Track By Track: Dave Harrington Group – Become Alive
Dave Harrington is perhaps best known for his work as part of Darkside, his former collaborative project with Nicolas Jaar. Since then he has been working amidst a group of musicians on the production of 'Become Alive'. The project sees them blend an infusion of jazz, eclectic soundscapes and electronic blurs. The group have been on tour playing a live orchestration of their release in London, New York, Berlin and beyond. We asked them to take us through the new record track by track.
White Heat is about creating intensity through absence, creating pressure and tension from restraint. It’s about astral projecting through feedback. During the initial improvisation in the studio for this track I remember I was crouched down on the floor hunkered over my electronics building these layers of feedback and noise and Will was just plugging away on this motif on the wurlitzer and there were a bunch of other players in the studio, but it was like everyone was holding their breath. There were a lot of people doing very few things in that initial improvisation. I’ve spent a lot of time working on explicitly heavy and abrasive music but for this track I really wanted to create that same level of pressure in a different way.
This piece is all about John Stanesco on the bass clarinet. I love the instrument and I really love John’s playing – he has a great way of subverting expectations with the way he constructs melodies. It’s just me and John here and a lot of the work was done by me improvising these dense layers of power electronics after the original bass clarinet solo was recorded. Time-travel free jazz.
The improvisation that started The Prophet came when me and my good friend Dr. Kevin Patton (who happens to be one of the best guitar players I know) sat down to play drums together. There were a number of keyboard players and electronics setup in the studio and when Kevin and I sat down something really heavy started happening. We’ve always bonded over heavy music and improvisation – Kevin was the first person to introduce me to John Abercrombie, Sunn 0))), Olneyville Soundsystem…and once we organized a concert together and played the entire Mahavishnu Orchestra “Inner Mounting Flame” record. I think that history comes through whenever we play together, whatever we’re playing.
Cities of The Red Night
Some of the phrases and rhythms for this come from a piece I wrote called “Fakhruddin” that I’ve played with my different bands over the last 5 or more years and has been evolving and changing along the way. This version is heavily cut-up, one of the most radical reconstructive surgeries on the record. To me it’s about being in the desert and then being in the arctic. William Burroughs once said something about never wanting to waste time while his characters to travel from one place to another, preferring to just put them smack down in a new place. I like the idea that music can travel through space in a similar way.
This was the last piece I recorded for the album. It’s just me playing the pedal steel and manipulating some analog electronics. I’ve always loved the steel and finally started playing it a few years ago – the sound the instrument produces has this ability to just speak to my heart.
This is the mission statement. It’s about being present in the moment, being as purely and extremely alive as possible, but being aware that that is in and of itself a process – a becoming. I remember so vividly when we recorded this piece and being filled with such intensity and immediacy in the studio – looking around the room at my closest friends and feeling all of that history as we played together.
I love the Hammond organ. Playing it brings me some kind of truly unexplainable joy, I’m simply drawn to it and always have been. One of my earliest musical memories is going to see the Lou Donaldson Quartet at the Village Vanguard with my father. We sat right up front and I was transfixed by Dr. Lonnie Smith playing the organ that night – everything he did seemed like magic, and it was. I’ve been obsessed with the sound ever since. I’m playing the organ on this track with Morgan Z (on theremin), Nate Sloan (on Fender Rhodes), and Cale Parks (on vibes). I really wanted to capture a moment of meditation, and I knew these players could be very sensitive in their approach – I just gave a few suggestions out to the room and then we went around the idea a few times and this piece slowly drew itself together, a mix of ideas from across a few different improvisations and some of my own additions with feedback loops and drones when I was mixing.
All I Can Do
Anyone I work with will tell you, I’m a huge fan of the Last Track. Almost to the point of obsession. I like a sense of closure at the end of a record, most of my favorite records have that. This song synthesizes some of my longest and deepest musical loves, influences, and experiences. I want to live in this place.
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