Evan Caminiti: Toxic City

Evan Caminiti explores the gritty side of NYC on his latest album

“I’ve never seen so many people crying in public as I’ve seen in New York, so many people angry in public, screaming.” Evan Caminiti is speaking by Skype from his NYC apartment, explaining how the city’s omnipresent hustle and scattered Superfund cleanup sites shaped his new LP, Toxic City Music (Dust Editions). “I think there’s something about the way that I experience reality in New York in 2017 where the fragmented, hectic daily grind has parallels to all of these digital tools that deconstruct moments.”

Real and imagined spaces have shaped Caminiti’s music since his first recordings with Barn Owl, the duo he formed in 2006 with college chum Jon Porras. The stark, Morricone-meets-Neil Young guitar lines of their early records metaphorically transcended foggy, gentrifying San Francisco; the pulsing electronics of their later records for Thrill Jockey expressed the rootlessness of frequent European tours. Since the two men settled in NYC in 2014, Barn Owl has been on indefinite hiatus.

Apart from Barn Owl, Caminiti has released solo albums that encompass elegiac guitar miniatures and synthetic dreamscapes. Toxic City Music is the seventh but the first on his own label, Dust Editions, and the first to be completely recorded in New York. It comprises 10 compact, grainy mood pieces that start with field recordings of Caminiti’s surroundings and live guitar tracks.

“I’m still very much drawn to that energy of creating something in a moment,” he says. But it takes months in the home studio to transform them into finished music, in a process that mirrors the way he has embraced his new home. “I was just trying to draw from all of these things around me and find a way to turn negative things and sources of anxiety into something positive.”

Bill Meyer