Two Labyrinths Records has been busy in early 2020, releasing two new projects involving favored collaborators.
In January we released Cole-Marr's debut single Joe Hill. This is the fraternal collaboration of Danny and Chris Fisher-Lochhead, taking on a new name that combines the lost family names of their grandmothers. Danny and Chris depart from their distinct musical trainings and professional identities to engage directly with social justice issues in their song choices on this record.
In February we released Vinesines' Colored Over [improvised songs], which documents the initial recordings by the duo of Emmalee Hunnicutt and Ben Hjertmann improvising songs and stories in the studio. The Alibi praised this as "intensely felt and profoundly performed music."
Check these releases out on your next dog-walk or lunch break.
The more hopeless the commercial prospects of recorded music become, the more heartened I am by the work of small, independent record labels. The world is a scary place, but some people feel compelled to speak up about it. Let's listen.
Really we should get less scared as we get older, since in terms of our time and experience, actuarially speaking, we have less and less to lose. Funny that it doesn’t happen that way.
I’ve been busy. Someone told me that Verdi (or someone) called them his “trench years”—working day night on music, forging his craft. But I’m really trying to avoid military metaphors. Maybe let’s say my nose has been to the grindstone. It’s hard to look out the window when you’re crouched over the stone; after a while, one’s neck gets sore.
How to maintain a long view? I’ve tried to maintain a long afternoon dog walk this winter. I stretch out the mind on these walks listening to spacious music, usually instrumental. On the playlist: Rob Mazurek, Jessica Pavone, Streifenjunko, Andrew Weathers/Seth Chrisman.
In Andrew’s recent newsletter he made a point about choosing non-commercial, non-algorithmical, non-industrial entertainments. A perhaps eyerollable metaphor to agriculture: maybe this music, like a local vegetable, has nutrients you won’t get from more depleted soils. I’ll take it a step further: it’s helpful to listen to music by people you know. There is an extra dimension to this. In that spirit, I’ve also been spending time with the two best musicians I shared bills with on tour last May: More Eaze and David Lord, the guitar wizard of Wichita.
Another way to extend mental space is spending time on a long-term project. Eighteen variations in, I am finally ready to admit that I am learning Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated! The scheme is I learn one variation a week, and every six I double back for a week or two and review. Learning a piece like this is perhaps like climbing a mountain. South of Albuquerque there is a formidable one called Ladron Peak, named for the bandits that supposedly used to hide out there. You start the day by driving nearly a full circle around Ladron; then you start on foot. Throughout the day hiking, from some angles the mountain looks smaller, more manageable; from others, impossibly tall and distant. There are no trees to block your view; you can see the summit the whole time. You just have to keep trust, and keep walking.
Again to shun the militaristic, I don’t want to “conquer” the Rzewski or “surmount” anything. I just want to explore it, to know a piece or a place well, to spend a day (or a year) walking. In some traditions it is considered disrespectful to actually climb a mountain. The proper act of humility and devotion, rather, is to circumambulate.
• Gone Walkabout
• Music as Drama
• Crossroads II
• 10 Best of 2014
• January: Wyoming and the Open
• February: New Mexico and the Holes
• Coming Up
• Notes on The Accounts
• Crossroad Blues