Using four guitars tracks, each assigned to a specific melody in counterpoint, Bill Orcutt presents an assertive set of fourteen compositions in a minimalist form--think Steve Reich--each part organized through controlled freneticism that tames the wild nature inherent in each piece; a downloadable 80 page score illustrates the complex madness of the guitarist's mind.
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Catalog ID: PAL 068CD
Squidco Product Code: 32718
Recorded at the Living Room, San Francisco, California, in Spring and Summer, 2021.
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• Show Bio for Bill Orcutt
"Bill Orcutt (born February 2, 1962) is an American guitarist and composer whose work combines elements of blues, punk, and free improvisation. Inspired by seeing Muddy Waters in The Last Waltz, Orcutt began playing the guitar as a teenager in Miami. In 1992, he formed the band Harry Pussy with his wife, Cuban/American drummer and vocalist Adris Hoyos. The group recorded three LPs and toured the US frequently, often in support of indie bands like Sonic Youth and Sebadoh. Their music, which drew from American no wave, hardcore punk and free jazz was influential and "served as a progenitor for the Noise movement." In 1997 the band dissolved and the couple divorced. Orcutt moved to San Francisco and took a long hiatus from music, returning in 2009, with an LP of solo guitar entitled A New Way To Pay Old Debts which was well received, ranking 3rd of 2009 in the The Wire magazine's annual "Rewind" list. His follow-up release How The Thing Sings was similarly praised, reaching number 3 on NPR's The Best Outer Sound Albums Of 2011. Since 2009, Orcutt has toured often appearing at festivals in the US and Europe, including Hopscotch, Incubate, Le Nouveau Festival du Centre Pompidou, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Donau and Big Ears. Typically a solo performer, Orcutt has also recorded or performed with Loren Mazzacane Connors, Chris Corsano, Peter Brotzmann and Alan & Richard Bishop."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Orcutt)
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1. A Different View (1:58)
2. Two Things Close Together (2:31)
3. At A Distance (2:51)
4. In Profile (1:54)
5. Or From Behind (2:00)
6. Seen From Above (2:04)
7. On The Horizon (2:01)
8. Glimpsed While Driving (2:03)
9. Only At Dusk (2:50)
10. Barely Visible (2:03)
11. Out Of The Corner Of The Eye (2:02)
12. In The Rain (1:57)
13. From Below (1:58)
14. Or Head On (1:53)
sample the album:
"In a trajectory full of about-faces, Music for Four Guitars splices the formal innovations of Bill Orcutt's software-based music into the lobe-frying, blown-out Fender hyperdrive of his most frenetic workouts with Corsano or Hoyos. And while the guitar tone here is resolutely treble-kicked - or, as Orcutt puts it, "a bridge pickup rather than a neck pickup record" - it still wades the same melodic streams as his previous LPs (yet, as Heraclitus taught us, that stream is utterly different the second time around). Although it's a true left-field listen, Music for Four Guitars is bizarrely meditative, a Bill Orcutt Buddha Machine, a glimpse of the world of icy beauty haunting the latitudes high above the Delta (down where the climate suits your clothes).
I've written before of the immediate misapprehension that greeted Harry Pussy on their first tour with my band Charalambides - that this was a trio of crazed freaks spontaneously spewing sound from wherever their fingers or drumsticks happened to land - but I'll grant the casual listener a certain amount of confusion based on the early recorded evidence (and the fact that the band COULD be a trio of crazed freaks letting fly, as we learned from later tours). But to my ears, the precision and composition of their tracks were immediately apparent, as if the band was some sort of 5-D music box with its handle cranked into oblivion by a calculating organ grinder, running through musical maps as pre-ordained as the road to a Calvinist's grave.
That organ grinder, it turns out, was Bill Orcutt, whose solo guitar output until 2022 has tilted decidedly towards improvisation, while his fetish for relentless, gridlike composition has animated his electronic music (c.f. Live in LA, A Mechanical Joey). Music for Four Guitars, apparently percolating since 2015 as a loosely-conceived score for an actual meatspace guitar quartet, is the culmination of years ruminating on classical music, Magic Band miniatures, and (perhaps) The League of Crafty Guitarists, although when the Reich-isms got tossed in the brew is anyone's guess.
And Reichian (Steve, not Wilhelm) it is. The album's form is startlingly minimalist - four guitars, each consigned to a chattering melody in counterpoint, repeated in cells throughout the course of the track, selectively pulled in and out of the mix to build fugue-like drama over the course of 11 brief tracks. It's tempting to compare them to chamber music, but these pieces reflect little of the delicacy of Satie's Gymnopedies or Bach's Cantatas. Instead, they bulldoze their way through melodic content with a touch of the motorik romanticism of New Order or Bailter Space ("At a Distance"), but more often ("A Different View," "On the Horizon") with the gonad-crushing drive of Discipline-era Crimson, full of squared corners, coldly angled like Beefheart-via-Beat-Detective.
Just to nail down the classical fetishism, the album features a download of an 80-page PDF score transcribed by guitarist Shane Parish. And while it'd be just as reproducible as a bit of code or a player piano roll, I can easily close my eyes and imagine folks with brows higher than mine squeezing into their difficult-listening-hour folding chairs at Issue Project Room to soak up these sounds being played by real people reading a printed score 50 years from now. And as much as I want to bomb anyone's academy, that feels like a warm fuzzy future to sink into."-Tom Carter
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