Leslie Winer’s Music Was A Mystery In 1990. Still Loves This


The new collection highlights how effectively Winer combined genres and approaches: slow trip-hop of the era, breakbeats, examples from New Orleans funk band The Meters, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and poet Charles Bernstein. ‘s words. “The Tree” exemplifies a flashy Irish jig, chopped and layered to make it buzz like an Indian drone. Winer’s delivery—quick but swift, with a smoker and acerbic tone—was not like the fast-talking slam poets of the era, but rather closer to the dry delivery of his mentor Burroughs.

Winer would often take passages from other authors, quote from other songs, and apply his dreamlike logic to all of them, making something meaningful, clear, and mysterious at the same time. For example, the monologue at the heart of “N 1 Ear” draws on a famous Gil Scott-Heron line and a women’s liberation newspaper he found in London, and ends with a powerful statement on its own: “I didn’t hit you. Baby/You’ll feel it when I hit you.”

Jah Wobble, who played the songs written for “Witch,” said it was clear that the music was not meant for the masses. “It was obviously more of an art recording than a commercial release,” he said. “When I finished my session, it was the last thing I heard about it. I assumed it was shelved.”

Winer continued to make music with the trumpeter in the years after “Witch” Jon HassellHolger Hiller, who adopted the first sampler, and another model became a musician, Grace Jonesbefore moving to rural France and focusing on raising her five daughters. Over the years, a new generation has slowly come to his music.

“It was something rare, suddenly familiar and completely new to me,” electronic producer Maxwell Sterling, who recently worked with Winer on a track for his latest album and upcoming Tim Buckley cover, wrote in an email. “Each of his words hangs in the air and responds to the rhythmic and harmonic information in the music that never leaves me.”

Recently, Winer has collaborated with a new generation of filmmakers, whose low growl has deepened and eroded over time. “I like to vocalize on other people’s songs,” she said. “They’re like puzzles.”

When asked later via email how he would describe his writing style, Winer replied, “I don’t think I have to describe it.” “It carries information that we don’t have exactly in words,” he added.


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