Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Andrew Swanson - June 12th, 2011

My composition for this week’s session is entitled Weepy Unfurler/Dolor Lagoon In Repose.

Contrary to my usual modus operandi—which is to sit in front of the keyboard with brows furrowed, sifting through hundreds of musical ideas before I even consider giving one a chance—I elected to allow my stream of consciousness dictate the compositional process. Given the relatively little amount of time that I had to devote to the organization of this piece, decisive action was really the only option. That is to say, I unthinkingly committed to the page the first ideas that came into being. Though I was dreading a chronologically restrictive compositional process initially, I have since realized that the sense of immediacy generated by the circumstances was actually quite helpful in coaxing material out of this mind that I think. I completed the piece through some limited additions and revisions to the material drawn from my original stream-of-consciousness sitting.

I also went into this project with the aim of completely ignoring any self-doubt or fear—an aim guided largely by Wendy Vainity, who is one of my favorite artists. Wendy, in whom I see this mentality reflected to an extreme degree, unfailingly puts forth incredible and honest work, despite finding herself a punching bag for internet commenters more often than not. I admire her tireless devotion in the face of nigh-constant derision and mockery, and I’m continually floored by her output. Now, this isn’t to suggest that I find myself in a similar unenviable position. I only wish to emulate the sort of creative attitude that Ms. Vainity exemplifies.

A brief aside: I also find it to be unsurprising that the general aesthetic components within this piece were likely derived from my old band speak, and the lightheartedness and humor of Wendy Vainity. Both have been heavy on my mind in the last week, and the song is essentially a direct result of those two seemingly unrelated strains of thought combining when I took to the keyboard (most obviously in the combination of a wistful keyboard accompaniment that sounds as a pack of midi reed instruments being pushed through an industrial vent, coupled with somber, thematic melodies in the horns).

I would like to say something at the risk of sounding like some maudlin Walt-Disneyesque sap: I imagine the section of this song to be the theme of this tired little enchanted machine, slowly rolling its way up an endlessly winding mountain path, knowing that when it gets to the top it may finally give up the ghost that animates it. The latter half is more or less representative of the catharsis experienced by the little guy when everything is through, tinged with brief passages of post-life apprehension (you know—the kind of stuff that spirits tend to lose sleep over).

Joining me on the bandstand will be Andy Clausen with his trombone, Aaron Otheim on his keyboard, and Chris Icasiano behind his drumset.

As a parting offering, a few of my favorite W.V. videos: