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Onemind Presents Onemind

Robert Stillman - What Does It Mean to Be American?

Kit Records

  • £16.20

Format: LP
Catalogue No.: KR47
Barcode: 5050580775862
Release Date: 21 Jan 2022
Genre: Free Jazz

01: Cherry Ocean
02: It's All Is
03: Self-image0
04: Acceptance Blues
05: What Does It Mean to Be American?
06: Deep Time, USA
07: No Good Old Days

'What Does it Mean to Be American?' is the eighth solo album by Maine-born, UK-based composer & multi-instrumentalist Robert Stillman. Performed, recorded & mixed by Stillman with a Prince-like versatility, the album takes in elements of jazz, drone, funk, blues, psychedelia, new age & chamber music across its seven tracks.

On the opener 'Cherry Ocean', we are treated to Robert's voice for the first time ... the effect is like a lost, sombre Beach Boys demo, with Brian Wilson talking us through the aftermath of a weekend spent in the French Quarter of New Orleans. What follows loops from glass-clinking, freeform jazz ('It's All Is') to angular, rhodes-heavy funk ('Self-image') and dub echo-drenched piano blues ('Acceptance Blues').

As with much of Robert's music, unexpected swerves and gear shifts are never far away; this is partly due to his improv-driven tape bricolage recording process, but also a wilful defiance to adhere to any particular genre. This fluid, unpredictable approach dovetails perfectly with the subject matter of Stillman's national identity crisis. Nothing is quite as it seems, as oddly rousing militaristic psychedelia, morning reveilles and mountain blues are dismantled in the melting pot.

Perhaps most remarkable is the size of Robert's sound on 'American?' - a one-man studio has no right to conjure scenes so raucous and convivial. And it's at these half-dreamt fraternal moments, where Stillman seems to touch directly at the tragic, optimistic heart of his question.

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