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Article: Morgan Craft

'Absence of Day and Night' / New black American avant-garde

Morgan Craft / 'Absence of Day and Night'

All sounds made by, on, or through solo electric guitar.
Improvised and recorded live.
This album cannot be bought or sold.
Limited time edition.
2010 / Circle of Light Recordings

Q: So here we are at the beginning of a new decade, so many things have
shifted and at the same time it could be said that we're in the same old
position. What are your thoughts on the last ten years in general, and
more specifically, in music?

MC: It's really difficult to render an opinion because we're all right in
the middle of it, but I will say that I've never felt so conflicted. If I
think solely about the music it doesn't quite work because so many things
are connecting up to form todays climate. Because of the obvious
political problems in America many of our musicians decided that instead
of creating new sounds that might galvanize, inspire and energize humanity
to come up with creative alternatives, they tried to become politicians.
They put on suits and attended meetings. Or they grabbed acoustic guitars
and bongos and sang about injustice. We saw all these marches and fist
pumping and rhetoric but this isn't the sixties, all those ideas are fifty
years old and my generation is still trying to use them today as a way to
effect change. But the authorities figured out how to deal with those
methods a long time ago. And here are all these supposedly creative
people shuffling around wondering why it isn't working. Where are the new
ideas, where is the energy, where is the confidence?

Music right now is an embarrassment. I've never been so bored with music
and musicians in my life. It's like nobody knows what to do so they just
latch onto something that's already been well established. It creates the
illusion that they're contributing when really they're just treading
water. I've never seen so many depressed looking, listless musicians.
They stand in their little one square foot box on stage, eyes glazed, with
these glum expressions on their faces. They look so tired out and they
haven't even done anything yet. Then they get off stage and it's all
smiles and schmoozing. What happened to the passion? What happened to
the blood? These are the times to be on fire. These are the times to be
burning, pushing everything into the red. I feel so excited because
things are so unstable, with the music industry, print media, and
Hollywood all collapsing. I mean, to me, it feels like a whole new
frontier is opening up.

Q: How do you envision the music world coming around to something more

MC: I don't know if it's supposed to be this big movement, you know,
where everybody is on the same page and in the same club. I'm slightly
suspicious of collectivist endeavors since very few of them survive the
internal conflicts and jockeying for position. I lean more toward a
rigorous individualism. That being said I can see cooperation happening
across many different lines. We can be individuated and still respect
another perspective enough to work together. Then it's a matter of being
relentless and positive. I can't help but be optimistic about the present
/ future.

What I do know is that art must contribute to realigning our mental,
physical and spiritual perspectives so that we might move toward our
higher potentials. There must be a balance. Artists and musicians have
to step up and accept some responsibility for the work they are making.
If my music does not have as its central thrust a concern for planetary
change and positivity then I need to find something else to do. We have
to be honest with the bankruptcy of certain approaches and concepts.

Q: It seems to me that this album is a much more focused work than some
of the others. In the past you'd put pop structures up against the more
abstract pieces. Was this a conscious choice, and what does the title of
the album signify?

MC: I'm feeling much more ambitious now, and this album was designed and
built with specific intentions. I had to move in a direction where what
I was making could be useful. My music has a mission, it has a job to do.
It's not meant to float around just taking up space. It's meant to serve
a function. So the album called for a sustained mood so that the listener
could sink into it as opposed to being pulled in different directions
every other track. I'm more willing to step forward and make statements
as opposed to the game of politics most artists are currently engaged in.
Art has become so safe and boring, with nobody wanting to ruffle any
feathers and risk their positions. It makes for dull work.

'Absence of Day and Night' is a reference to what happens when we leave
the earth and start exploring space. The working idea or theme for this
album has to do with the next frontier, internally and externally,
exploring infinity within and without. This album was not made for people
to dance, it's not a diversion. There is an overwhelming glut of those
kinds of sounds. This album is meant to be a vehicle. The music itself
is a vehicle for inner exploration, and the title shifts the mind outward
into space. I believe wholeheartedly that the next breakthroughs we make
in moving off of this planet will be the result of spiritual or internal
insights. What is needed is a music designed to help facilitate this. A
music that is not built from traditional western theory with its reliance
upon intervals and scales, which are another form of mathematics.

But the album as a whole also implies that without attending to the things
that are near we will not be equipped to go far. And for all my talk of
space I'm just as concerned with the direction of this planet. Whole
continents are being left for dead. Without positive changes for the
entire world community we cannot respectfully explore the beyond. Access
to knowledge and technology must be available on an international level.
We need a global mind, a global think tank, reaching back to the ancients
and on into the future. We need everyone's contribution.

Q: Can you talk a bit about your working methods? I think there is still
some confusion as to what exactly you mean by 'all sounds made by, on, or
through solo electric guitar'.

MC: Everything I make comes from me sitting down with my guitar and gear.
I do not use computers for the generation of any of my sounds. I am not
a multi-instrumentalist. I do not use any other musicians for any of the
sounds on my records. My set up is really basic, Boss distortion, Boss
DD-5 delay, volume pedal, Digitech Whammy 2, Line 6 delay modeler, Boss
RC-20, Fender Strat, and a Fender Vibrolux amp. I prefer to keep things
simple so that it leaves more room for the imagination. It's very
important that you master the tools you use, getting to that point where
there is no longer any hesitation, no technical problem stops you. Then
you can focus on breaking the sound barrier. Nothing kills creativity
faster than fiddling around with a machine because you don't know it well
enough. Music is never about the technology, it's about flow, energy and

I work in the studio every other day. By that I mean every other day I go
in and make a piece or a track. It's all one sitting, usually one hour,
sometimes two. Everything is improvised, I don't go in with any
preconceived ideas. I found that because all of my music is based on the
energy of the moment, working every day burned me out. It's really
important to find a good working rhythm that feels right for you. So
having that one day in between helps clear my head.

Q: Could you explain what you mean by breaking the sound barrier?

MC: The sound barrier represents the point where it no longer matters
what instrument you're playing, you have access to infinite sound. Each
instrument can liquefy and lose its shape, can become unrecognizable.
When that happens you find yourself in the world of elemental forces.
It's no longer about the tune, it's about nature, the elements. You're
not playing a melody which is supposed to represent a waterfall, you're
playing the waterfall, the essence or elemental properties of the
waterfall itself. It's an area beyond the mathematical straightjacket of
the tempered scale. I think scales and harmony have taken us as far as
they could. I believe there are vast new realms to explore which will
open up new possibilities as to the power and function of music in this
next cycle. I'm positive that we haven't even scratched the surface.

The coming era will see how the artist's way, and music in particular, can
assist and contribute to new advancements within culture. Space
exploration has been almost exclusively within the scientific realm, but I
think it is the artist who comes nearest to respecting and understanding
notions of infinity, the intelligence between the numbers. We need to
push further in this regard. Mathematics will never reveal the inner
workings of this experience of life and death, stars and galaxies. The
forces which animate this existence have no need of mathematics. I
believe music, this new music, can carry us over the next frontier.

Q: It seems you've made the transition into the digital domain, what are
your feelings on the new format?

MC: Music is the invisible art. The packaging of these clunky objects to
hold sonic information was not being true to the medium. Now we're much
closer to the natural state of music. I believe anytime a form comes
nearer to its true self it becomes more powerful. Most of the criticisms
against downloads have been based on business models, not taking into
consideration what is best for music as an entity. I want to make sure I
respect where music wants to go, and how it wants to get there.