Two New Projects from Members of Rosebuds, Gayngs, Eyelids, Battleme and Lions Howard Ivans, Far Lands
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 9pm
- $10 advance and day of show
Who is Howard Ivans? A stylized frequency? A flutter of heartbeats? An outline of emotion? Another gambler waiting for that strike of lightning playing the zero-sum game of love? Or is he the blurry figure at the edge of frame? “Someone that likes being in the dark room and dark stages, where the sound is brighter than the face.” A man away from himself. Keep breaking it down boy.On a path to obsession, his head full of fury and dreams, Howard Ivans is high-stepping through the rolling sea of time.
Ivan Howard has encountered this character before. Surely he was an uncredited guest when the Rosebuds recorded a song-by-song cover of Sade’s Love Deluxe. And when Prince showed up at a Gayngs show and ripped a solo offstage on his unplugged purple Strat, Ivan Howard and Howard Ivans watched him in disbelief, flickering back and forth in that sublime, surreal moment. But the first proper appearance was on a 45 for Spacebomb Records, “Red Face Boy b/w Pillows”; then the man could really breathe, stretch out and hear his own voice, see his hands in the light. There is a strange duality between the unassuming country boy who grew up barefoot on a tobacco farm in North Carolina and the neo-soul entertainer crooning over staccato Billie Jean guitar lines, but it’s not a reflection, more a yin and yang situation, interlocking bodies of shadow, imagination, and abstracted history. The tension is fascinating. No past or future, only a presence.
Beautiful Tired Bodies is Howard Ivans’ opus – is it the magnum or a sweet 750 ml? Only time will tell. Either way, it’s pure magic, a soft funk tone poem to lost identity, the grip of love, and trying to live in the present as time rushes under the bridge. Feelings at the edge of feeling, a sound that Ivan Howard dreams about. What a sound to dream about, lush, muscular, brooding, rising and falling with the lungs of live musicians, crystalline guitars, enchanting string arrangements—a real show. Alongside the team of Spacebomb co-producers Cameron Ralston and Trey Pollard, and a first call cast of Richmond, Virginia’s finest musicians, Howard Ivans has signed his name to a smooth statement of purpose. And whoever he is, he’s playing an idiosyncratic R&B game with passionate skill.
Far Lands is the culmination of over a decade of songwriting by Cincinnati native and Portland transplant Andy McFarlane. It represents the next logical, yet unlikely, step in a slow musical evolution that saw Andy as a high school musician and an aspiring ethnomusicologist, recording Zapotec folk music in Oaxaca, Mexico. The 2000 release of his book of poems, prose and rhymes, "Intersection" was immediately followed by a move westward and inward where he quietly documented the births of his daughters and the deaths of his parents. This tangible effort of turning life and loss into a sort of musical diary was ultimately isolating as he shied away from production and performance while holding down jobs as teacher, principal and professor of education. Yet 17 years later, something has happened.
“Oh What an Honor/ Oh, What a Drag” resulted from a chance encounter with childhood friend Matt Drenik (Battleme). The two hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. After a few forays into reminiscing old Ohio folklore, they quickly moved to Drenik’s studio, Get Loud, and got about the work of making art. McFarlane’s urge to begin documenting seemed natural. His songs were primitive; tiny, primal screams of hurt and wonder. After some back and forth, the two sat down and played “Geronimo” on the piano. They believed the best way for these song vignettes to live wouldn’t be in isolation, but in full spectrum, while acknowledging the power of the initial minimalism. With Drenik playing most of the instruments, they enlisted the help of drummer Pauli Pulvirenti (Eyelids, Elliott Smith) and Ivan Howard (Rosebuds, Howard Ivans). McFarlane’s lyrical delivery widened, spanning decades in a morphed vision quest of love and evolution. Instead of clocking countless hours at rehearsals and club shows, Far Lands found a voice in the studio as a conversation between old friends.
The record clocks in at just under thirty minutes. It’s a nine song testament to the wisdom of the slow build and the beautiful absurdity that exists in the world if you’re open to it.