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We’re half-way through the year of the guitar, and it’s not that we ran out of guitarists, but simply that Shahzad Ismaily has a tradition of inspiring us to break the rules… especially our own.
Before Matthias and I created our trio Causing a Tiger with him, I wouldn’t dare be seen on stage without my violin. Playing violin was the only thing I really knew backwards and forwards, inside and out. I could relax with a violin in my hands. Besides that, what on earth would I do with my arms if they were empty?!
So Shahzad’s first rule for me was no violin. I’d have to only sing. Of course, if I had been compelled to play pennywhistle, that would have been fine too… as long as I was out of my element, which is, of course, the only way to expand the territory of your element. That’s Shahzad. (You may notice that I haven’t played a lick of fiddle on this year’s RRR song. It went from being a crutch to a tool, the difference being that you always need your crutch, and it’s not always time to use a given tool.)
So even though he was already our featured guest guitarist in March, for “Oblivious” we’re shining the spotlight on Shahzad again this month. We found a treasure he created 5 years ago during a recording session for Causing a Tiger. I don’t even remember what our intention was when he recorded this, but it couldn’t have fit more perfectly into our M.O. this year. He improvised a song form, playing just the rhythm guitar track. It then sat in the deep storage of an old hard drive, pining for some skin and muscle to wrap around its skeletal self… ‘til now.
Matthias began by humming a suggestion of some vocal melodies. Then he and our perennial special guest Jon Evans, who often plays on and mixes our songs, manifested the band that Shahzad’s guitar implied. Then I came, fresh from my book group in which we’d read Rachel Kushner’s Flamethrowers and I wrote and sang the lyrics. We screamed some la la las and the song was born!
FROM THE ENGINEER’S DESK
I mixed this song on my custom vintage neve console. The only compressor I used was a Shadow Hills mastering compressor on the main mix insert. I love everyone who played on this song so it made it easy to smile while mixing. So I did. --Joel Hamilton
Sign your name and sell your shadow.
Hide inside another dream play.
I’m in the right part of town.
I’m in the wrong frame of mind.
You’re playing games, throwing down.
I’ll go along for the ride.
Look at the face of the girl you can’t erase.
She’s your prophet, she’s your queen today.
Cast the play, cast your dream,
and hear everybody scream.
Just don’t ask her what it means to pay.
I love you better namelessly.
You’re a map to things I’ll never be,
so paint me with your lucid lies.
Speed is forgetting and speed is alone.
So I’ll draw a line...
A line across the salted earth,
A scar across my memory.
Just hold still, let me spin.
Don’t say a word,
Just let me in, China girl.
Music by Shazad Ismaily, Matthias Bossi, Carla Kihlstedt and Jon Evans
Words by Carla Kihlstedt
Shahzad’s guitar recorded by Eli Crews at New, Improved Recording - Oakland, CA
Voices recorded by Carla & Matthias at KihlBossi Studios, Falmouth, MA
Everything else recorded by Jon Evans at Brick Hill Studios, Orleans, MA
Mixed by Joel Hamilton at Studio G 5000, Brooklyn
Published by Wazir Music - BMI, Broca’s Fold - ASCAP, Skinnah Music - BMI
Rabbit Rabbit Radio is the song-spinning duo of Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi. Collectively, they are founding members
of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat, 2 Foot Yard, Causing a Tiger, The Book of Knots, and Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava.
Drawing on their love of both art & folk song, industrial & improvised music and heart-wrenching balladry, their songs are raw, beautiful, sparse and rich....more