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A Grace Note’s Grace Note

The sonic inquisitiveness of Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton

Like the best Ameritronic music (that’s an unnecessary but useful amalgam of Americana and electronic), Western Mourning by Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton has all the stuff of songs, minus the songs themselves. There are loose semblances of tonal structures, and fairly recognizable instrumentation, notably the lightly struck guitars, and there are production effects that lend depth and resonance, and even if there aren’t songs there are compositional approaches, an inherent sense of development, even if it’s more a matter of sonic inquisitiveness than of melodic evolution. In “Lead a Horse to Drinking,” the shimmer of a gently touched guitar string, what might be a grace note’s grace note, expands into several seconds of winsome feedback (MP3). In “Don’t Take Your Gun and Go Into Town,” the echo finds a comfort zone between the concrete-and-iron aesthetic of industrial music and the rural affect of country music (MP3). And “Cold as the Clay” makes much of bent notes and erratic percussion (MP3). The titles themselves hint at the duo’s purposefully pedestrian intent. “Don’t Take Your Gun and Go Into Town” seems to remove the poetry from the similar Johnny Cash refrain, while “Cold as the Clay” adds a beat and thus diminishes the readily available alliteration. “Lead a Horse to Drinking” seems just shy of the jokey wordplay that emanates from so many Nashville publishing houses.

[audio:http://archive.org/download/pan071/pan071-morton_jean-1-dont_take_your_gun.mp3|titles=”Don’t Take Your Gun and Go Into Town”|artists=Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton] [audio:http://archive.org/download/pan071/pan071-morton_jean-2-lead_a_horse_to_drinking.mp3|titles=”Lead a Horse to Drinking”|artists=Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton] [audio:http://archive.org/download/pan071/pan071-morton_jean-3-cold_as_the_clay.mp3|titles=”Cold as the Clay”|artists=Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton]

Morton is credited with casio keyboard, Jean with guitar and delay pedal. The duo recorded the album in Regina, Saskatchewan, in October 2011, and the set of three tracks was released for free download on the excellent Panospria netlabel. It’s available at notype.com/drones.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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