in 2011 i received one of my most prized possessions: a replica of a 1927 weissenborn style 1 hourglass lap steel guitar, made for me by master luthier tony francis in aotearoa / new zealand.
i spent over a year exploring this amazing instrument's capabilities and potential, experimenting with tunings, unorthodox musical styles, and various preparations on and between the strings. i approached the instrument from what was hopefully a unique creative perspective, looking for new sounds, techniques and emotional landscapes. this was all done to try and make this record something different, multi-faceted and engaging.
the conceptualisation and recording process developed into one which came to include various other sonic elements such as tape echo / tape looping [which became cornerstones of the project], percussion and other instrumental oddities [thanks to the contributions of nat grant and adam casey].
i don't believe that a weissenborn has ever been heard like this before, and that this album genuinely explores the multiplicity of sonic possibilities available within the instrument.
nine of the ten tracks on the album were all improvised on the day of recording, and everything on the weissenborn was done live in the moment [again, except for one track!], including choices of preparations, integration of looped parts and even tunings which were sometimes invented on the spot.
the music conceptually explores various themes and events using the notions of "the island" as a central idea: the endless loop of existence in isolation, exotic faraway paradises, shipwrecks and artificial societies, the individual as emotional island, utopias and collapse, nostalgia, lost cultural icons, dancing mania and to conclude the album, even haitian dictators.
weissenborn, preparations, tape echo, e-bow, cello bow
synth engine pedal on track 4
handclaps and darbuka on track 6
zither through a fuzzbox on track 5
bowed banjo and singing saw on track 10
percussion through a granular delay pedal on track 3
longwave radio on track 5
percussion on tracks 8 and 10
recorded by adam casey at the true vine, melbourne
mixed by adam casey and chris rainier
mastered by adam dempsey at deluxe mastering, melbourne
album design by tess e mckenzie and chris rainier
layout by george munn
cover image taken from 'aku aku' by thor heyerdahl
© gyldendal norsk forlag AS 1957 gyldendal literatur
used by permission
weissenborn style 1 by tony francis, aotearoa
track 5 makes reference to "lei i ka mokihana"
by henry wilfred waia'u © 1925
all weissenborn parts performed live with no overdubs,
except on track 6
the following effects pedals were used on this recording:
ernie ball vp jnr volume pedal, strymon el capistan, electro harmonix superego, red panda particle
special thanks to red panda pedals / curt malouin, elisa bryant, peter hatzipavlis and matthew stanton
in memory of elspeth jack [1941-2010]
powered by bandcamp
Man And The Echo
Chris Rainier is a musician and artist from Melbourne, Australia, now living in the U.K. Before I heard his music I saw the beautiful white and blue vinyl with the maps printed on the inlay and so I looked it up and found out, he's playing a prepared Weissenborn lap steel guitar.
I didn't expect syncopated country blues or hawaiian slide guitar, when I read that he's using tape loops and other electronics and I wasn't wrong.
Notable is the superb quality of the recording! Crystal clear and very well balanced, like sitting next to him or better inside his instrument! The microtonality of every scratch and plug of the strings is reproduced in its full spectrum. He writes that tape loops and delay became the corner stones of the record, which is almost completely improvised.
I spent over a year exploring this amazing instrument's capabilities and potential, experimenting with tunings, unorthodox musical styles, and various preparations on and between the strings. I approached the instrument from what was hopefully a unique creative perspective, looking for new sounds, techniques and emotional landscapes. This was all done to try and make this record - my first using the Weissenborn - something different, multi-faceted and engaging.
I don't believe that a Weissenborn has ever been heard like this before, and that this album genuinely explores the multiplicity of sonic possibilities available within the instrument.
-- Chris Rainier
It reminds me a bit of another Australian musician who works with traditional instruments and audio synthesis, Andrew Tuttle.
Another great record from Rainier's bandcamp is "The Humming of the Wires" where he's exploring the Dobro guitar and putting this iconic instrument of the blues era into the context of early electronic inventions like the Theremin.
There is lot to explore in Chris Rainiers sonic universe! Highly recommended!