Academic credentials have I not, but to my experienced ears, Rust Worship's live set, from my program of 27th May, would be a ready thesis for any student of "serious" electronic music, both in its breadth and voluminous content. It also proves, beyond any doubt, that "noise" is no longer even a serviceable adjective for the newer, DIY brand of electronic, improvised music. I point to composers like Bayle and Parmegiani often (perhaps too often, I admit) in the case of performers like Paul Haney, because these are not only my favorite of the INA-GRM school, but also because their best works have gravitas as well as innate listenability, buoyancy even, in comparison to their contemporaries like Varèse.
I met Paul Haney at No Fun Fest 2009, as I was preparing for a return to WFMU's airwaves, as the concept behind My Castle of Quiet the radio program was gelling in my mind. Paul was instantly very open with me, very personable and bold with his opinions and personal points of view, on any number of subjects, not merely music. He was eager to talk, to express himself, and it's this amiability that shines through in Paul's music, and it's been enjoyable for me, as a fan of Rust Worship, to witness Paul growing the project, to the point where experimental stabs and jolts evolve into thoughtful, in-the-moment composition of great variety and emotion.
This 45-minute journey in sound is album-like in its movements and complexity, such that it cannot be easily digested in a single lump; hell, it's taken me a week and a half, and multiple listens, just to assess how I feel about it, and to analyze its successes. And as I began to launch into my post-performance spiel that evening, the one many bands and soloists have heard, about how it's wise not to immediately rate one's live radio performance, but to judge it over several listens and come away from it for a while, etc., Paul said, "I feel pretty damn good about it right now," and he's been just as quick in the past to hang what he thought was a poor Rust Worship performance—not an egotist or a back-patter, just honest.
So it's my suggestion to listen to "Suite of Exhaustion/Recipe of Problems" good and loud, on a good system, over and over a few times; take it in like any good work of art, sonic or otherwise, and don't race to the finish line. There's a lot going on in this piece.
In a few short months after that first meeting, Paul was guest DJ'ing on The Castle, and I found him to be a person of excellent taste, and ready always to spill over with praise for the music he loved (his Obsolete Units label and its excellent track record being further evidence of this.) His live solo Rust Worship performance on the show now brings things full circle, to the point where Paul's work must be praised and analyzed, much like the live and recorded work of the icons that got him there. The piece's guitar-based coda serves to remind us that our performer cut his teeth listening to Dead C and Skullflower records, and the grand tradition of abuse of signal-processing gear that got the whole ball rolling in the first place.
Thanks to Castle listeners, for giving in-the-moment praise where praise was due, and to Bob Bellerue for sterling and sensitive session engineering, certainly due in part to witnessing Rust Worship develop as I have. This week's photo of Rust Worship in action was taken by your host and author, at a RW performance in Nyack, NY, and photostepped—"Rusted," if you will, by Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting fame. Thanks especially to Paul Haney for bringing it, even after local public transportation had had its way with him, hence the piece's title.