anthony burr/skúli sverrisson

a thousand incidents arise

1. we shall be sure of not going astray

2. change is far more radical than we are at first inclined to believe

3. the divine principle as a sphere turning on itself

4. except in memory

music composed and recorded by anthony burr and skúli sverrisson.
thanks to: tota, eliza, erik hoversten, charles curtis, joel mark.
released october 2005 by workers institute

"to movement then everything will be restored,and into movement everything will be resolved."
(henri bergson, creative evolution)

we met in new york in the 1995 and kind of immediately recognized a shared sensibility. so we began playing music together most weeks when i came into the city from new haven. in contrast to most of our other activities this was almost entirely domestic and private, a means of trying to map a personal way out of some of the strictures of the music world that had been getting us down. for two musicians who had made most of their career/reputation to that point as virtuoso instrumentalists (skúli in jazz fusion and myself in contemporary classical music), the results were generally pretty sparse and minimal. we put out a record of some of the more austere stuff--the only sound source was electrical circuit feedback--in 1999 on fire inc./staalplaat. i guess it's always the case that musicians are trying to escape their musical pasts, their mispent youths, trying to reinvent themselves as "serious" artists, go "pop", outgrow their audience, to go solo... in retrospect, it seems like we were both maybe trying to exorcise our respective instrumentalist pasts.

however, even the stuff you want to get beyond is still in there. it catches up. you need to figure out how to deal with it, how the new music reflects the older stuff. obviously, there was a common set of influences, and a procession of shared enthusiasms which were sometimes directly reflected in the direction the music took--all the same stuff everyone loves; early minimalist music, al green, morton feldman, milton nascimento. i guess the goal wasn't to escape influence so much as to try to knowingly incorporate it, to try to document our listening to ourselves playing our way out of it... which is the current record. song forms start to creep back in, but don't necessarily hold, it's static but trying to move harmonically, or at least, circle back on itself, it seems obvious, but maybe isn't quite... all the instruments are acoustic, most of the parts were first takes. i guess some of them could have been cleaned up a bit, but it seemed more important to keep the feel...

i'm not sure why we chose to keep most of this music private til now: maybe it was not seeing a public niche already there that felt right to work from within, maybe it was a loss of nerve, but mostly it was a conscious, if not at the time articulated, attempt to separate the social practice of our personal music from our professional music activities. as a hired-hand, working musician you're constantly tuned in to the social dynamics of trends, fashions, audiences. i don't think we thought, or even wanted, to sidestep this in finding our own music because it's always there, and, let's face it, it's part of the stuff that makes music so vital and engaging in the first place.

but what you end up doing as an instrumentalist is that you spend lots of time practicing at home, thinking about music... so, it was nicer to sit around all day, play something when it seemed right, not talk about it too much, but also not finish it until it was done, however many days or years that might take... hence the only way to record was at home, with the traffic outside, the coffee machine running, a tapdancer across the courtyard, for the piece to start before it really does, to last past where you thought it might... if the music happened outside the social context of the music scene, then somehow the record had to include/involve the social context it did happen within...

anthony burr