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Old 04-10-2010, 01:01 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Default Directions in music (1996)

8 untitled tracks

Released by Thrill Jockey in 1996

Bundy K. Brown
Doug Scharin
James Warden

Directions in music is the result of a leisurely recording session at Brad Wood’s Ifdul Music studio. Bundy K. Brown got together with his old friend Warden to make some guitar songs that he wanted to record. He didn’t want to or couldn’t play these with his other band, Tortoise, because they had been consistently moving further away from the guitar. By this time, Brown must have been used to having the best drummer in the world, John McEntire, back him so he probably wouldn’t have settled for anybody less than Doug Scharin on drums. The three made an album of pastoral, atmospheric guitar-based post rock with a tight focus on musicianship. This would be a typical description of many albums made by the talented Louisville/Chicago post rock bands but Directions in music is warmer. More sublime.

Yes, the name of this band/project is stolen from the ‘Directions in music by Miles Davis’ tag that adorned Davis’s late-60s albums. So, yeah, these guys are into Jazz and they and their peers in the Chicago bands were making music that was increasingly Jazz-like. But apparently Brown had been writing beautiful, acoustic guitar compositions on the side. Sometimes he made a sad folky Nick Drake sound and other times more jangly ones. The album sounds like it could have been improvised, but it was not. Brown wrote music that flowed like jazz and, of course, any kind of verse-chorus-verse structure was not to be tolerated in his line of work. He has stated that the album came out the way it did, though, because the three had time to relax in the studio and stretch out parts wherever they felt like it. Certainly they occasionally lapsed into full improvisation around a theme.

The band creates intense sounds that are always laid back and reserved. There is a lot of acoustic guitar and even more undistorted electric. There’s strumming, riffing, trilling and almost-classical flourishes tossed around all over the songs. As for the drums: Being the genius that he is, Scharin plays his instrument as if he’s just another part of the melody. He doesn’t so much make beats as he builds patterns, following the other music, guiding it, hovering around it. The whole time displaying that subversive power of his to rock hard while staying calm and even quiet.

In the end this album is not a whole lot different than what Tortoise was doing at the time, but I’ve always liked it better. Although there are some slow passages and some electronic enhancements in Directions in music, they are rare. This is more of a rock album than Tortoise were interested in making..I’ll call it a ‘Fusion’ album. It fuses jazzy, folky post rock with, well..rock.

Track 1

Track 4
Like an arrow,
I was only passing through.
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