Valley of the shadow of Death
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Valley of the shadow of Death

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Band Classical Avant-garde

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"Valley of the Shadow of Death - Sneaky Dee's"


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Brian Eno’s minimalist avant-garde pieces would go on like some zen mantra. Nothingness. Yet sometimes there can be tranquil beauty in nothingness. That’s the sense I get with Valley Of The Shadow Of Death. A spacious landscape that marries ‘Selected Ambient Works’ by Aphex Twin with John Cage. A droning soundtrack where the earth meets the stars in a haze of spiritual contemplative pieces.

http://lonelyvagabond.com/wpmu/tag/valley-of-the-shadow-of-death/ - Lonely Vagabond


"Valley of the Shadow of Death"

Valley of the Shadow of Death, a contemporary music trio consisting of cello, violin, guitars, turntables and samplers creating lush instrumental sounds which are experimental, yet digestable. - ismism


"Valley of the shadow of Death"

"Detente by valley of the shadow of death is quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs ever written." - Textbook Sonic - Textbook Sonic


"Valley of the shadow of Death"

Valley of the Shadow of Death (Jackson Darby, Max Evans, and Chris Whitley)

Maybe we could start by you guys telling us a bit about your musical background.

Chris: I was studying classical violin, and I still am. Also, kind of dabbling in improvised music. Max and I played in an ensemble in high school that played a lot of improvised music and that’s where we sort of discovered that, and are building on it now.

Max: Me as well, my background was in classical music and classical training, but definitely was also really into new contemporary classical music. Then, I met Chris and some other people while in high school and we developed this interest in improvised music, and definitely formed some strong opinions about it.

Jackson: I don’t have a traditional background. I’ve made experimental hip-hop music and had an experimental hip-hop band, which Max played in, for a while. Now, I’m into mostly instrumental, experimental hip-hop stuff.

Something you deal with, in this project, is combining a more traditional background in music with a more contemporary one. Do you find that difficult?

Max: It could be difficult, definitely, but I think we click personalities. At the beginning, it was definitely rough, because the sounds are really different to balance out. I think the fact that we’re not purely electronic and acoustic helps. The vinyl sampling that we do works as a nice sort of mediator between the two spectrums.

Chris: And we do our best to maintain an organic sound. We don’t use sounds that are clearly digital or synthetic. Initially, that was when we had the most difficulties reconciling the two because we hadn’t heard a lot of things that did.

Jackson: And we were just sort of in a place where we had so much that we could do with our technology and we were just trying to figure out a place for it all.

Could you tell us a bit about what you’ll be doing for the event at Art Matters?

Jackson: It’s what we would do for any show. It’s mostly composed works, loosely composed I guess, accompanied by live projections.

Chris: I think something that might make it a little bit different from other concerts that we’ve done is, for us, we’re really aware of our audience, and because we’re going to be playing in a more performance-art situation, I think that we’ll be free to go out there a little bit more.

Max: Because we want to be like, reasonably successful in what we do.

Chris: And we have this problem, too, that anytime anyone asks us what kind of music we make, it sounds immediately alienating, like Jackson and I were at a party and people asked us the kind of music we make, and I’m like “experimental electronic and classical music?” [Laughs]. They were like “oh,” and literally walked away. They had nothing to say.

What role does improvisation play in the music that you make?

Jackson: Now, when we do live shows, it’s not really improvised, but a lot of our compositions come out of improvisation.

Max: It’s funny, because we started at a place that was pure improvisation and we were all so comfortable with that sort of idea, which is quite the opposite of where a lot of people start. So now we feel like we’re totally composed but in many respects, we’re not at all.

Chris: I’d say it’s like fifty-fifty. Conceptually a lot of the sounds and electronics that we have I suppose are planned and created, but all of our music is based on improvisation.

You cite a number of twentieth-century composers, such as John Cage, as being influential to your work. Considering that you are about to perform under the banner ART DOESN’T MATTER, do you feel that your work is somewhat in the tradition of those artists whose work is to a certain extent irreverent or satirizing the practice and presentation of art?

Chris: I think that John Cage or a lot of those composers would influence our views on art in general, because a lot of the concepts he talks about, or the ones that come up in his work, or other people, minimalist composers and that kind of idea, I don’t think we’re trying to necessarily satirize anything really, it’s just that we constantly have those ideas in our mind.

Max: I think the way that we feel about the music we make is pretty genuine; the way we feel about our band or the kind of music that we make can get pretty sarcastic. The names of the tracks on our LP are pretty ridiculous, and nobody even calls us out on it. Nobody ever asks, “Where the hell did you get this shit from?”

Chris: And we make fun of ourselves all the time.

Jackson: Having said that, some people have pointed out our outrageous band name.

What kind of reactions have you gotten to it?

Jackson: Usually, at first, people just say, “oh, that’s … cool,” and you just have to laugh at yourself so that they don’t think that you’re that pretentious to call yourself that and take it that seriously.

Where does it come from? Other than, obviously, the bible.

Jackson: It’s a Roger Fenton photo called Valley of the Shadow of Death in the eighteen hundreds which was the first, or, supposedly one of the first, photos to document war that wasn’t depicting heroism or something untruthful about what was happening. It’s a desolate landscape filled with cannonballs.

What about the track titles that you were talking about? What are those?

Jackson: While we were mixing the album, we didn’t really have an overall concept in mind and it just kind of dawned on us while we were putting together the tracks and the sequence of the songs…

Black Spruce Boreal Forest on the River Alaska! [Laughs]. That one’s really beautiful.

Chris: Yeah, that one’s really good.
- Void Magazine... online


Discography

'Long After the Days and the Seasons, and People and Countries' - 2011

SIQINIQ
TAQQIQ [six months light six months dark] EP - 2009

Valley of the Shadow of Death EP - 2008

Photos

Bio

Valley of the shadow of Death is a contemporary music trio focused on creating modern music for a wider audience, using elements of electronic, composed and improvised music . "Brian Eno’s minimalist avant-garde pieces would go on like some zen mantra. Nothingness. Yet sometimes there can be tranquil beauty in nothingness. That’s the sense I get with Valley Of The Shadow Of Death. A spacious landscape that marries ‘Selected Ambient Works’ by Aphex Twin with John Cage. A droning soundtrack where the earth meets the stars in a haze of spiritual contemplative pieces.".