A LEFTFIELD guitarist of renown on the American East Coast experimental scene and owner of the C/Site imprint, home to edgeland explorers such as Alexander, Pieces of Fruit, xNoBBQx and Secret Treaties, among others, Connecticut’s Stefan Christensen has announced that his latest album, his third of the year so far, will be with us in early August on World of Echo, the label set up by the fine East London record shop of the same name, over on Columbia Road. There’ll be vinyl, too, in a limited run of 500.
He’s also released a first track, the raw, stripped back and dronesome incantation, “Cheap Things (For Adam and Hannah)”, which you can hear below. It surges, it drops away to silence, it reasserts with a gradually building out-folk power, gaining, by the end, an almost Swans-like intensity and placing it firmly into the must-hear category for fans of mid-period Richard Dawson, Daniel Blumberg, Jandek and Richard Youngs.
The new album’s genesis goes back to Christensen’s first solo release in 2015, the record on which “Cheap Things (For Adam and Hannah)” was included in what now reads very much as a first sketch form. The song was composed in response to the death of a friend from an overdose, and Stefan was moved to reprise and revisit it upon losing another friend the same way.
The song has burgeoned in the half-decade since its first committal to tape and sets the tone for Cheap Thing, which seeks catharsis from the ills of the mind, the body and the modern world in folk, folk, noise, and avant-blues.
Among a raft of limited run cassettes and other collaborations, this looks to be Stefan’s tenth album, at least taking Discogs as a vade mecum; and he’s joined by many of his co-creatives from C/Site with Mountain Movers’ members Rick Omonte and John Miller involved percussively and in production, respectively; David Shapiro, of Alexander and Headroom, and Kyrssi Battalene of Mountain Movers and Headroom also involved, among others. Thus Cheap Things is labelled with Stefan’s name, but is moreover a record of his musical community.
Work began on the five songs of Cheap Things in the summer of 2018 and was finished during the last year’s lockdowns’ the longest Stefan has spent working on a record; it was all recorded on four- and eight-tracks with tape manipulation. It’s got feeling, warmth, courage; it’s a weighty, meaningful, experimental record.
Stefan Christensen’s Cheap Things will be released digitally and on very limited vinyl by World of Echo on August 6th and can be pre-ordered here.