|Way Out Weather|
Steve Gunn — Way Out Weather
η• Gunna charakterizuje dobrodružný duch, a toto album naznačuje, že nemáme tušení, čeho se od něj ještě dočkáme.
Kytarista mísí tradici s avantgardou, fúzí a fixačními zvuky á la John Fahey, The Grateful Dead a Will Oldham s back–porch mistrovskými díly. Gunnova virtuózní kytara je stále hlavním lákadlem, ale jeho doprovodná kapela hráčů dává písním atmosféru (Tommy’s Congo jako příklad: á la Rolling Stones, circa – Exile on Main Street). Vitální instrumentální jam (“Milly’s Garden” & “Tommy’s Congo”), který se odehrává asi po dvou a půl minutách, je epický a zároveň zemitý.
Born: Lansdowne, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Album release: October 7, 2014
Record Label: Paradise Bachelor
A1. “Way Out Weather” 6:18
A2. “Wildwood” 5:38
A3. “Milly’s Garden” 5:34
A4. “Shadow Bros” 4:29
B1. “Fiction” 5:44
B2. “Drifter” 3:59
B3. “Atmosphere” 5:09
B4. “Tommy’s Congo” 6:34
℗ 2014 Paradise of Bachelors
• KT Auleta Photography
• Nathan Bowles Featured Artist
• Alan Douches Mastering
• James Elkington Featured Artist
• Brendan Greaves Design, Layout
• Steve Gunn Composer
• Mary Lattimore Harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile
• Jason Meagher Engineer, Bass, drones
• Constance Mensh Design, Layout, Photography
• Dan Murphy Back Cover Photo
• Jimy Seitang Synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton
• Justin Tripp Design, Layout, Producer, Bass, guitar, keys
• John Truslinski Drums
• Jeff Zeigler Mixing
η• In Donald Barthelme’s 1982 story “Lightning,” the narrator, a journalist investigating lightning strike survivors, reflects that “lightning changes things; the soul burns, having been struck by lightning.” He wonders about aesthetic (and supernatural) dimensions — is “lightning an attempt at music on the part of God?” Three decades later, as the catastrophic effects of climate change encroach upon the realms of science fiction, how might our communications and social conventions change, becoming correspondingly weirder and darker? Weather is, after all, both a formulaic conversation starter across cultures and a shared condition that connects us experientially. So what happens when “How about this weather?” becomes a less banal and much more compelling, and dangerous, question?
η• While ecological unease worries at the edges of Steve Gunn’s bold new full–band album Way Out Weather — the breathing sea of the billowing title track, the bad wind and moon over “Wildwood,” the polluted pyramid and blue bins in “Shadow Bros,” the desert heat sickness of “Atmosphere” — the resonance of the title is primarily metaphorical and oblique. Written largely while on tour, the record is an elliptical but seductive travelogue, more engaged with navigating foreign (“way out”) emotional landscapes, and with grasping at universal threads of language and narrative, than with bemoaning rising sea levels.
η• Despite the album–opening lyric to the contrary, “Way Out Weather” is an uncommon song in Steve Gunn’s discography. Sonically and lyrically the album demonstrates a radical evolution, lighting out for lusher, more expansive, and impressionistic territories; it’s his first major work as an artist for whom the studio provides a critical context. A more enigmatic and elevated affair than its predecessor, Way Out Weather completes Gunn’s satisfying transformation into a mature songwriter, singer, and bandleader of subtlety and authority. It ranks as most impressive and inviting record yet, an inscrutable but entirely self–assured masterpiece.
η• The critically acclaimed Time Off (2013), his first full–band album highlighting his vocals, represented the culmination of Steve’s steady fifteen–ear migration from the frontier fringes of the guitar avant–garde, where he is regarded as a prodigy, and toward his especial style of more traditionally informed (albeit deconstructed) songcraft. Those songs developed from years of woodshedding and performance, offering a linear, local narrative that mapped the contours of Gunn’s Brooklyn neighborhood and a matrix of musical friendships, earning him a broad new following.
η• Less patently intimate, Way Out Weather angles for something far more cosmic, dynamic, and widescreen in sound and sentiment. In contrast to the interiority of Time Off, these eight decidedly exterior songs aren’t grounded by the specifics of geography, instead inhabiting headier, more rarefied altitudes (see in particular the ethereal “Shadow Bros,” “Fiction,” and “Atmosphere.”) They step beyond home and hover above horizon, unmoored from immediate circumstances and surroundings. Here Gunn’s discursive, mantric guitar style, at once transcendent and methodical — and as influenced by Western guitarists such as Michael Chapman and Sonny Sharrock as by Ghanaian highlife, Gnawa, and Carnatic forms — maintains its signature helical intricacy and mesmeric propulsion, while buoyed by a bigger crew of musicians, a wider instrumental palette, and higher production values than ever before.
η• Belying their ambitious new scale and scope, most of these songs arrived at Westtown, New York’s scene-seminal Black Dirt Studio as skeletal solo demos. An enthusiastic and generous collaborator — recently he has partnered with Kurt Vile, Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, the Black Twig Pickers, Cian Nugent, et al. — Gunn assembled an accomplished group of comrades to flesh out the full arrangements, trusting the germinal songs to an instinctual process of spontaneous composition, transposition, and improvisation. The WOW studio band comprised longtime musical brothers Jason Meagher (bass, drones, engineering), Justin Tripp (bass, guitar, keys, production), and John Truscinski (drums), in addition to newcomers Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys: Black Twig Pickers, Pelt); James Elkington (guitar, lap steel, dobro: Freakwater, Jeff Tweedy); Mary Lattimore (harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile); and Jimy SeiTang (synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton.)
η• This preternaturally intuitive and inventive band allowed Gunn to sculpt the album as a composer and colorist as well as a player. The cascading runs of “Milly’s Garden,” the menacing urgency of “Drifter,” and the alien, galvanic syncopation of album closer “Tommy’s Congo” (the latter unlike anything Gunn has heretofore recorded) display a thrilling mastery of heavier, increasingly kinetic full–band arrangements. His vocals throughout are more present, commanding, and refined, revealing a restrained but highly nuanced baritone capable of remarkable grace. Way Out Weather is Steve’s career–defining statement to date. Lightning changes things; the soul burns.
η• A radical widescreen evolution, featuring a larger band and lusher arrangements, this is the virtuosic guitarist and songwriter’s career–defining statement to date.
η• Vinyl edition includes digital download coupon
η• Featuring photography by KT Auleta, Dan Murphy, and Constance Mensh
by MAX SAVAGE LEVENSON, September 28, 201411:03 PM ET
η• It can take many years and several albums for artists to fully test the limits of their creativity. Guitarist Steve Gunn fits into that category; over the past decade and a half, his records have gravitated slowly from inward–facing reflections built around his hypnotic acoustic guitar work to fleshed–out works that feature a growing cast of musicians. His last record, Time Off, was performed by a trio and veered toward pop structures. Cozy and warm like an old bookstore, it was the work of someone who's learned how to give himself room to breathe. While its cover featured a collection of overlaid photographs littered with flower petals, Way Out Weather depicts a mysterious mess of brightly colored debris. Behind it lies an expansive field and the open horizon, ripe for exploration.
η• Way Out Weather marks the completion of Gunn's transformation from a master guitarist into a songwriter who can trust in his own voice and arrangements as much as his spectacular fretwork. He's thrown open the windows and let the light in, as he embraces pristine, lush production that makes guitars sparkle and drums crack. Way Out Weather finds Gunn setting out to explore the world, but not everything he sees is to his liking.
η• Although the songs' intertwining guitars evoke the pastoral, they often operate as a foil for the urgent observations that work their way into Way Out Weather. Harsh winds, dead soil, hellish heat; the products of a changing climate appear throughout. These worrisome signs stretch beyond the environmental: In "Milly's Garden," Gunn looks toward someone whose "faith is savage" and whose "mind is damaged," while on "Shadow Bros," he pursues something to "relax your mind." But if Gunn is distressed by what he's found on his journeys, he never suggests panic. His voice has never sounded stronger, as he glides effortlessly between an airy croon and an earthy baritone.
η• Way Out Weather concludes with its biggest surprise: Gunn's heaviest track to date, "Tommy's Congo" is a jungle of whirling, thumping percussion that churns beneath a spiraling, angular guitar riff. It bears little resemblance to anything else Gunn has recorded, and it's a gorgeous farewell: a testament to Gunn's adventurous spirit and a reminder that we have no idea where we might find him next.
η• If that’s not sufficient to convince you, read on for more recent praise for Way Out Weather, including an excerpt from a just–published (and perfectly described) 5–star review from the venerable MOJO.
η• 5 stars. Way Out Weather motors slowly but powerfully, like some 70s muscle–car cruising lazy coast–roads, safe in the knowledge of its own killer torque. The album title may abbreviate as a guileless “WOW!”, its bright melodies flickering like autumn sunlight on evening waves, but Gunn’s rolling lyrics deal with darker aspects — the ill omens of climate change, society’s lonesome outcasts, occluded Dylan riddles of impending apocalypse — that infuse the meander and drift of these lazy beguiling songs with a manifest chill, the dark rain clouds up ahead on that perfect summer drive that says sweet times now, bad times coming. You couldn’t wish for a more fitting musical soundtrack to the rest of your 2014. — MOJO
η• The guitarist blends the traditional and the avant–garde, fusing the sounds of John Fahey, The Grateful Dead and Will Oldham into back–porch masterpieces. Gunn’s virtuosic guitar work is still the main attraction, but his backing band of session players gives the song a Rolling Stones–circa–Exile on Main Street vibe. The sick instrumental jam that unfolds after about two and a half minutes is simultaneously earthy and epic.
— Otis Hart, NPR’s All Things Considered, on “Milly’s Garden”
η• This is masterful, textured and gorgeous. The double–tracked melodic lead guitars billow in like warm sheets of rain. You can sense, as a listener, that every single player has the same overall shape in their mind, and you can feel them all pushing towards it. — Jayson Greene, Pitchfork, on “Milly’s Garden”
η• Our heads are blown. How did this NY guitarist become a cosmic–psych visionary? Assured groover “Milly’s Garden” feels like it’s been around forever.
— MOJO Playlist, September 2014, on “Milly’s Garden”
η• Following 2013’s excellent Time Off, this is a fuller, richer–sounding album. Gunn is an incredible guitarist, [and this is] a sun–dappled, easy highway song, the gleam of guitar pressing against the tarriness of Gunn’s voice. — Laura Barton, The Guardian, on “Way Out Weather”
η• 8/10. Steve Gunn is managing the transition [into a classic singer–songwriter] with uncanny elegance, fold[ing] his old jamming imperative into beautifully constructed songs. He sings plenty, with engaging huskiness, while leading his band down ever more inventive tangents… Eco–fear played out with a sun–damaged languor. — John Mulvey, Uncut
η• Steve Gunn's Time Off was one of the great surprises of 2013. Not because it showcased his already considerable skills as a guitarist, but because he discovered his strength as a songwriter too. Way Out Weather, written during his global travels over the last year, is ambitious. Its musical architecture is more focused yet its production is more spacious. Gunn employs a larger band here — drummer John Truscinski, bassist/producer Justin Tripp, banjo player and soundscape artist Nathan Bowles, harpist Mary Lattimore, Rhyton's Jimy Seitang, and multi–instrumentalist/engineer Justin Meagher. Gunn has gained considerable confidence as a singer. His grainy yet airy voice sits atop this mix, fully expressive for its limited range. Songs often follow a verse–chorus–verse structure underscored by layers of repetitive, gradually shifting acoustic and electric guitar and percussion patterns, adorned by the other instrumentation selectively as well as strategically placed drones and gorgeously tailored effects that extend the songs' margins. Way Out Weather unfolds, for all of its range, holistically. The title track emerges tentatively from skeletal lap steel and acoustic guitars with a sparse, reverbed upright piano toward a gradually revealing lyrical and musical landscape as Americana, droning blues, and psych–drenched folk (think David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name) commingle and converse. η• It´s emergent lyric examines drive–by glimpses of ocean vistas, jagged coastlines, and bleached landscapes with the awareness that while seemingly eternal, they are always in flux. The droning organ that introduces the twinned electric guitar vamp on "Milly's Garden" is sun–drenched, shuffling, windswept. Its musical aspect asserts a blurred terrain where roots rock, blues, and country meet. They carry a bright melody that reveals a dark, tragic lyric. As it unfolds, the music betrays traces and influences of the early–70´s Grateful Dead and the Byrds — circa Untitled. It is easily the most beautiful song Gunn's ever written. "Shadow Bros," the excellent back–porch waltz that follows, is framed by banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, harp, and old–timey vocal harmonies; its use of reverb gives more dimension to the poetic, metaphysical narrative in the lyric. The spacy psych impressionism of "Fiction" is the set's first hard proof of an evolving direction, followed by the interlocking rhythms in the acoustic-electric rocker "Drifter" and the shimmering, hushed instrumental interlude that is "Atmosphere." Closer "Tommy's Congo" contains brooding, trance-like reverbed and layered percussion driving a steamy, minor–key Junior Kimbrough–esque blues groove voiced with Malian–style guitars, background bass, and synth drones. It's a knockout six–minute jam that suggests what Robert Plant might sound like if he were backed by Lobi Traoré and Francis Bebey. Way Out Weather ends in a very different place than it began, but Gunn's wide–angle musical vision possesses the acumen necessary to encompass it. His musical language has evolved into a sound that is not only ambitious, but instantly recognizable.
η• Steve Gunn is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. While he is best known as a go–to musician and for his membership in GHQ, Gunn has a varied recording and collaboration history that includes work with British legend Michael Chapman and the late Jack Rose.
η• Gunn began playing guitar before high school, and credits his older sister with giving him tapes to listen to. His first loves were punk rock and rap. His first real band was a hardcore covers unit that actually toured between his freshman and sophomore years of high school.
η• But Gunn kept expanding his musical horizons, taking in everything from psych to folk to country to funk. He eventually developed a deep interest in Indian classical music, La Monte Young, and Gnawa music as well — all of which would feature in his own work. While in college, Gunn became aware of other Philly–based musicians including Bardo Pond and Rose. He also joined GHQ, whose other members were Pete Nolan (Magik Markers, Vanishing Voice) and Marcia Bassett (Un, Double Leopards, Zaimph, Hotogitsu), and the trio moved to Brooklyn, which became his home base. η• Gunn played with GHQ between 2005 and 2007, during which time the band issued nine full–length recordings. While still with GHQ, Gunn issued three extremely limited–edition recordings as Moongang. These releases were created using tape manipulation, field recordings, and, to a lesser extent, guitars.
η• In 2007 he released his first self–titled solo album on Onomato, followed almost immediately by a self–titled, self–issued CD–R. Sundowner followed in 2008 on the U.K.'s Digitalis label. In 2009, Three–Lobed (also GHQ's label) released Gunn's Boerum Palace and the Too Early for the Hammer EP. The former — a limited–edition LP — sold out quickly. Later that year, End of the City, a split album with Shawn McMillen, appeared from Abandon Ship Records. Gunn's next solo guitar offering was Camel Throat, released as a cassette-only album from Germany's Meudiademorte. In 2010, Gunn and drummer John Truscinski began playing live together as the Gunn–Truscinski duo. Their debut, Sand City, was issued by Three-Lobed that year, followed by a live CD–R in 2011 and Ocean Parkway in 2012.
η• Gunn also kept busy as a solo artist, releasing a split album with Sun City Girls entitled Not the Spaces You Know, But Between Them in 2011. In 2012, the guitarist joined Kurt Vile & the Violators for a global tour, eventually returning to issue his next album, Time Off, a trio album featuring Truscinski and bassist Justin Tripp, for Paradise of Bachelors in the late spring of 2013.
η• In 2014, Gunn was prolific. Melodies for a Savage Fix, his collaborative date with Pelt guitarist Mike Gangloff, was issued in March, followed in June by Cantos de Lisboa, a duet session with Mike Cooper in RVNG Intl.'s Frkwys series. In early October, Way Out Weather, his second singer/songwriter offering for Paradise of Bachelors, appeared.
♠ Steve Gunn (2007)
♠ Sundowner (2008)
♠ Boerum Palace (2009)
♠ End of the City (2009) (split with Shawn David McMillen)
♠ Camel Throat (2010)
♠ Live at the Night Light (2011)
♠ Time Off (2013)
♠ Cantos De Lisboa (2014) (with Mike Cooper)
♠ Melodies for a Savage Fix (2014) (with Mike Gangloff)
♠ Way Out Weather (2014)
♠ Too Early for the Hammer (2009)
♠ "Human Condition" b/w "Trances" (2011)
♠ "Decline of the Stiff" (2011)
♠ "Lonesome Valley" (2013) (with Black Twig Pickers)
♠ "Wildwood" (2014)
Paradise of Bachelors
PO Box 1402
Carrboro, NC 27510
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Three Lobed Recordings: http://steve-gunn.com/
|Way Out Weather|