John from Stationary Heart wrote me an actual letter (mailed...with a stamp!) about his labels latest release from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. It's a play on the DJ plain sleeve stamped 7" with the traditional instrumental tracks which eventually became part of the Vs. Children sessions among others. Apparently these tracks existed as instrumentals for a long time while he wrote and recorded the lyrics. They really started out as independent tracks on their own, that might not have ever had lyrics before they became a part of an album...it's an interesting way to look at it...I guess he felt they deserved a life on their own...as almost karaoke versions, or fodder for remix projects, or as in my case, it took me a while to really make the connection with the vocal/album material, they feel so different...definitely Casiotone sounding, starting with catchy sampled break beats, or cheap drum machine. Add subtle, slight synth with quirky time signature change-ups, alien sounds, unexpected pieces right next to each other. That's all there, but minus the story, I was reaching to remember the original.
I've been a fan of Owen from CFTPA since I heard about about his now mythologized conceptual idea of betting someone he could make an entire album with the cheapest Casio available. Ever since that first album the project has evolved of course, but in the best possible way.
I was talking with a friend the other day about that inevitable evolution of a band. The way producers/labels get involved and start introducing instruments and influences to the artist, which changes the sound, in the way they've changed all their other artists they worked with....usually for worse. A 30 piece orchestra is layered into the sound, studio musicians who worked with other greats are brought in for solo's, ...it just seems to always follow that overproduced formula. Unless a band/individual is strong willed enough to say no, or know exactly what they are trying to achieve, then it's going to eventually be a diluted mess...I'm thinking of Bright Eyes, Built to Spill...lately they have lost the things that made me like them in the first place.
This isn't the case with Casiotone...instead it seems to be this ever evolving project, he's willing, maybe even forces himself to take his music in all kinds of directions....soundtracks, ringtones, instrumental recordings. It feels to me like he's more of an artist who happens to record audio. He's ready to change the context and medium for the music, for whatever the situation dictates. A site specific musician if you will.
But this isn't even his first 7" in this direction. He scored the soundtrack for Laurel Nakadate's film 'Stay the Same Never Change', even recording ringtones for the characters in the film...putting it all together for an extensive 7" from OIB Records.
I just love that there are the albums, which are the museum shows...the almost overwhelming side of the artist. It's hard to absorb it all in one sitting...it takes weeks. Then there are these little public projects or individual paintings you can take home for a while, borrow them, live with them, and all of a sudden that album has changed. I got a chance to crack open the journal for a few pages thanks to Stationary Heart.
Stationary Heart has a few of these left, available directly from their website.
Or you can get it direct from Owen along with a bunch of his other 7" experiments.