Mark Gresham | 14 APR 2020
As a result of the pandemic, three Atlanta artists, each noted for their experimental improvisatory performances — Klimchak, Frank Schultz and Scott Burland — have generously decided that the proceeds from Bandcamp sales of their latest digital albums, Six Feet Apart and Halocline, will go to assist their colleagues through a pair of local charities that offer help to local musicians and food service workers in times of crisis.
A collaboration album between Klimchak and Schultz, Six Feet Apart, was released Monday and is available from the Bandcamp pages of both Klimchak and Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel (Burland and Schultz). DfTaLS’s Halocine album is posted in pre-order status, with the complete album becoming available for download via their Bandcamp site on Saturday, May 16th. The opening track, “Maelstrom,” which features features Dane Waters as guest vocalist. can be streamed now.
All of the proceeds generated via Bandcamp for both albums will benefit the Atlanta Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund (AMERF) and Giving Kitchen . AMERF exists in order to provide emergency aid to deserving professional musicians from among Atlanta’s musical community. Giving Kitchen provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources.
Selected tracks from the two albums can be streamed below:
When they began working on these albums, it was well before the possibility of a pandemic wasn’t even a consideration, much less an existential threat.
For the album that would become Six Feet Apart, the collaboration between Klimchak and Schultz began when Schulz sent Klimchak a series of improvisations that he recorded solo, some six to eight months ago, so they did not have anything to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have been working/experimenting with the tracks for months,” Schultz says. When the pandemic came along, progress on the album took a more urgent turn. “Maybe the thought of impending doom was a motivator for getting them finished.”
Klimchak added his parts to the tracks at a distance. “My multiple percussion tracks for each piece for that recording were pre-composed, not improvised. But like all of my work, the process of composition did involve improvisation in the early stages before I settled on parts and wrote and recorded them.”
In contrast, for the Halocline album, Schultz says, “The DfTaLS tracks were all improvised. [They] were originally recorded about 12 months ago and we have been working on them for the past eight months. We started out with around 15 songs and narrowed them down to eight. It takes me a while to get the songs sounding how I think they should. We decided to put it out now as a digital release, to offer support and provide a distraction (and possible sleep aid).”
“Most of this material was recorded about a year ago, spring 2019.” says Burland. “Frank and I were getting together once a week or so during that time.We approach these sessions like we do a live performance, in that we set up, sit down and start playing, with little discussion. What I find most interesting about this collection is that many years ago a writer in Columbia, South Carolina wrote a blurb in the free weekly there, describing our music as ‘a long lost soundtrack to a deep sea documentary.’ After listening to our final picks, I realized that we just made that soundtrack. Coincidentally, we had decided to name the albumHalocline which is a phenomenon in seawater where salinity and temperature affect the water’s density and clarity.”
Burland and Schultz had hoped to do a physical release of Halocline, either LP or CD, but, as most bands know, physical media primarily sells sidestage at performances. Since their spring concerts were canceled, they decided to go ahead with a digital release first. Stickfigure Records is assisting DfTaLS with promotion of the digital release and will release Halocline as a CD, says Schultz, “when things start to get back to normal.”
Klimchak has also experienced his own share of cancellations. He says that in addition to a five-week west coast performance tour, his film, theater and dance work has fallen off. In addition, the Ear Pollen Experimental Music Series which he curates for at Gallery 378 in Candler Park has had its April and May concerts postponed.
“There are a LOT of touring improv musicians that have been just devastated by this,” says Klimchak. “They basically spend their lives on the road, touring from city to city, barely getting by. And those folks are hurting badly.”
“I think folks are anxious,” says Schultz. “But, they are doing what they can to make the best out of a bad situation. Folks are also trying new things like Zoom and Facebook Live. Facebook is now flooded with live performances and people are posting their top ten influential records and tagging each other in music posts that are intended to surround ourselves and each other in music.”
For Burland, there are also the impact of drastic social adjustments involved. He notes how “Musicians are having to deal with canceled gigs, recording sessions, practice sessions, [and] the social aspects of those: Getting dressed, going to a venue, sharing an experience. I miss that very much. People turn to music in times of crisis. It challenges, it soothes, it allows space to think, get lost, focus, distract. In that spirit we hope that Halocline will help people navigate this ‘Great Pause,’ because there is no road map, no one to guide us through this uncharted territory.” ■