Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Memory of Clayton Counts

According to his website, Clayton Counts has been dead since Christmas Eve. His Wiki Page says that the death has not been verified. In any case, Clayton is/was a gracious fellow. He was a very intelligent guy, without the pseudo-intellectual loftiness that often comes along with it, and a sharp, dark sense of humor to boot. He could talk about chemistry and pizza in the same unassuming demeanor. He and I weren't the most regular of friends, but we were in regular correspondence since I met him in 2004.

In our email exchanges, I eventually put him on a bill for a show I was playing at Hotti Biscotti, a quaint experimental venue. Knowing I was fond of the music on his website that I was aware of, I was still weary about the laptop ambience that might easily get squelched by the noise in the small bar. I met him there and we chatted about music, approaches to executing such, and various secret ideas he had, for practically the entire nite. Contrary to my concerns, he played a spiraling enclave of electronic blips, bloops, and farts that eventually mutated and waddled into a rabid, chaotic interchange; apparently without predictable use of distortions, that I can only describe as this:

... Or maybe by saying that it was more persistently cacaphonous, but in the same vein as this ColoringBook track

Clayton and I continuted to hang out a little here and there. Eventually, due to his court trouble at the time (see Chicago Reader article PDF in aforementioned Wikipedia page titled "Last Night A DJ Called Me A Whining Little Bitch"), and since I had an album in the works, that I was in the market for getting mastered, he agreed to do it for a modest sum to supplement his court expenses. It also allowed for a lot of telephone conversations and meetings at bars or coffee shops that were not only productive but also littered with mental notes for me to take home about musicians I'd never heard of. He once said that my music sounded, in an off-the-wall way, similar to Les Baxter, and now that I've long since found out who that is, I consider it a great compliment.

Les Baxter - Hogin Machine

That album was distributed in an edition of 40 CDR's, then taken back to the drawing board to be radically refinished. The following track doesn't sound anything like Les Baxter, but it was mastered by Clayton from a deliberately peaked recording with a focus on getting fullness and stereo activity out of basically mono material. It's essentially a recording of a glitch in my sequencer that happens when I try to make it do too much at once. It wrangles the sounds that you're working on into mush if it's the right material/if you rub it right.

Mister Fuckhead - 3.31 (deleted album version)

I had Clayton on my radio show last fall to do an interview, live performance, and guest DJ set. You can nab the live set Here. The interview amounts to over an hour at least, and the mic that Clayton was speaking into was faulty, so it will take some cleaning up before I post it. You should check back for that, I will have it up eventually.

Clayton also contributed to WFMU's 365 Days Project, here are the days he featured something:







Clayton Counts - Fuck EMI

Anyone who knows anything about Clayton knows about The Beachles, but if you don't, here's the Wikipedia link regarding the first Beachles album. The Beachles' - Sgt. Petsound's Lonely Hearts Club Band is commonly known as a mash-up album, track for track, of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Clayton never really seemed to agree about it being hapharzardly placed into the category of "mash-up", and never really explained why he wanted to do the album other than to be clear that it was not to antagonize anyone. I would just add that I think it's quite a clever premise and surely wasn't chosen half-heartedly. For one, Pet Sounds was said to be inspired by The Beatles' Rubber Soul, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was supposedly a reaction to Pet Sounds. Sgt. Peppers also had more than a little collage work on the cover, which makes it all the more fitting, thematically, to use their music as a launch pad to make something else.

Sgt. Petsound's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2006)

The way that The Pet Sounds Sessions was compiled by the Beach Boys' own Brian Wilson almost asks for it, and listening to the original SMiLE bootlegs, I'd say that Brian and Co. might have liked The Beachles. I don't know what all the fuss was about.

Not only that, and this might be a stretch, but Harry Nilsson was heavily inspired by The Beatles. After John Lennon died, Nilsson neglected to do another album, and instead devoted the rest of his life to Gun Control. His early albums were most obviously influenced by The Beatles, namely Aerial Ballet and Pandemonium Shadow Show. When it came time for said albums to be reissued, Harry took material from both of the albums and made one single album, Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, which was probably, inadvertently, the world's first mash-up album; latently influenced by The Beatles. Coincidentally, RCA released what is essentially a mash-up/medley of Nilsson's previous material called Scatalogue, intended to promote those albums by him.

But the Beachles record isn't just a mash-up record. It used primarily source material to create something new. It's not as strict, track for track, as has been implied. There's plain out soundscapes on there, and The Super Mario Brothers Theme too, among other things.

Clayton has posted some of the second Beachles album, and his friends are gradually posting things related to him on his website. He said that projects he works on always come in 3's, so in any case, I will be checking his website for updates of varying importance in the days to come.

Handy links for finding used products:

Beach Boys Pet Sounds on EBay

Beatles Sgt. Pepper search on EBay

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