Way, way back now, when I first lived in Japan, I was at a good friend's house having some nice summer cold noodles. It was in the mountains a couple of hours north of Tokyo, just to set the scene. We were having a play around with his out of tune piano and just having a nice chilled time with the sun blazing outside, when he turns and says to me 'listen to this'. This particular friend, when he used to say those poignant words, would always play something awesome and new to my ears. That time, the album he put on was the Greg Davis debut 'Arbor'.
That summer I had spent time jumping into lakes with the same friend in America, and just having lots of post-college summer vacation fun, before the ever so slightly less innocent period of working 9-5 had to set-in. 'Arbor' was and is the record that sets the tone for that period of my life. The only other record around that time would have to be a few Eno records, maybe some Harold Budd, but Davis' 'Arbor' is right there. It is just such a wonderful record.
After a couple of years of settling (to a degree) into work in London, I eventually moved into a flat across the road from the renowned (and now sadly closed) Smallfish Records. It was a place I would visit every single day after work, spending hours upon hours trawling and listening through wonderous gems. I would always shyly go up to the desk and ask if they had such and such...and they would always try to order in anything I wanted. One person there (turned out to be the owner, and eventually became a great friend of mine...Mike) kept Greg Davis records on the side for me. He was still quite unheard of in those days, so it was a special occasion when one of his new releases turned up.
Anyway, in 2006, that same friend mentioned at the beginning, helped to organise the Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival. He invited myself, along with some friends, Greg Davis, Chihei Hatakeyama, and Sébastien Roux among others. It was here that I saw Greg play live, and what was later to become one of the live performances on 'Midpoint' which we released in 2009.
I had always wanted to have Greg Davis on the label, ever since the label was formed (even before actually), so it was such an honour to have him release with us. This was accentuated in 2010 when Greg asked to release (or re-issue as it was a small live cd originally) his album with Chris Weisman, 'Northern Songs'. It felt like a very natural cotinuation of 'Arbor', and his sophomore album, 'Curling Pond Woods' so we were absolutely thrilled. Chris is a member of the highly acclaimed Sub Pop group, Happy Birthday, by the way, and is an awesome, Beatle-inspired songwriter in his own right.
The album was met with great acclaim, and receieved various accolades (Boomkat gave it album of the week and almost fell over themselves in delight), and it was even placed into a book of the great experimental artists and releases from 1960 - present in Japan. So there you go!
You can follow Greg's work and his extensive live shows/tours through his site here:
He also self-releases, collaborates and releases friends' works on his excellent Autumn Records imprint:
Here's a video of Greg Davis and Ben Vida playing live in Philly in 2010:
Here's a very nice video of the beautiful Greg Davis and Sebatian Roux track 'Tidal Pool':
Here's a little more about Greg Davis:
after years of hip-hop groups, jazz combos, free improvisation, and experimental composition, greg moved toward the world of computer-based music in 1997. at depaul university in chicago, greg studied classical & jazz guitar alongside composition and jazz studies. In 1997, he started his own label, autumn records, to release his own music and the music of others. greg moved to boston in 1999 to pursue a master’s degree in composition which he received in june 2001. he also independently immersed himself in the study of electronic music during this time. greg became an active performer on the boston music scene, playing many shows by himself and with don mennerich, as parallel.
february 2002 saw the release of greg’s debut album ‘arbor’ on carpark records. greg toured extensively during the 2 years after the release of ‘arbor’. he toured around the world and all across the united states. he relocated back to chicago in august 2002.
in late 2003, greg started the ‘leaves’ cdr series on his autumn records which is devoted to pure field recordings and environmental improvisations. these new releases continue to reveal the depth and diversity of greg’s musical interests.
after about a year and a half of work, greg completed work on his second full length album ‘curling pond woods’ in july 2003. it was released in february 2004 on carpark records. in 2004, greg toured japan, USA, and europe. he formed a five piece band to perform the music from ‘curling pond woods’ on his spring US tour.
in march 2004, carpark records released ‘yearlong’ which is a collection of live electro-acoustic improvisations greg recorded with keith fullerton whitman from various shows around the world. in october 2004, chicago-based kranky released greg’s drone epic ‘somnia’. lux nigra of berlin released a companion 12″ e.p. called ‘diaphanous’.
greg left the big city and moved to burlington, vermont in december 2004. he has been organizing many concerts of experimental and creative music in burlington since april 2005.
may 2005 saw the release of ‘decisions’ on longbox recordings which is another collection of live improvised percussion / laptop studies recorded with drummer steven hess in chicago. one year in the making, greg’s collaboration with sebastien roux, ‘paquet surprise’ was released by carpark records in october 2005. this album features a most successful blend of acoustic instruments, electronics, field recordings, dynamic shifts, songs, drones and textures.
in february 2006, greg went to iceland to work with pianist tinna thorsteinsdottir. she performed 3 of greg’s compositions at a new music festival there. in march / april 2006, greg put on a concert series in burlington VT dedicated to john cage’s text pieces.
greg’s three years of recorded improvisations with jeph jerman culminated in the release of ‘ku’ by room40 which was accompanied by an australian & new zealand tour in july 2006. a split 7″ with of (loren chasse) was released on ache records in september 2006.
long time friends, greg davis and zach wallace started a new project called SUN CIRCLE and released their debut cdr in january 2007 on lichen records. this was followed by an east coast tour with joseph grimm / the wind up bird.
in the summer of 2007, greg was asked to join an augmented akron/family band, playing guitar, percussion, electronics & singing & dancing. greg davis & megafaun played separate sets as well as combining to make a 7-piece akron/family band on a large tour of the USA in the late summer / autumn 2007. he sold a limited edition cdr of 99 copies of ‘midway’ on these tours.
greg played a few shows in france at the end of 2007, including a brian wilson tribute / exhibition show in bordeaux with fennesz and the high llamas.
in the spring of 2008, greg toured new england with megafaun. this tour generated the ideas and seeds for his second album on kranky, mutually arising. a sun circle / eleh split LP was released on important records in march 2008.
greg also did a short new england tour with eric chenaux in the summer of 2008. a sun circle / pregnant moon splti cassette was released in june 2008 on nna tapes. also, a collection of live recordings with sebastien roux called ‘merveilles’ was released.
a live recording with steven hess called ‘thirty thirty’ was released in november 2008, in december of 2008, autumn / lichen records reissued the debut SUN CIRCLE album on LP. this was followed by a 2 week tour with bird show in the USA.
the LP reissue sparked the restarting of greg’s label, autumn records.
in the winter of 2008 & early 2009, greg worked on a new collaboration with chris weisman. the result was an album called ‘northern songs’. a set of strange electro-acoustic song journeys.
greg started another new project in march 2009 with toby aronson called HARMONIZER.
in june 2009, greg and chris weisman opened up for james blackshaw on a 2 week tour in the USA. a limited edition cdr of 100 copies of ‘northern songs’ was made for the tour.
greg’s second solo album for kranky, ‘mutually arising’, was released in july 2009. he also released a cd called ‘primes’ on his own autumn records label.
greg will be embarking on his third tour of japan in late september 2009, this will be followed by a west coast tour with sun circle in november. and possibly some shows with chris weisman in december.
forthcoming releases include sun circle ‘lessness’ 2LP on arbor, ‘regarding wave’ cd on root strata, ‘full spectrum’ cassette on digitalis, harmonizer cassette on nna tapes, and more.
greg davis has played live shows around the world with: hrvatski / keith fullerton whitman, david grubbs, zoviet france, chicago underground duo, flying lutenbachers, adult, otto von schirach, blectum from blechdom, mitchell akiyama, loscil, e*rock, YACHT, a-musik soundsystem, lullatone, animal collective, f.s. blumm, ratatat, jan jelinek, christopher willits, sebastien roux, leafcutter john, colleen, avey tare & kria brekkan, chris corsano, no-neck blues band, tape, the books, mv & ee, beach house, wind-up bird, jeph jerman, dean roberts, campbell kneale & antony milton, glenn jones, james blackshaw, mountains, tomas korber, jason kahn, jon mueller, david daniell, bird show, fog, greg weeks, viking moses, lucky dragons, ariel pink, tim barnes, boombip, mu-ziq, oren ambarchi, phill niblock, gregg kowalsky, no neck blues band, chris corsano, tape, sawako, akron/family, megafaun, eric chenaux, kurt weisman, the dodos, fennesz, the high llamas, lau nau, vetiver, emeralds, jack rose, infinity window, dan deacon, matana roberts, michael gira, c. spencer yeh, and many more.
You can stream, share and buy Greg Davis' 'Midpoint' here:
You can stream, share and buy Chris Weisman and Greg Davis' 'Northern Songs' here: