Thursday, March 30, 2006

Homemade Post-Rock

Untitled 1
Untitled 2

JC/MM/CS is no kind of real band name; it's tagged that way on my iTunes because this college band I was in never actually had a name, and those are the initials of its three core members (me, Michael Mullaney, and Chris Seaton). We only played one show, outside on the quad in spring '99 -- although because we had only really written the two songs posted above, we supplemented our set with a handful of covers, including My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow" and Eric's Trip's "Behind the Garage." The covers (there must have been more, though I can't remember them) featured Rachel Collins on vox and Mike DaRonco on bongos.

On all of our material, I played keyboard and Chris and Michael both played guitar. "Untitled 1" has an interesting story behind its creation. I had come up with this repetitive melody while mucking about at the piano in the vestibule of DeWaters Hall, an dreamily arpeggiated 6/8 right-hand figure that stayed the same as I alternated the bass. When I played it for the other dudes, they said, "Huh. That's actually remarkably similar to this thing we've been working on." (I had been on study abroad in the UK when they first started jamming.) In this recorded version, the part that I had written constitutes the middle section (approx. 2:55 to 4:45) of the piece: Chris is playing what was originally my right hand on an amplified acoustic, and I'm playing the left hand on the Casio. For what it's worth, Michael hated this composition, because he's playing the same six-note pattern on electric guitar through the entire seven-plus minutes -- but that's also what I love about it, how Chris and I are able to play around within those parameters, creating new harmonies as that middle section comes in.

I had less of a songwriting role in "Untitled 2": the only thing I contributed was the organ part, which I think provides a gentle bed underneath the rhythmically dueling guitars, although in the end it's perhaps too quiet. (The recording was done by Dave Arney and Phil Ward in their off-campus house full of discarded and rebuilt electronics.) Chris was the one who had the idea of making the fade-out almost ridiculously long, which I think adds to the general hypnotic feel.

In both of these songs, you can tell that we're all very much influenced by late-'90s post-rock, including stuff like Tortoise, Directions in Music, Gastr del Sol, and Windsor for the Derby. In fact, I remember playing for Chris a Sam Prekop instrumental called "A Cloud to the Back" (from the first solo album, which had just been released) in order to show him the feel I was going for with the piano on "Untitled 1."

After recording these tracks in early 2000, we never actually bothered to play music together again. I had a similar guit/keyb instrumental project later that year with Jason Hendrix of The North Atlantic, entitled Pico de Ohio (still best band name ever) -- but all that came of that was two shows and, regrettably, no recordings.


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