Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Scott Johnson - Rock Paper Scissors

There's a lot of sampling music out there, but very few composers work it like Scott Johnson - he takes snippets of human speech, and, as I wrote when reviewing the re-issue of his classic "John Somebody," writes original music based the rhythms and cadences of conversation, and makes those voices sing.

This album from 1996 uses digital sampling (not the tape-lops of yore) of original conversations of Johnston's friends asking others for a favor
. Johnson choose that device because of the quality of anxiety and pleading that creeps into one's voice when asking to, say, borrow something. He then wrote music around these voices for violin, cello, electric guitar, and synthesizer. "Air Compressor" is my fave track off the album...but why would someone need to borrow an air compressor?

The second half of the album is comprised of instrumentals that, frankly, don't do much for me. I like his sampling stuff. But it's still highly original, challenging work.

Scott Johnson - Rock Paper Scissors


rich said...

So weird, Mr. Fab!
I had just pulled out my copy of John Somebody and gave it a spin just the other day!
I sort of always meant to check out his more recent works, but for some reason, never have.
Another amazing post!

Mr Fab said...

'twas no coincidence - I watch all my readers via secret spy satellite and KNEW this was what you wanted!

"Rock Paper Scissors" is not the classic "John Somebody" is, but it is out of print, and hence bloggable. He doesn't record much, unfortunately, so anything he releases is worth listening to. I quite like another recent recording of his: "Americans," on Tzadik Records.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fab, is there any chance that you could re-up this?...I don't think your spy satellite is working anymore!! Thanks in advance.

Mr Fab said...

My satellite needed a tune-up, but have no fear, it's back up.