Last April I was invited by chief engineer of BLACK DIRT STUDIO, Jason Meagher (No Neck Blues Band, Coach Fingers) to take part in a new collaborative recording project called NATCH. The idea of the project is to bring two different sounding bands/artists to Black Dirt’s upstate NY studio and record a couple tracks together. Jason paired me with the Brooklyn dream folk duo MIGHTY MOON, comprised of members Leah Evans and Jay Giampietro. I asked my good pal and RAIN BAND drummer Ethan Schmid to tag along to add his percussion and banjo skills.
We ended up recording two songs and two instrumentals with each musician playing a role on each track. My contributions are “Love in Vain” and “Memory Loss”, while Mighty Moon contributed “Worlds Away” and “Trees Don’t Sleep”. It was amazing how fast these came together.
Feel free to share the mp3’s from the soundcloud links below, and don’t forget to download the whole session from WFMU’s FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE at the bottom of this post.
“Love in Vain” was written by the near mythical figure, Robert Johnson. I’ve been playing my own warped version of his classic for years. While the lyrics are adapted from the original song, the music and melody is my own invention. I pick out the notes on the guitar in what John Fahey called the “Sphinx” tuning, a little something he copped from Skip James. Playing it this way transforms the feeling of the narrative, making for a much more haunted blues sound. I had never shown Ethan the song until we started recording it. We nailed it on the second take!
Zachary Cale: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Leah Evans: Organ
Jay Giampietro: Electric Guitar Textures
Ethan Schmid: Drums and Percussion
“Worlds Away” is a song by Mighty Moon. It’s a delicate ballad with a unique rhythmic pattern that Jay implements expertly on acoustic guitar. It took me a while to wrap my head around it’s complex chord structure, but eventually I found a nice arpeggiated acoustic pattern to lay over it. Ethan took my lead and added his own complimentary banjo licks to it. Leah sang lead which makes this song float in a heavenly way.
Leah Evans: Vocals
Jay Giampietro: Acoustic Guitar, Organ
Zachary Cale: Acoustic Guitar
Ethan Schmid: Banjo, Percussion
“Memory Loss” is an instrumental guitar piece that I had lying around. I thought it would be a good experiment to loop the chord pattern for a while to focus on it’s natural drone and wait for the overtones to take shape. It’s cyclical in nature, sort of like a canon. Even though there aren’t any lyrics Leah and I added some choral harmonies that takes the place of the lead melody. Everyone brought something cool to the piece. It was the first thing we recorded that night, with all four of playing live in the room together.
Zachary Cale: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Jay Giampietro: Electric Guitar
Leah Evans: Vocals, Organ
Ethan Schmid: Drums, Percussion
“Trees Don’t Sleep” was formed out of a late night jam led by Jay’s effects laden guitar drone. Jay laid down the guitar loop and then we all improvised live over it a couple times. Later Jason cut up the different takes and made a sort of audio collage of it. I must have played two or three different guitars all in different tuning on this. Once Ethan came in on drums it broke from it’s original ambient nature and into a frenetic dub.
Jay Giampietro: Loops, Organ, Electric Guitar
Zachary Cale: Electric Guitars
Leah Evans: Piano
Ethan Schmid: Drums, Percussion
Be sure to visit the NATCH tumblr page to check out some pictures from the session as well as the other sessions recorded there.
For a FREE download of the entire session visit WFMU’s FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE.