|Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff — Melodies for a Savage Fix (2013)|
Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff — Melodies for a Savage Fix
♠ His virtuoso guitarist, composer, and producer lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
♠ where the moonlight falls on the moonshine when the dawn breaks and the tape clacks out on the reel
♠ ideas audibly sparking off the interplay of their massed strings (six, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four? Who’s counting?)
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Styles: Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative/Indie Rock, American Underground, Guitar Virtuoso, Neo-Psychedelia
Album release: October 22, 2013
Record Label: Important Records (IMPREC392 LP)
Duration: 41:36 Tracks:
1 First Of Spring 11:22
2 Out Canning Factory Road 5:30
3 Worry Past Worry 4:32
4 Topeka AM 17:02
5 Dive For The Pearl 3:10
♠ Steve Gunn and Mike Gangloff combine six-and 12-string guitars with gongs, tanpura, singing bowls, shruti box, and banjo fora gorgeous collection of improvised compositions.
♠ The two artists took it pretty far off the beaten path for Melodies for a Savage Fix, sequestering themselves for an overnight session in the remote farmhouse/recording studio of noted roots-music engineer Joseph Dejarnette (Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bruce Greene, Curtis Eller) in the countryside of Floyd County, Virginia.
♠ There in the tiny community of Topeka, miles from the county’s one traffic light, they set up an assortment of six- and 12-string guitars, gongs and Indian instruments, plus the banjo Gangloff sometimes plays at monthly square dances at a country store just up the road, and settled in for an intense night of improvisation. (http://importantrecords.com/)
♠ For Melodies For A Savage Fix (Important), Mike and Steve Gunn (of GHQ, Desert Heat, Kurt Vile’s Violators and now Black Dirt Oak alongside Gangloff’s fellow Black Twig Picker and Pelter Nathan Bowles) secluded themselves in Topeka, Virginia (a long way from the town’s only traffic signal, apparently), laying down tracks in roots music recordist Joseph Dejarnette‘s farmhouse-cum-studio and very much away from it all.
♠ Augmenting their acoustic guitars with a host of gongs, tambouras and singing bowls plus a shruti box and the inevitable banjo, the pair set out on a night of improvised duets, and the results are fascinatingly engaging. That’s fascinating as in entrancing, not in the more mundane sense of “really interesting.” Gunn and Gangloff are assured in their playing, ideas audibly sparking off the interplay of their massed strings (six, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four? Who’s counting?) as they ramble and swerve with increasing speed over five lengthy jams which don’t sound the least bit like they made them up as they went along; except that they did, and it’s good.
♠ Actually, this is more than good — it’s the kind of great which the acoustic guitar of the American variety cries out for (even if it’s played by a German guitarist like Steffen Basho-Junghans). Ever since John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Leo Kottke woke the world up — quite rudely, in the former case and perhaps slightly against its will — to the prospects which this most deceptively obvious of instruments is capable of opening in the right hands and with the right degree of non-traditional influence (mostly Indian ragas, and here in the hands of Gangloff and Gunn on the exploratory yet still melodic “First of Spring Trio,” of the atonal/avant/improv kind), there have been many followers and adapters worldwide, not least of them being the likes of Glenn Jones, James Blackshaw, Basho-Junghans and Michael Cashmore. Gunn has long ago added his name to that roll of honour, and here he and Gangloff are coming in hard from a decidedly Appalachian direction (with a Brooklyn twist from Gunn) and none the worse at all for that.
♠ This is late night music, whether in the company of friends and a cask of hooch around the fire, or in the local country store to warm up a square dance (Gangloff plays them too). It’s the sound to hear when the dark draws in and the mood to dance picks up; it’s the inflection of a dusty trail left behind when the door shuts out the cold; it’s where the moonlight falls on the moonshine when the dawn breaks and the tape clacks out on the reel (or more prosaically, the hard disc says it’s full… maybe not the right image at all). Melodies For A Savage Fix is rooted and recorded in a countryside which may not be what it was and is doubtless not without its problems, like everywhere, but has cemented its place in a wider imagination a long ways from its blue-hilled, pine-scattered reality and its Hollywood hillbilly representation which is all too often jokey or downright banjo-pickin’ dangerous.
♠ What Gunn and Gangloff have striven for here is to broaden that perspective with the aid of their unbounded interest for music from very far beyond their own neighbourhoods, and to make connections — which surely existed before, and will come by again — which strike, strum and pluck chords and drones (even silences and spaces) between cultures. That they have done so without falling into trite ethnodelicisms is to be applauded; and that they have never lost sight of the fact that they are intelligently incorporating influences into an already multiple form is even better. (http://freq.org.uk/)
By MUKQS on Jan 13 2014
♠ Tong a few logs onto the fire and switch on the turntable. If either of the names GUNN or GANG(-LOFF) on the album art above strike a gong in your musical memory, you know what to expect from the very first note of their collaborative recordings: pristine phrases plucked from an acoustic guitar, bowed from a fiddle, and pounded out of percussion; “songs” that wind through the underbrush, achieve moments of meditation, and double back to return home; a holy amalgam of performance strategies culled from the American Primitive, Indian classical, and contemporary drone/minimalist traditions. Steve Gunn and Mike Gangloff deepened their already bottomless catalogs in 2013 with the solo full-lengths Time Off and Poplar Hollow, funneling ideas and tones they’ve explored in Kurt Vile’s live band and Pelt, respectively, into more concise compositions. As much as these albums testify to their strengths as songwriters and bandleaders, both men perform as comfortably outside of set rhythms and chord structures as within them, with results no less sublime.
♠ Melodies for a Savage Fix finds the duo stranding themselves in a secluded cabin sanctuary and making music to strand oneself in a secluded cabin sanctuary to. The album’s five sessions range from a country-fried raga exploration led by Gangloff’s sighing fiddle, to a banjo/guitar bluegrass jugalbandi, to a slide guitar in conversation with cavernous gong hits. But the seventeen minutes of “Topeka AM,” streaming below, fill most of the B-side with the LP’s most expansive improvisation, exuding enough heat to stay warm through the subzero season(s). Snow gathers in the windowsills while Gunn’s right hand conjures a busy stream of twelve-string sixteenth notes that treads the tonal line between ecstasy and reverence. Panes frost over as Gangloff responds to Gunn’s shifting harmonies with whatever instrument he deems appropriate at the moment (harmonium, bells, shakers, drums). The few rays of sunlight cast across the floorboards recede as the tempo picks up before the climax. ♠ (http://www.tinymixtapes.com/) ♠
Artist Biography by Thom Jurek
♠ 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.
♠ 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 who actually toured between his freshman and sophomore years of high school.
♠ But Gunn kept expanding his musical horizons, taking in everything from pysch 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. 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.
♠ 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.
♠ Gunn also kept busy as a solo artist, releasing a split album with the 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.
|Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff — Melodies for a Savage Fix (2013)|