Posts Tagged ‘Chris Forsyth’

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On February 27th, 2018, Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band (comprised, in this iteration, of long-time SMB bassist Peter Kerlin and Kerlin’s Sunwatchers battery mate Jason Robira on drums) were close to wrapping up an 18-date tour of the EU and UK with a two-set, one hour and 45 minute show at Cafe OTO, London’s premier venue for adventurous music. Highlights of that show are included in this live release, “Rare Dreams: Solar Live 2.27.18, recorded before a packed house seated mere feet from the band’s amplifiers. These recordings reveal a band that is clearly in high spirits and high gear, operating with an expansive, improvisatory fleetness that allows them to stretch the material to almost ludicrous extremes and then let it to snap back to some semblance of form while somehow seemingly never wasting a note, a beat, a gesture.

The four tracks included here comprise material culled from (at the time) the two most recent Solar Motel Band records “Dreaming In The Non-Dream” (No Quarter, 2017) and THE RARITY OF EXPERIENCE (No Quarter, 2016) plus covers of two Neil Young songs – the autobiographical plaint “Don’t Be Denied,” lyrically relocated by Forsyth from Young’s Canada and Hollywood to the more personally relevant geography of New Jersey and Philadelphia, and encore “Barstool Blues” (they’d run out of material to play, so another Neil Young tune it was).

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While the covers establish Forsyth’s basis, serving as an homage to Young and the quest for self-realization, the long tracks’ jams showcase the trance-inducing power of the Solar Motel Band as a performing entity. Kerlin’s gymnastically propulsive bass playing locks in with Robira’s relentless thud, each serving as counterpoint to some of the most blistering guitar work of Forsyth’s career. The telepathically dynamic interplay of the trio explodes with whiplash intensity across the 15-plus minute takes of “Dreaming In The Non-Dream” and “The First 10 Minutes of Cocksucker Blues,” each song’s structure serving as a framework for extended lava flows of energy. At one point late in the “Dreaming” jam, Forsyth unplugs the jack from his guitar, dragging it across the strings and lashing the body of his single-pickup “parts” Esquire, producing a desiccated barrage of percussive static. This is music beyond the notes; it is an expression of pure electric ecstasy, a simultaneous negation and celebration of rock music’s (indeed all musics’) essential energy. In contrast to the expansive but meticulously detailed guitar arrangements of his recordings, here Forsyth’s unhinged live guitar sound positively roars with a barely restrained vocal intensity, from liquid melodic lines to gnarled blasts of free jazz scree, to pulsating lead/rhythm vamping. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this band up close for a number of years now and I can authoritatively attest that while every show is different, when the SMB is running down a steep hill at full speed (as on these takes), they become a single leaderless vibrating sonic tornado, possibly beyond the control and logic of the players themselves, picking up listeners along the way and taking them along for the ride straight into a solar furnace of sound.

“…one of rock’s most lyrical guitar improvisors,”
-NPR Music

Chris Forsyth and the rhythm section of the almighty Sunwatchers form an unholy power trio to absolutely scorch through a set of extended jams and Neil Young covers.

Chris Forsyth: guitar, vocal
Peter Kerlin: bass guitar
Jason Robira: drums

Recorded Live at Cafe OTO, London on February 27th, 2018

Releases April 23rd, 2021

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Remember live music? “First Flight” documents about 40 minutes of jams recorded during the third week of my September residency at Nublu last year, and, for me, this show was just about the most enjoyable hour of music I played all year.

The ideal of the residency was to mix things up with special guests, different band line-ups, and varied set lists, keeping things fresh and new week-to-week, and this show was the wild card of the bunch. That’s because although Ryan and I have played together for years, and Dave and Spencer have played together for years, neither half of the band had ever met each other. I was tangentially aware of Dave and his music and was intrigued by what I’d heard, so I thought it was a cool idea when Chris Tart, the residency promoter, suggested a collaboration.

So, about 30 minutes after we’d all heard each others voices for the first time, we got up and played for a little over an hour, uninterrupted. The only thing discussed beforehand was that we shouldn’t discuss anything beforehand – not a key or a riff to start with, nothing – so as to preserve maximum spontaneity.

I think this music demonstrates a real connection on stage. In other words, each player was completely present and actively listening on the bandstand. Listening back, there are moments I can hear Ryan saying – musically – “Hey, let’s go over here! Check this out!,” or Spencer being like “Wouldn’t it be cool to go down this path?” And we followed. And it was cool.

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In my mind, that listening thing is the number one most important factor in any collaboration or cooperative effort, but especially in improvised music.

And I think it’s fair to say that a little more listening, a little more presence, would do the whole world some good right about now, don’t you think?

Chris Forsyth
releases August 28, 2020

Chris Forsyth – guitar
Dave Harrington – guitar, electronics
Ryan Jewell – drums, percussion
Spencer Zahn – bass

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Recorded September 14th, 2019 before a packed and enthusiastic hometown crowd at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia, Peoples Motel Band catches Chris Forsyth with Garcia Peoples (plus ubiquitous drummer Ryan Jewell) re-imagining songs from Forsyth’s last couple studio albums with improvisatory flair.

Forsyth and Garcia Peoples played a number of 2019 shows together, beginning with a semi-legendary jam set at Nublu in NYC in March (see NYCTaper.com), through a couple dates on Forsyth’s month-long weekly residency at Nublu in September and concluding with a five-date tour of the Northeast in December. The chemistry between the players is tangible.

As is often the case with Forsyth shows, the gloves come off quickly and the players attack the material – much of it so well-manicured and cleanly produced in the studio – like a bunch of racoons let loose in a Philadelphia pretzel factory.

Recorded and mixed with clarity by Forsyth’s longtime studio collaborator, engineer/producer Jeff Zeigler, the record puts the listener right in the sweaty club, highlighted by an incredible side-long take of the chooglin’ title track from 2017’s Dreaming in The Non-Dream LP (note multiple climaxes eliciting wild shouts and ecstatic screams from the assembled).

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This is not the new Chris Forsyth album, exactly, but then again, it kinda is because whenever he sits down to play, he makes it new.

Released March 20th, 2020

Chris Forsyth: guitar/vocal
Tom Malach: guitar
Danny Arakaki: guitar
Peter Kerlin: bass guitar
Pat Gubler: organ/synthesizer
Cesar Arakaki: drums
Ryan Jewell: drums & percussion

Recorded by Jeff Zeigler 9.14.19 at Johnny Brendaʼs, Philadelphia

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Chris Forsyth’s All Time Present is an adventurous and, considering its length, remarkably tight double LP of riff-heavy rock solid enough to bang your head on, but not really to bang your head to as the overall vibe here is of a vintage that pre-dates punk. But that’s not to say this is dad rock—All Time Present gives the classics an almost ambient treatment, flattening out the edges of the songs while preserving the technical frills, ultimately landing somewhere around a less self-interested style of prog. This is rock music for the people. That said, fair warning to all ye who enter: things start to get real groovy around track three, “The Man Who Knows Too Much,” after which Forsyth and company plunge fully and without reservation into a heady well of eerie psychedelia and British folk-rock whimsy on the following track, the 11-minute long number “Dream Song,” which also features some appropriately hazy double tracked vocals from Rosali Middleman. But never fear, intrepid listener. Trust in Forsyth to lead the way through long stretches of extended, expansive jamming, and by the time you get to final track, “Techno Top,” it’s 1980 and we’re all dancing to the Talking Heads.

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released April 12th, 2019

Chris Forsyth – guitar, vocal, Space Echo
with
Shawn Edward Hansen – Prophet 12, Mellotron, piano, saxophone
Ryan Jewell – drums, percussion
Peter Kerlin – bass guitar
Rosali Middleman – vocal on (4)
Jeff Zeigler – Onde Magnétique on (5)

“…a near-perfect balance between 70s rock tradition and present day experimentation,”

“…one of rock’s most lyrical guitar improvisors,”  -NPR Music

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Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – Intensity Ghost: Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band’s studio debut and it crackles with energy, finding the fertile middle ground between the razor sharp dynamics of Television with the cosmic leanings of the Dead. It’s pure, unadulterated guitar heaven.