"At first, I couldn’t really tell what sort of performance I was walking into. It sounded like someone trying to talk to a fire. The music was sometimes percussive and rolling, other times spare and meditative. Specters. I thought I heard sounds like a whistling breeze or rushing water or human breathing emerge and then recede back into a ritual-like pulse. When I closed my eyes, I could picture walking through a landscape of the distant past—or, maybe, of the distant future: wind and water, flickering firelight, disappearing paths, solar and lunar alignments, animals and obscure energies(!?) were some things I could pick out. I wonder what Above Ground Episodes means? Like above as opposed to underground? Or literally hovering in the air? No matter. I heard what seemed like familiar calls to a beloved, or perhaps just simple melodic questions addressed to no one in particular. I guess in the end I found myself thinking of mantras or old stories that repeat themselves until they become as unconscious as breathing. Or like myths maybe. The way they can, for an instant, conjure something lost—or foretell the future. Does any of this help?"
—Brown Dog. Huntsville, AL
My name is J. Wise. I am a musician and artist raised in Alabama and currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Above Ground Episodes is my project consisting of limited-edition LPs of original songs with signed, numbered, and hand-designed covers; DVDs of instrumental music and experimental visuals; paintings; and live performances.
Over the past decade, I've written music, sung, and played guitar and keyboards as a member of the French Kicks. During that time, the band has toured internationally and recorded four albums and four EPs.
When not touring, I've written some music for a Dutch snowboarding commercial, art films and even a Hollywood motion picture. Some of my drawings and paintings have been featured in group art shows in New York and California. For A>G>E I'll hand-design and produce the original artwork for the album and DVD packaging, as well as a few additional paintings and objects.
The home base for recording sessions will be The Love Boat, Nick Stumpf's studio in Brooklyn: http://loveboatstudios.wordpress.com. Nick—singer and songwriter also of the French Kicks—will be at the controls, adding a new chapter to our collaboration as musicians and old friends.
Brooklyn filmmaker Theo Burtis will be my partner on the DVD, which will feature a loose episodic narrative punctuated by beautiful abstractions and set to an instrumental score. Check out Theo's reel here: http://www.youtube.com/watch....
Money raised will be used exclusively for recording and mastering sessions, equipment rental, video production and the manufacture of hand-designed LPs and DVDs. In one sense, your investments are like advance orders, but in another important sense they are commitments to an aesthetic of production and to a more immediate relationship with the person whose work you are supporting. I have set a very modest budget for this undertaking, but with a little help from you fine people this art project will come to fruition and create the momentum to do more projects in the future.
I'm looking at this as a chance to communicate directly with listeners and art lovers who want to be a part of the project. I'm using kickstarter as opposed to a record label or art gallery as my home base. The work will be produced on a small scale and then self-released, with a love and attention to detail that will be given back to those who participate in this campaign. I have a great respect for the mission of this site, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to reach people and find new collaborators in the process. Please share with friends you think might be interested, and watch for updates here on the kickstarter site and at http://abovegroundepisodes.tumblr.com. Thanks so much to everyone involved.