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Sound Mechanic: Music From a Documentary Film About Neil Feather

Feather, Neil

Sound Mechanic: Music From a Documentary Film About Neil Feather

VG+ Records
LP $20.25

05/31/2024 657628446903 

VG+ 08 

Neil Feather has spent decades creating a musical world of his own through dozens of one-of-a-kind instruments he invented and built himself. His work as an instrument inventor, improviser, musical iconoclast, and stalwart of the idiosyncratic Baltimore experimental scene culminated in the late 2010s when filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk shot hours of footage of Feather taking stock of his workshop and his collaborations with musicians from Baltimore and beyond as he prepared to relocate permanently to New Zealand. That period produced Sound Mechanic, Skizz’s 2022 feature-length documentary about Feather’s work and music. It also produced an album-length collection of recordings of Feather’s music from the film that captures the spectrum of his unique sonic vision.

Uninterested in the traditional rules and roles of music from his early years, Feather began constructing noisemakers out of what was around him—pieces of metal, spare parts from bikes and other gadgets, discarded traditional instruments, various electronics, ball bearings, and so on. By the time he moved to Baltimore in 1985, his work had become more codified into a practice of instruments and families of instruments, such as the Nondo, the Vibrawheel, and the Former Guitars. At the same time, he became a mainstay of the burgeoning experimental / improvised music scene that erupted from the Red Room and the internationally renowned High Zero Festival.

Sound Mechanic the album serves as an ideal audio entry point into Neil’s music. Skizz, who recorded and co-produced, captured a variety of solo demonstrations and improvised performances with long-time collaborators including Kristin Toedtman, Rupert Wondolowski, and his now-spouse Rosie Langabeer. Tracks such as “Untitled 1” and “Untitled 3” find Neil performing solo on the Wiggler and the Vibrowheel, instruments whose agitated strings and spinning oscillators, respectively, mimic some of the timbres of more recognizable instruments but bend and distort them in alien ways. “Unititled 4,” one of two duo improvisations with Langabeer under the banner Popular Organ Fun Party, channels a Venusian jazz combo in its wild exclamations and percolating rhythms. “Personal Space,” from an impromptu trio with Zula Wildheart and Robert Beamer, puts Neil’s attack in the context of contemporary hardcore.

A special bundle offers a chance to capture both the music and the film in one package—as close as you’re going to get to the full Neil Feather experience outside of a live show.

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