Few things in music are more transcendentally glorious when done well than instrumental 12-string guitar. Seeing late genius Jack Rose in the old, cramped Buffalo a few years ago was a dizzying treat; a man seemingly unconcerned with anything other than the guitar on his lap and the bottle at his feet, spinning out utterly beautiful, graceful melodies and dense, contemplative ragas and drones. There’s a fairly clear lineage for this stuff to all but the most knowledgable; Fahey, Basho, Rose, Chasny, James Blackshaw, all expert players but with their own takes on the style. Add to that WILLIAM TYLER, known previously to me as a member of Lambchop but, it turns out, a prodigious collaborator with Silver Jews, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Wooden Wand and performer on revivalist label Tompkins Square’s latter-day albums by country original Charlie Louvin. Tyler’s debut album Behold The Spirit works in joyous fingerpicked solo pieces with dronier sections and more expansive arrangements, and it’s bloody magnificent.
He shares the bill with a folk original and Jack Rose collaborator, Yorkshire’s MICHAEL CHAPMAN. The subject of a four-decade retrospective on Tompkins Square, Chapman’s dense, earthy acoustic laments and bluesy picking are a more traditional counterpoint to Tyler’s variations. Ignore the starry biog, this is soulful, personal stuff.
ELI KESZLER is a different matter. Improvised percussive workouts and screeching electroacoustic drone compositions inevitably but appropriately comparable to Chris Corsano. YES. Look him up on Youtube, it looks fucking great.
TUE 05 APR 11
Qu Junktions present
William Tyler (Lambchop/Silver Jews)
+ Michael Chapman (Harvest/Tompkins Square)
+ Eli Keszler
A double bill of nomadic guitar men who follow their own maps and hearts. Michael is a UK folk legend, his records have been released by Harvest and John Peel and has been championed by artists such as No Neck Blues Band and Jack Rose, with whom he toured the US. William is versed in more wayward indie country ways, and has been playing out with Lambchop a lot over the last 10 years. Via his jams with Silver Jews he also hooked up with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Different types, ages and influences but that’s what we like at Qu: each possesses their own special way of playing the guitar.
The guitar and voice of MICHAEL CHAPMAN first became known on the Cornish Folk Circuit in 1967. Playing a blend of atmospheric and autobiographical material he established a reputation for intensity and innovation, and recorded a quartet of classic albums for EMI’s Harvest label. LPs like ‘Rainmaker’ and ‘Wrecked Again’ defined the melancholic observer role Michael was to make his own, mixing intricate guitar instrumentals with a full band sound. The influential album ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’, featuring the guitar of Mick Ronson and Rick (Steeleye Span) Kemp’s bass, was John Peel’s favourite album of 1970. ‘Survivor’ featured the Chapman ‘hit’, “Postcards of Scarborough”, a characteristically tender-yet-sour song recounting feelings of nostalgia and regret. This self-styled old white blues guy from Yorkshire is one of the most underrated heroes of our time. With his uniquely English melancholic perspective and emotive guitar style he deserves wider recognition.
Michael Chapman has now found a new audience amongst new lovers of folk on both sides of the Atlantic. This rediscovery by a new generation goes into overdrive in 2011 with the release of the deluxe double CD of solo guitar compositions ‘Words Fail Me Vol 1&2’ by the Grammy-nominated Tompkins Square imprint, and the re-issue of ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’ by the Light In The Attic label.
While WILLIAM TYLER was sessioning with artists as diverse as country legend Charlie Louvin and soul singer Candi Staton, he spent time at home working on fragmentary guitar pieces and tape collages under the moniker The Paper Hats, calling on the spirit of Sandy Bull and the early Siltbreeze catalog. Then in 2008, his old friend and collaborator Volker Zander (Calexico) released the Paper Hats LP ‘Desert Canyon’ on his Apparent Extent imprint, and the two toured Europe. Now Tyler has released his first album under his own name, ‘Behold the Spirit’ (Tompkins Square), a collection of acoustic and electric guitar works intertwined with open form audio landscapes and delicately arranged instrumentation. Equal parts Appalachian drone and ambient noise.
“The world is crawling with Fahey loving guitar players but ones as good as Tyler are rare” Dusted
“There are always going to be people like Mr. Tyler, looking for the irreducible essences in American art” New York Times
A Brief History of William Tyler (from WFMU)
Eli Keszler is a composer/multi-instrumentalist based in Providence, Rhode Island. He primarily uses percussion, bowed crotales, guitar as well as invented instruments (his harps which use strings and motors) to create his sound that balances droning harmonics with shaterring acoustic sustain and fast, free rhythm, all working in balance with his integrated installations.
In addition to his solo releases, installations, visual art and performances, Eli has performed, recorded or collaborated with artists such as Phill Niblock (performing on a new work of his for Crotales and soprano saxophone with Ashley Paul), Aki Onda, Loren Connors, Jandek (I.C.A Boston and at NYU), Roscoe Mitchell (Art Ensemble of Chicago), Anthony Coleman (recording Lapidation released by New World Records), Joe Morris, Greg Kelley (Nmperign), T Model Ford, Ran Blake, Bryan Eubanks, Ashley Paul and Steve Pyne (Redhorse). He performed in the United States premiere of Mauricio Kagel’s Der Schall at Merkin Hall in 2008 led by Anthony Coleman.