a tangle of stars Mary Halvorson and John Dieterich
MARY HALVORSON AND JOHN DIETERICH
A TANGLE OF STARS
Celebrated guitarists Mary Halvorson and John Dieterich’s debut collaborative album, a tangle of stars, is released October 25 on New Amsterdam Records. The album is a collection of new instrumental songs spanning experimental jazz, pop, rock, noise, and improvisation, all of which were composed, arranged, and recorded over three days at Dieterich’s home studio in Albuquerque, NM.
Dieterich, who is a long-time member of the beloved band Deerhoof, and Halvorson, a prolific solo artist and bandleader, have been admirers of each other’s work for years. In 2017, the pair got the chance to play together for the Wels Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria when Halvorson was asked to bring a new collaboration and immediately thought of Dieterich. They performed a completely improvised set on acoustic guitars — unusual for both musicians — and immediately decided to collaborate more, in the recording studio.
"The concept evolved from being freely improvised to bringing in written music, and mixing improvisation with composition," explains Halvorson. "We sent each other ideas and sketches throughout 2018, and by the time we were ready to record, the concept had become quite different from that initial meeting in Austria."
When the pair created the project over three days at Dieterich's home studio in Albuquerque, NM, it was a true collaboration. Halvorson continues, "We each contributed sketches and ideas and essentially co-composed/ co-arranged in the moment… adding layers and parts with various guitars (acoustic, electric, 12-string, baritone) and effects and even John on drums for a couple tracks! For me this was a very new way of working; in the past I’ve always composed music for others or played others’ music, and it was fun to blur the lines and really get inside John’s brain and create all this music together."
The result is an album that is utterly unique for both artists. "It doesn’t necessarily sound like anything Mary’s done, and it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve done either," says Dieterich. "That’s one of the things I really love about it. The album is tangled, full of little strange musical nooks and crannies that may or may not lead somewhere."
1. excerpt from spatial serenade (original by John Donald Robb)
2. drum the rubber hate
3. balloon chord
4. short knives
5. lace cap
6. undercover meltdowns
7. ghost poem
8. vega’s array
9. the handsome
10. my mother’s lover
11. better than the most amazing game
12. continuous whatever
a tangle of stars was recorded November 30-December 2, 2018, at John's house in Albuquerque, NM. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by John Dieterich. Mary Halvorson performs on guitars; Dieterich performs on guitars, drums and synth.
All arrangements are by Halvorson and Dieterich. Tracks 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 written by Halvorson; tracks 4, 5, 6, 10, 12 written by Dieterich. Track 11 written by both Halvorson and Dieterich. Track 1 was written by John Donald Robb (Archival Materials used with the permission of the University of New Mexico John Donald Robb Musical Trust and Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries.) Cover image is called "Stomping Ground" by Laeh Glenn, album art design by Louis Schalk, Plinth Design.