Sunset F-Train ride last week, out and back over the Culver Viaduct, the highest point in the NYC Subway system. The soundtrack is my riding waves [disquiet066], recorded in 2012 as a posthumous duet with late-musician Jeffrey Melton, better known as nofi.
🎼: riding waves [disquiet0066] off 2013’s transient lines:
Natuur en recreatie, genoeg te beleven voor een weekendje weg.
Ondanks het koude weer toch nog een uurtje gevliegerd met de Freilein.
Nature and recreation, enough to experience for a weekend away.
Despite the cold weather, still flying an hour with the Freilein.
Music: Westy Reflector – ‘Riding Waves’
The Internet is at its best when shared passions become community. When the net first started to gain cultural traction, smack was talked, of course, but digital space wasn’t a tool of division, so much as a journey of discovery and connections. It was a weird (in the best way) and wonderful window into what other people were thinking and doing, made even better when the most obscure and arcane pursuit saw a light of day in ways no other communication system in human history allowed. Net 1.0 was a network of tangible dreams built by concrete dreamers. The physicality of the network itself was way more evident, too: the iconic modem handshake sound; the wires into your computer; the relentless arrival AOL discs in your mailbox…
“You’ve got mail,” indeed.
It was work to get online, but a few dreamers did the heavy lifting and posted sites, or created and managed email listservs. All of a sudden, within a few years, anyone who did anything could find a critical mass. For example, a kite enthusiast’s passion no longer had to exist in a vacuum or in a mythology, or stay beholden to local flying groups, random beach encounters, or obscure magazines.
Freilein kites are among the more high-end, complicated, sophisticated flyers, sewn by master sailmakers, and retail for around $180. The dedicated kite flyer is no mere hobbyist, but a true outdoor sportsperson, in tune with wind, sun, climate, and terrain. The pursuit has its own language. A quick dive into the world brought surface knowledge of “handles,” and “lines,” and “knot settings;” What it means if a kite becomes “brake heavy.” Some flyers feel sensations with their eyes closed through their handles and know exactly what the kite is doing in the air.
That the narration and intro of the video are in Dutch, and that I don’t understand a single word, is all the better. Sometimes listening to and/or watching someone demonstrate their passion in a foreign language brings you to the pure essence of their pursuit. The tone; the smiles, the laughter, the furrowing of brows at something serious, the dreaming faraway gazes, the connection to the greater. It’s all there, in a borderless communication.
One of the more famous kite flyers in history, Benjamin Franklin, had this to say about his Kite Experiment, wherein he proved the connection between lightning and electricity (in 18th Century English, which sometimes presents an air of impenetrability):
As soon as any of the Thunder Clouds come over the Kite, the pointed Wire will draw the Electric Fire from them, and the Kite, with all the Twine, will be electrified, and the loose Filaments of the Twine will stand out every Way, and be attracted by an approaching Finger. And when the Rain has wet the Kite and Twine, so that it can conduct the Electric Fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the Key on the Approach of your Knuckle.
This sounds like what happens when I play the guitar. Perhaps a kite is a single string instrument…
In any event, I treasure this video for all it reminds me. On one level, it serves as a reminder of why I release all my music as Creative Commons. It also layers on a reminder of all the good stuff the internet can still bring. The net doesn’t have to be ping-pong political noise. It can still be a place where you just share your love of the wind. Wind lovers united.
As a sidenote, Riding Waves was a “posthumous collaboration” with talented Indiana-based musician Jeffrey Melton, who recorded as nofi and passed away in 2013 at the age of 42. He was an early and prolific contributor to the Disquiet Junto, and one of my first friends on Soundcloud. For this track, Junto members all took a piece from a long live Nofi set, and played along live with it. Every time this track’s CC license use pops up in my alerts, it brings back memories of too-cursory electronic interactions I had with nofi, and the bittersweet elegiac joy I had recording the song.
“One City” comes from the 9 track LP, “Transient Lines” from New York City based indie-pop artist WESTY REFLECTOR. He wrote, performed and programmed all songs on this release from late 2013, described as “fragments and fractals of an enlightening, challenging year.”
His unique and powerful voice sits somewhere in the realm of old favorites Terry Prine or even Colin Meloy, but definitely distinctly unique with some beautiful and imaginative tales to absorb.
Small streets of Yazd. (Iran)
Music: Soma by Westy Reflector
Les petites rues de Yazd. (Iran)
Musique: Soma par Westy reflector
The Bellais family from France (DAvid, CAmille, LUcile et Félix) is traveling around the world in a converted old fire truck for two years. They’ve used a few of my tracks in their video journal, and riding along, hearing my songs pop up every so often, is an absolute kick. Follow them here:
Eight-year-old Felix explodes on a kite surfer in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.
The Bellais family from France (DAvid, CAmille, LUcile et Félix) is traveling around the world in a converted old fire truck for two years. They’ve used a few of my tracks in their video episodes, and it’s an absolute kick to ride along and hear my songs pop up every so often. Follow them here:
My track one city [off transient lines (2013)] travels through the fjords of Patagonia on a 4-day ferry voyage with the Bellais family. It’s another fun little vid, and the final shot just makes it for me.
4 jours sur le ferry Navimag à travers les canaux de Patagonie.
Musique: One city par Westy Reflector http://westyreflector.net
The Bellais family from France (David, Camille, Lucile et Félix) is traveling around the world in a converted old fire truck for two years. They’ve used a few of my tracks in their video episodes, and it’s an absolute kick to follow along and hear my songs pop up every so often. Follow them here:
Man Again, the country-fried FMA bonus track off of Transient Lines (2013), soundtracks a Bellais family adventure with a cowboy named Gavino in the town of Cochrane on the Argentinian and Chilean border.
Musiques : "Man again" par Westy Reflector http://westyreflector.net "Little birdie" par Three Jolly Rogues http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Three_Jolly_Rogues
Gavino ne sait ni lire ni écrire mais il sait faire son pain, le beurre et le fromage, vit depuis 17 ans dans sa ferme isolée sans eau courante ni électricité, avec ses vaches, ses chiens et quelques gentils chevaux.
Lorsque l’on fera le bilan des ces années de voyage, ce n’est pas le Machu Picchu ni les chutes d’Iguazu qui arriveront en tête des meilleurs souvenirs, mais ces rencontres authentiques autour du partage et de la simplicité!
Gavino can neither read nor write, but he knows how his bread, butter and cheese, lived for 17 years in his isolated farm without running water or electricity, with cows, dogs and some nice horses.
When will take stock of these years of travel, this is not the Machu Picchu or the Iguazu Falls arriving in mind the best memories, but the authentic encounters around the sharing and simplicity!
fire in the arcade [off transient lines (2013)] soundtracks a Bellais family adventure amidst cliff-dwelling Patagonian parrots (Monk Parakeets) in Argentina. Fwiw, we have Monks here in my Brooklyn neighborhood. They nest in a Con-Edison sub-station on the edge of a graveyard about 16 blocks south of me.
Pour débuter la descente en Patagonie, voici la falaise aux perroquets !
Musique: Fire in the arcade par Westy Reflector
A 2nd remix by Bassling (Jason Richardson) of my riding waves. In it, Bassling adds his deft bass to Lee Rosevere‘s percussion and vibraphone, my guitar and nofi‘s original track. This rounded-out full-on quartet performance creates unexpected harmonic convergences and becomes a whole (and real) band – thankfully without van politics, ego mastications and “yellow-M&Ms-only” rider demands.
Enigmatic and multi-faceted South Carolina artist Kyle TM layered soft breaking white noise swells, seagull calls and a rhythmic water drop over a remix of my “riding waves” by Tokyo-sound artist Naotko (Naoyuki Sasanami) for the 132nd Disquiet Junto challenge. Inasmuch as dreams are recursions of reality, the result here is a dream-state that expands on a story, grounding it in a new place and making a statement on the conscious filtering that makes up perception.
I didn’t want to get in the way of Westy’s guitar and took a cue from his introduction of the melody of “Mercy Street” to play mostly hi-hat and cymbals, ala Stewart Copeland (who appears playing cymbals on Peter Gabriel’s SO album.. but not on “Mercy Street”).
To temper my inclination to play too much, I set the rest of the pads to play tuned vibraphone notes, which hopefully interplay with the vibe sound on nofi’s original track.
I added a favourite monologue from True Detective where Rusty Cohle ruminates on death. My partner immediately called out that it worked, so I left it in.
Despite the somber nature of the 132nd junto project (which revisits collaborations with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton, and which as of this writing I am still trying to take a stab at), I am thrilled that Bassling would see inspiration in my track. That Wagga Wagga (Leeton), Australia, is his home base adds to the thrill – irrefutable proof that my tracks have journeyed all the way around the world and back. That the track is riding a wave created by Nofi makes this even sweeter.
Voices – Simon Mathewson
La Façon dont la Machine vers l’Arrière – Brian Jonestown Massacre
Tsuro Magena – Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited
Pleasantries – Tyler Jon Tyler
Love Me Like You – The Mythics
Sunday – Fire To The Stars
Preludium – 2 TOTEMS
Arnold Lane – Joe Boyd and Robyn Hitchcock
I Can’t Lose – The Chamber Strings
While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming – Tamaryn
Jeanne Moreau – Souvenir Driver
I Feel Your Pain – Eric and Magill
Island on Fire – Monster Rally
The Creak of the Landline – Zapruder Point
Promises Promises – Barreracudas
Digging For Something – Superchunk
fire in the arcade – Westy Reflector
Good To Be Alone – The Bomb Busters
Caixa de Vidro – Stray
Bruce – Yellow Dogs
Mockinpott – Cordonegro
April 13th – Bait And Switch
Fifty/Fifty – Today’s Man
Noise Problems Selection – The Ray Pacino Ensemble
Highty Hangtime – Julian Winter
Transient Lines (bandcamp | freemusicarchive) – the entire record – soundtracks artist Eric M Smith‘s drawing and painting of a griffin in real time. Bonus sound artifact: the environmental sounds of Smith’s pen and ink-on-paper strokes are left underneath the music, which I always <3.
Bonus trivia: The Higgins Ink original factory and the mansion behind it in which the Higgins family lived are 50 yards down the block and across the street from my home in Brooklyn. The factory was converted into apartments in the 70s and the mansion now houses a music school. Full circles, everywhere.
Published on Feb 17, 2014
Drawing and painting a griffin. Real time video.
– Higgins black magic ink
– Nikko G nib
– holbein watercolor burnt sienna, yellow ochre, permanent green no. 1, crimson lake
– windsor newton white ink
– strathmore coldpress 140lb watercolor paper
Filmed on GoPro Hero 3 with Chest mount
Settings: 1080p at 30fps
This vid made me smile this week. Releasing work under “NC” creative commons licensing (in my case BY-SA-NC) confers on folks the right to use tracks, straight or remixed, in non-commerial work. Now, after putting my last two releases up at the freemusicarchive, searches on my name are starting to return hits. Here, my track one city soundtracks a bike ride down a New Zealand mountainside.
If noise music is ambient music turned up loud, then shoegaze is ambient music with a beat. Not just any beat, mind you, but a beat that emerges from the ebb and flow of the underlying drone, a beat that recognizes the rhythmic content in the flow of the drone and that latches onto it, building a hard lattice that supports the seemingly ethereal initial audio. It traces that underlying form, a cloud fitted with an iron scaffold. This is what happens in “Prologue: In Recollection and Amazement,” the first track off the new album from Westy Reflector, titled Transient Lines and available at bandcamp.com. The initial glisten, with hints of Robert Fripp’s tape loops, hovers like a thick cloud, builds a pulse that then reveals itself as proper drums, playing along in stereophonic splendor. What makes this more than a matter of accrual, of layering, is that the glisten itself has a reveal — slowly, for if anything this track embraces its placid approximation of momentum, the hazy original sound acknowledges that it is produced on guitar, and more familiar chiming, ringing, strummed chords kick in.