A tribute to Tony Allen, by Emma-Jean Thackray
Megafortress is a meditative, contemplative artist called Bill Gillim who lives in New York. The music he makes is elevating and soothing, using elements of organic, choral sound and scattered bells and synths to form compositions that are full of worship, peace and a general sense of being happy to be alive.
This is why we’re obviously in a serene state of bliss as we present to you our latest Dummy mix; full of moments of personal revelation and the alleviation of worry, this is a mix guaranteed to calm the nerves – so sit back and enjoy. We caught up with Megafortress for a chat about the tracks he chose; scroll down to read his thoughts and the tracklisting in full.
If you like what you hear, head over to Software to grab a copy of Megafortress’ self-titled EP.
Hi, Megafortress! Can you tell us more about this mix?
I made this mix a little while back in an attempt to sooth some anxiety-ridden fever dreams. It didn’t exactly help me sleep, or relax really, but it did push my head to a strange tiny place where there was no me, just an it.
Please can you highlight a couple of tracks included and why?
The mix starts with an edit of Alvin Curran’s Songs And Views From The Magnetic Garden. His four 70s solo LPs are inner sound worlds unlike anything else.
Social Networking Deity is from the Diane Kensington Devotional Band’s 2012 double cassette release, 34 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monologue Now!. It feels like a three-hour descent into the fractal mind of a sentient GeoCities website.
The Djivan Gasparian song is from a record of his called Heavenly Duduk. I fell in love with his music after hearing him on the ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ soundtrack. I actually bought a duduk because of him. His performance at the Transcender Festival was amazing.
Would you like to talk us through the recording of your mini album?
I recorded the EP late last summer at home and at the Mexican Summer studio. My Favorite Girl and Consolamentum were both home-recorded demos that ended up making the record.
I pared down the songs to just a few elements: voice, gamelan samples, a couple synthesizer and piano parts. The record is about 90% vocals. We love you, for example, is many layers of processed vocals. The only other instrument on the song is a delayed piano played by Joel Ford.
Your appearance at the Transcender Festival was spectacular. Can you tell us a little more about your collaboration with Eli and if there are any plans for more?
My collaboration with Eli Keszler was a great experience. His storm of tiny sounds and disembodied beating robots and string sculptures forced me to machine-link into a new kind of sound world.
I stripped down my usual approach for the piece. I focused on a few very simple repetitive patterns for the vocal and sampled flute sections. For the first half of the piece, I sampled his drums and looped them back in multiple layers, creating even more of a percussion storm.
We’ve talked about performing the same set in New York, but nothing is planned yet.
I love the choral samples on My Favourite Girl. Was it nice playing in a church and do you think you make religious music?
Thanks. My Favorite Girl is actually just my voice, processed through some delay. I have used choral samples on a couple older songs though.
St. Luke’s was beautiful.
I wouldn’t call my music religious. There is sometimes a spiritual component to making it. Some songs seem to come effortlessly from somewhere just beyond me. Others are long, drawn-out labors that can drive me crazy.
What is exciting you at the moment musically?
I’ve been listening almost only to Morton Feldman for the past couple months, especially the new Frozen Reeds release of his piece Crippled Symmetry.
What’s your favourite animal?
My cat Joule. She’s small and black and weird. And I love her.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a full length album that will come out next year. Michael Barron, who used to play drums in Holy Spirits, recently began playing with me. So far, the new songs have a bit of a different feel — more percussive, more wind instruments (I’ve started playing my alto saxophone again), and a little darker.
1. Alvin Curran – “Songs And Views From The Magnetic Garden Part 2” edit
2. Pura Paku Alaman Javanese Court Gamelan – “Ayak-Ayakan Kaloran”
3. Diane Kensington Devotional Band – “Social Networking Deity”
4. Frank Perry – “Golden City Of Peace” edit
5. The Walker Brothers – “The Electrician”
6. Old And New Dreams – “Guinea”
7. Jim Sullivan – “Highways”
8. Terry Riley – “Aleph Part 1” edit
9. Nina Simone – “Dambala”
10. Djivan Gasparian – “Menag Jamport Em / Yes Kez Tessa”
11. Julia Holter – “Tragedy Finale”
12. Dollar Brand Duo – “Ntsikana’s Bell”