consisting of keyboardist/looper bryan helm and energy bow guitarist/looper dave
stafford, bindlestiff was formed in 1992 to explore the possibilities of working
within an electronic framework. their original goal was to create totally ambient,
atmospheric music, which was best realized in their 1995 masterwork "quiet". during
the course of the band's musical development, they also created some unique jazz/experimental
works (which still contained ambient elements) in works such as "LOUD", also from
bindlestiff was a group that really came to terms with the difficulties of live looping/performance.
without benefit of MIDI or other sophisticated technology the band effortlessly synced
up their respective contributions in real time, and the bulk of their recordings
are entirely live to tape. their mastery of peaceful, quiet, ambient atmospheres
is balanced by their more adventurous works, with many a burning guitar or synth
riff in evidence.
the challenge for two people to create a live sound that engaged and challenged the
listener was satisfactorily discharged, across 3 years of live performance - some
of these performances ending up on a rolling tape, while other tracks (such as their
minimalist energy bow driven version of hendrix's "burning of the midnight lamp")
were never captured for posterity. to round out the live performances, the band also
produced a solid catalogue of 7 excellent releases, most of which are completely
live in the studio with the occasional sprinkling of composed, rehearsed improvs
and musical experiments.
it has been suggested that their ambient works (perhaps best represented by "quiet"
from 1995 and "distant" from 1996) are eminently suited for meditation. although
this was not the intent of the work at the time, hindsight indicates that this indeed
is a reality, and a beneficent one at that. their non-ambient works, on the extreme
other hand, challenge the precepts of what is "acceptable" in modern music, but do
so in an endearing and sometimes even amusing fashion.
on the surface, if you listen carefully, it is not immediately obvious or evident
that probably well over 80% of the sound you are hearing when you listen to any bindlestiff
recording, are actually completely live performances. there was very little if any
overdubbing in the studio, and the band was well versed in using the available technology
and tools, experienced with looping various instruments on the fly, and very quickly
indeed, creating an incredibly full sound - all emanating from just two players.
bindlestiff - news
one of the projects currently scheduled for 2012 is the creation of a new, virtual
bindlestiff record, catalogue number SSDL3416, tentatively entitled “longest”, which
will be a virtual, downloadable, gradual track release program. there is a “gap”
in the recorded history of the band, which is basically the entire year 1994, and
it has long been on the cards to release some of the rehearsals and performances
from that year – but until now, we’ve not been able to figure out how.
since pureambient is not currently manufacturing “hard copy” CDs and we have, for
the moment, adopted a download-only strategy, that is the perfect means whereby we
can begin to release some of this archival material – without going to the expense
of creating an unaffordable 17-CD box set.
it’s envisioned that this album will be a unique, virtual record of “the lost year”
in the musical life of bindlestiff. for the next 17 years, very gradually, we will
begin adding tracks to the album – but, an album that will be built up from over
70 source tapes over time. it’s unknown just how many viable tracks may be “in the
vault”, so it’s possible that this virtual album could, in 17 years time, have anywhere
from 50 - 200 tracks. thanks to the all-download strategy, this “virtual album”
becomes entirely possible and also becomes a viable way to present this otherwise
lost catalogue of ambient and active loop music.
so look forward to tracks beginning to appear later next year, and ongoing, which
will represent this remarkably prolific “year in the life” of bindlestiff – all encapsulated
in one very large “virtual album”, which will grow, and grow, over a 17 year period.
remarkably, for a band that worked for a number of years, there is only, at this
point in time, one surviving photo of the band, taken at an informal gig in san diego,
california! if anyone has any other shots of the band from other gigs, please send
them in to us at email@example.com and we will post them in the gallery.