There were static clouds of information like a swarm of gnats. Bands of rumors, half-truths and lies spun out of lead circled the globe. One such byte was that they were going to stop producing pennies (I have since made it my mission to recover every penny I see on the street; the streets are not lined with gold, they're lined with pennies). What would happen to that unbelievable deal of $19.99? What would go into the swear jar? Another floated piece of information from the flotsam and jetsam of our atmosphere -- another source of discomfort for those tied to tradition and to surroundings as means of identification -- "they're going to take down the water towers of New York City".
There is a breed of native New Yorker who has bemoaned the loss of various identifying aspects of his dear city. Clubs like Brownies, CBGB's, Knitting Factory (on Leonard) and Tonic closing. Record stores pushed out into remote corners of the city by rising rents; open-till-midnight superstores Tower and Virgin gone. Everyone's packed up and moved to Williamsburg. New York has constantly moved and re-invented itself, altered its skyline. Whether it's Trump dumping disgusting buildings all over the city or the destruction of the World Trade Center, the city is living and breathing and malleable.
Amidst the change, there is an understated elegance, a quiet ever-present blue-collar reliability to the water towers. They are watchers and they are suppliers. What is more precious to man's survival than water? I imagined being inside a water tower that was almost out of water. It's kind of a blues tune, kind of a praise-tune for the water towers of New York City.
I used a wah-wah pedal. I discovered and used the shifting tones of a giant pot, partly full, which I struck and moved in a circle. I work in an office that uses huge sheets of paper that are kept on thick cardboard tubes. I took one of those home and used it to create a beat, a pulse of the city. I blew over the tops of various size bottles with various amounts of water to approximate a chord and also clanked and jostled them.
It's great to have raw materials; it's equally great to position them in a way that plays them against each other and brings them together. That's what James did with this track. Later, we convened to give a listen to some spontaneous percussive work he was inspired to record the night before, a floor tom (which I recovered from the street), snare, some cymbal crashes, tambourine, and a shaker. The beat reminded me of old school hip-hop or disco, gave the track some groundedness. "Hm should we add some bass?" (James is an excellent bassist, it'd be foolish to not have him give it a shot). Almost a funk line not too busy but busy enough and by the end of the track a certain regal walk. I dig. -- Philip Lynch