Here it is -- Lost Horse vol. 2, five previously unreleased songs from my time in Joshua Tree in the fall of 2009. Enjoy and happy new year!
••• Note about album length and the idea of "albums" in general •••
Apropos of the continuing conversation about modes of music distribution, classical concert ritual, solitude and leadership, etc. :
They're telling us it's all about short bursts of digital information these days; people have small attention spans, they tweet, they watch Youtube videos, and they download, if anything, tracks and not full albums.
First, one encouraging thing about my chosen distribution service, Bandcamp, is that albums outsell individual tracks there. Cool. Obviously they cater to listeners who are interested in the whole statement.
I'm one of those listeners, too. I love the idea of an "album," a collection of pieces that have some sort of thematic connection, explicit or not, sometimes emergent and highly personal to the listener.
Yes, we have to acknowledge that our current idea of "tracks" and "albums" is not a priori stone-tablet business, but arose from the physical facts of vinyl records. You'll notice that the songs on Lost Horse vol. 2 stick close to the normative 3:30 duration that's been with us since the 10-inch 78rpm record. We didn't have the "album" as an artistic category until the LP record came along, with its 20 minutes per side.
I grew up primarily in the era of CD-defined albums. CDs, of course, can hold about 80 minutes of music, twice as much as those LP records. I've always felt that this is a bit much for an album. Sufjan Stevens' albums that sit around 65-70 minutes are too much to take in. I prefer the 35ish-minute LP format that I find in older records.
However, while the reasonable length of the Beatles' Revolver, for example, made it a digestible listen when I first heard it, I didn't have the complete experience hearing it on CD. Even in that relatively compact "long form," we miss the psychological punctuation of changing sides. I love that this process involves volition; we have to physically acknowledge that we want to hear more by standing up, walking to the turntable, and flipping the record.
This is impossible to replicate in digital formats. It's been a pleasure to start buying vinyl records again recently and experience the feeling of a temporary pause after Side One followed by a new beginning on Side Two. I hear Nick Drake's Pink Moon so, so differently now that I know the relative length and complexity of "Things Behind the Sun" ends the first side and "Know," with its stark and simple material, opens the second. This punctuation is essential to understanding the construction of the composite piece. (And how much more meaningful is it when I hear the final strains of "From the Morning" and think "I want to hear all of that again" and find myself flipping the record back to Side One...?)
I hate concert intermissions, like many modern listeners. They're just kind of awkward. I can't believe people used to go out to the opera regularly and spend so many hours, subject themselves to so many intermissions. But wow, think of the formal possibilities there. I'm forced to admit that a degree of submission to the experience has been lost.
Anyway, I consider all of my Golconda releases so far to be "albums." Not "EPs" or "LPs"; those terms I consider outdated, but not the "album," which again is an artistic category as essential to my musical conception as the symphony was to composers of the European nineteenth century. So I'll keep using that term, and if my albums are a little shorter than what you're used to, it's not because I consider them any sort of miniature form, but because I'm presenting pieces of the size and dimensions I myself most enjoy--until, perhaps, I find the syntactical strategies to satisfactorily expand them (as I find it thematically necessary to do so).
• 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