Wrekmeister Harmonies

JR Robinson has been writing and recording music as Wrekmeister Harmonies in various incarnations since 2006. You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me was written to accompany a film Robinson shot in decimated Detroit locations, the desert of Joshua Tree and decaying forests of Tasmania. In 2012 he brought together some of the most revered musicians in the black metal and experimental music worlds (Jef Whitehead of Leviathan, Sanford Parker and Andrew Markuszewski of Nachmystium, Jamie Fennelly aka Mind Over Mirrors, Mark Solotroff of Anatomy of Habit, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza, and more) to perform the 38 minute composition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago to much acclaim and a sold out theater. The collaborators for the live performance joined Robinson at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio later that year to record the composition in full.

The beauty and darkness of the visuals are reflected in the music, which seeps from the ether with great melancholy. Reflective drones grow and decay, forming waves of overlapping sound that evolve into a gigantic roar of distorted guitar. Searing, disembodied howls and pummeling drums signal a shift from mournful to harrowing as Robinson and his ensemble lurch forward into the abyss. As the metal elements dwindle, electronics return to the fore, accompanied by a softly plucked harp signaling gentle finality.

You’ve Always Meant so much to me has been performed live several times since the release of the album, notably at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago, Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NY, and Corisca Studios in London. A rotating cast of characters has joined Robinson for these performances, including the aforementioned names who performed on the album as well as members of Indian, Unearthly Trance, Grumbling Fur, and more. Each performance is different, with the varying members of the ensemble contributing their own unique sounds and personalities to Robinson’s overarching vision. He has also recently been tapped to open for psych-doom legends Grails on a recent US tour.

Robinson began Wrekmeister Harmonies by recording sonic templates in museums in the US and Europe. These include recordings made at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Guggenheim Museum and PS1 in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, SF MOMA in San Francisco, the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Art Center Berlin as well as site recordings at Joshua Tree National Park in California and both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. Robinson has taken these recordings and by collaborating with musicians Ken Vandermark, David Yow (Jesus Lizard), Mark Shippy and Pat Samson (US Maple), Matt Carson, Nate McBride, Fred Lonberg Holm, John Herndon & Jeff Parker (Tortoise), and Azita has created a unique hybrid of sound art and avant garde music.

The end result of that first incarnation of players and those recordings was dubbed Wrekmeister Harmonies: Recordings Made in Public Spaces and was released by Atavistic Records in 2009. This cd/dvd set received a top 10 honor that year from a journalist for the Village Voice’s esteemed Pazz & Jop polls for the year.
Wrekmeister Harmonies

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"A harrowing tableau of lonesome drones, hiss, degraded noise and moans that build to a towering schizm of thunder, earth, sky and guitar that feel just as destructively chaotic as the crest of any storm." - Raven Sings the Blues
"You've Always Meant So Much To Me is an unrelenting, seismic proposition, opening with harp-laced ambient waves, doom-laden with portent, before being subsumed by a crushing tide of colossal guitar chords and heavyweight drumming. Simply put, formidable." - The Quietus
"A roiling blend of drone, funeral doom, and black metal that grows to Olympian heights, and as you wade deeper into the song, its undertow takes hold." - Stereogum
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