Windy & Carl
W&C from 2005
Songs to Live & Drown In: 10 Questions with Windy
by Ben Malkin
"The message is like the music, maybe you have to drown in it before you can understand it."- Brian McBride of Stars Of the Lid
The music of Windy & Carl has often struck me as the most beautiful dark soft ambient murmur/drone of the past twenty years. Menacing, nonabrasive, immersive, & largely instrumental, with a subversive power that surrounds, strangles & drowns you in sound. A sound that doesn't hit you over the head with loud soft loud dynamics, or lead you formulaically to the chorus. A sound that is by and large calmer, less in your face. This is like that plant that grows up around you and ends up entwining itself within your limbs and eventually suffocating you, in beauty.
Oftentimes, the medium for this sound has been long-form, leading one to a meditative, hypnotic (one might even say religious) state. Windy & Carl have elements of ambient in their music, but combined with space rock, dream pop, spiritual jazz, and a host of other tendencies. The list of classic, monumental works in their cannon is many: 'Consciousness,' 'Ode to a Dog,' 'Depths,' Fainting in the Presence of the Lord,' 'I Have Been Waiting to Hear Your Voice,' 'Resolution,' 'The Same Moon and Stars', 'Remember,' 'Elevation', 'Lighthouse.' The list goes on and on.
To examine one example, as far as sonic ecosystems go, 'Ode to a Dog' to my ears is perfection (and challenges our whole perception of what a 'song' is, or should be). This twenty minute piece somehow exemplifies the beauty in saying goodbye to this world, more eloquently, with no lyrics/vocals whatsoever, than anything else I've ever heard. With simple guitar chords rotating back and forth, repeating and repeating, reverbs that go on forever, and guitars that build on top like trickling waterfalls, these twenty minutes do not feel like twenty minutes. They don't even feel like a song. They feel like a sonic ecosystem you find yourself living within. You feel yourself lighter in this world, floating through your living room, lost in shimmering drone. Its music seems to sum up everything complex about passing from one world into the next. Guitars, delay & reverb pedals, and perhaps loops form a sound like a flower unfolding, blooming, and dying in slow motion, held together by a drone. It's less a way of listening than a way of being. The aural equivalent of deep meditation.
The following interview took place in December of 2012.
PSF: To me, Eno is the Steve Jobs of ambience: he didn't invent it, but he sold it better than anybody else. Below is one version of him selling it, but to me, this passage really resonates/strikes a chord as a particularly apt description of Windy & Carl's cannon:
"Music as immersion is really the basis of Ambient music. It moves away from the idea of music as sort of sonic film unfolding before your ears, and instead suggests a place, a landscape, a sound world which you inhabit. It emphasizes the textural and dynamic aspects of music over narrative and the directional. It suggests a different role for the listener, and a different set of expectations about how music can be used. It ends up somewhere between Muzak and La Monte Young, somewhere between music and sculpture." - Brian Eno quoted in Mark Pendergast's The Ambient Century, Pg.130
Do you consciously create these types of landscapes, or does this type of music just naturally pore out of you when you play? Do you perceive your music as songs or sonic ecosystems/landscapes?
W: In the beginning, there was more of a thought out song structure, such as with the 7"s "Dragonfly" or "Instrumental 1 & 2." The early singles were written musically by Carl and then I would add vocals when we wanted them. I did not know how to play bass or guitar then - he taught me how to, and my first song on bass was Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick." When I think about how we were influenced I think of listening to Codeine's Frigid Stars and being in love with that sound, and then Labradford, who made us want to be on Kranky. The music was very much written in the beginning, and then, as I became more curious about playing and creating sounds, we would simply sit and play, let the music pour out of us, with no preconceived notions or ideas.
"Antarctica" is possibly the easiest and best example of this - I had been asking Carl about "what" you could run through a pedal, as in, could we hook a keyboard up to a pedal, and he said "of course." I took this old weird pedal we had and ran the late '80's Yamaha pop synth through it, and found a sound I liked. I taped the key down. I heard Carl running through the house - he liked the sound and wanted to record it. He started the tape recorder, grabbed his guitar and plugged it in, and the sound of the guitar connection is the looped icy crunchy sound that goes all the way through the piece. I picked up my bass, and we both just played. That was it. It simply "happened" to us, this beautiful piece of music that to this day I still love to hear and am fascinated with. From that point on, much of what we have created has just happened, where we simply channel sound and record it as it comes.
Some pieces are certainly songs - some have more structure to them, and esp. the pieces with words seem more song like, but a piece like "The Dream House" is a landscape to be lost in. In my mind, I see rice paddies and the passing of the day - the sun comes up, people work, the green of the grass and the reflections of water, a midday break signaled by the sound of the bell, the gradual passing on the afternoon and evening. it unfolded that way, and started simply with a sound I was fascinated with. Carl, of course, adds the most perfect guitar - his tones being what I love the most - his tonal quality to me is so welcoming. I often tell people I make music just to hear Carl play guitar. While that is not 100% true - it sure is close.
PSF: In this vein, many of your songs are quite long (at least in rock/pop terms). In terms of John or Alice Coltrane, Terry Riley or Harold Budd, Phillip Glass or Steve Reich, La Monte Young or Sun Ra, not so much, but in terms of indie rock, quite. "Ode to a Dog" is 19 min 15 seconds, "Consciousness" is 12 min. 44 seconds, "Fainting in the Presence of the Lord" is 18 min. 55 seconds, "Depths" is 19min.'s 2 seconds. "The Eternal Struggle" is 31 minutes 51 seconds, etc.
These pieces capture feelings that move beyond rock dynamics, away from quiet loud, into unfolding in time. And, at its best, into that icy in between where feelings freeze into something more beautiful.
What separates Windy & Carl's "Elevation" or "Fainting In the Presence of the Lord" from something by Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine is its leaving pop structure behind entirely, and just keeping the atmosphere. Even in a quasi-pop song of theirs like "Consciousness," the length alone leads it away from any sort of pop rock place. These are songs to live in.
Also, how has exploring these repetitive long form meditative hypnotic places affected you as musicians? What kind of state does it put you (as the musician) in? What led you to explore long form pieces in the first place? Can you discuss some artists who influenced you in making long form pieces?
W: I do not remember any specific influence as to the extended piece for us - I cannot say we heard any one in particular do 20 minute pieces and think that was the way we should go, or that we listened to anyone who made strictly ambient music that had no form to it. What I know is that we achieved certain mind alterations through alcohol etc. and then would sit down to play (yes, sit is the right word - it was always work to stand and play when we were in front of an audience, especially because a fender bass is heavy!). We would allow ourselves to be completely lost in the sound we were creating, and often times we simply channeled it from somewhere else. There was no concept of time, short or long. It was "does this feel good and for how long does it seem right?" When we are lost in sound, there is nothing else. When we get the right mix of tone and mood and emotion, we simply channel sound. We are the vessels it chooses to fill and spill out of. This is how the religious or spiritual discussions of our music started. We had no words to describe what it was that was happening, until we became avid listeners of Alice and John Coltrane, of Pharaoh Sanders, of eastern Indian influenced free and avant jazz. When Alice Coltrane put words to how she felt as she created, that is what we felt. When they talked about the spiritual connection and nature of their music, that is what was happening to us. We felt such an intense connection to what the free jazz players expressed, and we realized our musical creations were very much in the vein of avant jazz - there was no set structure, there was a freedom in creation that evoked this spiritual force and involvement.
While we enjoy songs that have structure, and we occasionally make songs in that way, we usually have no set ideas, no set rules, and no set time frame. We just let it happen. The music takes us out of our bodies - it is meditation without sitting and being quiet, except we are sitting and being quiet AND playing guitars. It is a great compliment that so many people through the years have told us they use our music for sleeping, for relaxing, for helping to let go of the worries they have. in a world of extreme stress and difficulties, we appreciate being able to occupy this quiet space in people's lives, to bring them peace and a gentle state of mind. My mom always wanted me to use my brain to find cures for disease or to make world peace or somehow change the world, and in my own way, I have changed the world, through music and by touching people's lives. It sounds corny, I know, but it really is an honor to have people listen.
PSF: Joe Carducci in his famous book Rock & The Pop Narcotic said: "American rock music is noticeably more organic and elastic than England's -not necessarily more powerful or dramatic but a more naturalistic, less conceptual response to the musical environment." (page 309)
Although Carducci was talking about rock music, this quote makes sense to me in terms of American ambient artists like Stars Of the Lid, Windy & Carl, even Sunn O))). Do you think there is a specifically American ambient aesthetic? Would you agree or disagree with the concept that American ambient music is "a more naturalistic, less conceptual response to the musical environment"?
W: I have never given this idea any thought before now. I'm not sure I can even answer the question as you've put it. Less conceptual - is that a polite way of saying "more on the fly," or "less composed and thought out"? I have always thought of Stars Of The Lid as being planned and plotted - the boys (as I have always called them) are so well written and composed. They do have a very natural feel in all their progressions, and I can say that they have made some of my favorite music and their live shows have been some of the greatest experiences I've had listening to music, but I have never considered whether it was organic or not. I have some Sunn O))) records, and some I enjoy, and some bother my ears very badly. I have hearing damage, both from playing and from seeing others play, and I cannot handle low tones to the extent Sunn uses them. That type of bass frequency makes me literally dizzy and nauseous, and I can't stand up or function. I am glad not all of their records are that heavy. In many instances now, I cannot see bands live - my ears cannot take it. and in my day to day life I have hearing loss, and part of it is a certain range of sound, so friends whose voices fall in that range have to look at me and let me know they are talking to me or I do no hear them. Their voice fades into the surrounding air. If Carl and I are in the same room, but I am near the sink and the water is on, I cannot make out what he is saying to me. I have to turn off the water and focus. I am hoping to see an ear doctor in the next year to find out what can be changed about all of this. Hearing is my favorite sense. I'm sorry to be losing it.
PSF: Unlike other instrumental post-rock, say (the current incarnation of) Earth or Dirty Three, who mine territory very rooted to the Earth by drums, your music floats off in the clouds, drum-less. Bowery Electric is a good example of a band who also explore drones, but their drones are tied down to beats. Especially on their album Beat, where they combine drones with hip hop beats, it really exemplifies how beats make music heavy, and how you sink into the Earth from such (instead of float into the clouds). How has defining yourself as by and large a no drums band ("Lighthouse" excluded) been liberating? Why no drums?
W: "Lighthouse" simply has a cymbal, that I play, and I have always been happy with the timing I kept through the whole track! Why no drums - we don't play them. We don't own them. They don't seem necessary to what we do. It's not that we have not considered them - we've done recording projects and live shows with drummers but it is never as comfortable or conducive to us as creating just with guitars or bass. We have used the odd keyboard ("Antarctica," "The Eternal Struggle") and in recent years I've played no bass at all, and we get what we want out of using just guitars, so why change it?
I listen to Sonic Youth and I feel this driving rhythm, and I feel sometimes like I want to make music that has sound propulsion like "Shadow Of A Doubt," that thundering forward motion, and I feel it in my bones and want to create that way, but it is just a fleeting thought. When it comes to the music Carl and I create, it is more about environment and meditation, about the out of body, a sound that can take you out of what is happening and let you forget about it a for a while, or conversely - focus in a way you cannot normally focus. Drums are beautiful and powerful, but can also be distracting.
If we had no jobs, and had all the time to simply create music and art, I am sure we would have numerous projects and some would have drums. We own a drum machine, and we have toyed with some programmed sounds and some patterns, but still we have done nothing with them. The newest pieces we are working on all have a distinct pattern and rhythm to them, but it is still drumless and beatless. We simply enjoy using our guitars for everything we do.
PSF: You've often talked in interviews about how you like to record live onto tape, and in pieces like "Ode to a Dog" and "Depths," it certainly sounds like it. Irrespective of electronics, you feel how alive and in the moment this music is, created by two people playing together in a room, (in the case of "Ode to a Dog") working through this process (of saying goodbye). How is your music composed? How much does improvisation come into play and how much is premeditated? Is it edited later (do you dump it into a computer after recording on tape)? How do you split up the sound duties?
W: With the exception of "Hypnos," Carl has always engineered and recorded everything. "Hypnos" was my one and only experiment with the 4 track. I could hear how I wanted the song to sound, but I cannot sing in front of anyone, so I learned how to use the machine and I recorded myself singing. Otherwise, Carl does it all. He makes sure we do not blow the levels, he sets up the microphones, he gets it all ready and then we play. When we mix for the final release, we sit together and discuss the levels and the mix - which guitar should be louder, when a track comes and goes and needs fading. Carl has this awful habit of using the reel to reel and turning its 8 tracks into a wildly knit quilt of songs - and so at any point that you stop the tape and listen to each track individually you can hear parts of up to 3 different songs. It means the sheets we use to watch times and levels are very complicated and messy - and when we mix we really have to pay attention to bring tracks in and out on time. An exception to this story is that I mixed The Eternal Struggle and Carl simply watched the computer levels. You see, we record to the 8 track reel to reel and then we mix onto a computer. The computer is only used for creating a master disc so the piece can be pressed onto CD or vinyl. We use the computer for nothing else. We don't know how to use computers for anything else. That is not where our interests lie or where we want to go with our music, so the computer is essentially the final step in the process, and is only for creating a master disc.
With The Eternal Struggle, I mixed it. But I was unsure of myself. And I questioned my first mix, and so I tried over and over. Carl watched the levels the whole time, through NINE re-mixings of the 33 minute track. It took several days. We did it in the summer when it was 90 degrees, and we have no air conditioning (all work done at home). In the end, I stretched the tape out due to over playing and extreme heat. When I listened back, the very first mix was the best, and yet I had worried and questioned myself so much that I had destroyed the master tape in a quest for something better.
It was right the first time.
For what we do, it is almost always the first time that works the best. Before we let ourselves worry, before we allow the fear to creep in. Sit down, pick up the instruments, find a sound we like and go. A single note can spur a whole hour long piece. The settings on the pedals, the room sound, the color of the sky and if it is raining or sunny. The piece for "Flea" – "Ode to a Dog" - it features him. We played to his voice, his sound, as a final farewell. We walked him, and recorded his breath, his nails on the pavement, the end of the walk where he drinks water. And on a day long after he was gone that we felt we could listen to the tape and not cry, we picked up our guitars and played to the sound of our friend, remembering him and celebrating his time with us. Those pieces are true expression, not thought out, not preplanned, nothing but on the spot emotion coming out of us. "Ode to a Dog" showcases how well Carl and I work together, how easily we work together, how when it all falls into place there is just the two of us on this earth making sound together. That intimacy, that connectedness. It is the greatest joy I have in life.
PSF: I know on your latest album, 'We Will Always Be', you wrote in your blog post:
"– it started in 2009 with a series of recordings Carl had under taken. I had a solo record – our close friends told Carl to make a solo record. he recorded, on and off, for maybe 18 months. all by himself, and amassed a wonderful inventory of tracks to work with. then valentines day 2011 was coming, and his gift to me was this cd of tracks he had done, all alone, and a lot of them new, just for me. I loved them, all of them. I played them all day every day for months. Carl told me it was music just for me, and no one else would ever hear it."
On this latest release, you said you play guitar on one song, but otherwise it's all just Carl. I'm assuming this is not the case on prior releases though, and obviously live you play all over the place.
On previous albums, how did the process work? Oftentimes it does sound like two people playing together in a room. Is this an illusion, or was this actually the case?
W: On Portal, it was all Carl. I did words for songs and I think that is it. On Drawing of Sound I play bass on everything except "Venice," which is me on the keyboard. And of course I sing. We recorded much of that in a proper studio and we both played at once. Depths was a tricky one - we each wrote half of the record and then fought over letting each other on our songs - we are stupidly passionate about things, all sorts of things, and Depths was a wild ride from beginning to end. Carl ended up playing on all my songs but I am only on some of his. Yet Depths is such a gorgeous record, and I do not despise him for having some tracks that are just his.
(It is funny - when we write songs they have working titles, and when they are finally named, we do not often remember their real names - we stick with the working titles, so without getting the disc out and listening, I can only tell you that "The Silent Ocean" was my song, and then of course the one near the beginning that sounds like Vini Reilly guitar plucking, and how lame after all these years that we could still divide that record up and claim certain songs as our own....).
Consciousness was mostly Carl - it was written after my father died and I always felt it was Carl's record, and yet "The Sun" is my piece, and I play a good amount of guitar on that record and I sing. The only voice ever in our songs is mine, even though sometimes people swear a man is singing - I tell them it is my inner Nina Simone coming out. Consciousness was written as we learned all about Alice and John Coltrane and their views on music being spiritual, and that is why the songs have their titles - named after Alice and John and Pharaoh Sanders songs, given art from an Archie Shepp LP (The Way Ahead). It happened at a time where the world seemed to open up for us and we felt this freedom - this ability to do anything, like standing on a cliff and knowing you could fly over the edge if you wanted. It was amazing. And then my mom died.
Over the past decade, most of what we have written has happened together, either simultaneously or with one of us writing a part and the other finding a perfect partner for that sound. It is not so much planned or thought out. When it sounds like we are together in a room playing simultaneously that is because it is the truth - that is how we usually work the best.
PSF: Carl's sound is so unique, cosmic, heavenly, a phenomenon of nature. You've mentioned on many occasions that he's your favorite guitar player in the world:
"... i love music to no end, and I love to hear Carl play the guitar more than just about anything else in this world. I play to hear him play. it's that simple. together we have a world no one else really knows. we often do not even need to speak – we just know. we joke about how we share one brain."
You always say how much you love Carl's playing, but to an outsider (maybe romantically looking in) so much of it is the sound of you two entwined, or is it? Live, it appears to be the two of you playing, entwining. So on record, obviously the voice is yours, but how much of the guitars is Carl? And if it is the two of you entwined, why don't you give yourself more credit for the instrumental sound of Windy & Carl (especially because so many of your songs are instrumental)?
W: I am not a rooster. I do not strut around. I do not call out from the rooftops about what I do and who I am. It is easy for me to be a champion of Carl, and of his sound, because then I am tooting a horn for him, and not for myself. I have the ability to create, I can and have made amazing music, but I lack the confidence to claim it as my own. I believe I lost my ego years ago. This is part of what keeps us (me) from achieving the status I wish sometimes we had in the musical world, this shyness I have that keeps me quiet and subdued. It is easier for me to talk about Carl. Period.
Much of the work on Akimatsuri is me - I was writing a lot then and using an e-bow and trying a lot of techniques with pedals and sound. I have bursts of confidence, but they always somehow seem to get squashed, and then I am afraid again to be so active.
When you hear our music, it is the two of us intertwined, it did take both of us to make that sound, but there is a human side to it all - and relationships are not easy to care for, there are rough patches and big holes you can fall into and sometimes it is better for me to step back and let Carl get the spotlight. I really cannot explain it in an interview with someone I do not know. I will not allow that much of my personal life to be out in the open. I do play a great deal on Songs for the Broken Hearted, and I sing on it quite a bit, but I do not usually talk about myself. Maybe if I did, I would have more respect from people. This is my internal struggle. Sometimes it is easier to garden and walk the dogs than to be creative or take the reins, easier to let my shy side be in control. All of my creative output takes so much of me to create, so much emotion and intensity, that it really can be easier to stand back and be less involved. I have days where I am so proud of my solo LP, and then most of the time, I am just embarrassed that I let so much of myself out into the world, and I'd rather hide under the bed than talk about what I've accomplished. I'm not really sure when this change in myself happened - I did not used to feel this way. I had confidence once, but I do not seem to have it anymore.
PSF: Most of your music would be unthinkable without pedals, delay, reverb, harmonic, processors, samplers, drones, loops, etc. And yet with these tools you were freed to create just pure beauty. The tyranny of theory fell to beauty. In a very simple fashion, normal folks could create religious meditations on existence that were beyond hypnotic: that were transcendent. And in the best sense, that's exactly what these songs are- transcendent.
The pedals sort of allow the folk musician access to certain concepts. This is something ne
W: the untrained in the typical classical sense approaching sound painting- no pop at all, just pure beauty. It's not La Monte Young's very knowing hyper-aware tunings in "The Well-Tuned Piano." It's not Harold Budd's very schooled approach in The Pavilion of Dreams. It's more (like) Satie before he went back to school, but it's not that either. It certainly uses technology.
So let's talk about pedals. What are your favorites and how have they effected your sound over the years? How much of your sound do you attribute to the physical playing? And how much to the pedals or electronic transfiguration/transubstantiation?
Kevin Shield's often points out it's not the effects pedals he uses, but the physical performance on his guitar that is responsible for a lot of his sound. Do you think this physicality of performance is a factor behind what separates you from other, more electronic or loop based ambient artists?
W: The favorite - a space echo. My baby. It was what Vini Reilly used in all the early Durutti Column recordings. The guitar - a Fender Jaguar, since replaced with Vini's guitar - I bought a Les Paul from him a while back. The strings - light for me and heavy for Carl. We were on Guitar Geek once with an actual diagram of our set up, but I prefer to not disclose it all now. I will say we just played in Seattle with only 5 pedals - 2 for me and 3 for Carl, simple pedals of delay and distortion, because for us it truly is in the playing. Knowing the tones you want. Knowing how to set the guitar and the pedals, using the right gauge of strings. Using the right amplifier. I could tell you what pedals but it would not make a difference - it is all in how you play the instrument, how you set it all up, how much attention you pay to the details.
It rather works like this - Carl and I work in frequencies, in tones we like to be immersed in. Usually a warm, slightly fuzzy tone with multiple frequency ranges. We don't plan them, but we find them, and work within them. We connect on a subconscious level, on an electrical level to each other, and we play in and around each other. It is an experience, a spiritual connection to both each other and the sound. It happens this way because of who we are and how we play, because of our relationship to each other and the music, because of a way of hearing that most people do not have. Our music is made through the being of who we are, not necessarily because we have a certain pedal hooked to our amp.
PSF: Do you think the record store you own, Stormy Records, has affected your music at all? I know you were performing this style of music before Stormy Records opened, but do you think owning a record store and not needing to depend on being a touring musician for your livelihood has affected your aesthetic at all, and allowed you to explore more noncommercial musical avenues? Or did you just naturally fall into this style of music, and commercial aspirations were never even a consideration?
W: Oh dear - well, I wished, and still wish, we could make a living from making music. It was my dream for so long, since I was 12, to be in a band and tour the world and have this be my life. The realities of today's music world are so different than what I dreamt of. Within 24 hours of any music of ours being released into the world, it is on 50 different torrent sites and everyone takes it for free. I am so thankful for the people who still support is financially, who still wish to own physical copies of the music by artists they enjoy. Touring was never really a possibility - I am too sick too often to make that happen, and the audience is not really there for what we do.
The shop supports us and allows us to do something we dearly love - put the right music into the hands of people who should be hearing it. It is a daily joy for us to be able to help people like Tim Hecker or Leyland James Kirby find new listeners. To have sold 20 plus copies of the new Loscil in the past 2 months. To be immersed in music all day every day, new sounds and old sounds, discussions, faces, voices, opinions. Carl and I love music. We are thrilled to be surrounded by it all day every day both through the shop and by creating it ourselves. We may not be rich financially, but we are so wealthy in terms of experiences and friends. Music has brought us everything, and we are thrilled to have a shop and to live this dream. We have been open now 13 1/2 years, and we truly love what we do every day. We are very lucky.
I am not sure it has affected our personal musical output - we have stayed true to our own process and sound making regardless of what is in fashion or selling well, even in indie terms. The shop pays our bills, and lets us do various things we love to do each day - still make our own art, and help the art that we adore find new listeners. It's an incredible situation. We realized years ago we did not need money to be happy, and we built our life on low cost housing and old cars and simple things to allow for doing what we love so much. I wish more people could realize how money does not necessarily bring happiness - I mean, it helps to have heat and food and stuff, but to bring real wealth in life experience you need to live simply and let life come to you. We are spoiled and happy, even if we may never be financially comfortable.
PSF: You said you left performing live in a recent blog post: this is a shame as, though I completely understand how it is liberating to you personally, your music, especially translates live. I first saw you at the Knitting Factory in the late '90's and it was a religious, life-changing experience- the last song, it must have been "Depths" and everyone waking up when the music suddenly stopped as if held in a trance and the trance is suddenly broken and everyone awakens from the deep/real O mind they were all a part of.
Is there any scenario in which you'd return to playing live again?
In another blog post, you said you think Carl's music belongs in a place like the Warhol Museum, or Cathedrals.
"I have wished, all these years, that Carl would garner the same sort of respect, the same kind of listenership, the same adoration that allows musicians that ability to play the Warhol museum, or gorgeous cathedrals, or any of the things that I have watched others do for years. yes, we have had some luck, and I am thankful for that. but Carl is my very favorite guitar player, my very favorite musician, and I wish he could have this type of notice, this type of attention. I wish the world could hear him the way I do." -William Basinski and my love of Carl's guitar playing by Windy, November 21, 2012
I've often found ambient-sound sculpture-sonic ecosystems work better in art gallery environments than rock clubs. Given a Cathedral or world class museum, or an All Tomorrow's Parties invitation, would any of these be scenarios in which you'd consider playing again live?
W: It would have to be something really special. At this point in time, we really do not feel like traveling anymore. Also, we are so picky about how a performance happens that we practice for weeks ahead of time, which is disruptive to everything else in our lives. Then of course, there is the ear issue I already mentioned. It would be nice to even be invited to an event such as All Tomorrow's Parties, but at this point in time I'm not sure we would agree to go. It's time for a break in routine, and for doing other things in our lives. We will certainly continue to make music, to record and release records. We have a number of pieces we are working on now, both together and for a solo LP that Carl is doing, so that will not change. To play again in front of an audience anywhere outside of our own shade garden is going to take a number of things - time, as we would not do it now, the right place (somewhere truly historic and lovely) and the right feel to it all. Something akin to performing at the Detroit Institute of Arts with Terry Riley, like we did in 2001. Something really special and unique. I guess we'll say yes when it's the unicorn of all shows.
Post-script: Toward the end of my wife's pregnancy, I worked for weeks on an ambient birth playlist to provide the perfect atmosphere/sonic ecosystem to my daughter entering the world. The playlist was on shuffle on a small portable speaker next to the bed, and played all night long in the hospital. When my daughter was literally being born, Windy & Carl's "The Eternal Struggle" came on. This song is thirty one minutes and fifty one seconds long, and after a night of induction, when it finally came time to push, from everything we'd heard about pushing, this song (that came on quite randomly), that I'd loved for so long as a slow build, seemed quite appropriate. Thinking it the perfect soundtrack at that very moment, my daughter raced out in less than five minutes. A beautiful universal wink if ever there was one.
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