|Henry Birdsey + Greg Davis LIVE at Autumn Records
|Autumn Records 11 E. Allen St. Suite 2.
Live at Autumn Records, Winooski VT
Friday, December 8th
Henry Birdsey (New Haven CT - 1/2 of Tongue Depressor)
“Henry Birdsey is a master of dualities. He writes music that is both fundamental and complex, tranquil and fierce, and conceptual yet familiar all at once. His music often reflects the expansive and isolated regions of his home state of Vermont with its vast natural splendor, both lush and harsh, haunting and entrancing. It is also often about nothing more than the pure spontaneous creation of sound with friends or alone by himself.
Two Harmonicas in the Jeweler’s Court is a work of dense layers, mysterious proportions, and geological time. It is an absolute music that feels more like gazing at the side of a sedimentary basin than a harmonica recording. Time feels suspended throughout each of the movements — marked by breaths but sustained by the air between the sounds, shimmering harmonics, and fluttering combination tones. The sharp teeth of semitone clusters and the glimmers of the wholetone relationships push upward, often bolstered by wider intervals in the lower end of the chords. It is a music of rising, diffusing, warping, cracking, and refracting. The tuning began with a mistake — accidentally flipping the reed plate of a diatonic harmonica while cleaning led to the discovery of a previously impossible arrangement of pitches. Ordinarily, the instrument is constructed so that only half of the reeds can be sounded by blowing out, the other half by drawing air in. In a diatonic harmonica, this allows for conventional harmonies and melodies to be played without unintended dissonances, but by flipping one of these plates, Birdsey inadvertently created a warped and beating stepchild of a harmonica that could produce all of its sound simultaneously with the air traveling in one direction.
Context is hard to escape with an instrument as emblematic as the harmonica in the American canon of music. Throughout its use in blues and rock and roll, we hear so many examples of the instrument singing and growling lines above drums and guitars, and its lonely, skeletal howl is a trademark of western americana. To strip these connotations without careful consideration is fraught with potential for a nightmarish dip into a gulf of mediocrity in the hands of a lesser musician. This is what makes Two Harmonicas in the Jeweler’s Court so special — by writing to the pure sound of the instrument and constantly pushing into denser polyphony, one can hear the “strata” of the sound forming. There are trapped crystals hovering in one layer, low-droned roots of limestone in another, and the ever-changing upper-range clusters are the alternating stripes of sandstone and siltstone. It is a beautiful prismatic work that has to be experienced in a patient manner, demanding careful listening in order for one to fully appreciate its scale and beauty. “
Greg Davis (Burlington VT)
Greg will be presenting some new glitch / computer music for this show.
|One Day Only