Saturday, October 27, 2007

Evan Miller/Gown – Split [Arbor]

I was browsing random websites the other day and anyhow, I noticed that this Evan Miller/Gown isn’t sold out. And well, dammit, it should be. I bought my copy immediately when I heard about it, figuring it would be gone quick. So now, I feel I must do my part to vouch for this tape’s greatness and give it the proper props.
You know the drill, two guitarists, two sides, one sweet spool of tape. I think Evan Miller is a relatively new face but lately he’s been rollin’ out some tapes on Night People and I’ve been digging ‘em. I’m no scholar of Fahey or Jack Rose or whoever the god of the acoustic guitar is. But I do know that I like the way Evan Miller plays. Apparently, “Spectre” was recorded in a storm which is rad cause you can hear thunder rolling in the background, which sometimes provides great punctuation, and maybe even a bit of rain too but I might be confusing that with tape hiss. This track moves a lot slower and is less sweetly melodic as his other work I’ve heard. However, there is way more sparseness and tension in this piece. It makes me think of a lamenting score for a wounded cowboy in a western. Like the dude is shot and the music starts and there is a ten minute long slow motion sequence of the guy stumbling around all bloody, crawling through the dust and writhing in agony. The track is based around a couple circular arpeggios, which are broken up every so often with melodic flourishes. The track actually reminds me of Earth’s latest stuff, not so much aesthetically but in the way that restraint is used to create intensity. Cool track and an interesting take on the solo acoustic guitar thing.
Miller’s track is cool and all but the real reason you need this tape is what comes on the backside. Gown (a.k.a. Andrew MacGregor) is probably most well known, at least nowadays, for playing with Thurston Moore in the Bark Haze, however based on “Pigeon Church”, Gown could kick Thurston’s and his own ass at guitar—combined, which doesn’t really make sense but this track is that good. This track is so good that my friend who loves Daft Punk stopped everything he was doing said “Drew. Who is this? This track is incredible!” “Pigeon Church” is like a wind storm, an electrical storm, and a snow storm combined and played on guitar. I’m not sure if this thing is multi-tracked or looped but either way it’s rather dense. There are tons of frequencies flowing out of the amp and Gown blows them every which way, all around the track. What’s amazing to me is, for ten minutes, the track somehow never loses the blustery, weathered texture, or its undulating intensity or its melodic center. Sorry to quote Radiohead, but everything is in its right place you know? The guitar tone is very electric and powerful, but not noisy in the way you think of Hototogisu or someone being. Its palette is very much whites, greys, silver rather than black. Last I heard, MacGregor moved up to Newfoundland, so I hope he’s basking in its remote, solitary chill and recording shitloads of stuff. It’s almost mean to just give me one track; I need a hundred more at least. I mean really, only one windswept, classic, masterful, mind ripping Gown piece per release? Come on! How am I supposed to live on that?
The tape, as mentioned, is still available from Arbor and it comes with an insert, printed tape labels and a classy, 3 color screen printed J-card of a wildcat battling vapor (or something like that). So, get it already.

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