Skeletons Out was a project by me, with my usual mess of cassette tapes, and Jay Sullivan, who played old Califone turntables and a harmonium. We met long ago, when I was playing a lot with Jason Talbot and Jay was an undergrad student in Lowell MA. I think Jay and I met at some show where he was part of Due Process with RRRon Lessard and somehow we ended up playing together too. But my memory is notoriously unreliable. What I know for sure is that we bonded over a shared love of Small Cruel Party, Climax Golden Twins, Voice Crack, things like that. Later, we'd bond over our shared love of fine beers. In fact, Jay brewed excellent ales himself, and years later would go on to become head brewer at Cambridge Brewing Company.
Jay and I were pals for some time before we actually started playing music together. Actually, I think we really decided to be a band when we toured the Northeast with Joseph Hammer and played some show together... I forget which city we were in. Philadelphia? Montreal? I'm not sure. But we had fun and kept on doing it until the Skeletons Out sound kinda emerged. At the time, I found myself moving steadily away from gesture/action-based improvisation, and was longing for a more static sound. When we played together, our individual sounds were meshed so thoroughly that it became hard for me to tell who was doing what... and that, I thought, was super-exciting. I loved the idea of getting lost in our own creation.
A label called Students of Decay asked me for an album in 2007 or 2008. All the source sound for our album was taken from material generated by Jay (including some field recordings, sounds made from highly-altered vinyl records and amplified turntable feedback, who knows what else), tape sounds generated by me, and then lots and lots and LOTS of live (in concert and in the studio) duo recordings. I think there's some piece of a trio session we recorded with Joseph in there, but frankly I don't remember and I can't hear it anymore anyway. All the elements got chewed up inside the tape machines, as is my usual process. The end result is a single long piece that (to my ears) starts with tense pressure that doesn't let up for quite a while, then about midway through, ramps the pressure up some more. On the album's jacket, we intentionally did not list the items we used to make the music (as one typically lists instruments), or individual contributions. The idea was to discourage listening to it as two dudes improvising in a room. I hope that came across.
Please listen to this LOUD on a decent stereo with good bass response if you can. I preserved my favorite sound of Jay's, that mammoth enveloping low sick throb, and if you listen quietly on crappy little computer speakers you'll miss it completely. "In Remembrance..." ought to fill up a space and pin you to the wall. But I dunno, maybe it sounds nice quietly too... up to you, I suppose. But it's intended to crush boulders.
released October 1, 2008
All sound by Howard Stelzer and Jay Sullivan.
Cover art by Justin Meyers.
Mastered by Ernst Karel (who is a brilliant genius).
Originally published as a CD by the Students of Decay label in an edition of 500 copies.
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