October 2018 Newsletter | Ambient Guitar for Christmas, Shows and Gratitude…

Hey Friends,

Last time I wrote, the leaves hadn’t changed color much, but that’s all changed in the last week; oranges, reds and yellows are exploding everywhere. It’s a beautiful and majestic time that’s giving me that ‘warm blanket, in front of a crackling fire, cozy feeling’, which gets me looking forward to the warmth of the holidays.

Ambient Guitar for Christmas

I spent most of September preparing for my Leelanau Uncaged performance and when not doing that I was wholly consumed with finishing my Ambient Guitar for Christmas release. I’ve always wanted to do an “ambient” Christmas record, but didn’t want it to be to schmaltzy, or maybe just the right amount of schmaltz. After some experimentation, the direction seemed to of spacey guitar melodies of classic Christmas songs floating above dense sound textures. It works and I’m proud of the finished product. You can get it from Bandcamp here, and it will be showing up on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc, in the weeks to come. I will also be putting together a hard copy CD release; if you’d like one let me know or watch my website for updates.

Upcoming Shows

Leelanau Uncaged

Many thanks to the army of volunteers who helped put on the Leelanau Uncaged performance — It was great! Those folks are professional, well-organized and great hosts. The backdrop for this event couldn’t be more perfect: Autumn on the shore of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay — Amazing! If you can, get to Northport, it’s a really special place.

I would love the opportunity to bring an ambient guitar performance to your neck of the woods. If you’re interested in setting up a show or can recommend a venue near you, please get in touch.

Take it easy and stay in touch.

-Matt

Halcyon Motion – Video for Live Performance

 

I’ve been experimenting with video for some upcoming live performances, as well as dabbling in the idea of slow tv (ala some of the work that NRK in Norway has done) for use with Smart TVs and other similar devices. I’ll be sharing and working on more of these, but thought I would share this one, as it’s also comprises an unreleased track that I did with drummer/percussionist, Will Jurkiewicz.

Matt Borghi – Winter Eyes

I’ve started this record dozens of times and each time I stalled, each time it fell to the wayside and didn’t go any further. There have been so many start/stops that I assumed this record would never get made. An attempt at this record was created under my own name from 2006, called Olagra… Originally, Olagra was an idea created in quiet room, then it was a band and then a record that had some allusion to the original ideas and some fragments of the band; but those were little more than sketches. After that Olagra was little more than a haunting sentiment floating in the aether nagging me, constantly reminding me of what could have been, maybe what should have been, but certainly, categorically what wasn’t… until it was: Winter Eyes.

 

Winter Eyes, is the definitive recording of songs that I was writing in 2004 and 2005, and beyond with all of the psych folk, AM 70s light rock and mellow gold that I could mine. It, simultaneously, contains allusions to all these things, while being none of those things. I can find no category to put it in. It just is. I’ve called it ‘psych folk’, but now I call it droneFolk. as good of a label as any I can find, as it’s primarily acoustic and folky, but it’s also rich, sonically, as I chose not to pursue mutually exclusive paths of acoustic conservatism or strict synthesized sonics; instead, I’ve opted to pursue both, equally, simultaneously.

That period of the mid-aughts was special for me, because after a hiatus of more than ten years focusing on sound, rather than songs, I was quite compelled to go back to songwriting, which was where I started, as a wee pup, to begin with. Once I started getting going with the songs I found that they were too personal (too precious) to commodify and bring to life as a “project” or a published recording. I couldn’t separate myself from them enough to do that with the work. Even now, I struggle with this. I think that’s why  there were so many false starts. Eventually, I made peace with the “songs” as a creative path and through that catharsis realized that I was obligated to share this music out, as I had first envisioned it, but wasn’t quite able to capture, so many years before. I’ve done that now.

DroneFolk Sampler

As I try to breathe new life into the work that I created with Olagra and rekindle the DroneFolk work that I started crafting years ago and try to make it part of my broader “Matt Borghi” catalog, I’ve taken some great acoustic rock and folk tunes and added guitar drones to them as I try to ‘re-imagine’ how this classic period of music might have sounded with more prevalent drones within them. I’m pretty pleased with the mix. I hope you are, too…

DroneFolk Sampler Playlist

Wooden Ships – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
If I Were a Carpenter – Bobby Darin
It Don’t Matter To Me – Bread
Taxi – Harry Chapin
Burned Down – Matt Borghi
Early Morning Rain – Ian and Sylvia
The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
Deep Side of Tomorrow – Matt Borghi
Fire and Rain – James Taylor
If – Bread
If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
Old Man – Neil Young
Summer Wages – JD Crowe and the New South
Will Be Tomorrow – Matt Borghi
Baby I’m a Want You – Bread
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright – Bob Dylan
Heart of Gold – Neil Young
Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell
Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) – Don McLean

Guest Mix for Low Light Mixes feat. Harold and Durango Budd

 

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to present a ‘guest’ mix as part of Dave Michuda’s excellent Low Light Mixes program.

Here’s my write-up on the program, a bit on the track selections and the track list:

I was very pleased when Dave invited me to submit a guest mix to the Low Light Mixes. Dave’s mixes are as diverse as they are interesting and they’re always chill with good vibes. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I might contribute that could hang with so many great mixes. I have a certain thing I do with the Ambient Soundbath Podcast, but the Low Light Mixes are more all-encompassing. 

After a couple months of deliberation, I decided that I would feature the work of my favorite composer, Harold Budd and newcomer, Durango Budd. Harold Budd’s fantastic catalog of work very much informs the work of Durango Budd (https://durangobudd.bandcamp.com), and both of these artists have the piano at the center of most of their creative pursuits. Harold Budd has a well-publicized and longstanding love/hate relationship with the piano, yet he manages to coax such beautiful music out of a wood box filled with felt-tipped hammers and strings. Durango Budd, similarly, takes the same instrument and through experimentation and synthesis manages to coax out equally beautiful, distressed tones that evoke melancholic nostalgia (as Mike Carss, the artist known as Altus, put it – https://www.altusmusic.ca/).
Track list for program:
  1. 00:00 – 06:00 – The Child with a Lion – Harold Budd – The White Arcades
  2. 06:00 – 09:30 – Piano Drone 4 – Durango Budd – Drones for Prepared and Synthesized Piano
  3. 09:30 – 12:30 – A Child in a Sylvan Field – Harold Budd – By the Dawn’s Early Light
  4. 12:30 – 31:00 – Bismillahi’ Rrahman Rrahim – Harold Budd – The Pavilion of Dreams
  5. 31:00 – 33:00 – Piano Drone 5 – Durango Budd – Drones for Prepared and Synthesized Piano
  6. 33:00 – 39:00 – The Room of Ancillary Dreams – Harold Budd – The Room
  7. 39:00 – 46:30 – Piano Synthesis Drone 3 – Durango Budd – Drones for Prepared and Synthesized Piano
  8. 46:30 – 59:00 – Agua – Harold Budd – Agua
  9. 59:00 – 61:30 – Piano Drone 1 – Durango Budd – Drones for Prepared and Synthesized Piano

New Long Form – Ambient Guitar – Waters of March

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A new long form work, Waters of March, is available here at Bandcamp. This track came about as a meditation piece. I was meditating and using the guitar and some sound synthesis to create a drone for the meditation, and as I sat and listened, breathing in and out of the sonic layers, an entire piece came to life and that’s what I’m presenting here. I love these works that come about through serendipity and I love that the web provides a forum for sharing these works with friends. Enjoy the music.

New Music: Long-Form Ambient Guitar – Maple Tree with Red Leaves in Morning Mist

MattBorghi_MapleTreeWithRedLeavesInMorningMist

As is sometimes the case, I get inspired, break from any other work I’m actively pursuing and go all-in on a new idea or musical thought. Often, little of value comes from these pursuits, but, every once in a while, something does, and that’s the case with this new release, a long-form autumnal meditation on ambient guitar called Maple Tree with Red Leaves in Morning Mist.

Maple Tree with Red Leaves in Morning Mist, initially, is only available on Bandcamp. I may put it up on iTunes, Amazon and other digital retailers, eventually, but Bandcamp allows me to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and get new work out quickly. That’s kind of awesome. Normally, it takes months to get a release out into circulation and get people the chance to hear it while it’s still new and interesting to me; not so anymore.

Matt Borghi Live @ Leelanau Uncaged Northport, MI – Saturday, September 30

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From email announcement…

Hello,

Matt here. I haven’t written in a while, as I don’t like to waste this opportunity to contact you, but there’s some big and exciting news for fans of Manitou, The Phantom Light and Huronic Minor.

I’ve been asked to do a special one-time performance in Northport, Michigan as part of the Leelanau Uncaged festival on Saturday, September 30, 2017. This festival is FREE. This performance will focus on live interpretations of various Manitou recordings, including All Points NorthLandscape, Histories and SentimentShadows of a Detroit Winter Sun, as well as The Phantom Light and Huronic Minor.

This is going to be a special performance: Autumn in Michigan, but not just in Michigan, but in Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula (the little finger of the Michigan glove jutting out into Lake Michigan). I’ll be performing at the historic Willowbrook Mill (built in 1875!). If there was ever a time of year and a specific setting that could be the spiritual birthplace of my music, this as close as any I can think of. If you’re a fan of this music, this is a once in a lifetime event.

I’ve created a special CD, True North, that will only be sold at this performance, highlighting the compositions featured. There’s more information at the Leelanau Uncaged site. If you’re not familiar with Northport, it’s at the most northern tip of the storied M-22 highway, in the heart of northern Michigan wine country, about 40 minutes up the road from Traverse City and next to the magical Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — This is beautiful country, some of the best the world has to offer!

Again, here are the details:

What: Matt Borghi performing live selections from Manitou, The Phantom Light and Huronic Minor at Leelanau Uncaged festival
Where: Willowbrook Mill, Northport, MI, Leelanau Peninsula
When: September 30, 2017, Evening (hopefully at Sunset)
Cost: Free

I hope to see you there, and if you do, please introduce yourself.

– Matt

Also, here are a couple of recent long form ambient works that you might be interested in:

Gray’s Reef

Gray’s Reef an hour-long, improvised ambient guitar meditation inspired by the Gray’s Reef Light in northern Lake Michigan, in some ways an extension piece to Manistee North Pierhead and North Manitou Island Shoal from The Phantom Light. If you’re a fan of these recordings, you’ll really enjoy Gray’s Reef.

Parallax Drone

In the creation of this piece I’ve worked to create a texture or sonic fabric that’s labyrinthine, a place where one’s mind’s eye, and one’s mind’s ear could get lost following the shifting and juxtaposing sonic symmetries, like a musical mandala. I often thought of Philip Glass’ (now out of print) Early Works when working on this piece. I wanted to create something with a textural depth that the listener could retreat ‘into’. It’s not airy or spacey, but is quite dense, thick even, in its use of frequencies as sonic color and the equalization of those frequencies.