Thursday, June 30, 2011

"What Makes Sense, What's Absurd"

June 30, 2011

As I write this, the windows are all open in the house.  This is the first day in several weeks when the humidity level is tolerable. The breeze is shaking the leaves, birds are singing, swooping through our yard to get to the neighbor's feeders.  As usual, music fills the room but, today, it's neither jazz nor blues but the engrossing sounds of "Interstitials", the new recording by guitarist-vocalist-composer Joshua Stamper.

Self-recorded and self-released, the songs come from influences as wide-ranging as Aaron Copland and Nick Drake as well as Robert Wyatt and Morton Feldman (both mentioned in Stamper's notes.)  On the opening track, "Wake, Worried Sleeper, Wake", his vocals remind this listener of the more experimental (and British) side of XTC's Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding.  Another enjoyable aspect of this music is, instead of a rhythm section, underpinning the music is the trio of Paul Arbogast (low brass), Michael Cemprola (woodwinds), and Jon Rees (woodwinds, celeste).  Arbogast's trombone gives weight to the songs - however, it's hard not to smile at his bouncing, tuba-like, lines on "Incredible People" and the way Stamper's electric guitar and the saxophones dance atop the rhythm.  There's a hint of Paul McCartney on "Well", in the structure of the song (melody and rhythm) and the sweet jingle of the celeste. In the solo section, a flute takes a gentle journey atop the counterpoint of acoustic guitar, bass clarinet and trombone.  "Away My Sin" (the only instrumental of the 9 tracks) arrives with slide guitar, moaning brass and keening clarinet - as the piece progresses, a persistent and insistent guitar chord supplies the rhythm. The fine word-play of the poetry on "Press" closes the program.  Just voice and guitar until the alto flute, saxes and brass join an unidentified female voice in response to the lyrics -
"Pressed in (good measure)
Pressed out (shaken)
Pressed up (running over)
Pressed down (poured into you)"

and then, the wonder-filled final line -

"It was morning in heaven and we all knew where we were."

On this bright and beautiful morning, the birds still chatter while the chipmunks have begun their daily scamper across the yards and street.  The music of "Interstitials", having now completed its 3rd sojourn through the rooms and my mind, leaves me alert, refreshed and at peace.  Will it do the same for you; I have no idea but you may wish to try.

For more information, go to  To find out even more, go to  To listen to and buy his music, click on the player embedded below.

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