Whoa, whatâ€™s this?Â Is this really Troy Schafer?Â The man involved with the psychedelic collective Second Family Band and the pagan folkery of Wreathes goes classical on Evening Song Awaken.Â It is a series of seven total compositions; three of which form one series, two another, and then two unrelated close up the disc.Â They range from twenty-five seconds to 16:41.Â Most are around the four to eight minute mark though.Â They are sweeping stringed experiments that speak in poetic expressions.Â I conducted a mini interview with Mr. Schafer that should prove helpful to understanding both the artist and his art.
What instruments/equipment were used?
Schafer: The heart of these recordings is two violins. Â One being a 1920 strad copy, made in Berlin and sold in America by Sears just before WWII. Â My great grandfather Capt. Chas Rempferd was the original owner. Â Story has it, he sawed the hell out of the thing every night on Lake Michigan. Â When the crew noticed heâ€™d gone missing, they assumed heâ€™d been possessed by whiskey and the violinâ€™s song before throwing himself overboard. Â Though the instrument remains safe, they never found his body.
It gets a massive volume, I like to use it with steel strings for bright thrashing ringing scraping on open textural spaces.
The other was made in Chicago and found its way to Pickerel, Wisconsin during Prohibition, where my ancestors owned and operated a small distillery and speakeasy. Â The fiddle provided entertainment, maybe a bit too much. Â Someone fell asleep on the job and when the distillery blew up, the instrument was one of the only remaining artifacts.
It has a rich dark tone that I think youâ€™ll be able to identify on these recordings.
Other instrumentation is sparse. Â Viola, cello, horn, voice, tape manipulation, musical saw, and rhodes suitcase seventy three.
What inspired you to create these compositions?
Schafer: My prime motivator in recording Evening Song Awaken was to document a period in my life when intuition became increasingly important to my playing, allowing me to develop a more innovative, abstract and individualized performance style. Â Through heightened and conceptual use of gesture, as it pertains to both composition and performance, I have expanded the awareness with which I produce my work.
How does this differ from your other solo work or collaborations?
Schafer: On this album, the violin plays itself, I do my best to get out of the way. Â I am not concerned with molding it around preconceived structures.
Getting back to my comments, I was stunned by the strange pasts of both violins.Â Their eerie baggage seems to be carried with them and dropped off in each composition as â€śthe violin plays itself.â€ťÂ There is a ghostly presence felt in each soaring of strings and brushing of the bow.Â Each instrument emerges from its abyss and ashes to re-present themselves through the fingers of a great grandson.Â I love how Schafer more or less describes the instruments as playing him rather than him playing them.Â Such puppeteering is felt with the incarnate vibrancy and life that definitely comes across within each track.Â This is a masterful compilation of opuses that is bold and daring for the genre frameworks within which Schafer usually works.Â However, anyone who loves experimental noir will appreciate these pieces that are unpretentiously ripe with maturity and sophistication.Â Schafer brings a higher level of artistic expertise and interest to our world that can sometimes taste bland with the same old elements.Â To complete it all, a nice design that also boasts superior style is manifested throughout the album art.