NRR71: Howard Stelzer - "A Strange Object Covered With Fur Which Breaks Your Heart" C40

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NRR71: Howard Stelzer - "A Strange Object Covered With Fur Which Breaks Your Heart" C40

10.00

"The aim of literature," Baskerville replied grandly, 'is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.'"
-Donald Barthelme

I’m usually loathe to describe my music. I spend so much time making the damn stuff, I figure: let other people sort out what it all means. Why should I make it easy for anyone? But apparently, some people need everything spelled out for them, and those people have money. I want those people to give their money to me. So, alright. In the name of commerce, I’ll tell you a little bit about “A Strange Object Covered With Fur Which Breaks Your Heart”.

Here’s the deal. Most of my “work” (ahem) aspires toward some overpowering full-color slow-motion epiphany. An attention-arresting, tension-building, vaguely-narrative-yet-non-referential pummeling drama catharsis. I like for my albums to be so dense with competing/complimentary layers of sound-events that you have to play them loud and then allow them to sink in… really live with them for awhile in order to unpack all the tape goo I’ve hidden. For example, take my previous album for No Rent, “Dawn Songs”, for which I used sounds recorded in the very early hours and fashioned them into a big fuzzy sunrise. Or “The Case Against”, with those swaggering swaths of steadily-growing growl and a pop song coda at the end. That’s what I usually do. Those things take me forever to complete. But because I assume no one is really listening and I make this stuff for my own implacable gratification, I may as well challenge myself to reach for a different emotion. Why not, right? Who’ll even notice?

Instead of songs that reach towards the stratosphere, I wanted to write music that described closed spaces. I wanted to preserve the intimacy of small rooms and whispered, half-awake conversations. Of dissolving dreams and dissipating clouds. I wanted to make music that drew in listeners (allow me my ego-gratifying delusion that these people exist) with subtly melodic lines and rounded textures. The compositions on “A Strange Object…” are intentionally simpler and more sparse than my usual. The cracks are exposed. All four songs together create a brittle and (to me, anyway) blithely serene atmosphere. They won’t leave anyone exhausted by the end. To me, these are just enjoyable songs.

- HS
Lowell MA, April 2018

Cover photo by Joe Taylor


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