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Waterworks

Thrill Jockey
thrill 438 - 2017

On new live album Waterworks, digital and acoustic experimentation bring sparkling new depths to Glenn Jones’ emotive guitar virtuoso.  Waterworks was recorded binaurally at the Waterworks Museum in Boston, MA on June 24, 2015 through 20 speakers.  Glenn Jones plays guitar and banjo and is joined by Matthew Azevedo on synthesizer, harmonium, soundscapes, and signal processing.  

The LP includes an insert with an essay about the performance and free download card.

A former pumping station in Boston’s Chestnut Hill is not the first place you’d expect to encounter one of American Primitive Guitar’s finest exponents. But with shared reputations for meticulous execution, innovative engineering, and stories on tap, Glenn Jones’ attraction to the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum stands as an unassumingly natural fit.

“I discovered the place when I attended a performance there in 2013,” Jones reminisces. “Even though the hall didn’t appear to be particularly friendly to acoustic instruments, one of my first thoughts was, “How can I get in on this?!””

Recorded a month after the sessions for his 2016 album Fleeting, Waterworks captures Glenn Jones at the forefront of modern solo guitar playing. Combining a highly skilled fingerpicked style with mesmeric tunings and custom-crafted partial capos, Jones delivers an array of lyrical compositions that quietly regale past adventures and personal reflections with masterful proficiency. 

The Waterworks’ Great Engine Hall – depicted in the album artwork - is a unique setting for Glenn Jones’ intimate vignettes. Its lofty redbrick columns and vaulted ceiling makes for an intensely resonant space, whilst further acoustic considerations had to be made for the large amount of reflective machinery stationed in the room. Sumptuous glissandi seem to drip from every cavernous corner, whilst rhythmic bass lines gainfully slip across brass, steel and stone. Put on record, it makes for a consuming stereo experience.

To best navigate this space Jones turned to Matthew Azevedo – his mastering guru of fifteen years – for guidance. “What had been conceived as a solo show quickly turned into a collaboration,” Jones laughs. Whilst Jones’ untreated guitar and banjo take the forefront throughout Waterworks, Azevedo’s addition brings thrilling new depth to Jones’ ruminative compositions. Toying with the room’s unique acoustic, Azevedo unleashes an arsenal of field recordings, sonic manipulations and harmonium drones, through strategically placed speakers hidden in gangways high above the audience. 

Whether it’s cacophonous crow caws bleeding into “Close to the Ground”, or the echoed schoolyard cries underpinning “Across the Tappan Zee,” Azevedo’s sonic additions frame both Glenn Jones and Modern Primitive Guitar music in a whole new light. When Azevedo’s synth onslaught swarms Jones’ sumptuous cover of John Fahey’s 1964 song “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California,” it transports the genre to pummeling industrial territories as yet undiscovered. 

Brilliantly captured through Ernst Karel’s immersive binaural recording, Glenn Jones & Matthew Azevedo’s Waterworks closely approximates the experience of hearing Jones’ works performed on this most unique of stages. 

Tracklist

  • 1 The Great Pacific Northwest
  • 2 Across the Tappan Zee
  • 3 Island 4
  • 4 The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California
  • 5 Cléo Asleep
  • 6 Close to the Ground
  • 7 Portrait of Basho as a Young Dragon
  • 8 Mother's Day
  • 9 June Too Soon, October All Over

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