Volume six in our Required Wreckers LP series, M Dwinell’s Golden Ratio offers the only documentation of Dwinell’s Just Intonation organ work. These pieces provide a pivotal shift away from his earlier Kraut-inspired rockbased improvisation with Boston’s Bright in the direction of his recent electronic-based compositional work with Brooklyn’s Forma (Spectrum Spools). Unlike either of these projects, however Golden Ratio focuses exclusively on a natural tuning system generated from the harmonic series. By precise control of his instrument's tuning, Dwinell sets into motion a dynamic musical system of pressure, intensity and calm. Golden Ratio incorporates both static pulsing drones and heavily arpeggiated passages, culminating in melodic lines that epitomize Dwinell’s unique musical vocabulary as developed over the last twenty years. Golden Ratio pairs Dwinell’s music with the artwork of Ricci Albenda. Albenda and Dwinell share an intense and concentrated interest in perception, especially in how sight and sound can both focus and alter one’s awareness. Both artists challenge stable musical or visual points of reference, while simultaneously engaging these systems in the creation of their unique bodies of work. The LP contains a 16-page booklet of Albenda’s work that follows previous sound-and-pairings in the R/W series, including: Son of Earth and Rick Myers; Ensemble Economique and Stacie Jaye Meyer; Keith Fullerton Whitman/Ben Vida and Meredyth Sparks; Gregg Kowalsky w/Jozef Van Wissem and Wade Guyton; and Mike Shiflet/Pete Swanson and Miranda Lichtenstein & Cameron Martin.
With equal nods to Throbbing Gristle’s retrograde conceptualism and Recommended Records unwavering musicality, Required Wreckers Series explores the work of artists operating at the intersections of sound art, improvisation, drone, outsider experimentation and modern composition. In the spirit of its name, R/W aims to disrupt the boundaries typically used to delimit genre and the sensibilities that help to inform taste. In so doing, R/W slips out from under the simple, reductive classifications so often used to discuss, and even critically engage, contemporary music. Situating R/W in the gap between Throbbing Gristle’s celebrated a-musicality and the unrelenting craftsmanship of Henry Cow, these releases acknowledge their debt to historical precedent. Each release is a one-time vinyl pressing (each will also be available in the vastly inferior digital format). These LPs will also include artwork and assorted ephemera that invoke our deepest respect for the medium and the handcrafted (and assembled) components we regret have disappeared with the rise of digital media. R/W terminates after ten installments.
M Dwinell on Golden Ratio
Became interested in Just Intonation in late 2006, by way of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Harry Partch and others. First hurdle was what to use as an instrument. I settled on an electric guitar laid flat on a table, hands free. The tools I used were an ebow, a multi-track recorder, a calculator, a precision tuner, and a copy of the book “Just Intonation Primer.”
I multi-tracked long static drones that were calculated to produce just intervals, then created the illusion of musical movement by mixing the individual tracks in a random manner.
Moving on from the guitar I built three electric monochords, each with a moveable bridge, pickup and cradle for ebow. Then I introduced wind instruments, voice drones, and defretted guitars.
I began having serious doubts about the musical value of these strictly drone experiments. Began research for an instrument that would allow for precise tuning as well as full musical playability.
Acquired a Farfisa Compact Organ. By accident I discovered that the 12 individual tone generators for each note had screws providing for precision tuning. Felt like I won the lottery.
This album is a collection of my best work from this time period, 2007-2008.