Thursday, June 25, 2009
R. Stevie Moore - Phonography (1976)
R. Stevie Moore should be the beginning and end of every conversation about compulsive home recording artists like Daniel Johnston or Ariel Pink. Over the last 30 or so years he's released several hundred cassettes, cdrs, and records. A few songs into any of his releases and it's clear that writing and recording songs isn't just a hobby, everything in his life comes back full circle to his songs. In some ways you could describe his songs as a journal or diary, but that always feels kind of simplistic. It's completely honest and self-deprecating at the same time, but somehow it never feels too ironic or self-indulgent.
For me it was interesting to come across him after being completely obsessed with artists like Ariel Pink and John Maus. Despite the massive discography I'm fairly comfortable leisurely adding an album or two to my collection at a time. I like to give each record plenty of time to soak in, else I'd be afraid that I'd get numb to his sincerity. In the end, they are just great tunes. It's impossible not to draw dozens of comparisons for each of his albums, but for every comparison Moore adds his own unique spin on whatever musical element he's toying with. With just enough tape experimentation and field recording to keep things on edge, his debut LP "Phonography" is a wonderful entry point.