Sam Wenc is a composer and multi-instrumentalist working with sound, text, and objects. He utilises guitar, pedal steel guitar, vibraphone, electronics, field recordings, and found objects to compose both structured and formless pieces that attempt to blur concepts of what constitutes “folk music”. He has released music on labels such as Noumenal Loom, Obsolete Staircases, Moon Villain, and his own label, Lobby Art. Below are Wenc’s own thoughts on his work and approach, which frankly do a far better job of capturing the essence of his spiritual, minimal, and transcendent pieces than we could…
“‘Heart Music’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020. The initial intention was not necessarily to produce an album, but rather to explore composing from a percussive perspective and trying to avert relying heavily on the pedal steel guitar and guitar as primary modes of composing. The pedal steel guitar lends itself to such a soft sound palette so even in pieces that are highly structured (Always for Pleasure, Going Right to the Praying Mantis), I wanted to avoid the propensity to let the composition amble along, and rather create a brisk, biting percussive component. This can particularly be heard on "Del Mero Corazon", which pulses along with the droning bowing of the banjo and marimacho before drums kick in and later on the vibraphone.
Thematically, much of the music (to me) takes on a somewhat ceremonial feeling and explores the trajectory of exploring intrapersonal contradictions and what it means to navigate a disharmonious public sphere. Films was also a major inspiration for songs and their titles: Wiilka & Phaxsi (named for the characters in the film Wiñaypacha), Always for Pleasure (named for the Les Blanks film) was an attempt at writing something akin to a processional march, "Going Right to the Praying Mantis" & "That's the Boss, Not Some Human!" was a quote of Milford Graves pulled from the film "Full Mantis". On that note, the title of the album, "Heart Music", is in recognition of Milford's exploration of the internal data, knowledge, and ultimately music that is present within our bodies. More so than on previous albums, I felt myself letting rhythm, intuition, and improvisation guide the work, often resulting in longer form pieces that allows myself (and hopefully the listener) to listen deeply, observing moments of tension and harmony tangled, dependent, and resolved by one another.
One other noticeable addition is the introduction of poetry into "Madness is a Fully Instrumented Score" and "Evidence" (both spoken by Anna Jeters of the band Ancient Pools). This was touched on in my last album on the track "David's Death", but by bringing in the voice to create both parallel and perpendicular narratives, it creates another line to follow and bring the listener into a deeper state of listening. I like playing with blurred narratives, homespun ideas of conventional thoughts that are ever changing in a climate where fixed ways of relating to sound and composition can become something new and mangled in its own right.”
If you dig the following then this is most certainly one for you… Susan Alcorn, Alice Coltrane, Phil Cohran, Bobby Hutcherson, Henry Flynt, Jon Gibson, Mind Over Mirrors, Natural Information Society, Johnny Coley, Oren Ambarchi, Tortoise, Yasuaki Shimizu, Califone.
released April 8, 2022
Written & Recorded by Sam Wenc.
Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space.
Sleeve art by Ximena Bedoya and sleeve layout by Mac Pogue.
Part memory, part dream, Old Saw's "Country Tropics" exists in a permanent state of ambiguity and suggestion. Rooted in the wide expanse of drone and the earthy loam of folk, these explorations conjure deeply reverential and visionary vistas. Admo
This is a charming project! My grandmother was born and raised in Åland, and more or every summer growing up, I spent several weeks there. Consequently, for me, these islands are shrouded in sunny nostalgia. The music and the sounds on this album complement my memories of the place well. Daniel Lind