Ambient Soundbath Podcast #58 – Manitou

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I’ve wanted to do an Ambient Soundbath that featured Manitou for a long time, but just never got around to it. I think that I finally did it, at least, partially because an upcoming performance that I’ll be doing called Leelanau Uncaged, in Northport, Michigan, where I’ll be featuring Manitou live for the first time – More info on that here…, but first, who and what is Manitou?

Manitou‘s All Points North was a project that I initially created in 2006 to feature a series of works that focused on memory points in and around Detroit, Michigan; ideas, sentiments, impressions, etc… At the time, this work didn’t fit with a lot of the work I was doing, so I created this pseudonym. For a time, when this initially launched on MySpace.com (remember that!) I even created a little back story to support the work; that was fun. Much to my surprise, years later, as I kept working and kind of forgot about the release, I learned that the 2006 Manitou recording, All Points North was one of my most popular recordings; apparently this became a touchstone for folks, as fan mail around it also started to increase. That’s nice when that happens, one of the best things an artist can hope is that there works goes and grows beyond them.

Ten years later, in 2016, I created another Manitou recording that painted a different kind of picture, of a different kind of city. A lot happened in Detroit between 2006 and 2015. This recording, Landscape, Histories and Sentiment attempted to capture sonic impressions of a bygone, 19th Century period in Detroit’s history that was slowly fading from view.

In 2017, I released another Manitou recording, perhaps, the final one, Shadows of a Detroit Winter Sun. This recording, for me, is a farewell, a love letter to the Detroit my grand-parents and parents knew, the Detroit that my great-grandfather came to from Italy, the Detroit that my Appalachian kin migrated to for work, a farewell to the desolate Detroit of the 1970s and 80s that I called home. The city is changing and so, too, is the landscape and the history. It’s bittersweet, really, as that old city that we all came to know so well, is disappearing. There’s preservation in spots, but we Americans don’t love history, nor do we love reminders of a past we struggle to reconcile with, so out with the old, in with the new, that’s the Capitalist way – Bigger, better, faster, more! Shadows of a Detroit Winter Sun uses, as reference points, buildings and structures that are mostly gone – Raised, burned or just long-forgotten, this recording attempts to paint impressionistic memories of the forgotten that lingered in the long shadows of Detroit’s low winter sun.

I’ve given these recordings a slightly different treatment from their original album releases so that they fit together better here for a unified listen. I don’t know if these recordings will provide the impressionistic poetics of Detroit that I’ve strived for, but for an Ambient Soundbath, this episode features some of my best work as I attempted to embody the symphonic textures of Claude Debussy’s La Mer and Nocturnes, as well as Ralph Vaughan-William’s Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, Norfolk Rhapsody and The Lark Ascending.

Track/Album Listing:

00:00 – 03:10 – I wrote your name on the Davison overpass –All Points North
03:10 – 08: 30 – Riding the Pere Marquette out of Fort Street Union – Landscape, Histories and Sentiment
08:30 – 17:00 –  Elegy for Bois Blanc –Landscape, Histories and Sentiment
17:00 – 21:20 – Friendly glass divider – All Points North
21:20 – 31:50 -Muted night over Herman Gardens – Shadows of a Detroit Winter Sun
31:50 – 40:30 – Keep the Lake Francis Light burning for me – Landscape, Histories and Sentiment
40:30 – 42:20 – Windsor – All Points North
42:20 – 46:40 – Snowy night riding the Peoplemover – All Points North
46:40 – 49:00 – Lafayette – All Points North
49:00 – 53:30 – Moon descending behind the Madison-Lenox Hotel – Shadows of a Detroit Winter Sun
53:30 – 57:00 – Small wildflowers in the shadow of the 8 Mile Wall – Shadows of a Detroit Winter Sun
57:00 – 63:28 (END) The band still echoes in Harmonie Park – Landscape, Histories and Sentiment

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