PLAYLIST: Let Nathan Bowles Take You on a Performative Peregrination
The journeyman instrumentalist who's played with Steve Gunn and The Black Twig Pickers shares the songs that influenced his new album, Whole & Cloven.
This Friday, multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles—who’s played those multiple instruments with Steve Gunn, The Black Twig Pickers, and the bluegrass-drone group Pelt—will release Whole & Cloven, his third solo record. Though unified by Bowles’s lyrical playing style, it finds him wandering through genres, executing super-stippled piano runs that wouldn’t have been out of place on Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath 1972 in “Chiaroscuro” and warping his banjo to fit the melodic and rhythmic structure of Moroccan gnawa music in “Gadarene Fugue.”
Faced with a travelogue that complex, we were curious as to how Bowles set out on this pilgrimage. So we asked him to compile the songs that he was listening to while he wrote and recorded Whole & Cloven. You can listen along via Spotify and check out his thoughts on these tracks below.
John McLaughlin — “Extrapolation”
Until recently, I had no idea how on-point this record was. Tony Oxley on drums, in particular, is a lot of fun to listen to.
From Extrapolation, 1969.
Linda Cohen — “Fantasia Inca”
Got turned onto her strange records just recently. The electronic elements and blasted fidelity mixed with her stately playing hits a sweet spot for me.
From Leda, 1972.
75 Dollar Bill — “Cummins Falls”
On my shortlist of some of the best music being made in the US right now.
From Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock, 2016
Joe Henderson — “Earth”
I’ve been into Henderson’s adventurous ’70s recordings for a while now, but this is the one I keep coming back to. The lineup is stellar and speaks for itself.
From The Elements, 1974.
Ellen McIlwaine — “All to You”
First heard her as the vocalist on the Fear Itself self-titled LP from ’68. Her solo records from the early ’70s are very worth checking out for her vocals and slide-guitar playing. Killer band groove on this one, too.
From We the People, 1973.
Sidna Myers — “Alabama Gals”
Just might be my banjo fountainhead—his touch, weird energy, and spontaneity are a paramount inspiration to me. “You can play that!”—words to live by.
From High Atmosphere, 1975.
Eggs Over Easy — “Henry Morgan”
Sort of like The Band meets early Steely Dan? I don’t know: pub rock produced by Link Wray, so if that’s your bag then you know what to do. Found a copy of this recently and haven’t been able to get it off the turntable much.
From Good ‘n’ Cheap, 1972.
Spacin’ — “Over Uneasy”
Also on the aforementioned shortlist for 2016. Unimpeachable. Play loudly.
From Total Freedom, 2016.
Sun Ra — “Adventure-Equation”
The creative universe of Sun Ra, encompassing his music and writing and everything in between, is a seemingly inexhaustible resource of inspiration. Picking one track from his catalogue to highlight is pretty much impossible, but this one reminds me that I could listen to John Gilmore play horn every day for the rest of my life and be quite content.
From Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy, 1967.
George Stavis — “Finland Station”
This was a mindblower to discover way back when—exploratory, driving banjo/percussion instrumentals from ’69.
From Labyrinths, 1969.
Mind Over Mirrors — “Calling Your Name”
It’s nice when friends of mine make music that so immediately resonates with me.
From The Voice Calling, 2015.
Robert Pete Williams — “May Rise Out of My Tomb”
“When you dig my grave baby, please don’t dig it all deep. You know I may to like just cry, I may rise out my tomb.”
From When I Lay My Burden Down, 1971.