guru Bruce Greene; “Warren” contains lyrics from the 17th~century poem “Sleep Downy Sleep”.
•   Engineered at — Figure 8 Recording, Brooklyn, NYC, NY
•   Engineered at — 123 Studios
•   Engineered at — Studio Supreme
•   Mastered at — Electric Mastering
Description:
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   The Following Mountain, the newest solo album by experimental folk artist, singer, and multiThe Following Mountain, the newest solo album by experimental folk artist, singer, and multi~instrumentalist Sam Amidon, will be released May 26, 2017, on Nonesuch Records. Created with producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Regina Spektor) and Amidon’s frequent collaborator Shahzad Ismaily, it represents a new approach for Amidon, who shifts here from his previous norm of re~working traditional folk songs and presents nine wholly original compositions, with some lyrics drawing on traditional sources. The album features a rare guest appearance by drummer Milford Graves, known initially for his work in the 1960s with free jazz legends Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock. The Following Mountain is available to preorder from iTunes and the Nonesuch Store, with an instant download of the album track “Juma Mountain.” You can watch a lyric video for the track below. Nonesuch Store pre~orders also include a limited~edition print autographed by Amidon.
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   The Following Mountain was made during two distinct recording sessions: an initial weekend in Brooklyn where Ismaily and Amidon brought in Graves, percussionist Juma Sultan (Jimi Hendrix), and saxophonist Sam Gendel for a heavily improvised session; followed by time in the studio over the summer in London, where Amidon worked with Leo Abrahams to shape and develop the songs.
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   “The Following Mountain is a walk through the thickets of the imagination,” Amidon said, “a personal mythology of sounds and visions and characters. It is my first album of original music, but is still linked to the Appalachian music I love, as well as improvisation, beats, Don Cherry, Vermont, London.”
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   The Following Mountain is Amidon’s sixth album and follows Lily~O, his 2014 Nonesuch Records collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell.
Review
by Brian Howe, MAY 25 2017 / Score: 7.0
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   The folk singer enlists an elite, dynamic group of players for an album deconstructed from a master jam session, naturally creating his most jazz~forward release to date.
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   Yoou can rely on Sam Amidon’s albums for heavily reworked American traditionals and a bit of Irish folk, mixed with a heartfelt pop cover or two — and always that beseeching voice, with its dusky bronze hue, elongating syllables like whale song. But only the last is present on The Following Mountain, his first record of mostly original material, save for a few stray citations: the lyrics of “Blackbird,” a Kentucky fiddle tune, and some lines from a 17th~century poem. It is also, as foreshadowed by the presence of the electric jazz guitarist Bill Frisell on his last record, Amidon’s most jazz~forward release to date.
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   Amidon inspires deep personal identification in his fans, but his sixth album sometimes courts admiration more than cathexis, at least compared to its most crushable predecessors. He usually spins old~time music into jazzy flights and neoclassical compositions, stitching rustic motifs and lyrics into postmodern Appalachian pastiches. Here, he’s done the opposite, extracting folk songs from his own improvisations. Free~jazz finale “April” is the album’s keystone, the final twelve minutes of an epic sesh with some prodigious players along for the jam including percussionist luminary Milford Graves. The spiritual saxophonist Sam Gendel, the eclectic instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, and other younger musicians also add fine playing throughout
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   Amidon and producer Leo Abrahams reverse engineered songs from individual moments of the master jam, and drew out a unifying, gently driving rhythm across the album. The resultant music rolls and shimmers, with hard little fillips of guitar glinting in waves of woodwinds and violins, organs and electric basses. The bright purity of beloved songs like “Saro” are absent. Instead, imagine if Amidon’s best record, I See the Sign, had been all “Kedron” and “How Come That Blood” — all understated dynamics and trotting rhythm — and no “Johanna The Row~di” or “Pretty Fair Damsel.”
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   It’s not a bad look, but the record has a rocky start. “Fortune” is simply underdeveloped, a sketch. “Ghosts,” though, is a real stumbling block. Amidon drags ear~splitting squalls across his violin and howls almost tunelessly, as if the music were a thicket he’s trying to claw out of. But things quickly settle down, and familiar dreamlike pastorals reign, with an effect like looking at an Andrew Wyeth painting while — not tripping, exactly, but gently hallucinating as from sleep deprivation. 
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   The Following Mountain is more a musician’s record than an art object. “Another Story Told” emphasizes, however archly, the gestures of live~in~a~room playing (“Fiddles,” announces a carefully tracked~in voice); other song titles also shout out their players (Sultan’s elegant congas propel the entrancing “Juma Mountain” and Gendel leads the mythic “Gendel in 5” with force and clarity). The cold~burning blues of “Warren,” blending an old shape~note song and a Chinese poem, matches these highlights in sultry, solemn grit.
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   But what to do with “April”? It’s a juicier voyage through extended techniques than “Ghosts,” but it’s also an undeniably jarring ending for a placid record, and I’m not sure one can even appreciate the end of a long improv out of context. It’s interesting that it is the master document for the other songs, but that doesn’t make listening to them side by side feel intelligible. It’s no knock on the great drummer Graves, who once gigged with Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock, to wonder who would ever put on a Sam Amidon record when they were in the mood for some rowdy jazz. But, a few odd decisions aside, there’s enough between the unforgiving slopes to make this essential for Amidon’s present devotees, if not the perfect mountain for prospective new ones to climb. 
↑↓♠•♠↑↓   http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/23156-the-following-mountain/
Discography:
•   2001   Solo Fiddle  (not on label)
•   2006   But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted   (Plug Research, 5 versions)
•   2007   All Is Well   (Bedroom Community, 4 versions)
•   2009   Sam Amidon and Aaron Siegel — Fiddle And Drum (Peacock Recordings)
•   2010   I See The Sign   (Bedroom Community, 4 versions)
•   2013   Bright Sunny South   (Nonesuch, 3 versions)
•   2014   Lily~O   (Nonesuch, 4 versions)
•   2015   Home Alone Inside My Head ‎(Lightning Records, Cass, Album, Ltd)
•   2017   The Following Mountain   (Nonesuch, 2 versions)  
Label: http://www.nonesuch.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/samamidon
Bandcamp: https://samamidon.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamAmidonMusic/
Website: http://www.samamidon.com/
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Sam Amidon The Following Mountain

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