Twilight Conversation

The music of Roy Montgomery will probably be seen as a bit anomalous, a blip on the radar of the already tiny musical phenomenon- which someone is no doubt chronicling (and has chronicled) in great deal- known as New Zealand. He wood likely fall closer to the Dead C. side of the spectrum as opposed to say, the Clean side. I think he pretty much stands alone, though.

Though my favorite Montgomery album in terms of start to finish wholeness is probably Temple IV, Scenes from the South Island contains my favorite song- Twilight Conversation.

Its such a simple piece- a quick hit of a low delayed note, pulsed out for a good ten minutes, drones in the background while an ebowed guitar circles around it, occasionally returning to a simple dark melody. So simple- there are no words and no changes- yet it is so evocative of its name. Every time I hear it I am drawn into that twilight. It holds me there, and I drift in and out of a feeling that is both chilling and warm.

Needless to say, countless evenings were spent in my basement on Fair Oaks emulating the style of this song. Some of it I taped, most I didn’t. It absolutely influenced what I brought to Land.

I had the good fortune of seeing him quite a long time ago, with Jon and John, at the Cooler in New York City. I’m not sure if that place is even there any more. The show was some kind of confluence of things happening at the time, and the room was packed with some pretty famous hipsters. Did Sandy Bull play? Is that possible? I think so. Roy played, and tried a cute experiment with two guitars and two ebows. Maybe that’s why I’ve loved him so much: I know his technique was somewhat limited and he had just a handful of tools to work with- a guitar, a delay, an ebow and a tascam 4-track- but he tried very hard to squeeze new things out of his abilities and the things he had at hand. He continued by playing his contribution to the “Harmony of the Spheres” box set. I believe that night was Godspeed You Black Emperor’s first show in the USA. The droneon list had a big conversation over whether or not they were good, and in a rare show of de-lurking, I actually came out against them. Who knew they would come to define turn-of-the-millennium post rock? Probably a lot of people. I still think they’re overrated.

Anyway, Roy Montgomery. Not all of his work has been that fantastic, but I owe an incredible debt to him, and I still love it all. Hey thanks, Roy!

3 thoughts on “Twilight Conversation”

  1. yeah – those were the days!

    that’s a good way to put it – being a “confluence” of things happening, though of course being 18 and naive i probably had a far different perspective then than i do now. it’s definitely interesting to see all that stuff back in early ’98 and then watch what happened over the past 7 (!) years. tower recordings now seem like the spawn of this whole new folk movement – and seeing the careers of matt valentine and pg six splinter off is pretty interesting. roy montgomery i believe will fade into obscurity, sadly, at least in the US.

    i remember buying the conet project that day and just being generally stimulated because i was in NYC for the first time, learning about music. i also bought the faust tapes on cd, slapp happy ‘acnalbasac noom’ and who knows what else. i remember listening to steve reich but even more i remember listening to arnold dreyblatt very loud in the taurus with the windows down (was that also harrisburg?)

  2. Wow. I completely forgot about that. John gave me a tape of “Drumming” and “Electric Counterpoint”. I remember trying to find out way out of Harrisburg with that in the background.

    That was a good weekend.

  3. Sandy Bull did play!!! Which in itself was great, a rare appearance. He was sick at the time, eventually succumbing to lung cancer a few years later. I believe the cooler closed a few years ago…2002 or 2003. I liked godspeed enough to get their album, though after several more albums of mining the exact same sound i lost interest. By the time they played CMU, i remember not being so much taken by them, to the point where i was regretful that Bardo Pond didn’t play longer… At the cooler show, i had one of the worst headaches i have had in memory, so bad that i pushed bits of paper in my ears, which i spent most of Roy Montgomery’s set trying to pull out… By the time we left early (missing tower recordings, a feat i would find happening several more times), all i remember was a cab ride which was very speedy, which involved the back of the car losing touch with the ground on most turns, all of which were hairpin….I also remember some large guy in an overstretched Bevis Frond t-shirt asking me about something for which i had no answer…

    Best memory of the trip for me, oddly, ..sitting in the back seat on the drive from Harrisburg to Hazelton, in the dark of night, listening to Steve Reich.

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