Monday, March 14, 2011

3-Way Singles Club launches May 1st!

ITAV's "3-Way Singles Club," hearkening to all those great singles series of the distant (and recent) past where you would receive a 45 RPM record in the mail every month, will launch May 1st with a very special 3-song/3-artist tribute, in miniature, to beloved indie rock/slowcore band Low.

Envisioned as a monthly series of digital triple-A side singles, each volume of the 3-Way Singles Club will feature 3 exclusive songs by 3 different independent artists.  Some of the singles will have themes, some will be more freeform in nature.  Some of them will juxtapose musical styles, others will celebrate particular genres.  Right now, we have about the first 6 months worth of singles lined up, featuring an all-star cast of Midwest musicians such as The Plurals, The Hat Madder, Cavalcade, Narc Out The Reds, The Playback, Flatfoot, Frank And Earnest, Jet Lag Superstar, RxGibbs, Karyatid, Cat Midway & The Knick-Knacks, and many more.

For the inaugural May single (Vol. 1!), 3 bands will cover Low songs:  Double Saginaw Familiarity will interpret "Dragonfly," Joshua Barton & The Brothers And Sisters will perform "Shame," and Stargrazer will record "Hand So Small" (from the great out-of-print E.P. Low did in conjunction with electronic duo Spring Heel Jack.)

Volume One of the 3-Way Singles Club will be FREE!  Stay tuned for the link, which will be provided May 1st!  You can also visit the 3-Way Singles Club Page for more information on the series and to see upcoming singles.

Volume 1's miniature tribute to Low precedes ITAV's planned summer release of a full-length Low tribute recorded by East Lansing sound engineer/producer Bryan Kay.  Bryan assembled a collective dubbed Cardboard Academy to record "Metal & Fire: Songs Low Taught Us."  Look for more information on that upcoming release around the same time Volume 1 drops -- and by the way, the 3 songs on Volume 1 are all different than what will appear on the full-length!

To all of the artists on Volume 1, Low has played an important and influential part in their lives and in their development as musicians.  The spare, stately harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, Low's principal members, combined with music as melodic as it is minimal, presents just as many openings for interpretation as it does challenges.

Dan Pehachek, a.k.a. Double Saginaw Familiarity, experienced Low in perhaps their most ideal setting, live:

"I first fell in love with Dragonfly hearing it live, and the memory is mostly an emotion set off by a guitar tone and harmonized vocals filling a small room.  Low taught me how to project emotion through sustained tones and silences, and I wanted to capture some of that in my cover.  I also wanted it to be something I could easily recreate live, so that whether I play it in a venue or a listener plays the recording loud in their room, the experience can trigger the same set of emotions and memories."

That sense of immediacy that is so integral to Low's music is also something Joshua Barton (of Fields Of Industry and their parent collective, AvE Records) seeks to capture.  He also confided in me that Low had provided part of the soundtrack for his relationship with his wife, Mary Jane.  Initially, his cover of the elegaic "Shame" off of the Long Division album was envisioned as a duet between he and she, however the idea expanded to include other members of AvE who also shared connectivity with Low's music.

Of the recording, Joshua aims to "record as live as possible and utilize harmonies beyond just Mary Jane and I."  If that isn't tantalizing....

Finally, I was unable to keep myself away from this project.  In addition to making a cameo appearance on Songs of Metal & Fire, where I play the last few bass notes of the closing song "Point Of Disgust," my own musical life has benefited so much from exposure to Low.  As a solo bass singer/songwriter, minimalism is the ocean I swim in (as a certain polar bear once said, of warfare).  Learning to let the spaces between notes sing is something I can trace directly back to their work.  The Bombscare E.P. that they recorded with drum 'n' bass duo Spring Heel Jack, circa 2000, was my first real exposure to them -- a slightly more ornamented sound, but one infinitely sensitive to the underlying, beautiful songcraft.  Therefore, Stargrazer delivers my own unique lo-fi interpretation of "Hand So Small," a song I hear in my dreams and deep within the fabric of every note I play.

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