Chris Eckman

The Black Field

Release Date: 02/16/2004 · Format: CD · Catalog-No: GR 581

“I borrowed the title of this album from a painting by the Slovenian artist Nikolaj Beer. The fact that he is my father-in-law has little to do with why I borrowed it. His work has much that draws me in: forgotten landscapes, dense, dark color, mythic, solitary figures and the broad, thick brushstrokes, of a very human hand. His paintings started me thinking about painting itself; how painters work, the gestures that they make, the intimacies that they reveal, the presences that they render and distort. I wanted to make my own “Black Field.” So first I wrote a song, and then when that was not enough, I made this album.

Of course, it was not a straight line from the beginning to the end. I hadn’t actually planned to start recording the album this year. But in early February, while I was deep inside a complicated soundtrack that I was composing for Slovenian television, I found myself reaching for my acoustic guitar, and enjoying the starkness and immediacy of lyrics, voice and simple accompaniment. It was a necessary vacation from the midi files, drum loops, string scores and technological overload of the soundtrack.

The songs quickly began to take shape, and in early April I booked two days in a studio and recorded the majority of the album. The sessions were essentially live. I sang and played at the same time. I taught the songs to Jani, Runjoe & Ziga (the rhythm players) on the spot. There were no demos. We didn’t edit out all the mistakes. You can hear my foot tapping in the background, you can hear the door slam in the beauty parlor upstairs, and you can hear the guitar scrape against my jeans.

Over the summer I sent out CD’s to friends spread out all over the world. Graciously they added illuminating, final “brushstrokes” to what I had started. These friends are: Al Deloner (Midnight Choir), Terri Moeller (The Wallkabouts/Transmissionary Six), Paul Austin & Kevin Suggs (Transmissionary Six), Terry Lee Hale, Dalibor Pavicic (Bambi Molesters), Tony Kroes & Matt Howden (Sieben). My wife Anda sang backing vocals and her choir, the Carnice vocal group, contributed to two songs.

I have no interest in describing the lyrics or elaborating on the specifics of the songs. The listener is usually more qualified to do this than the artist is. What I will say is that I like the smallness of this album. I like its directness and I like its imperfections. I like that the last song on it is by the Buzzcocks.

We live in a time of absolutes and dogmatism. A crass, digital sheen hangs over much of our experience. Like many, I am exhausted by it all. We need to paint new, and more honest pictures. We need to get our hands dirty.” (Chris Eckman)

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1. Nights Like These
2. Healing Waters Of The Flood
3. Low Country
4. Crystalline
5. Befell
6. The Black Field
7. Pirates & Clowns
8. Restless
9. Why Can't I Touch It?

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