Possimiste – the first single from Field Guide Records (i.e. my label)

Possimiste sleeve coverA couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I am starting a record label (don’t believe me?–scroll down). Well, the test pressings are approved. The book has been designed and is ready to go to the printer. (I will be hand-stitching these books myself because, obviously, I don’t have enough to do–and also because I like the idea of hand-stitching more than boring old stapling.) And, in case you don’t follow @TheIndieHandbk on Twitter or you missed my flurry of tweets about it amid all the virtual celebration on New Year’s Eve, you should also know that we have begun taking pre-orders for the first 7″.

But I’ll be honest, I feel a little weird doing a huge promotional push for my own label (Field Guide Records) on my own blog. So, instead, let’s just rehash the primary details here. It’s a 7″ (read-along storybook style) featuring a new song and companion fairy tale by Possimiste, an exciting singer/composer from Estonia (read more about her in this post), with a full-color storybook, also illustrated by Possimiste to coincide with the styling of the video, which I’ve posted below. And I’m really excited about it. I honestly think she’s done an incredible job on this–even better than I’d hoped she would when I first approached her with the idea back in June. And it’s worth noting that the single was mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Feist, Nico Muhly) at Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik. Seriously, I never really understood why everyone insisted that these things must be mastered until I received those first preview samples. It’s like magic, you guys. I thought it was perfect when I sent it in. Now, it’s perfecter (and, yes, I have to use that word–it’s the only one that works here).

So, here’s the video “Wanderer” by Possimiste, produced by Unholy Flying Rabbit Pictures. I think you’re gonna like it.

You can pre-order the 7″ + book package here. (There are only 250 of them.)

You can buy the digital version on Bandcamp now.

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Introducing: The Happy Maladies

You know how it is. Sometimes, you hear a band and you just can’t bear to keep it a secret. (Yes, hipsters, I know this doesn’t exactly apply to you.) The Happy Maladies are one of those bands. I shot a couple videos of them at a house show last night and only managed to make it about 14 hours before posting them on YouTube (and it would have been closer to 12 hours had my piddly internet connection not choked on the Homeric scope of their closing number).

Sorry to say, I could have had a chance to bring you The Happy Maladies about two months ago (the last time they played here), but I was busy hosting this. And I realise that two months lag isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things (and certainly not my worst by any stretch of the imagination) but the fact of the matter is that avant garde chamber folk waits for no man. And music like this deserves to be heard, so, here they are.

The Happy Maladies are, like so many bands I love, nearly impossible to categorise. I guess it would be easiest to just call them chamber pop, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. The instrumentation would, I suppose, most closely resemble a bluegrass ensemble, but musically, it’s about as bluegrass as the Punch Brothers. In fact, Punch Brothers are probably a good launching point for any discussion of The Happy Maladies. Throughout their set last night, the same thought kept popping into my head: ‘Why hasn’t Chris Thile snapped these guys up and whisked them off on an extended world tour?’.

Listen, and I think you’ll see what I mean. The folk elements are there, certainly, but distilled through a aleatoric filter of free jazz, late 50s classical modernism. And, if you ask me, I’d say I can hear bits of Penderecki popping up here and there as well. This certainly isn’t music for passive listening. I’d say, the shortest song from last night’s show was something like seven minutes long with the three-part closing epic clocking in somewhat closer to a quarter of an hour. But if you can manage it (and you should manage it), the journey is supremely rewarding. And, whatever you do, be sure to see The Happy Maladies in person.