An actual real life gig in Winchester. A momentous day. More info at Running On Air
Mountain*7 - for the person with nothing better to do
Scott Tuma (right) and Mike Weis. Image by John Twells.
Scott Tuma’s position in what constitutes the modern folk scene of America is a strange one. He is at once a reclusive and elusive figure, standing at one remove from the vicissitudes of the wider sphere of influence; and yet it’s perfectly possible to trace the evolution of his signature sound and note just how synchronous this evolution has been with the wider movements of the scene. In the late 1980s he worked with the slowcore alt-country pioneers Souled American, before moving on in the mid ’90s to the haunted post-rock of Boxhead Ensemble. Since 2001 he has largely worked alone (though he has worked with Mike Weis, both alone and with Matt Christensen in Good Stuff House), producing four inimitable albums, that take elements of these former bands, plus a humming wild ambience, and mix them into what could be called a meta-commentary on the American tradition. His sound summons early Lomax field recordings, Fahey, English folk ballads, and something older and more earthy, or rather it manages to contain echoes of all these things within its vaulted, cathedral like sonic properties. We talked about the history of his sound, the effect of the Chicago weather on his recording techniques and why no-one dances when he plays live…
To start in a very English fashion, it’s just turning to autumn here – we’ve had a weird period of really warm weather, but now it’s getting cold and the leaves are falling. Whereabouts are you at present, and what’s happening outside?
It’s great that you start out talking about the weather. I love talking about the weather and some people don’t understand why. I am in Chicago and summer split rather abruptly about a month ago but now we are having our period of beautiful warm weather. Almost summer like except for the lack of humidity and the sounds coming in through the windows. The cicadas are gone, the leaves are turning and falling and rustling in the gangway and street and there is less sounds from kids playing , them being back at school. Inside our house here where I play and record the sounds have changed too. When the heavy humidity leaves the air the guitars and organs sound different. My fingers and nails sound differently to me, I start to change what and how I play, but I am trying to hold on a little longer to the summer feel until it isn’t possible anymore.
Read the rest of the interview at The Liminal.
Yes, I know, like the rest of it isn't self-promotion. Anyway, I've got a review of Hallock Hill's There He Unforeseen in this month's Wire magazine (Dec 2011). It's a great issue anyway (Grouper, Manuel Göttsching, Turkish psychedelia, Spinn and Rashad) but now you have even more incentive to go and buy it.