all weissenborn parts performed live with no overdubs,
except on track 6
special thanks to red panda pedals / curt malouin, elisa bryant, peter hatzipavlis and matthew stanton
in memory of elspeth jack [1941-2010]
released October 14, 2014
In 2011 I received one of my most prized possessions: a replica of a 1927 Weissenborn Style 1 hourglass lap steel guitar, made for me by master luthier Tony Francis in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
I spent over a year exploring this amazing instrument's capabilities and potential, experimenting with tunings, unorthodox musical styles, and various preparations on and between the strings. I approached the instrument from what was hopefully a unique creative perspective, looking for new sounds, techniques and emotional landscapes. This was all done to try and make this record - my first using the Weissenborn - something different, multi-faceted and engaging.
The conceptualisation and recording process developed into one which came to include various other sonic elements such as tape echo / tape looping [which became cornerstones of the project], percussion and other instrumental oddities [thanks to the contributions of Nat Grant and Adam Casey].
I don't believe that a Weissenborn has ever been heard like this before, and that this album genuinely explores the multiplicity of sonic possibilities available within the instrument.
Nine of the ten tracks on the album were all worked out / improvised on the day of recording, and everything on the Weissenborn was done live in the moment [again, except for one track!], including choices of preparations, integration of looped parts and even tunings which were sometimes invented on the spot.
The music conceptually explores various themes and events using the notions of "the island" as a central idea: the endless loop of existence in isolation, exotic faraway paradises, shipwrecks and artificial societies, the individual as emotional island, utopias and collapse, nostalgia, lost cultural icons, dancing mania and even Haitian dictators.
Three days of actual recording ended up being spread out over almost a year because of financial considerations, conflicting schedules and my creative re-assessments, followed by almost a week of mixing [cutting down over 3 hours of material to 40 minutes!] and finally mastering at Deluxe Mastering in March of 2014.
I am extremely proud of this record and how it has turned out: in the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering [thanks to Adam Casey and Adam Dempsey], as well as the gracious permission offered by Thor Heyerdahl's estate [he of Kon-Tiki fame] to allow me to use one of his beautiful photographs for the album cover.