I have always had an idea that I would like to have guest bloggers on my blog at this point. So here is the first one Maarten Boos talks about Colin Stetson, one of the most exciting musicians I have seen in a long while too. Enjoy!
Music from composition, composition from instrumentation. This simple line of thought tells an essential truth about the solo artist that cannot be ignored. Music takes up actual, volumetric space, wherever it takes place. The fewer people behind it, the greater the amount of skill required to fill it up. A musician who manages to take a single instrument and somehow makes it fill up this void with full, complete composition, possess true musical genius.
I first heard of bass saxophone player Colin Stetson while reading up on Bell Orchestre, a six-piece instrumental band from Montreal, several years ago. It was a particularly memorable phase of the past decade during which I came to realize most of my play lists were near entirely Canadian. Bell Orchestre was, at the time, a purely instrumental side project of Arcade Fire. Colin Stetson has in fact played in both bands. His track record includes a series of impressive collaborations with various artists, including musical dramatist Tom Waits and new wave pioneer David Byrn.
Weapons of choice? Saxophones, ever increasing in size and gravitas, strewn with arrangements of microphones that record everything from the clapping of valves and the beat of his fingers to the multitude of sounds he makes with his throat and mouth. These sounds are lost in any type of conventional recording and can really only be heard live.
Colin scavenges sound, then amplifies and mixes it into arrangements that are beyond anything currently available on recording. The result is complete, full composition, including an identifiable bass line, percussion, melody and more. So much more. Simply put, if you are listening to his music and happen to be unaware of what's going on, you are very unlikely to assume all of these sounds originate from a single bass saxophone, recorded without looping in a single take.
The year of 2008 marked Colin Stetson's first album of a planned trilogy, New History Warfare. It has overseen the maturation of his distinct musical style. New History Warfare, Volume 2: Judges released this earlier year has reaped the fruits of that process. There is a strong sense of interconnectivity and story present in this album. Like the first part of his trilogy, several tracks include sections of speech, this time from performance artist, musician and vocalist Laurie Anderson. While speech may come off as a strange choice for a solo album, it works out beautifully.
New History Warfare literally speaks in volumes and I will definitely
be looking forward hear to the final one.
Maarten on twitter