It was summer 1994. While the rest of the U.S. was mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, going to the movies to see Forrest Gump and wondering who killed O.J. Simpson’s wife, guitarists Chris Stamey and Kirk Ross instead chose to improvise together during a marathon recording session with percussionist Ed Butler. Stamey (a veteran of power-pop legends the dB’s) and Ross (who had just started the band LUD, which is still active after all these years) entered a secret studio housed inside the Cat’s Cradle venue in Carrboro, N.C., and kicked out the instrumental jams for three days. Yo La Tengo was in town that week, so Stamey’s old pal Ira Kaplan stopped by to join in on the spontaneity.
After the recordings were complete, Stamey and Ross kept some of the pieces as is, but they also took other parts from the sessions and did some reassembling and overdubbing, utilizing everything from kitchen appliances and toys to field recordings. The result was The Robust Beauty Of Improper Linear Models In Decision Making, released in 1995 via the East Side Digital label.
Last year, Stamey remixed and remastered the music, reordering it and creating two volumes: the first containing modal explorations, the second heavy on soundscapes. Not surprisingly, the result is titled The Robust Beauty Of Improper Linear Models In Decision Making, Vols. I & II.
“Love (Un Ballet Électrique)” is the ambitious, seven-and-a-half-minute cornerstone of Vol. I, an unscripted waltz that happens to have a brand-new video. While we’re thrilled to share the clip with you today, we’re also delighted to allow Mr. Stamey (who assembled the retro video images to mirror the song’s peculiar progressions) share his thoughts on “Love (Un Ballet Électrique).”
“‘To live outside the law, you must be honest.’ To play music in this way—jumping in without looking at the net—you must, first and foremost, listen. It requires ears even more than fingers, a full commitment to paying consistent attention. There’s no break, no time to think about what’s for dinner. And it asks for a nonjudgmental attitude, leave your well-honed cynicism at the door, please: You have to ‘get out of the way’ and let the music come. It calls, as well, for civility, diplomacy, kindness, letting go of vested interests and preconceptions, being receptive to what others are saying/playing. There is also a kind of hedonism to it, to be sure: What a pleasure those moments are when music walks gently in the room and the air sparkles and glows with vibration. They may be fleeting, brief; they may be sustained, seemingly endless. But they are precious, regardless of duration. This is the stuff that makes music sing, in fact: the gossamer weave revealed when the players connect. Listen, can you hear it? When the notes streeeetch, then hold just tight enough, when the tension is distributed evenly around all sides of the trampoline. Listen … so that when the music jumps and rebounds, you can fly as well.”
We couldn’t have said it (better) ourselves. And we’re proud to premiere the video for “Love (Un Ballet Électrique)” today at MAGNET. Check it out right here, right now.