There’s a tendency among some to measure a man by his beard. When you apply that standard to musicians, idolization typically centers (or has centered, on the possibility that they have since trimmed or shaved) around two individuals — Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, and Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. It’s probably not a coincidence that they both specialize in unadulterated folk either; beards capable of storing inanimate objects unfortunately aren’t a trademark of most genres. They certainly aren’t a trademark of electronic music.
But then again, neither are New Jerseyans, really. As an experimental/improvisational electronic musician, Keith Fullerton Whitman inspires some minor head-scratching with the fact that not only did he grow up in New Jersey, but he also, apparently, has an absurdly long beard. Actually, if you Google Image search it, it looks like he, at some point, decided to de-emphasize his mustache. So he looks Amish as well. He’s an Amish New Jerseyan with tremendous facial hair, who makes electronic music for the Austria-based label Editions Mego, and in the past, for Kranky and Planet Mu. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.
There. Now, here’s some more interesting and (this time) completely relevant information: on June 19, Whitman will be releasing Occlusions, a companion LP to Generators, which was released earlier this year. The album consists of two “freely improvised” tracks that were recorded live during two performances in France and The Netherlands in February. How were they recorded, you might ask? Through “the absolute cheapest means available to the consumer to do so” — a Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder, which you can purchase on Amazon for 95 bucks. I’ve never used it, so I can’t vouch for its quality, but apparently the recordings “sound fantastic.” I admit to being curious now, even if the recordings end up sounding horrible. Check out the album’s official page here.
A. Occlusion (Rue de Bitche)
B. Occlusion (Weteringschans)