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Greg Kelley: Self-Hate Index needs no extended-extended Techniques

img  Tobias

At least partially, this delicate feeling of alluring sensory estrangement has to do with the simultaneous use of both electronic means and so-called “extended techniques”. Kelley doesn’t like thinking of them as such, however: “The goal is to get a certain kind of sound, so certain physical techniques are used and certain electronic effects are used”, he boils down his approach, “I don't think of them as ‘extended-extended techniques’ or even simply ‘extended techniques’. There are sounds that a certain instrument or electronic effect can make and I look for the ones that interest me.”

He has a point, especially since both techniques yield highly organic results. Especially in the opening two tracks, the instrument’s intricate sonics are clearly apparent: The stortorous breaths, the delicately touched mechanics of its body and the sudden surge of melodic finesse after the air has passed through its brass intestines. “These are distractions” even sounds as though Kelley were fighting his way through a fantastical fit of drastic dyspnea, triumphantly emerging with a fluent thematic line after minutes of red-faced blowing must have exploded more than a dozen of arteries in his brain. Only second into “Shearing Husks”, however, this phoneix-like surge proves to be short-lived, as all action is suddenly sieved through a quiet distortion filter, exiting the process as strangely consoling granular debris.

Despite its occasionally subtle operations and complex nuances, “Self-Hate Index” has turned out an accessible effort. This impression has relatively little to do with the repertoire as such, which also allows for some darker shadings and fully-fledged outbursts of noise, and can mainly be attributed to the simple fact that Kelley deliberately concieved his takes as “pieces”. As he tells me, this was mostly down to the fact that he still unsure about a definite concept on the very day of entering the studio: “I actually wasn't sure what I was going to do at all. I knew I was going to show up at a certain time and a certain place with a trumpet. I thought a lot about it, but came to no real conclusions, though I did grab a distortion pedal before leaving the house ‘just in case’”

On location, it dawned on him that by organising his performance with a limited amount of structure, he could provide for the necessary motivic glue and calm his worries that things could both go anywhere and nowhere: “To avoid going through 30 minute long takes and finding the good 2 minutes, I played everything as a distinct ‘piece’ while recording. Afterwards I just decided which ones I liked with some help from Ricardo Donoso who runs Semata [the record label issuing “Self-Hate Index] and then the beginnings and endings were edited so no one had to hear me say ‘Are we rolling?’ and ‘OK - that's a take.’ or ‘That one sucked!’”

Still, finding thematic connections wasn’t always easy and editing and programming the sections which had been selected for the album required time. In the end, Kelley sums up the element glueing the album’s different tracks together as “a certain kind of instability”. As such, it is an excelent summary of his work with other projects – and of his stance towards the Trumpet, which he still seems to foster amically ambivalent feelings towards: “ I think on some level it's arbitrary and no matter what instrument I ended up with, I'd like to think I'd be on pretty much the same path I am now. Or maybe I'd have been more successful as a guitarist?”

Picture by yuko

Homepage: Greg Kelley
Homepage: Semata Productions

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