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James Toth / William Fowler Collins

Categories: Music
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Pricing info: $10.00

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“Under Stars and Smoke is the soundtrack to an imaginary landscape wherein various “actual” locales are thematically superimposed atop one another to suggest new, alien terrain. Both the New Mexico-based William Fowler Collins and the (then) Kentucky-based James Jackson Toth find a great deal of inspiration in their adopted home regions: While Collins translates via mighty drones the vast, occasionally unforgiving mesas of the American southwest, Toth bends and blends the sounds and textures of traditional bluegrass and mountain music. Complete with frame-worthy “pastoral psychedelia” cover art by visual artist Claudia X. Valdes, Under Stars & Smoke is an album as explicitly American and distinctly postmodern as the maverick artists who created it.

This is the debut collaborative release from the duo. James Jackson Toth appears under the moniker Wooden Wand, and in countless collaborations, on over a hundred records, and in 2015 founded, with his wife Leah, the experimental label Footfalls Records. William Fowler Collins is composer/musician and recording artist whose work explores and synthesizes both musical and extra-musical elements. Collins has released music on the SIGE, Type, Handmade Birds, Daymare, Digitalis and Root Strata labels. Current projects include collaborations with Aaron Bradford Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Sumac) and Raven Chacon (in Mesa Ritual).”

Some press:

"It’s exceedingly difficult to view your own work with clarity and accuracy, but William Fowler Collins and James Jackson Toth know how. They describe Under Stars and Smoke, their first collaborative album, as “the soundtrack to an imaginary landscape wherein various “actual” locales are thematically superimposed atop one another to suggest new, alien terrain”, and that sums the experience of absorbing this masterful, three-dimensional work of sculpted sound better than I ever could.

Of course I’m still gonna try: the three pieces here are stunning in their patience. They move on their own time scale, pulling and twisting and erasing the clock rather than stopping it. At times the whole album feels like one standard-length blues tune stretched so far each molecule of sound is revealed as its own dense universe. I find myself admiring stretches the way I’d soak in a painting in a museum, staring at a fixed point rather than worrying about its connection to the rest. Yet when I do that, the connections become clear too, such that when Toth rises up and sings in a conventional song-like way at album’s end, it’s somehow weirdly logical - a very human end to an album that’s almost ineffable." Marc Masters, The Out Door

“[Under Stars and Smoke] successfully “superimposes” [Collins and Toth’s] respective locales and styles into a vision of a more unified, universalized world, and even if its relatively short running time leaves the listener wanting more, its uncanny blend of geography also leaves her

Improv set with Brian Haran, Chris Girard and Dan Hall. Not to be missed. with Ama Divers

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Fri, Oct 7 at 7pm

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