Ali - A Tribe Called Quest
Music, for some, is a welcomed companion, which becomes woven into the heartbeat of life. For some it is contrary, it is more like a temporary passage to freedom from life. However Recessional, to me, has achieved one of musics challenges.
To me Recessional, is a paradox.
The entire mood of the CD draws me into a life within itself, but the life within feels just like the life I left. From the jump, a song like Opposite Corners takes charge of the situation. I am instantly tranced to the chant, to the warmth and mellowness of the instruments and voices. I close my eyes and become a part of it, and it becomes a part of me. The progression continues with Shadow Traffic through to Come Back Again. There is no falling out of the zone.
Come back Again, softly releases me to a gentle awakening, as a sweet dream invites one to the warm embrace of morning. Welcome back to life, although I never left it, and it never left me. 310 is certainly on one.
Check for them. Fo' Real...
- ali shaheed muhammad
Trip-hop narratives times three.
310 (pronounced, “three-ten”) are American trio Andrew Sigler, Joseph Dierker and Tim Donovan. They make an intelligent brand of electronica that sits somewhere between Erlend Oye, Kruder & Dorfmeister and traditional trip-hop. This is their fifth album and you can sense that a lot of thought has gone into it. Each track is carefully crafted and washes into the next, generating a pleasant narrative.
You can't swing a boom mic nowadays without hitting someone who wants to create soundtracks for imaginary (or--gasp--real) films. Amid the charlatans stand a handful of honest-to-Godard auteurs who excel at conjuring images and triggering profound emotions with sounds. The eclectic trio 310 are among the best at this difficult art. 310 is in the vanguard of groups free from geographical restrictions: Tim Donovan (guitar, drums) lives in New York, Andrew Sigler (keys, banjo, vocals) resides in L.A., and Joseph Dierker (bass, percussion) dwells in Seattle. They've just released Recessional, their most accessible album yet, for the London-based Leaf Label, home to some of the world's finest and most unclassifiable musicians.
On Recessional, all 15 songs bleed into one another, giving the disc a dreamlike aura, while cinematic elements like dialogue, rain, windshield wipers, and footsteps lend a sense of a sonic travelogue. In this way, Recessional reminds me of the KLF classic Chill Out. " We like to create these epic journeys that you can get lost in and create your own concept behind it," says Donovan. "It derives a lot from being big prog-rock and concept-album geeks in high school."
While Recessional is accessible within the context of 310's previous work (drifting :zoviet*france:-like ambient loops, musique concrete collages, and menacing triphop), it still won't be blasting from any parties (unless Jim Jarmusch or David Lynch get ahold of it). "Opposite Corners" could even be a radio hit, given enough payola, as Sigler's vocals recall Bryan Ferry's or Chris Isaak's sumptuous melancholy, and "Night on the Ocean" charmingly stumbles into Tom Waits' noirish balladland. But Donovan denies 310 strove to conceive a more structured, inviting album.
"It seems to be the progression of all the 310 records. Our [debut, 1997's] Aug 56 is probably the least accessible of our records; [it's] a total ambient soundscape. Then each record after that adopts more and more beats and melodic elements in combination with the ambient elements."
Geographically, 310's members view their isolation as beneficial. "The advantage of being spread out across the country is that we can each bring our influences we receive from our home cities and instill them into 310," says Donovan. "We also work much better when we can work in our own space at our own pace and then send the ideas to each other as they progress." They've also found that swapping MP3s of musical ideas and editing tracks on ProTools significantly decreases intraband drama.
I wonder if the band's diverse musical influences diffuse its identity. Is there such a thing as being too mercurial among styles? Or is genre-hopping necessary to maintain interest?
"310 is like a melting pot of influences for us, and I think that is our identity with it," says Donovan. "I... think that the eclectic nature of 310... enriches [our identity] and makes it what it is. 310 [allows us] to go down many musical paths, but somehow it always morphs into that 310 sound. I think it becomes very original-sounding in all its diversity."
the skam laydee
The Milk Factory
If it wasn’t enough with Joseph Dierker living in Seattle and Tim Donovan in Brooklyn, 310 have now recruited a third member, Andrew Sigler, who happens to live in Los Angeles. Distance has always been part of the process in the work of the band, providing them with a wide range of sonic sources. This sixth album sees the band developing their unique sonic landscapes further and explore new musical directions.
Since their first release, 310 have continuously worked at developing beautiful soundtracks built around processed found sounds collected in Tim Donovan’s urban environment and Joseph Dierker’s countryside setting. On Recessional, these elements are as vibrant and rich as ever, and Andrew Sigler’s vocal contributions gives this record a truly human dimension. Athough Sigler is now a fully-fledged member of 310, he already appeared on previous recordings, providing vocals under his Fire/Fly moniker.
Based around themes of cities and oceans, and cleverly articulated around a wide range of sounds, Recessional is a rather peaceful journey through sounds and melodies. The fruit of two years of work, this album shows the band at its most confident yet. Perfectly in control of their art, 310 develop their atmospheric framework over the full length of the record. Although the context has an underlying urban feel in many ways, with street sounds overlapping with excerpts of conversations on a regular basis, the actual melodies and orchestrations tell another story. A calm breeze washes away the dirt and noises of city life and replaces it with beautiful colours and tones. The sweet voice of a child playing, a flock of seagulls spiralling over a stoney beach, an old crackling record: as many touches of life brushing against concrete walls and crowded places, evoking the melancholy of old holiday films. Occasionally, the atmosphere becomes more oppressive (Cloud Rooms, More North Than Portland), and the hip-hop influences of previous albums can still be felt (Shadow Traffic, Night On The Ocean), but here, 310 focus on the more opened and human side of their music. Their urban folk is more adventurous and doesn’t need to refer to any particular point anymore. 310 simply capture life in its most desirable form. Alternating between short sonic vignettes and fully developed compositions, the band patiently develop a soundtrack for warm Autumn days, always keeping the focus on the intrinsic beauty of its components and on the cinematic strength of their music. p>
310 deliver with Recessional their most mature and accessible piece of work to date. As they continue to perfect their musical environment, the trio broaden their horizon and reaffirm more than ever their sonic identity on a scene often more preoccupied by form than context. Blessed are those given the chance to experience 310.
REACHING FOR AN album by 310 is like having your mind raise its hand and say, "Um, I think I'll step out for little break." Slip on a pair of padded headphones, and that trip is guaranteed. The production moniker of high-school friends Joseph Dierker and Tim Donovan, along with recent addition Andrew Sigler (aka fire/fly), 310 drown dark hip-hop beats in musique concrète, peppering ambient layers with shifting percussion. Theirs is the sound of physical disconnections. That's a metaphor, but it's also a fact: With Dierker in Seattle, Donovan in New York, and Sigler in L.A., the trio composes in isolation, passing ideas through the mail, building their own contexts around them, and then dropping them off with the knowledge that once that little blue door slams shut, they'll never see the track the same way again.
"When you have loops of sound from TV or found sounds, it draws you in, and you start hearing things you didn't hear before," says Donovan. "Little stories begin forming on their own." Take "Shadow Traffic," from the upcoming Recessional, out Oct. 13 on the British label Leaf. It opens with an urban rainstorm, and the hypnotic drone of windshield wipers streaks back and forth before falling in step with an unwilling but insistent car ignition to create the backbone of the track. Stunted kick drums drop in, followed by a pacing snare and wah-wah guitar, then a lazy bass line and trickling keyboards, gradually unmooring the track as sampled sirens pass through it. The members of 310 credit the distance between them for the wide range of samples and influences they incorporateand for not testing their willpower to stay holed up in the studio rather than a bar together. You could say that New York adds density and a sense of scheduled purpose, Los Angeles drifts through with hints of pop and airbrushed smiles masking ill intention, and Seattle brings a natural, laid-back feeling befitting the city's lifestyle. The band members' separation gives them free rein to completely dissect their partners' compositions over time, to pick and cut what they like, and compose at their own pace without outside influence or scrutiny.
Of course, blindsiding one idea with seemingly unrelated samples and edits doesn't always go over well with the original composer. But after nearly a decade of collaboration, 310 have learned to boil multiple paths down into something singular. On 2001's Downtown & Brooklyn Only, a deep-ocean whale call gets jumped by a sketched-out guitar and bass drum ("Cop Slain"), while breakbeats, alien samples, and turntable cuts buoy layers of ambient sound ("Red Horizons"). 310 lean on rhythms and found sounds until they reveal connections you'd never expect, and they also know when to lay off and accept a sample's face value rather than splintering it in search of intrinsic worth. "You're never happy the first time you hear it back," says Dierker. "Not one time have I ever said, 'Yes! That's it.' It's kind of like that game, telephone, where what you say gets a little more distorted each time."
The band follows the subtle themes of the shifting loops to mesmerizing effect. "You put a bunch of lines in the water at one time, and eventually one will sink to the level of the fish, and you get a nibble," says Dierker. Though Donovan's beats and guitar, Dierker's bass and percussive accents, and Sigler's keyboards, banjo, and vocals hold your focus when they strike, it's the car horns, sloshing waves, and whispered conversations behind them that put you at the scene. The key is to have as many hooks dangling from ProTools as you can when the next package arrives.
Having previously acquired a reputation as a group best suited for film scores or installations, 310 are now making their shaded beats and textures more accessible than ever. Recessional's loose theme is "cities and oceans, water and streets," progressing from East Coast congestion to the Northwest's open rain-fed spaces; it also moves more than previous works like the brooding Nothing to See Here EP. "Installation Linoleum" plays a clamoring wind chime against a muddled trip-hop kick and dirgey organ; on "ExuMix," a baritone guitar and dragging breakbeat slowly stir into a bubbling background. The hollow synth and Sigler's somewhat detached vocal on "Cloud Rooms" are reminiscent of Depeche Mode circa Music for the Masses.
"This time, we were more focused on melodic elements and having the beats develop into song forms," Donovan explains. "It wasn't a conscious decision from the start. It's just that we became more methodical." It's a methodology that works: For the first time, 310 seem like they're trying to give listeners something structurally familiar to grasp before gradually pulling away.