Lately, one of my mini obsessions has been artists in the urban environment, and the potential richness of inspiration when one is forced to look inward in the presence of external chaos, and how that battle in turn awakens and animates the creative mind. In short, some of the most mind-expanding and/or soul-stirring shit I've seen and heard lately has been made by folks who can't afford (and wouldn't necessarily choose) to go to the countryside in order to stir their muse.
I've been following Glenn Nelson's rumbling, hypnotic, Philadelphia-based psych-noise project Two Years on Welfare for the last six months; one of his sets was the first post on the My Castle of Quiet vimeo channel, and he contributed a fantastic track, "Sleep," to the MCoQ 2010 WFMU Marathon premium CD.
Glenn's sound, among its many other enticements, whips the tactile universe of tubes, magnetic tape and old gear together with that of the digital knobs—those that spike, bend and spread frosty glow. There's a seemingly casual, almost meditative ease to Two Years on Welfare, though once lost in a piece, you find it's ultimately some pretty haunted territory.
These tracks take the listener away on a bed of vaguely disturbing stars, and memories that can't quite be grabbed. The sea is indeed lively, and it's where the sky used to be. My suggestion is that these sets be downloaded and listened to on headphones, so that the layers of activity, subtle transitions and primordial awakenings can be fully appreciated.
Many thanks once again to Glenn Luttman for his masterful session engineering, and to Tracy Widdess for spinning my photos into gloomy/groovy gold. Thanks again to Glenn Nelson, who also runs Self Help Tapes, and curates the mysterious Tire Island.