Dave Stafford, September 2010: In 2000, after completing the “superambient” compilation
album in 1999, which was sort of a farewell to the past, I wanted to move forward
with a different, less predictable, musical style. This for me meant experimentation,
and I embarked on many small musical projects, which were mostly for my own enjoyment.
Some of those reached a level of quality that demanded that they be released, and
I would class “Destiny 2000” as one of those. I took a karaoke mix of my favourite
Japanese pop song of the moment, cut it into pieces, reassembled it in a new configuration,
and then played both looped and distorted lead guitar on top of it – and of course,
ebows – an essential part of almost every Dave Stafford musical event.
DESTINY 2000 – AMBIENT MIX
“Destiny 2000” starts out not unlike many Dave Stafford projects – with a loop. So
we have two mixes here, and the first one is the ambient mix, but what that actually
means is, ALL of the other content has been removed, and just the loop that was created
for the other versions remains, so we start with that, so you can hear the loop that
the piece inspired, on it’s own, as an introduction, a beginning upon which to build
the NEXT part of the experiment.
DESTINY 2000 – AMBIENT PROGRESSIVE MIX
This is where things begin to get very interesting. I had never “tried” a piece
of music like this, starting with an instrumental version of my favourite Japanese
pop song, and taking that piece, and grabbing “loops” of certain parts, and then
using those loops as “sections” of this “ambient progressive” version of the song.
It was really, really good fun, and possibly very startling after 10 years of acoustic
guitar, looping and circulations – here I was, now returning to my real roots as
a rock guitarist – for the first time, since I was in bands as a teenager and as
a young man – for the first time in many years, I am playing loud, distorted, electric
lead guitar - and really enjoying it.
OK – yes, during the 1995 sessions for “Quiet”, I did play loud, distorted electric
lead guitar, on the tracks that ended up on the “LOUD” album – and also, at live
Bindlestiff shows – but that was Bindlestiff – for Dave Stafford, solo artist, there
was an unbroken string of acoustic or looped albums stretching all the way back to
1992 and beyond. No loud electric guitars – OK, well, a few, on the old, old tracks
from “Song With No End”. But primarily, I recorded, played, looped, lived and breathed
- ambient, quiet material, for many, many years – with the very, VERY occasional
So THIS mix was like a breath of fresh air for me, it was a signpost that I did not
have to restrict myself to being an “ambient looping guitarist” – that I still had
a history and a legacy that would let me stretch myself to envision creative pieces
of music such as this one.
Where to begin? Well, first, I did the loop, that eventually became the “Ambient
Mix” – but it started out as being the loop that accompanies the main part of THIS
mix. I created the loop while the karaoke piece played.
Then I captured various loops or sections of the karaoke song, and recorded them,
with some interesting silences intentionally inserted, to give myself maximum freedom
to overlay the basic “structure” with many types of guitar.
I added in the looped parts to the skeletal framework of the track, using that amazing
MIDI continuous controller harmoniser pedal again, you can hear it at the very beginning,
swooping down with delight, a lovely almost bird-like sound from a very-variably-harmonised
piece of loop. The loop fades out, into harmoniser artefacts…a thick, dreamlike
lead guitar then appears, creating a beautiful new melody atop the looped chord segment.
Acoustic guitars strum along, the drums propel me forward.
Violins accompany my guitar, which suddenly morphs from lead guitar, into an even
more harmoniser-MIDI-continuous-controller-pedal-dominated loop section, with crazy
up and down motions from the pedal, taking the loop through mad harmonic variations
– and then, after a brief return of that lovely thick lead guitar melody - the WHOLE
PIECE stops, so suddenly, unexpectedly - leaving just the background, super ambient
loop running for several bars…
…the piece gradually returns, fading up suddenly as if from nowhere, but now – the
entire backing track is reversed. Then, that mad lead guitarist is back – this time,
a fiery, sudden, screaming single guitar note starts an ultra-quick distorted e-bow
solo, which then merges strangely with a beautiful reverse lead guitar, both of the
guitars bending and intertwining beautifully (in a section that is reminiscent of
the final section of The Move’s “The Last Thing On My Mind” which is a veritable
minefield of beautiful reversed guitars) and then again, just as suddenly, it fades
away, and the loop, and the piece, dissolve into nothingness.
So in this one short track, are so many “uncharacteristic” Dave Stafford activities
– there are drums, for one thing, using distortion on an ebow is pretty much unheard
of, but there it is, and I am playing lead guitar again, something I realised that
I missed very, very much.
While I continued to make loop albums during the 2000s, I also, when time allowed,
tried to learn how to be a “normal” lead guitarist again. I worked on this on and
off for many years, until in 2008, after dealing with some personal setbacks, I was
able to once again engage with current technology, update my kit, and become a lead
guitarist properly again.
In 2000, I started that process. It was continued to some extent in 2003 with the
“all things being equal” album, although that record was fraught with difficulty,
and made another brief appearance in 2006 on the “Sinister Porpoise” release.
But it will be the next decade that sees the return of the Dave Stafford as lead
guitarist, and “Gone Native” will be the first full on “rock” album since “all things
being equal”. Expected release date for “Gone Native” at this point is 2011 – but
don’t miss this album, because it’s the culmination of ten years of getting back
to being a lead guitarist – not to mention thirty years playing experience - in the
last two years of the 2000s, this became a realisable goal for me – so that is what
I did...I became a guitarist again.
Of course, I still can, and still do, “ambient loop guitar” – and always will - but,
now, I can add in active or experimental guitar and have the best of both worlds.