Wayne Horvitz/Tucker Martine: Mylab (2004)
For Wayne Horvitz and Tucker Martine, the pair known as Mylab, the saying “everything old is new again” should be restated as “Everything New is Old again!”
This studio experiment by the duo (with 17 of their closest friends) samples and loops folk recordings from the turn of the century to create song structures, then replaces those samples with guest musicians. They mash (part Zony) funk, blues, trip-hop, soul, folk, and African music into a roots music played by visitors from the future.
Part Horvitz’s The President and Four Plus One ensemble, Mylab reflects an intersection of his NY Downtown voice plus the studio challenges raised by Martine. With the basic structures laid down, the pair invited guests to add textures. Guitarist Bill Frisell plays on five tracks. His old timey sound matches wit with dobro and fiddle on “Varmint,” a work song with echoey effects. He also bounces off some stuck electronic tones on the sci-fi noir track “Earthbound.”
Horvitz’s command of vintage electronics is Mylab’s triumph. The pair make a dance track like “Not In My House” feel like driving a British roadster on the wrong side of the boulevard. What first appears to be deep bass beats ramps into troublesome tensions.
Saxophonist Briggan Krauss is manhandled by some B-movie effects and noisy tunings on “Ask Mickey.” He responds with his own Eastern swirls. Likewise, “Master Korean Musicians Of Canada” presents vocalist Robin Holcomb with a thudding blues proposal for her lyric. This back from the future roots music is fundamentally folk music merging the studio with the field recordings. Placing the fiddle, the dobro, and the banjo alongside these clever studio creations is the genius of this recording.
Track Listing: Pop Client; Master Korean Musicians Of Canada; Land trust Picnic; Varmint; Fancy Party Cakes; Phil And Jerry; Workaholic Song; Old Days; Earthbound; Not In My House; Ask Mickey; Chi-Chi Marina.
Personnel: Wayne Horvitz - Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano, Hammond B3 Organ, Pump Organ, Synthesizers; Tucker Martine - Drums, Percussion, Treatments, Field Recordings; Danny Barnes - Banjo, Dobro, Vocals; Dave Carter - Flugelhorn; Bill Frisell - Guitar; Robin Holcomb - Vocals; Orville Johnson - Fiddle; Kassemadi Kamissogo - Ngoni; Eyvind Kang - Viola; Briggan Krauss - Saxophone; Keith Lowe - Acoustic bass, Electric bass; Bobby Previte - Drums; Andy Roth - Drums; Skerik - Saxophone; Reggie Watts - Vocals; Doug Wieselman - Guitar, Clarinet, Saxophone; Timothy Young - Guitar; Lowell Horvitz - Giggles; Sofia Barsher - Giggles.