Most good things in my life relate back to Jim Zespy. When he pointed me in the direction of this video, I was certainly not disappointed.
Most people, when they hear US Maple, think that they are just a weird band trying to make music that is intentionally wrong or something. Some people might even think that they are improvising their music. How very wrong these people are! After watching this video, you really start to get an idea as to how much thought and preparation goes into making their music. I always considered myself to be someone who "gets" US Maple, but after seeing this, I think that I actually did not really get them as much as I thought that I did.
This video documents the recording of US Maple's 2001 album "Acre Thrills" at Pachyderm studios with Brian Paulsen. If you are a big nerd, you know that Pachyderm is famous for being the studio where Nirvana recorded In Utero with Steve Albini (with Bob Weston assisting, and Bobs girlfriend cooking - I am a hopeless nerd.) If you are an even bigger nerd, you know that Brian Paulsen is the recording engineer behind albums such as Slint's "Spiderland" as well as recording albums by Soul Asylum, Arcwelder, Jesus Lizard, Wilco, Beck, Archers of Loaf, Dinosaur Jr., Royal Trux, and Superchunk. What can I say? I am a such a sucker for documentaries that take place in recording studios. Love em! Especially when the band is recording on 2-inch tape. A Year and Half in the Life of Metallica part I? Oh yes. Loads of great 2" tape footage. Some Kind of Monster? Practically zero 2" tape footage (you see a few 2" machines sitting unused in the background for decorative purposes, but seeing as how the whole album was pieced together [terribly] on the 'Tool, that's how they roll these days.) No 2" tape footage, but I still give it a "Hell yes!" There is so much nerd joy to be found in the documentation of any kind of album, but especially in a documentary that shows the recording engineer reel-rocking edits on a Studer 2", as this documentation of "Acre Thrills" so graciously does.
Why does this prove that US Maple is the greatest band on the planet? Just look at how carefully Al Johnson maps out his lyrics! The way that he has developed his own system of symbols for diagramming the different vocal inflections on paper is just an example of how incredibly complex and painstakingly careful their music really is. Then, you get to see him do about a dozen different takes of just the word "yeah" at the end of the line "Chang, you're attractive, yeah" as he dutifully perpares his singing voice by sucking lemon slices. He moves his entire body with each vocal delivery, as if he was simulcasting the lyrics in both song and sign language. It's so genius. This band is a miracle, and I would say that I think about them pretty much every day. May the strains of the world never keep them from making the most crushingly awkward and wonderful music I have ever heard.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Posted by M. H. D. at 10:11 PM