75 Dollar Bill - Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

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At last the European release of one of 2016’s most acclaimed albums. 75 Dollar Bill’s second full-length crashed onto many of last year’s most prestigious “Best Album” lists: The Wire, Uncut, The Village Voice/Pazz & Jop (and more). The NYC based duo ofRick Brown and Che Chen, creates hypnotic,pulsing music that weaves an ecstaticline from raw electric blues, Arabic modes and entrancing folk minimalism back to the streets of New York.

We are proud that W/M/P/P/R/R is the first release on Glitterbeat’s new label imprint: tak:til.


I feel very lucky to have wound up playing in 75 Dollar Bill with Che. I’ll take some credit for the early setup, as I pursued the idea of us jamming together for a few years before we actually made some music together. But when it comes to focusing our sound, putting together a good set- list, imagining how to expand the group with guests and designing almost all of the visual/package aspects, Che has taken the lead. Obviously, he is responsible for his own parts and playing and his interest in the Arabic modes of Mauritanian music has marked our sound quite a bit but I have brought some things, too. The plywood crate I play is a big factor, defining, by its positive qualities (a nice warm “boom” sound) as well as by its simplicity, what we’re likely to do in the percussion realm.

WMPPRR, this new record, differs quite a bit from the previous one, notably in the rhythmic “tone.” Wooden Bag (released in 2015 on Other Music Recording Co.) was all forward momentum, stomping and shaking, but the new record explores a long-standing interest of mine: odd and “compound” meters. In most of my previous musical activities, I’ve convinced my partners to delve into this, but in 75 Dollar Bill it has just felt natural and I believe Che’s modal investigations and melodic/harmonic tendencies enhance (and are enhanced by) this combination.

The current record differs from the last in another big way: reinforcements! Over our few years together, Che and I have frequently had friends play with us at some of our gigs. There have been all sorts of permutations of instruments and some great friends/players who don’t all appear on this record but here we are lucky to have a bunch of them: Cheryl Kingan (of The Scene Is Now) on baritone and alto saxes, Andrew Lafkas (of Todd Capp’s Mystery Train) on contrabass, Karen Waltuch (of Zeke & Karen) on viola, Rolyn Hu (of True Primes) on trumpet and Carey Balch (of Knoxville’s Give Thanks) on floor tom. 75 Dollar Bill’s plans for the future involve much more playing with these friends and others in bigger and smaller combos – as well as me and Che stripped back to the core guitar and crate duo.

For the present, though, please enjoy WOOD/METAL/PLASTIC/ PATTERN/RHYTHM/ROCK.
EARTH SAW is one of our earliest tunes and, I think, the first result of this ‘compound meter’ approach. It’s a slow 9 beat phrase Che came up with for this odd groove (it’s aksak, meaning “limping”, as such rhythms are called in Turkish). BENI SAID, after its intro, has no fixed rhythmic cycle but a roughly unison melodic phrase and a pulsing, loose feeling of 3s and 4s played using a box full of bottle caps. CUMMINS FALLS, named after the beautiful Tennessee State Park and swimming hole you hear at its end, features Carey Balch on Diddleybeat floor tom and me reprising the maracas that were very prominent on Wooden Bag. I’M NOT TRYING TO WAKE UP is another of our compound meter songs, this one using an 18 beat scheme. The sax, guitar and percussion parts are built in layers of patterned variations of measures adding up to 18, while the trumpet wails above us, uncounted.