- frith & fox: a day hanging dead
(2018, cd, austria, klanggalerie gg264)
Imagine that this happened in the early ninetees and that, when Hardy Fox stumbled on the recordings in his archives a couple of years ago, the both of them revisited the project with the intention to make a record.
Well, that's actually what happened, and the result is quite spectacular.
"It began in Big Sur. Fred Frith and I, sitting naked on two small wooden blocks, legs crossed, hands resting on our knees. A small clearing on a rise above the Pacific Ocean, waves pounding a steady beat against the rocks far below. I had arrived at the Zen retreat the previous afternoon and Fred was one of the first people I ran into. I’d met him in more formal situations at Ralph Records, but we had not previously hung out socially. Fred was the current artist-in-residence at Esalen, and had been there nearly six weeks. He’d invited me to join him in an "air bath" the next morning and so here we sat, bathing in the morning sea air. The glow of Fred's skin made me sadly aware of how much time I spent in a windowless studio. I could easily pass for an albino. Fred was not big on talking, so we sat in quiet contemplation. But soon I became aware of a humming sound and realized Fred was singing quietly to himself accompanied by the rhythm of the waves. I whispered, "What are you singing?" He apologized and whispered back that he was making up melodies. I might not have brought clothing with me, but my Walkman was a constant companion and asked if it were okay to record him. He said I could. We grew close over the next couple of days, and when I returned to San Francisco I transferred the waves, the birds, and the singing to a multi-track tape machine and made a collage. Next time Fred came through town I played it for him and we speculated on developing the recordings for some kind of Residents/Frith project. The lyrics followed, then Fred’s compositions. Perhaps a year later in 1991, Fred arrived at the studio armed only with a brand-new Zeta MIDI violin. Surrounding himself with his scribbled notebooks, he played all the parts for all the pieces. I recorded him acoustically, as well as collecting input from each string as MIDI data. Afterwards I spent my spare time for several days assembling and reassembling what I had to work with until I had built about twenty minutes of music. I thought it quite good, but not enough material for an album. No additional work took place, and the project was largely forgotten until, many years later, I began cataloging my collection for the new company I’d started, Hacienda Bridge. There it was. I immediately told Walter Robotka at Klanggalerie what I’d found, and he contacted Fred who was, of course, curious to hear it again after all this time. Fred was enthusiastic, and couldn’t wait to resume work on the long-lost recordings. The original words having meanwhile disappeared, he enlisted the help of his songwriting collaborator Zeina Nasr. The new voice parts were duly recorded, and—delighted that his longtime recording engineer Myles Boisen had finally acquired a piano—Fred recorded fragments left over in those scribbled notebooks, and the whole thing took on its final shape. I fine-tuned some audio details a couple of days later, and the whole thing was mastered some twenty-five years after its inception. Often projects are given insufficient time to mature. This one, however, is that seed that falls into the crack in a rock and finds just enough water and nourishment to keep growing until, years later, it splits that rock in half. Hardy Fox. Dedicated to the memory. Dedicated to the perseverance". A totally unique collaboration by two of the most exciting composers of our time.