Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Ivytree - Unburdened Light

Portrait of man under hood and tree with guitar, 2001
 It was the early two thousands and the time of the CD-Rtist. It was a mini-revolution of sorts. No more endless hours dubbing cassettes or paying a small fortune to manufacture CDs. Vinyl was nearing the end of its lengthy digital exile, but not yet a feasible option. Word got around that you could make your own CD at home. Some of us had inkjet printers with CD-trays, so you could even make it look ‘real’. Mine still works, as does my Sony Mini-Disc recorder, the portable studio of the CD-Rtist. 

 My friend Ian Wadley passed me my first CD-R, a beautiful warbly recording of Ian and Alastair Galbraith’s end-of-tour jam in Ian’s Brisbane abode. Just the thought that you could record on a Walkman and make a cd on your computer at home! Worlds of possibility. I had been in the room that day the Ian/Alastair magic transpired. So was Jon Dale, who not long afterwards released my first CD-R Organ Notes on his micro-imprint The Rhizome Label.  

 Jon was always hooking me up with new things to listen to, a pilotage that happily continues to this day. He told me about a couple of guys in San Fransisco called The Blithe Sons who were recording their music outdoors and had reportedly listened to Organ Notes in the car on the way to one of their locations. Jon sent me their Waves of Grass CD-R and a fresh wind blew through the window.  

 Here was a new music I could relate to: spontaneous and magical, full of light and space, playful and simple, and intuitively improvised. Fragments of melody nestled in harmonium drones, and the environment bleeding into the microphone. A music that celebrated the natural world. You could smell the grass! 

Portrait of beard with man and guitar, 2002
 I was soon exchanging mail with Blithe Son Glenn Donaldson, and soaking up the CD-Rs issued on the mysterious Jewelled Antler label he ran with band mate Loren Chasse. Outdoor recordings, beguiling early christian and naturalist references combined with Glenn’s artwork of collaged birds: ninja birds, heraldic birds, monastic birds, birds in armour.  The music was in orbit, full of space, quiet time-dissolving jams; these guys were listening to Morton Feldman on the car stereo!

 And the song titles were like poetry: “Everyone of Us a New Leaf”, “Inner Groves”, and “I Fell Asleep in the Sun-bleached Grass (I’ll just Pass Away)”. Releases were recorded at “True Cross”, under bridges, in meadows, bunkers and headlands. And the bands! The Franciscan Hobbies, Thuja, Of, Buried Civilisations, Once and Future Herds. It was a nature/psych union that felt like the perfect tonic for the time.

 An email group called “Routes for War and Travel” linked like-minded CD-Rheads around the globe, with a new axis joining the dots between Finland, New Zealand and the Bay Area. Great labels too: Deserted Village, Pseudo Arcana, La La Lal et al. A steady flow of CD-R releases was arriving in my letter box until at one point, and for the only time in my wonderful underground music journey, I almost had too many things to listen to. Almost.

Jewel in the Crown
 The CD-R revolution didn’t last long, and with cassette revivalism poking its head around the corner, the vinyl resurrection was the final nail. To be honest, none of us complained. But I do have some favourites from the flash flood of CD-R releases, and gently bobbing on the crest of the wave is Volume 3 in the Jewelled Antler Library of 3” CD-Rs: The Ivytree - The Sun is the Lamp.

 Glenn had already released a pinnacle of the Jewelled Antler catalogue with The Birdtree album Orchards and Caravans, a beautifully constructed work of fuzzy home studio four-track odes, redolent of English acid-folk, but bathed in a DIY/West Coast glow. The Ivytree release was more paired back, and with parts recorded live to Mini-Disc in a bunker at the Marin Headlands, the environment was a palpable presence. An acoustic guitar and voice soaked in concrete reverb, transmitting a fragile beauty and summoning something other. The Ivytree felt closer to the darkness and light of Haino-san than the pastoral joys of Heron. 

Portrait of keyboard with man and harmonica, 2003
 An album Winged Leaves followed soon after and a split release with Australian Chris Smith was the last gasp for The Ivytree (although Glenn carried the torch through his involvement with two other unheralded West Coast folk classics - Flying Canyon's self titled album and the Giant Skyflower Band’s Blood of the Sunworm.) 

 Cut to 2017, and news that Glenn had dusted off the Mini-Disc and was transferring archival Ivytree sessions to his computer was met with much anticipation in this household, and as you may have gleaned, more than a touch of nostalgia. But there is more than nostalgia going on here…

 The resulting album, Unburdened Light, released on the exemplary Recital label, has life force coursing through it’s veins. It’s all there. The field recordings, the quietude, worlds of reverb-drenched dreaming home-spun on an acoustic guitar, casio keyboards and organ. Songs that radiate from the speakers like tree auras in a Charles Burchfield painting.

There’s more too. A surprise piano ballad “Evil is Circular” almost steals the show with its Budd-like changes, notes suspended in the air. A stunning reprise of the Canadian folk tragedy “She is the Swallow Pt. 2” (Pt. 1 previously aired on Winged Leaves). And what about that voice? Real and sung from the heart, the lessons of Wyatt learnt, bravely pushing into the upper register. It goes straight in.

 
 Hey friends, these times are about as fast as we’ve gone and it’s all happening all the time. Kind of nice to park the car for a while. It seems to me that we need records like this now more than ever. So turn off your phone, lie on the couch and put this record on. Close your eyes, feel that breeze blowing through the window and dream a little.  Walk the fields in unburdened light.

Unburdened Light is released on 4 May on Recital - pre-orders available here.

Leighton Craig


Sunday, 8 April 2018

House in the Wave - Album Launch



Book your tickets here - no booking fee. We'll send you a confirmation email and put you on the doorless. Bring a cushion!! BYO.

Friday, 23 February 2018

+++Primitive Motion+++ (((House in the Wave)))


Primitive Motion's 5th album "House in the Wave" is released today on Bedroom Suck Records.  

We made this record over three Sunday afternoon sessions between 2014 - 2016 at Sandra's home studio, Woodburn Laboratory.

Most of what you hear is recorded live in the room with some contributions from life in the garden. 

All the songs were improvised, and some had a few overdubs added later. There is piano on every song. And there were dogs in the house.

You can purchase the record from BSR here

+++PRIMITIVE MOTION+++

(((HOUSE IN THE WAVE)))

      Build your house
      In the weight
      In the current
      Of a shadow life


        





        
              Like clouds the foam is quiet

              Wood wire sponges 

              Mud glass electric light

Monday, 12 June 2017

Trade Winds Blow, the Curious World


LEIGHTON CRAIG - WIND SONGS 8" lathe

Freshly baked holiday jams recorded during a week at the beach in Yamba, December 2016.

SK1 hymnals, battery powered enviro-jams and field recordings from walks around the headland.

Hand cut to 8"s of polycarbonate in Ashburton, Aoetearoa by Peter King. Numbered edition of 40.

SOLD OUT SORRY (download version available for purchase here)

Pre-order now - download code will be emailed to you on order. Ships on 26 June.



"Leighton Craig has been making minimalist art + casio music for a bit now. Between the lovely avant-pop LP's of his duo Primitive Motion with Sandra Selig and meditative solo work, he is peaking. The concept is simple on Wind Songs: seaside nature sounds + repeated casio patterns + simple vocal melodies, not far removed from the 4-track bits Robert Wyatt was releasing in the early 90's or the tea time Eno jams of WOO." - Glenn Donaldson


                                               
           

                                                             Video recorded Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2013



Monday, 20 June 2016

Green Coronet

I have a new tape available via the A Guide to Saints imprint. Here's what the label has to say about it:

"Leighton Craig is a Brisbane based musician. Over the past two decades he has played a central role in the Brisbane outsider music community. Performing in a clutch of key units, including free-rock mainstays The Lost Domain, pop miniaturists The Deadnotes and the dream-float duo Primitive Motion. Each of these groups bares the mark of his innate melodic sensibility and his uniquely understated aesthetic approaches.

As a soloist, he has pursued a low-tech approach to keyboard studies, song forms, field recording and sound installation.

"Green Coronet" is the long overdue follow-up to his solo Room 40 album "11 Easy Pieces".  Largely a live recording, GC finds Craig enjoying the freedom of a new home studio space, pushing record as neighbourhood sounds flood into the room in this dreamy suite of four cyclic jams that celebrate the fuzzy tones of his favoured Coronet Phase 2 amplifier.


From the opening track "Green Veil", where shimmering circles of keyboard and voice weave into passing traffic and holiday field recordings, GC has an immersive time-flow. When the door closes on the sound world outside, "Solar Causeways" and "Divided by Zero" map a melancholic journey within, culminating in wailing synth blasts into the void. 

With its warm keyboard and clarinet cycles, looped aquatic choral refrains and mics dangling out the studio window, GC unfolds as an unlikely sub-tropical Harold Budd homage - with a lo-fi suburban edge and noise outro!"


The tape was toasted up by Lawrence English at 158 and as with all AGTS releases, comes in an edition of 100 with screen printed covers. The Green Coronet edition is completed with a set of two tiny 5 x 7cm prints of floating beings on 300gsm watercolour paper, housed in archival glassine envelopes. When you buy from this website, the first 30 copies come with an additional third print.

LEIGHTON CRAIG - GREEN CORONET cs


Includes Postage


For download only purchase, click here 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Moon Moon





Recorded at Boxcopy Gallery Brisbane, 22 May 2016
                                                                                                                     Image from Sandra Selig's Ghost Pattern exhibition

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Terminal Moraine

Portrait of the Young Man as Landscape Dronologist, Scotland '95
In September 1995, at Kindling House in Coorparoo, Brisbane, I recorded three of the four tracks on my debut release, the Terminal Moraine cassette. 

The recordings were made on my Sony Walkman, using a Casio MT 40, shortwave radio and feedback via a toy keyboard with microphone. I didn't own an amp, so built-in speakers were the order of the day. I was in effect a practitioner of quiet noise.

The second track on the cassette was made the following year with a baby monitor and Yamaha CS01 synthesiser. Following his repeat yet polite petitioning, I recently returned the synth to its owner (Tom Beaumont), nearly 20 years post-loan.

I used to think of these pieces as 'landscape drones' -  the sound of plates tectonic and glacial drift, albeit recorded in sub-tropical suburbia.  

The cassette was timidly 'released' to select friends in a micro-edition of 16, each with painted cover art. It was only a small 20 minute sample of the hours of recordings made during that period.

In a sentimental moment, I recently digitised the work from the master tape to make this 20th anniversary edition available for download. It's a noisy and wobbly old thing!

LC September 2015.





                                 
Kindling House, Coorparoo, 1995

Friday, 14 November 2014

Bush Reich

In January 2006, before he was internationally renowned for his foot-pump controlled latex horn virtuosity and judaic origami moves, Joel Stern made a recording with me in Toohey Forest Park, a large bushland reserve in the heart of Brisbane. I was just back from a summer holiday in New Zealand, escaping the choking heat of another Queensland summer. What better way to spend a Sunday morning?

A sweltering day had been forecast, so we planned for Joel to arrive at my house in the suburbs not far from Toohey Forest at 7am.  While he's now familiar with the daylight hours before midday, in those heady days of Joel's West End bohemianism, this was a remarkably optimistic proposition. Accordingly, as 7am approached, I was still shuffling around in my garage tinkering with the lawn mower, far from ready for the scheduled expedition, when low and behold Joel's much loved and now-deceased Saab pulled into the drive way. We were on!

With back packs crammed full of instruments, we hit Toohey Forest, well off the beaten trail of sunday morning walkers and cyclists, setting up camp on a large sandstone outcrop that overlooked a gully of eucaplypt and scrub. We scattered an arsenal of battery powered gizmos across the rock, including a thumb piano, ektara, tibetan bowls, keyboard, violin and pocket trumpet. I was also sporting a tiny solar panel, recently gifted by Stefan Neville in NZ, which was put to good use powering a fan striking an egg slice. 

A morning of bush jams ensued as we communed with the cicadas and air lords (feathered and jet-powered) at an urban confluence of the natural and manufactured. Proceedings were captured for posterity onto two mini-discs, which were subsequently synced and edited at home by Joel. We finished proceedings with pancakes and coffee for breakfast at my place.

Long forgotten, the session is now available as a complimentary download from Joel's Cyprus Hillsong archive. I'm listening to this for the first time in eight years, sitting on the back deck on another scorching hot summer day, while the world's leaders assemble in Brisbane for the G20 summit, only 10kms from Toohey Forest.  I am in another time and another place, worlds away.  Come and join!

                            

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bodies of the Placid Furnace

 




























New Primitive Motion song out now on 5 Years of Bedroom Suck Records double LP compilation. 

A taste of the new PM album due out in 2015.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

18 Conversations in the Room Upstairs


  

Conversations recorded upstairs in Milani Gallery on 9 November 2008
Conversation titles written by Nathan Shepherdson on 14 November 2010

Eugene Carcesio: clarinet, violin
Leighton Craig: violin, keyboard

Complimentary download here

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

viii - viii - mmxiv





Now available in a set of 3 x A4 prints on 300gsm watercolour paper.  Numbered edition of 10.
Contact Leighton for price and availability - kindlingrecords@yahoo.com.au UNAVAILABLE

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sunday Afternoon










Recording and paintings made 29 June 2014, Kindling House, Brisbane