Here’s a press release and some reviews below from 2002 when Dan Matz and I did our one-off project together. Dan continues to make music as Windsor For The Derby – check out their music!
– Michael Gira/Young God Records – 2008
Dan Matz (Windsor for the Derby) and I recorded these songs at his (various) house(s) over the course of two years. This was completely collaborative, in that one of us would present the other a simple, basic idea, and then we'd build on it together, sharing completely in the songwriting process. In general, we alternate lead vocals from song to song throughout the album. We used a variety of instruments. They include: our voices, acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, various organs, piano, synthesizer, drums/percussion (as well as some simple drum machine), harmonica, banjo, a few samples here and there, various toy and miniature percussion instruments, etc. James Plotkin contributed guitar and background voice on a few songs. Anna Neighbor contributed background voice on a few songs as well.
This album was a pleasure for us both to make, completely free of the stress usually associated with working on our other projects, and devoid of ego (for me, a big step!). Dan did all of the engineering on the record, to excellent effect, I believe. We both learned how to do this recording as it unfolded, and let the songs grow according to their own will whatever seemed called for at the time. Nothing was really pre-conceived by either of us, in terms of arrangement.
As I've said elsewhere regarding this project, we look at it as a "pop" record. However, admittedly, our view of that term might differ from the usual implied connotation! Anyway, here's some songs, and we hope you enjoy them.
The cover paintings, by the way, are by my friend, the esteemed Simon Henwood.
-Michael Gira/Young God Records 2002
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR INFLUENCES:
THE CARS, THE BEATLES, TOWNES VAN ZANDT, THE ROLLING STONES, 808 STATE, BOB DYLAN, CHAD AND JEREMY, SPK, THE GERMS, THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, NEGATIVE TREND, JOE BYRD, BLACK FLAG, DESFINADO, MAGAZINE, SYLFORD WALKER, THE POP GROUP, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, LAMONTE YOUNG, THE BYRDS, TONY CONRAD, EMMIT RHODES, JOHNNY CASH, JOHN FAHEY, DIAMANDA GALAS, SYLVIA JEAN, CAN, MOUSE ON MARS, FAUST, PINK FLOYD, NEU, TENNESSE ERNIE FORD, ROXIE MUSIC, , PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, JOHN CALE, JULY, NICO, LOU REED, THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS, PHIL SPECTOR, THROBBING GRISTLE, LOVE, SUICIDE, LED ZEPPELIN, MADONNA, TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS,HOWLIN WOLF, NEW ORDER,SMOG,CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, NICK DRAKE, THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION, PINBACK, BURLE IVES, THE RONETTES, LEONARD COHEN, HANK WILLIAMS, RALPH STANLEY, MILES DAVIS, DEL SHANNON, GIL EVANS, MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT, WHITEHOUSE, MERZBOW, WILLIE NELSON, MERLE HAGGARD, NINA SIMONE, JOHN LENNON, PSYCHIK TV, TEDDY PENDERGRASS, OVAL, PANSONIC, BUTTHOLE SURFERS, ENIO MORRICONE, LIGETI, ARVO PART, THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO, PJ HARVEY, MARYANNE FAITHFUL, BOBBIE GENTRYOVAN, GENE CLARK, HOME,THE CARTER FAMILY, THE DELFONICS,CREDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, P. MCARTNEY AND WINGS, DAVID BOWIE, MONROE MUSTANG, D'ANGELO, RAIN IN JULY, BRIAN ENO,FRED MACDOWELL, YES, U2, BRADFORD RED LIGHT DISTRICT, CHARLEY PATTON, SIGHTINGS, TAMPA RED, MICHAEL HURLEY, THE DAVE WARE BAND, FLAT AND SCRUGGS, JAMES BROWN
Here’s some reviews from the time:
M Gira & D Matz
What We Did
The Wire, Issue 215, January 2002
By Jim Haynes
During one of the final Swans tours across the US, leader Michael Gira employed the Texan post-rock ensemble Windsor For The Derby as support. Up until this collaboration between Gira and the latter's Dan Matz, Windsor had appeared to be an unusual choice, as Swans' might and emotional catharsis clearly overwhelmed Windsor's pristine repetitions and understated, Slintish punctuations. Yet in the synthesis of What We Did it becomes clear that Swans and Windsor merely took different approaches towards the same impetus to control sound in order to communicate through it. Where Gira's late period Swans built a furious trance-rock from baroque slabs of hypnotic guitar noise to augment his poetic mythologies of sex, hate, love and death, Windsor rendered an awe of the sublime through the surgical removal of bombast and a technically precise applications of mathematical compositions. Thus Gira could be seen as the Shaman and Matz the Anaesthetist.
To a certain extent, Gira's collaboration with Matz picks up where Swans left off with their tense, droning grooves. Yet, Gira is speaking truthfully when he said What We Did was founded on mutual respect. As testament to such claims the album opens with "Pacing The Locks" a duet that sets Matz's whispered vocals against Gira's dignified baritone while the two share guitar duties, gently strolling through their spartan chords. Almost comically upbeat, " Lines"' could have been lifted from the Gram Parsons songbook. Backed by a locomotive-themed arrangement with its mandatory claw-fisted banjo picking and steam-whistle harmonica, Gira poises himself at the train station waiting for the love of his life coming down the tracks - only to gleefully spoil the image with the reality of how contemporary romance is now transcribed "down through the optic line, then sifted through the screen."
While both Matz and Gira offer up a few tracks like "Lines" the most enthralling moments here are when the two lock into taut grooves and extended arpeggiations that incrementally multiply in density, bringing the song to a crescendo. "Is/Was" begins with a repetition of a plaintive Delta blues chord, adds a sustained organ drone, followed by the tinkling of a vibraphone; Matz's voice joins Gira's, and so on, until the song becomes a very subtly constructed mass of nervous rhythms. "17 Hours" for guitars, drum machine and organs, increases the tension considerably, but with far more rigidity and brittleness in the arrangement.
2/2/2002 | Stomp and Stammer | Molly Livingston
M. Gira/D. Matz - What We Did
Remember the sub-food chain dregs of your high school years? Maybe you recall the ugly ones, those poor unfortunates not up to the jockocracy and fabuloso babe standards? Yeah, well some of those outcasts merely “reinvented” themselves, learning the cruel tricks and methods upon post-graduation and became a new elite. You might recognize some of them as smug scenesters in the coolest bands, the turds who book a club, edit a zine, or who managed to show at the Whitney. The oppressed don’t merely become the oppressor. They just become fast learners in a perpetual cruel game.
I’d like to think that the music of D. Matz (Windsor for the Derby) and M. Gira (Swans, Angels, of Light, and sundry) is the music for the rest of us, the quiet thoughtful pluggers who hated the mean spiritedness of both classes of imposter. This isn’t bicoastal hipper-than-thou tastemaking, or Windy Shitty gamesmanship; but it has plenty that would satisfy acolytes of either persuasion. Slooooow arrangements drive songs filled with painfully majestic acoustic, peculiar electronic accents, and vocals that caress, annoy, and cajole in the most astounding ways. Gira and Matz squeeze so much personal expression out of the barest elements that it becomes a joy to realize that great art is sometimes the most resourceful. I really have no superlatives that would do this outing justice.
It’s a damn brilliant recording whose personal narratives remind me, in strange ways, of a time when I knew that patience and deliberation would see me through. It’s not what you did. It’s what you’re doing.