Cover Photo by Rachel Dodd
Indowncity is thrilled to announce that we will be sponsoring this week’s Burnside Music Series and Trinity Beer Garden! Jeremy Harris will be performing with his project Charles Allin, an experimental jazz ensemble with New-Agey vibes.
Music nerds will know Jeremy Harris from longtime project Lazy Magnet–a prolific enterprise that knew no bounds in exploding the limits of genre. Since semi-retiring Lazy Magnet in 2014, Harris has satiated his wide-ranging curiosity with a cluster of more focused projects to explore the intricacies of genre.
In this interview, Jeremy Harris tells us what he’s been up to and what to expect from the Charles Allin Performance this week at Burnside Park!
The Burnside Music Series and Trinity Beer Garden is this Thursday, August 3rd, at 4:30pm.
So, what is the Charles Allin Project?
Charles Allin was a person from Illinois who was active in the private press New Age Cassette scene in the 1980s. He put out some tapes on the Friendly Cassette label and one LP on Conception of Divinity. I found his stuff in the New Age room on SoulSeek.
Our group interprets his music as best we can. We have Francesca Caruso on violin and vocals, Rachel Asher on Synth and vocals, Sean Fennessey on trumpet, Nick Fyfe on the drums and I play digital synths and a sampler. We are moving towards an improvised lydian modal zone* and that’s what you can expect at our set at Burnside park. Charles died in 1992.
Who/what is the group influenced/inspired by?
It is a decidedly ambient and European style that is, I would say, inspired by the ECM sound*, as well as American New Age music from the 70s and 80s, the minimal electronic composition work of Eliane Radigue, and noir vibrations like that of Bohran and der Club of Gore.
*[a style of music in Jazz lineage that emerged in the mid-1970s and is associated with ECM Records. ECM stands for “Edition of Contemporary Music”]
Why do you think experimental musicians tend to shy away from ‘jazz,’ if not in form then in name? Why have you chosen to describe this project as ‘jazz’?
A great experimental jazz album is Fred Lane’s “From the One That Cut You.” Great album!
I choose to describe the project as Jazz in order to attract the energy and mental vibrations that comes along with what people identify in their imaginations as “Jazz.” I want jazz vibes in my life.
Sometimes with music genres I’ll realize that there is something colossal, like for instance jazz, that I’ve encountered a million times but that I have no real, deep understanding of. It happened in 2009 when it dawned on me that I had no real clue about techno: it’s history, the way it’s made, who listens to it, the aesthetic value judgments producers and listeners use to decide whether a given track is successful or not.
I find this kind of curiosity, especially in regards to sound art and music, completely irresistible. When I come across some uncharted territory I usually dive in head-first and absorb as much as possible.
With techno I noticed that its basic characteristics embodied everything that the earlier Lazy Magnet album “Is Music Even Good?” lacked. I tried to assimilate its essential tropes in order to become a more well rounded musician.
With Jazz it’s a similar thing: my interest in figuring out how to listen to jazz with greater sophistication will hopefully lead to writing more sophisticated and harmonically complex music.
I thought of techno as more an ocean to dive into while I see jazz as a mountain to climb. I’ve found that I suddenly care, after making music for 25 odd years, about learning traditional musical forms and rules. The “trash/noise” vibe no longer seemed as endlessly malleable as it once did.
Can you describe some of your other projects? How has working with different concepts with wholly different aims changed your process?
Xerome is a hardware produced techno project. Jerome is a sample based house music project. Trickery is a grunge/shoegaze (grungegaze?) project. Beyond Human Scale is a cyber metal project. Jokif Behr is a gabber/Jungle project. Charles Allin is an ambient jazz ensemble but it started as a solo project. Ass I.D. is a Ghettotech project.
I think the main, immediate difference is that I don’t sing, play live drums or electric guitars as much anymore. I’m working mostly with drum machines, samplers, synths and sequencers.
I still compose music for Lazy Magnet but I don’t share it with people for the most part.
I’m about to finish a compilation featuring one or two songs from each of these projects that I’ll eventually shop around.
On August 14th I’m going to start a song-a-day-for-a-year recording and writing project. It’ll be the second time I’ve done it, the first one was in 1997 so this will be the 20th anniversary. I wish I could be more prolific.