Howe Gelb Releases Name-Your-Price Album


Digital only album mark’s Gelb’s 1,857th release… link to
the download and his liner notes, below.


By Fred Mills


It was only last week when the
newest Giant Sand album Blurry Blue
arrived via Fire Records – we’ve got a review of it elsewhere on
the BLURT site
– yet already a new title has been released by GS mainman Howe
Gelb. Titled Melted Wires, it’s that
Thanksgiving weekend surprise we mentioned the other day in the news item about
getting ready to reissue 30 Sand/Gelb-related titles between now and the
end of 2011.


Now, another Howe Gelb album isn’t
exactly news, considering how
prolific the Tucson
musician. This one’s got a twist, however: it’s a digital-only download (FLAC
or 320k MP3) release you can only get from his official website, and it’s being
offered a la the Radiohead or Trent
Reznor pay-what-you-can model. It’s a bargain! But c’mon people, make sure you
cough up something reasonable and equitable, okay? It’s not like Gelb’s in the
same tax bracket at Radiohead or Trent….


Full details and tracklisting for
the 15-song album appears below – it was recorded at Wavelab studio in Tucson a
year ago, November/December 2009, and features Gelb on piano and guitar, former
Giant Sand (and current Calexico) drummer John Convertino, Giant Sand bassist Thøger
T. Lund, and Calexico trumpeter Jacob Valenzuela.


Melted Wires link


“Hit Single” link


In yet an additional twist, Gelb’s
offering a second digital “album,” also as a name-your-price deal, although
these particular 15 tracks comprise 15 different “versions” of the Melted Wires song “Hit Single.” As Gelb
puts it, “Although we want you all to pay what you think its worth and
or can afford .. we will offer bonus tracks free… but the bonus tracks are
only the same song done 15 times … ‘hit single’. We had some fun doing it so
many times .. kinda cracked us up .. so anyway, no big deal .. but definitely
some embedded yippity and John sounds incredible changing it up every take.”




1.  all done in

2.  bottom line man

3.  ballad of the tucson

4.  cold inside the sunshine

5.  holiday eyes

6.  cordoba in winter

7.  yer ropes

8.  cordoba in summer

9.  increment of love

10. time flies

11. lie there

12. warm inside the rain

13.  brand new swamp thing

14.  hit single

15.  the end again


Gelb’s notes: 


last year in december,
we gathered to rehearse for a benefit show to help with a local tucson school (miles
exploratory) and its defunct music + art programs. it was an informal cluster,
2 from giant sand and 2 from calexico, which
in itself merited a sweet symbol of holiday spirit and friendship above all
else. it included my old friend and band mate, john convertino on drums, jacob
valenzuela on trumpet, and thøger t. lund
on upright bass.


we gathered and played
in a way unlike most sessions, but much the same as the fabled w. eugene smith
recordings from the late 50s/ early 60s in his infamous new york ‘jazz loft’. he had wired his
drafty space in order to record at a moment’s notice the scores of jazz
musicians that would meet there after their club gigs had finished. those kind
of jams were players playing for themselves and each other. this kind of
capture was unlike any studio session or live gig.


(it should be noted
that all the rehearsal sessions to my favorite thelonious
monk recording of all time were recorded here in smith’s loft with hall
overton presiding. ironically, the entire accumulation of all that taping has
been since stockpiled and stashed in a secret room right here in tucson at the
university of arizona  since 1978.)


[perhaps one footnote
more, previously to smith leaving his family in jersey and setting up residence
in the dank jazz loft, he was hired by the cia to shoot a series of photographs
in spain in the 50s to be used as propaganda
in order to influence this country’s conscious in supporting the “poor”
peasants of spain and bolster such assistance by setting up a military base


but i digress … the
point being that the session you have here called ‘melted wires’ is symbiotic
with the sound of that jazz loft. players playing for the sheer love of it. it
has a wonderful looseness, a playfulness that couldn’t happen in any formal
recording or live presentation. an accidental conclave. a spin of the room. a
stop of the clock.


especially here in the
approaching season, a shared moment, a glimpse of happenstantial yippity, a
sonic embrace. you can hear the band grabbing old songs and playing inside them
like it was recess time in the school yard as well as new piano excursions with
their own exploratory spelunking.


these songs were as
they were, done live and unadorned with dubs or arrangement, except for the
exceptional frolic of “holiday eyes”. on that track john added vibraphone and
we added my 7 year old talula.


the name ‘melted
wires’ was said to be of my invention, but i have no memory of it, and so
simply allow it to tag us rightly. some fun in a room with the record button
on. although not everything recorded correctly, and not everything recorded
rightly, but all of it done as the fates determined and with a definitive joy
and splendor of cluster. may you have a wonderful season and a better year
ahead. maybe these ‘melted wires’ can assist in such inception, or at least
fill the void between connections, electrical or time elapsed, where wires
matter less then.



howe gelb

(thanksgiving,  2010)



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