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Interviews

David Binney: Airplanes, Cities, Moods and Vibes

By Published: September 4, 2006
AAJ: Well, you should know better than I. I probably heard it wrong.

DB: I'm wondering if it's not doubled with something else. I'll have to listen to that again. I have a feeling that it's a combination of Bill and also Minimoog, which, mixed the right way, could be mistaken for another saxophone, because it's a round, pure sound. I think that might be what it is. I'm usually not a big fan of doubling myself with myself. With anything else, it's fine. But I don't hear that orchestration thing very often. I don't really like it very much when I hear it on other records—when somebody overdubs himself. I might do it if I played a tenor or a soprano, but I usually try to stay away from that. I would rather have it doubled—and doubled live—with another instrument. I might have done it on this song. I don't remember.

AAJ: I think you're just being diplomatic.

DB: No, it's possible that I did, because I didn't want any restraints on what I would do on this record. I'm not a huge purist where it just can't happen. But it is a sound that I am not fond of.

AAJ: That song ends with this harp-like instrument—sort of a metallic wind chime sound, but I can't place that instrument that plays in the final seconds of the song.

DB: That's just a little glockenspiel that Eivind played. It's also in the written part, the second time through, just before the free improvisation. It comes through in the orchestration. He plays all of those parts. All of the parts that I wrote, he plays on the glockenspiel, so it's a combination of the guitar part, the bass part, the saxophone part. He doubles it at the start of the song, and at the end we brought it back—and those are all the parts you heard at the start of the song just played on glockenspiel. Then it fades out. So that's what that is. Actually, I had an idea of doubling it with some sort of instrument, and I don't remember directing Eivind to use glockenspiel. I think that might have been his idea when he did the edit in the middle, because we actually improvised longer than that. But I really liked it.

AAJ: The two "Brainstorms are separated and edited sections of a group improvisation, I believe. A lot of the second "Brainstorms actually feels like an actual loop that's repeating, although I think it goes into real time at the end. Did this material come out of a much longer improvisation?

DB: Yeah, we did a couple of things that were really long improvisations. The whole point was to use material from it to make compositions later, after the fact. Like I said, that was the original idea for the record—to do a lot of free improvisations and put it together later. So we had a lot of improvisation to take things from, and those were things that were taken from parts of it. And within those, there are loops, and loops that come out of each other—all kinds of things like that. But basically, it's just culled from a larger improvisation and put together. Certain things are live and I think some of the melodies were doubled. I think there are bits in there that we doubled. But a lot was done live and just put together, and Eivind did that. He really put those together in a really cool way. They're just supposed to be short vibes, which is the way they appear to me, and I really like them.

AAJ: I think "Bring Your Dream is an improv as well, and they definitely are materials that build the album as a whole.

DB: Yeah, exactly, and that's the point. If I just had the more composed tunes, it wouldn't be as strong a record. These things really complete the more compositional things. I like bringing that element into it. There is one, and I can't remember the name of it, because we just had working titles for everything and the official titles are still new to me. But there's one near the end that's more of a ballad.

AAJ: "Instant Distance?

DB: Yeah, that could be it. The basic part of that is a clavinet part, a written part that I had on another tune. So it's this written part that Eivind lowered about an octave and, I think, retuned also, and used that as a base for that piece. Which I like, because even if you don't notice it, it has a thematic kind of link with earlier material—because it is earlier material. And it may be subconscious for most people, because they're not going to recognize it, but it's there. It's the same melody. I've done that on a couple of records. On South, I think, there's some sort of sample of some earlier tune, very lightly used behind some free improvisation. But it's something that I like to do—to bring back the material in a way that's unrecognizable, but maybe recognizable subconsciously.

AAJ: That's an interesting thing to do. That's sort of what Frank Zappa called "conceptual continuity.

DB: Yeah, exactly. That's what it is.


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