A half-hour live performance by musician Greg Davis is up on the website of Kranky Records, which released his Somnia album late last year. It’s the most recent in Kranky’s ongoing series of free MP3s. Recorded at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, shortly after Somnia hit record stores, the set opens with rough, natural sounds, like pebbles being tossed across a table, small sticks being snapped, and water being slopped about. Layers of this mess eventually overlap, gaining a rhythmic currency, passing through a transition of relative chaos, and then melting into a haze that resembles the dronework that defined much of Somnia.
There are none of the literalist folkloric elements that defined Davis’ best known albums, the guitar-based Arbor (2002) and the more folk-revival-ish (folk-revival-revival-ish?) Curling Pond Woods (2004), both of which came out on the Carpark label. In essence, the Kranky concert (MP3) tracks the development of terse sounds into mellifluous ones, of harsh, tight little bursts of individual noise into long, held notes. It also displays the differences between the commingling of short sounds and of long ones, the difference between a jumble of action and the silken grace of horizontal motion.
Judging by the archive of performance dates housed at the website of the small label that Davis operates, autumnrecords.net, this concert occurred on November 18, 2004. Listeners intrigued by the set should check out Yearlong, a new live album he and Keith Fullerton Whitman have out on Carpark; it documents their 2001-2002 tour. More info at kranky.net and carparkrecords.com.