carriage house in Mpls
The Carriage House Mpls MN; circa 1987 [photo : Melne]

shaved fat

J.Free / SS / Buck
Minneapolis, MN
The Carriage House Basement
circa 1987

J.Free: fracas (g)
Sean Smuda: wash (k)
Joe Orvis: pummel (b)

The Carriage House was a home to all three of us at various times, and became sort of an unwitting hotbed of creativity. Each of us had explored and exhumed our own methods of expression in this place; this was one of the rare occasions when we searched for a bit of common ground, collectively speaking.

This would have been completely forgotten, had I not insisted on recording nearly everything back in the day. There wasn’t much info on the cassette, but just enough to remind me that it happened. I had the impression that no one was terribly interested in whatever the results were; it felt as though we were each daring the others to keep doing it. The mixes were uneven, but too much time spent making technical adjustments might have brought everything to a standstill, so we kept on playing until someone decided they had enough. I don’t even recall listening to the tape again, until I found it in a box more than twenty years later. The tape contained about 90 minutes of improvisational ideas; each of us took turns coming up with something in the way of a theme or a melody, and the others added something to the equation. Kind of like fighting your way into a wet paper bag.

When I listened to this tape in 2008, it sounded a lot more inspired than I think any of us might have believed back in 1987. There aren’t any real beginnings or ends to anything; someone would start playing, others would play along, and eventually we all stopped – a sort of organic and intuitive group editing process. To my ears, it seemed like once things got rolling, there was some pretty intriguing interplay taking place. The pieces presented here are simply sections plucked from the longer improvisations – nothing has been added or taken away. There may still be a few pieces added to this, but for now, this seems like a good place to start.

“shaved fat”
new tracks from the old ones

technical errata:

Recorded in the basement of the carriage house [possibly using a 4-potentiometer pass-through mixing device > direct to 2-channel cassette deck]

All tracks recorded live and in a single take; the only editing was done in 2008 as described above.

Azimuth-optimized analog-digital transfer from cassette; .mpeg conversion: December 2008

All tracks: © J.Free / Sean Smuda / Joe Orvis; 1987