When an artist and session player like Leo Abrahams is continually involved in so many varied and interesting musical endeavors, it is essential to catch up. For the first time we actually spoke rather than emailed and an interview turned into a conversation, starting with a discussion of another wide-ranging guitarist we both love, Chris Spedding (Elton John, Bryan Ferry, John Cale, Robert Gordon et al), before getting into gear and aleatory music concepts.
In May of 2014 I conducted an extensive interview with David Torn in Brooklyn. I finally got it transcribed and posted in January of 2015. People have since wondered what happened to Part II.
In June of 2015, I went to the Baltimore/Washington DC area to catch two shows of David’s 2015 solo tour. On a day off between shows we met in his Baltimore hotel room for another marathon interview. I finally had it transcribed in September of 2015. Reading the transcription, I felt honored that David was comfortable enough to be extremely candid about many aspects of his life and career, but I worried that he might regret some of his more intimate revelations and opinions. Over the next year and a half I tried to figure out a way to let him edit out anything that made him uncomfortable, but a busy schedule seemed to preclude this. Ultimately, I used my own judgment in deciding what to remove and what to leave in. The result includes great stories, information about his process, gear, and the health issues that he has made public—plus a bonanza of newly posted video, including some of him playing with talented his son Elijah B. Enjoy.
I don’t usually write about pop albums, mostly because I don’t listen to much pop music and so am unaware of any modern use of guitar. I am sure there is, and if there is something I should hear please write to me. The New Dirty Projectors record, titled, er, Dirty Projectors, is one of those releases I couldn’t avoid, what with multiple features on David Longstreth (now the entirety of Dirty Projectors membership) in the New York Times. I have been peripherally aware of the band, but this is the first record I checked out extensively. I found some of the most interesting guitar sounds on a pop record since David Sylvian’s own playing, and use of Derek Bailey, on Blemish.
Sarah Lipstate has been a unique voice in modern guitar ever since she went solo as Noveller and began her distinctive looping performances. You can get the back story in my first Guitar Moderne interview, as well as in the one I did for Guitar Player . Much has happened in Noveller-land since then, so on the occasion of the release, A Pink Sunset for No One, it seemed time to sit down with her and find out how she has taken the one-time niche of guitar looping to the big stage with the likes of St. Vincent and Iggy Pop. An admitted gear-junkie, we delve into the goodies she is using, (spoiler alert: like Eno she eschews the comfort of the familiar for the excitement of experimentation.) But Sarah was also candid about her artist’s journey: how she came to these extraordinary opportunities, and why she decided to forsake Brooklyn for Los Angeles.
The Space Spiral ($195.00 street) seems on the surface to be a typical modulated digital delay, but as with many Earthquaker Devices, er, devices, it is something more.
Like their Dispatch Master, the Spiral Delay is designed around what their literature refers to as a “dawn of digital” echo processor. This lo-fi technology gives this unit a more analog murk that sits the delayed signal nicely behind the original. Despite being digital, the sound of the delays are warm and smooth, without any audible aliasing, even when mixed very wet.