SL016 Memory Drawings Music For Another Loss • SOLD OUT
Memory Drawings is the beguiling, drum-less project of Minneapolis raised, Morocco-based hammered dulcimer player Joel Hanson, erstwhile Hood guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and sometime Declining Winter main-man Richard Adams, and Lanterns on the Lake/Brave Timbers violinist Sarah Kemp.
Partly inspired by Adams’ native West Yorkshire landscape (particularly as enshrined in Ted Hughes’ and Fay Godwin’s 1979 poetry/photography essay Remains of Elmet), Music For Another Loss maps the contours between brooding melancholy and redemptive calm. It’s an equipoise reflected in a musical signature which simultaneously suggests both classical minimalism and hearth-side folk, but which, tantalizingly, is never quite either.
With Hanson’s exotic dulcimer peals always at the core, framed in Adams’ and Kemps’ halos of poignant melody and harmony (here and there augmented by guest keyboardists Rachel Grimes, of Rachel’s, and Gareth S. Brown, along with the occasional trace of vocals from Yvonne Bruner) this is a seductive, watercolour music whose true potency lies in its subtlety, but which gets right under the skin from first listen, nonetheless.
While Memory Drawings is an ostensibly instrumental project, Music For Another Loss also features a second disc comprising Yvonne Bruner-led vocal versions of many of the first disc’s tracks, alongside a clutch of total reinvention remixes by Rachel Grimes, Dakota Suite, Piano Magic (featuring Disco Inferno’s Ian Crause on guitar) and Bracken.
Music For Another Loss comes as a double CD album in a deluxe clamshell box.
1 The Canal's Drowning Black
3 The Long Tunnel Ceiling
4 There Come Days to the Hills
5 Slump Sundays
6 Drift Apart
8 Chinese History of Colden Water
9 The Canal's Drowning Black (Reprise)
01 Heptonstall (Vox) **
02 There Come Days to the Hills (Vox) **
03 Slump Sundays (Vox) **
04 Sunstruck (Vox) **
05 The Canal's Drowning Black (Bracken Remix)
06 Sunstruck (Piano Magic Remix) *
07 There Come Days to the Hills (Dakota Suite Remix)
08 Chinese History of Colden Water (Rachel Grimes Remix)
09 The Canal's Drowning Black (Memory Drawings and Rachel Grimes)
* guitar by Ian Crause (Disco Inferno)
** vocals and lyrics by Yvonne Bruner
A short interview with Memory Drawings’ Richard Adams
When did you form Memory Drawings and how did it come about?
RA: We slid into it slowly. I knew of Joel as he’d been in touch a couple of times by email and his band supported Hood in Seattle. We met in Minneapolis and talked music and we kind of guessed that we were on the same wavelength. We started tentatively discussing making music and in 2008 we started recording
What did you set out to do with MDs that was different from your previous (and other contemporary) projects?
I wanted it to be fully collaborative, initially between myself and Joel, but later involving others, where we wrote spontaneously, allowing space for improvisation.
Where did you record the album?
Initially with Choque Hosein at his studio in Leeds, then at my brothers’ home studio in the same city. Finally we finished off in what I’d hesitate to call a home studio after I moved to York.
How did you create the songs – was there a specific methodology?
My first idea was to record an album organically, involving just three instruments that could be played ‘as live’ almost identically. But due to the protracted nature of the recording it didn’t turn out like that, so there was a lot of chopping and cutting at later stages. Generally a track started off with a dulcimer idea from Joel to which I’d usually add guitar to create a full piece, of sorts. From there, the main idea was to use Sarah’s violin as much as possible as main melody, I then added to the tracks, mainly as texture.
The hammered dulcimer is obviously a key ingredient in the MD sound...
This is Joel’s instrument; he is a wizard on it – it’s like a living, breathing thing. Joel travels a lot, so the dulcimer sits in the corner of my room until they are re-united during his visits – they almost belong to each other. I’d always been interested in ‘ethnic’ stringed instruments, but I heard a track Joel had worked on with a previous band of his and thought we could really make something of the dulcimer at the forefront. The combination of dulcimer, which is quite busy and percussive, and simple acoustic guitar just works together beautifully.
Are you going to be playing live with MDs? What are your longer term ambitions for the group?
We played one show during Joel’s visit in September 2010. It all depends on his availability as he lives and works in Morocco. Sarah is also very busy with Lanterns on the Lake, but we are trying to get together in September for a short tour. We plan to record another album this autumn, too, but this time we hope to rehearse songs beforehand and record with a sensitive engineer, maybe in a church or some such inspirational space
Can you give a brief historical synopsis on what happened to Hood and what the impetus for Memory Drawings was (as opposed your work with Declining Winter).
Hood kind of ground to a halt in 2005 – it’s not clear-cut or easy to explain. After a break from music I just wanted to involve myself in a couple of low-key projects with no expectations. The Declining Winter is mainly a vehicle for my solo messing whereas Memory Drawings is much more collaborative. The beauty for me over the last few years is that when I was tired of Dec W stuff I’d work on Memory Drawings and vice versa. MD was a massive learning curve for me as it’s Joel’s thing as much as (or more than) it is mine…
Find out more about Memory Drawings here: http://memorydrawings.blogspot.co.uk/