Bill Orcutt – ‘A History Of Every One’ [Editions Mego]

Somewhat obsessed with this album this week, but can’t tell you exactly why, meaning what follows should be some pointless wording. As guitarist and founder of Hairy Pussy, Bill Orcutt’s got a reputation for outsider tracks and doing the music he feels is right; putting the ideas from his head on to wax with band accountability sitting over label or fan-base views.

Has Orcutt done something like this before? Maybe. I’ve checked out most of the solo work but not been hooked on any of the catalogue to the same degree. There’s never been any question that the guy can play, and no one does blues guitar like him, but this time around things sound different. It almost seems like he’s learnt a lesson from DJ Krush or other sample based producers who exhibit as much restraint on records as they do stack layers of noise on to individual samples – it’s the space between them being triggered that does as much work as the sounds themselves.

A solo instrumental affair in which only Bill’s occasional wailing in the background compliments the recorded guitar, the technique leaves me with little or no reference point. A minimal approach to guitar playing in which overly complex and competent riffs are played back to back, sometimes at differing tempos and in sets of individual blocks and sometimes (though rarely) repeated for ten bars or more. Punctuated by lengths of silence or a reduction in strings, these licks are brilliant forms of communicating the ideas of (or in this case tribute to) the songs. There’s a method to the madness for sure though, sort of structure formed from random patterns, and hopefully a new way of looking at a traditional genre for many. Think a meeting of minds between a young John Fahey and Wild Man Fischer and you’ll be getting on the right track.

Grab a hold of this on wax or download. Released through Editions Mego so will probably be going quick. Stream-able track from the album below, press release underneath that.

via Editions Mego
‘A History of Every One’ by Bill Orcutt is an album of songs: minstrel songs, holiday songs, hymns, marches, cowboy songs, Disney songs, work songs, delta blues. The original tunes themselves are nothing special, well known, but not particularly well-regarded. Most would be filler on a mid-60’s Doris Day or Burl Ives LP. What Orcutt does with them however is remarkable: expanding upon techniques developed on 2011’s ‘How the Thing Sings’ and incorporating ideas forged since his recording of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ last year, Orcutt interrogates the apparent banality of his material, subjecting it to discontinuity, disjuncture and a fractured repetition that is disturbing and revelatory. Titled after a line from Gertrude Stein’s ‘The Making of Americans’ and inspired by the scholarship of Elijah Wald and Eric Lott, ‘A History of Every One’ is a bold re-writing of an important historical thread, an interpretation of a lost text and a bewildering extension upon Orcutt’s already singular language.