Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Timing is everything if you haven"t a watch. With no hands monitoring the long and the short, it can be the intuitive register, or an inner locksmith, that keeps a beat steady, a pathway cleared and everything continental in instrumental song. Ohioan band Six Parts Seven has imparted this timing - a form of wisdom -- into its dense, yet breezy music. Whilst many may try to describe it, this very music and its ability to be strategically aloof and corroborative with the northern lights and milky ways is one that just goes impossibly mosaic and helps to blur all lines in or out. They make a canopy of sorts, which they play beneath, shooting slow darts of measured and drifting plumes - shooting them outward like helium balloons that have seen better days, so they linger around for some spells, drunken with gravity and the clouds pushing back.
With the songs on Casually Smashed To Pieces, the band of deliriously talented musicians recreates a pillow fight that"s been coated with a dramatic delay, some pause and real-time moments so that you"re able to feel the feathers floating from the casing"s side gash, rising to play ring around the Rosie with the ceiling fan, along with being able to feel the impact that caused the tear in the first place - not to mention the swing that precluded it. These are all different slivers of precision that go into making the group"s music some kind of late fall dream that contains within it hot and cold for crispness and that sweet sting on the arms as the air changes into that which requires leggings and arm covers.
Allen Karpinski, the leader of this outfit, has helped to bring forth (with seven full-length albums and one extended player) a version of forestry-cum-mountain valley that walks hand-in-hand with a gentle pace. There"s a sense that the music"s been processed through naturalistic techniques, unsoiled by the hands of man, and if they should ever be touched - like the powdery wings of moths and butterflies - they"d fail to fly ever again. The same goes for halogen light bulbs, so I"ve been told. Karpinski and players shy away from vocal expression on most occasions (though a spectacular rendition of "Fuck Everything," with excellent line, "Is the fall in your hair getting long?/You tell me it"s over your shoulders now/Over the phone and it"s hard cause I"ve never seen it that long/Hell I can"t even picture where you"re living now," appears in their session here), but there are times when they let what can only be a swarm of chatty, but full-bellied cicadas do the talking for them.
Their fans make up their own words to songs that slope right into your heart"s pajamas like a perfect dive, no splash. It"s as if each and every member of the band is made mostly out of a wood-burning oven, not flesh and bones, if you can picture it. Stand close to them and they"d smell like boiling brown liquor, they"d feel like hours and a July-greeted car hood and they"d sound (without their instruments, of course) like the popping of knots in cedar logs. The bits of wood and ashes would have to be brushed off of your clothing later or in the morning, when the sloe-eyes have quickened a step.
People go out of their way to tell them of the great sex that they have while playing their music in the background. This is not a light matter. Most musicians cannot say that they"ve had one person tell them this intimate detail and yet, for Six Parts Seven, it happens frequently. Not bad for a band that creates a substantial articulation between that which isn"t said verbally and that which is said musically. It"s a language that respects silence for its great contribution to certain aspects of hearing and feeling that so often go unnoticed or ignored. It"s tone - of the amber-browned early moments of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - is that of steamy verbosity with a shy streak, perfect for bedding.
The Daytrotter interview:
*How is North Carolina today? Did you run into Mac from Superchunk?*
Allen Karpinski: N.C. always treats us well, especially Greensboro and Asheville (city that holds my not-so-secret heart). Maybe Mac will come out when we return to Chapel Hill -- in July -- with Richard Buckner. This show, however, was our own to headline.
*What is being on the road with Richard Buckner like? It's like travelling, with a mystery, correct?*
AK: Life on the road with Richard is like the sets we play together: fun and dangerous, full of the unexpected and the improvisational. We're all great children, playing with the world.
*When you have an hour to kill -- on the road or at home -- what do you fill it with?*
AK: On the road: Sleep, usually. We tend to nap hard. At home: Internet connectivity, turntable listening, bicycle adventures, wishful thinking about babes...depending upon time and weather and mood.
*Having pieces of music featured regularly on All Things Considered, do you sometimes think that old people are more familiar with your stuff than the kids of today are?*
AK: No, that music is cut into brief melodic bursts. Only the most curious NPR listeners will search out source of those sounds. Here, the kids are in the know.
*Is that a Mongolian on the cover of "Casually Smashed To Pieces"? Does this band share any traits with Genghis Khan?*
AK: It's a painting, actually. Probably more of a Viking than an Eastern Renegade, but, really, who knows. We share many traits with Genghis Khan, among them superior horsemanship, and, enjoying super-fantastic sex under the distant light of faraway stars.
*How do you decide when vocals will work with your music? Do they work best when you're saying "Fuck everything!" as in the song "Fuck Everything"?*
AK: "Fuck Everything" has vocals because it is cover version of a song the has terrific lyrics and a fine vocal melody, it would have stripped the song of its true qualities to leave those elements out. Usually, if we want to sing, we start new bands.
*How did you deal with your drummer quitting mid-tour? You soldiered on, but wasn't that difficult?*
AK: It was insanely difficult! Jay was a founding member of the group, his style and approach to playing is totally singular. We knew we couldn't really replace him, just fill the gap his absence left us with by finding another drummer with a different style and approach.
*How long would it take to get to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, from your house? Have you ever been?*
AK: We were just discussing this! It looks like a giant orange juice squeezer! Boring inside and out, unless, of course, you're a football fanatic, and dig oogling musty clothing behind glass, comparing statistics all the while.
*Your music has been described as meditative, but what I want to know is, has it ever been medicinal? Has it ever cured ailments, that you know of?
AK: Broken-heart balm. Cures and sooths.
*The Onion has a segment called "Justify Your Existence." If they came calling, what would you tell them?*
AK: I breathe, it's not my fault.
*When you guys get to where you can demand a tour rider, what's going to be on it?*
AK: A bottle of the brown stuff, Basil Hayden, smoothest of fine bourbons. Maybe another a hundred more wishes for the tour rider.
*Do your fans come up with inventive storylines for your instrumental pieces? Do they feel the need to share them with you?
AK: Some sing their own words, some even sing to us while we play! People always seem to feel a strong need to tell us about the 'great sex' they've had while playing our records.
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