Was Ist Das?
At last, the mythical other version of the classic "Death Seat" album. It's the same songs but a very different version, more stripped down and countryfied. If the Gira version is a driving album, this is a lounging in your yard album.
When I polled friends and fans on Facebook about what specific rare Wooden Wand material they most wanted me to upload, the previously unreleased "Death Seat: The Murfreesboro Mix" was one of the most requested albums. No surprise: this mysterious and surprisingly under-bootlegged early version of the album was compared and contrasted, in a Pitchfork review, to the version that was eventually released on Young God Records, and has thus gained something of a reputation among WW fans. We're still not sure how that devil Grayson Currin got ahold of it. Anyway, the story on this one is that Michael Gira gave me some money to record a version of the album at a temporary makeshift studio at my then-home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with friends Joey Knieser (who engineered and co-produced this version, and also recorded many basic tracks at his house) and Bingham Barnes of Glossary, William Tyler, Casey Kaufman, Brian Lowery, Tyler Coppage, Andrew Mosiman, and Spencer Duncan. Michael liked some of what he heard, but disliked a great deal of it, too. So he suggested he and I re-record large parts of the album from scratch at Old Soul Studios in Kingston, New York, with a new band (including old acquaintance Grasshopper of Mercury Rev), with the great engineer Kenny Siegal. The handful of original takes we did retain from the Murfrreesboro sessions underwent great transformations by Michael, who eliminated and added whole tracks to songs with the visionary focus of a madman. For some songs, he even opted to use my original 4-track demos, layering new instruments and voices on top of versions of songs I'd recorded at home years earlier.
It was a great pleasure working with Michael Gira; it remains one of the greatest privileges of my musical life. Upon the release of Death Seat, a few people complained of Gira's production hand being a bit too heavy. I don't agree, and I remain extremely proud of the album we released. However, if you ever wondered what the album would have sounded like had I produced it without Michael Gira, well, here you go.
Please note that even the name 'Murfreesboro Mix" is something of a misnomer, as about half of these songs are entirely different versions of songs that ended up on Death Seat. Of the handful of folks who've heard both versions (mostly the musicians who perform on the record, their spouses, and a few assorted close friends), some prefer the verison that was released on Young God. Others seeem to vastly prefer this version. I like both versions, and I relish the idea of both of them finally existing out in the world for others to hear, and compare.
Download includes original liner notes from YG release.
Says Swans frontman and head of Young God Records Michael Gira, James Jackson Toth’s “got that picaresque quality that Dylan
had in his heyday, wherein the shambolic narrator undergoes various travails and epiphanies—harrowing, bleak and darkly comical—in the course of a narrative, then leaves you mystified, both smiling and sad.”...more