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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mark Wingfield - Tales from the Dreaming City

Two years ago, I discovered one of most innovative guitarists thanks to the MoonJune label. His name is Mark Wingfield. After being on his incredible journey with Proof of Light, The Stone House, and Lighthouse, his collaborations with Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, and Yaron Stavi, Wingfield himself has returned again this year with the release of his new album, Tales from the Dreaming City.

Recorded two years ago at La Casa Murade in Banyeres del Penedes, Spain in February, gives Wingfield more creative freedom and essential textures by providing more ideas to the table. He’s more than just a guitar player, but one of those artists to take a leap forward beyond the progressive and jazz genre.

With bassist Yaron Stavi, drummer Asaf Sirkis, and guest keyboardist Dominique Vantomme, Mark is like a painter and gives the listener these background images on what he’s painted through the ten tracks on his new album. It’s like these stories from various timeframes and the music itself is atmospheric, mysterious, and melodic. What Mark Wingfield has done is to bring these ideas to let the flowers grow brighter and brighter.

Listening to Tales from the Dreaming City is like opening a book set through these structures by telling a story and understanding the characteristics and locational background through each of their lives. And Wingfield sets it beautifully by creating this alternate film score. I can hear the inspirations between Allan Holdsworth’s SynthAxe and Terje Rypdal through Mark’s arrangements.

It’s not Mark playing like them, but tipping his hat off to the two masters and carrying their Olympic torches and seeing what will happen next. I can imagine Wingfield took inspirations of the authors between Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Mark Twain, Phillip K. Dick, and Jack Kerouac.

I loved how he goes into some of the aspects of the ambient and the Canterbury influences from The Way to Hemingford Grey before driving into the dark tunnels to the smooth warm cup of coffee by starting the morning off at the Sunlight CafĂ©. Sirkis goes into some drum exercises on the track before they head inside the mind of Dwayne Hoover’s mental breakdown from the 1973 book, Breakfast of Champions.

The spiraling late ‘60s  melodic structures between Wingfield and Stavi going up the spiral staircase up to the views of Heaven’s skyscraper as it reminisces of Seventh Wave’s Star Palace of the Sombre Warrior on the Ten Mile Bank. When I listened to The Green-Faced Timekeepers which features Sirkis’ scatting at the end of the composition, it brought back a memory for me as a kid hearing the Dungeon Theme from the Nintendo classic, The Legend of Zelda.

I can imagine one of these days Mark Wingfield would do a score for a video game and it did reminded me of that. And part of me was thinking to myself listening to the final track, “Is Mark scoring for a game? Because if he is, it would be something.” Now for me, Tales from the Dreaming City as I’ve mentioned earlier, is an opened book. And it’s discovering what Wingfield himself to bring these conceptual textures to the coffee table. It’s quite an interesting experience and I hope he will do more to see what will come up with next.

Phoebe Legere - Heart of Love

In an interview with Julia Mesi on Videowave back in May of 1985, Julia asks Phoebe Legere on how the performance of concept art holds together various talents. Phoebe responds; “When I’m a performance artist, I’m operating in a new genre which I call ‘Total Arts Synthesis.’ Which ignores the demarcations between the individual arts and explores the universal arts spirit which flows through all of them.”

Now Phoebe Legere is a name you probably may or may not recognize. I remember when I was a little kid going with my Dad to Blockbuster Video and renting The Toxic Avenger Part II. Phoebe portrayed as Toxie's blind girlfriend, Claire. Now mind you, I didn’t know who she was and I knew a little bit of Troma films back in the day after Toxic Crusaders was on 20 Vision KTXH Houston. This was in the early ‘90s.

As I grew older, I completely forgot about it and moved on. Cut to last year when I first heard Phoebe’s music. Now I was taken aback at first. It’s this mixture between Cajun music, Americana, country, cabaret, rockabilly, alternative and vaudeville. Her new album released last year, Heart of Love shows that Phoebe is more than just an actress. But she’s also a painter, poet, filmmaker, and a musician.

She also opened for the late great David Bowie 28 years ago for his Sound + Vision tour. Heart of Love is an album of giving Phoebe a drive down the desert highway to show how long the journey she’s been from day one. The guitars set up the delay/reverb introduction on Hello Friday as the rhythm acoustic guitar sets up the car to of revving to get away from the glimmering lights of Las Vegas and see where the highway will take us to.

By punching the clock and ready to walk, Phoebe delivers the scenery as you can imagine the dance floor enjoying the music as it has this Imelda May-sque style of rockabilly rhythm. The cover of Hank Williams’ Jambaylaya, Phoebe and the band takes you down the Louisiana Rivers for a down home/country-cajun adventure as her accordion helps out of giving Legere a chance to have a grand old to both dance and sing.

You can imagine being on the riverboat and smelling the delicious spicy Cajun food with some foot-stomping rhythm, and being in the hottest part of the afternoon to enjoy the culture, food, and the music. Phoebe takes us deeper into this psychedelic futuristic experimental country voyage into the Blue Canoe. Thanks to the electronic drum-loop, Hendrix-sque guitar lines, and wah-wah effect, Legere goes beyond the Cajun structures and delving deeper into the unknown.

Wrong Honky Tonk, you can close your eyes and imagine being in the O.K. Corrall in the early 1870s and being in the old west of Tombstone, Arizona. With its saloon piano, soothing vocals, country, and accordions, it’s a toast to the drunks and you can tell that the enjoyment is in Phoebe’s vocals and having a huge amounts of fun. You can imagine her performing at the bar and stealing the show and giving the cowboys a standing ovation.

Now I will have to admit, while I’m not a big fan of the music, I have to give Phoebe Legere props of what she’s brought to the table. Now does she have the greatest singing voice? No, but Heart of Love is an interesting release. And you might want to be prepare to drive and not just to enjoy the ride, but embark with Phoebe’s stories, fun, and the folky atmosphere.