The Wooden Man

by Ghost Grass

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about

Max Lord plays:

Buchla Electric Music Box
Buchla Marimba Lumina
Metals, cymbals and other percussion
Analog and software synthesizers

Thanks:

Sara June
Steve Norton
Matt Samolis
Matt Azevedo
Don Buchla

--

The Wooden Man marks a serious return to recording for me--something I'd abandoned for a while in favor of focusing on performance, improvisation and other entirely non-musical pursuits. So there is an evolution there between the cassette releases I made five or six years ago and this work today, but little record of those changes on tape unfortunately.

I began work on this record during the Summer of 2015. I participated in an outdoor festival/fundraiser and cobbled together a set of new tracks from many scraps of recording over the past few years. My process has always been to play the Buchla through a loop pedal (a Digitech Jamman) and to always be one click away from capturing anything at any time. This is extraordinarily useful for the music I've done as dance support, which often requires repeatability and quick changeovers. At the same time, I built an archive a gigabytes of little loops that suggested larger pieces.

The first four tracks came out of that summer set, though only The Sun Unblocked My Eyes made it to the final cut. The overall atmosphere was repetitive and blissed-out, which didn't sit exactly right with the rest of Ghost Grass. So I continued working on other ideas and struggled to feel out the right musical ideas. While generally commercially suicidal, I remain committed to the approach of recording pieces that do not directly reference any established genre or music-making process. As the world of synth music becomes increasingly varied and widespread, the unknown spaces and the ... cracks ... between recognizable genres become further apart and ... weirder. Finding them becomes increasingly difficult.

In the last five years, the number of artists working with Buchla (or Buchla-inspired) equipment has also exploded. This is an amazing, positive development for the world at large, but unfortunately also creates yet more established conventions that confound the practice of simply using it to organize sound in novel ways. The Marimba Lumina, which I have played since it first came out fifteen years ago, is somewhat more flexible in this regard since it can be used with any sound source. On this record, I have used it to expand the palette with vibraphone, pianos and a diverse set of synthesized percussion textures.

I also remain committed to the listener having the feeling that anything could happen next. I have the utmost respect for those musicians who can successfully move between dramatically different approaches in the same record, song or bar line. This type of music refuses to be functional, productive or able to be commoditized in any easy way. All of the records from former Coil-member Thighpaulsandra come to mind here. This doesn't always make for an "easy listen," in fact it demands much more patience and attention from the listener. Both sides must participate in this activity to discover new sound spaces.

I have two people to thank especially for their involvement. Matt Samolis lent me his remarkable bowed cymbal instrument for a recording session, and its ambiances have found their way into a number of these tracks. Finally, Matt Azevedo has my utmost respect for his fine mastering work, as well as his highly-tuned sensitivity to working with electronic music specifically. Many things I have done would sound terrible without his finishing touches.

Recorded Summer 2015 - Fall 2016
© 2016

credits

released December 1, 2016

Composed and recorded by Max Lord
Mastered by Matt Azevedo

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about

Ghost Grass Boston, Massachusetts

Max Lord has been been playing Buchla electronic instruments since 2001 and making tapes and records as Ghost Grass since 2008.

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