5-7 February 2007
 
After Cincinnati, we spent the night in a motel and in the morning hit the road for Chicago. We arrived in the late afternoon and dropped off our equipment at Semaphore Recording Studio, the recording studio where Eric works. Then Regina, David and I drove to David's studio, where we were to spend the next few days working on the mix for our Essentialist CD, which we recorded at Semaphore Recording Studio in Chicago with Jeremy Lemos last September.
 
After the Semaphore Essentialist session last summer, I had recorded some new guitar tracks for the CD at my studio in Paris. We transferred them to David's hard disk and began the mix. After working on them for two days we were quite pleased with the initial result. We got all the guitar tracks in place for the various pieces and made all the major edits, David will continue working on the drum sound and we will complete the rest of the mix virtually, with me in Paris and David in Chicago. The main thing is that we accomplished what we wanted to do in this shared time of physical presence together: to get a kickin' guitar sound, and perhaps more importantly, an authentic metal sound.
 
This was an important point for us, because in certain quarters, people are wondering what a minimalist composer like me is doing working with heavy metal. Their concern is that because I came initially from an art context, that the music would be an effete academic representation of metal, or, to put it more audaciously, that it would be bullshit.
 
To give you an idea of the problem, here is a cartoon that came out in the November 2006 issue of the Wire:
 
Click here to see the cartoon in full-size.
 
David and I read this cartoon in the Wire when he visited me at my Paris apartment in November after his European tour with Jonathan Kane's group, February. After looking at the cartoon by Savage Pencil, we were on the floor laughing; we thought it was great. Savage Pencil certainly managed to cover the issues present in the minds of some!
 
Curiously enough, I had exactly the same problem with certain rock critics when I first made Guitar Trio. Robert Christgau of the Village Voice once famously wrote, in 1978, that "I will consider Rhys Chatham a poser until I find one rocker who likes him.” His mailbox was soon flooded with rockers who did, so he kept quiet after that. Finally the critic Greg Sandow took him to see a G3 gig we did at CBGBs in 1978, after which Christgau allowed, "hmm... it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be,” which, coming from him, was high praise.
 
But this is long water under the bridge; G3 has proved its authenticity in countless rock contexts. But now that I am working with HM, I'm going through the same thing all over again with Essentialist... agh!!!
 
When we finished the rough mix at David's of the recording, we were much relieved, we thought it sounded great and that it wasn't a rip-off of our obvious influences: Sleep, Om, Goatsnake, Sunn O))) and other drone death metal groups. It was music that we felt was truly our own voice.
 
Having completed the rough mix, we turned our attention to the next G3 performance at the Empty Bottle.
 
Chicago Essentialist Mix