Smooth jazz, as a kind of late 20th century Muzak, has fascinated me since I first consciously heard it about twenty years ago. It seemed like a perfect expression of the mood in Western "capitalist" societies around the turn of the millennium: self-satisfied, fluid, hypnotic, smooth. By the time of the global economic crisis, when I started to make this album, smooth jazz (aka "new adult contemporary") radio stations were disappearing and its use as Muzak was in decline. I also noticed that several companies specialised in royalty-free "production music" were selling smooth jazz instrumentals by anonymous composers and musicians as CD's and audio DVD's – presumably to various producers of audiovisual content who use them as a backdrop for advertising and tv programmes. What was new that this music was now sold as unmixed recordings in which each instrument could be edited and digitally subverted separately.
The chance to not only sample smooth jazz, as I had been doing before as a part of my music-making process, but to work directly on separate instrument tracks was irresistible. The primary method became "scrubbing" the audio, which immediately deconstructs the rhythm quite uncontrollably, and when done carefully enough begins to reveal new dissonances, leaving only a ghost of the original saccharine structures. At first I tried to limit my sources to one production music company, but a strict conceptual purity was abandoned quite quickly, and I began scrubbing my recordings of car tyres against asphalt as well and combining these with myself playing drums, guitar and piano. While finishing New Adult Contemporary in late 2010 I formed together with Samuli Tanner a group called Modern Feelings with the idea of playing the album's material as an improvising live band, and its release got postponed until it literally became an archival publication.
released April 23, 2015
Recorded in 2007-2010
Cover image by Alexandre Bellenger
(fragment from My Precious Trash, issue 9, 2001)
Thank you: Samuli Tanner for encouragement, Mika Taanila for editorial help, and the Arts Council of Finland for financial support.
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