Things You Already Know (vinyl)
Things You Already Know (vinyl)
st. paul, MN
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Chris Campbell’s third album for innova (following 2011’s Sound the All Clear and his recent collaboration with Grant Cutler, Schooldays Over) is Things You Already Know, and it’s less a recording than a place: a place where musicians come together from disparate traditions and find a music common to us all. It unfolds and expands, illuminating an ambient space with homemade instruments like propane tank drums, bowed psaltery and singing bowls as well as more traditional instruments like guitars, cellos and drums. It’s an invitation to explore, to rediscover. It’s a house full of luscious piano loops, soaring melodic outbursts from the strings, fuzzy guitars in the distance, sporadic kicking grooves, and skittish scrapings of junk hardware in the basement — a little Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Mike Oldfield, and Olivier Messiaen, and a whole lot of Campbell.
There are two complementary processes at the heart of the work, and both are intimately related to time: accumulation and punctuation — the building up of repetitive fragments and the flux as you move to the next room. For Campbell, this means that Things You Already Know is not a clean end-product, sanded and smoothed to remove the evidence of its making. It bears the marks of its construction proudly, because the building is all.
To build this thing – this work that answers the question of how the world knits itself into our bones – Campbell brought together collaborators, friends. From one world, he drew members of the Saint Paul Chamber and Minnesota Orchestras, and from another, he brought members of groups like Zoo Animal and Aaron and the Sea. Working together at the Hideaway Studio, the musicians found common ground, and then went somewhere uncommon.
Completed with a cover image by photographer Alec Soth that captures and embodies the idea of shifting perspective, Things You Already Know was ready for the world. Now the only question is: Are you ready for its world?
NEW SOUNDS (WNYC)
"A brilliant album. Much of it seems to have the same interest in repetition and development or apparent repetition and development that we find in the music of Philip Glass. Campbell has put together a fine ensemble and there's brilliant use of tone color on this record."
"[Things You Already Know] is a delicate, almost ambient affair, but individual tracks can be quite energetic and busy. Campbell is both bold and thoughtful, and in my book, that is the highest form of wisdom." [FULL ARTICLE]
"Take some classical cats, mix them up with some alt.kids, give them real instruments as well as found instruments and let the good times roll. ... Perhaps nu space rock for the new generation, this is a really out there set that is more a fantasy land for your head than music for your mind." [FULL ARTICLE]
"[O]ne should come to [Things You Already Know] ready to be surprised. … "Water Variations” includes passages that suggest a junkyard hoedown, an Asian improv from centuries ago, and a woozy nightmare of sickly convulsions. … no one can accuse Campbell of playing it safe." [FULL ARTICLE]
NEW MUSIC BOX
"A tour though the composer’s aural memory palace, several doors left temptingly unlocked and the drawers open for ready snooping. … [A] rewarding journey—-particularly Water Variations, with its exotic string instrument collection. Campbell himself sits at the piano at key points offering reflective commentary until the listener is beckoned to peek behind the next swaying curtain." [FULL ARTICLE]
NEW YORK TIMES
The composer and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Campbell drives deep into post-genre territory on his third album for the vital Innova label. ... “Things You Already Know” deploys a flexible band of art-rock players and orchestral musicians in a heady suite for strings, guitars, keyboards, drums, homemade instruments and voices, in which elements of post-Minimalism, avant-garde rock, jazz and global-fusion styles mingle and merge with dreamlike mutability." [FULL ARTICLE]
"[Things You Already Know] works in a manner both grand and organically crafty, like the scams in American Hustle. … Aspects of Glass/Reich-like minimalism, baroque-ish finery, judicious dissonance, cavernous drones, and pop music melodrama (I’m almost certain CC “quotes” from Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”)--it’s all here in a candy-colored kaleidoscope that feels as natural as a sunny day walk through an eclectic neighborhood, where everyone’s got their window open and music up loud, and it all seems to magically come together."
“‘Lord Byron’ [is] an astutely assembled montage that operates by setting up expectations it enjoys upsetting. Chugging lower strings put you in a mind of classic minimalism, but Campbell’s slightly hysterical, definitely romantic cello theme would surely make Steve Reich baulk; and just as this theme is about to hit its melodic climax, Campbell floods our senses with dense layers of noise antithetical to both minimalism and post-Romantic doodling.”