In 1977, NASA launched a 12-inch phonographic record in to space, with the words “To the makers of music—all worlds, all times,” inscribed in the plate. The Voyager Golden Record was, according to NASA, “intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials.” A hundred years earlier in rural Iowa, science teacher Ellen Harding Baker stitched her “Solar System Quilt” to illustrate the known galaxy for her astronomy students. The tracks on Quilt of the Universe share these crossed impulses—to blast terrestrial expression into the cosmos, and translate galactic information into an earthly object. These artists piece together direct messages and less apparent textural meanings: the topical content of a song like a discernible patchwork pattern, the timbre of a singer’s voice like the spacing of an embroiderer’s stitches, the arrangement of instruments as appliquéd fabric, the sonic layering as wool batting and cotton bound with silk thread. Each stitch, each note grounds the work within the artists’ specific place and time while launching it into orbit with the stars. Quilt of the Universe is an assemblage of artists sharing earthly experience, or translating planetary knowledge, or both. It is a constellation of perspectives and interpretations of the story of our respective corners of this world and time, for the listeners of music—all worlds, all times.
Baltimore sitarist, vocalist, and ambient musician Ami Dang opens side A with the hypnotic pulsing of “Unstruck Sound (Santu Man Pavnai Sukh Baniaa),” expanding her self-dubbed “bollywave” genre into entrancing depths. On tracks that follow, Emmalee Hunnicutt’s rich cello, Ilyas Ahmed’s spacious guitar work, and Tavishi’s ricocheting layered electronics create atmospheric texture while Whitesburg, Kentucky’s contraceptive rock band Slut Pill and Carrboro, North Carolina’s no-wave punk outfit Fitness Womxn’s drive the tape into its highest highs and loudest peaks. Georgia blues legend Precious Bryant's grooving “Going Down to Fannie Mae’s Place,” a take on the Sonny Boy Williamson classic "Don't Start Me Talkin,'" is the lone archival recording on the compilation, recorded by Fred Fussell at Bryant's home in Talbot County, Georgia (her “hasta la vista” exclamation at the end of the track plants us firmly in its recording year of 1993). Carole Pegg, of the 70s British folk band Mr. Fox, and Tuvan throat singer Radik Tülüsh evoke the uncanny in Pegg’s original, “A Gay Goshawk” and Durham’s Jake Fussell picks his way through a lovely, ambling instrumental of the popular fiddle tune “Handsome Molly.” Other tracks include the orbiting experimental sound art of Michelle Dove and Brian Howe, West of Roan’s haunting and earthly original folk song “Our Own Bodies,” an emotional piano ballad from the Yukon’s Susu Robin, and JJ_FS’ Steve Reichian looped cover of the Mark Morrison 1996 R&B hit “Return of the Mack.” The compilation concludes with California psych folk duo Village of Spaces’ (Amy Moon O.S. and Dan Beckman-Moon) “The Night Is Long,” an earnest prayer for the world written by Amy’s mother in the late 60s, and an astral meditation on “Shenandoah” by Portland guitarist Marisa Anderson.
Quilt of the Universe is a FerroMaster C456TM cassette tape professionally dubbed by National Audio Co. in a limited edition of 300, with cover art designed by Sally Anne Morgan of Ratbee Press, liner notes by Emily Hilliard, and sound editing by Sarah Henson.
Quilt of the Universe Tracklist:
1. Unstruck Sound (Santahu Man Pavnai Sukh Baniaa) - Ami Dang
2. Stellaria Media - Emmalee Hunnicutt
3. Return of the Mack - JJ_FS
4. Untitled - Ilyas Ahmed
5. Our Own Bodies - West of Roan
6. I Saw God - Michelle Dove and Brian Howe
7. Creatures - Fitness Womxn
1. Going Down to Fannie Mae's Place (Don't Start Me Talkin') - Precious Bryant
2. Catcall - Slut Pill
3. Burdock Shadows - Susu Robin
4. A Gay Goshawk - Carole Pegg & Radik Tülüsh
5. Handsome Molly - Jake Xerxes Fussell
6. Khida - Tavishi
7. The Night Is Long - Village of Spaces
8. Shenandoah - Marisa Anderson
The compilation is part of an in-house crowdfunding campaign, which also includes three original t-shirt designs by Durham artist Julienne Alexander (Elizabeth Cotten), D.C. illustrator Elizabeth Graeber (Pauline Oliveros), and Portland artist and musician Ilyas Ahmed (Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou). Proceeds support the future work of SPINSTER. Thank you to the musicians and artists for their donated tracks and designs.
I saw no Way—The Heavens were stitched—
I felt the Columns close—
The Earth reversed her Hemispheres—
I touched the Universe—
And back it slid—and I alone—
A Speck upon a Ball—
Went out upon Circumference—
Beyond the Dip of Bell—
Hailing from Baltimore, Ami Dang fuses North Indian classical voice and sitar to create east-meets-west, beat-driven psych that references the chaos and spirituality of global urban landscapes. In 2013, Grimes hand picked Dang to accompany her on her Visions tour of Asia as both an opening act and a backing vocalist. Dang’s next album Parted Plains, featuring strictly sitar improvisations and pulsing, droning synths, will be released in 2019 on Leaving Records. @amidang
Emmalee Hunnicutt explores the subtleties of sound with her inventive cello playing. Classically trained from a young age, she brings an intimate understanding of the cello to her compositions and improvisations. Working in the realms of texture and emotion, her work acknowledges the mysterious nature of art and life.In addition to writing and performing as a solo artist, she is also part of a number of collaborative projects including Mountain Bitters and Library of Babel.
JJ_FS is the solo project of musician Jessa Farkas, who is one half of the ambient electronic band Future Shuttle. She released her first album, Psycho Mini, on cassette via Become Eternal in March. "Return of the Mack" has been one of her favorite songs since the 7th grade.
Ilyas Ahmed is a musician & artist currently residing in Portland, Oregon. He has been releasing records for over a decade. In addition to his solo work, he has collaborated with a number of musicians & is currently a member of the band Grails.
West of Roan is Channing Showalter and Annie Schermer, multi-media performance artists living in Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. West of Roan uses light, shadow, song and puppetry to evoke mythologies, landscape and exploration of the wild self.
Michelle Dove and Brian Howe are writers and musicians living in Durham, NC. With Caitlyn Swett, they are Streak of Tigers, a structured improv group that links instruments to decentralize power as they blur music, sound art, poetry, and movement.
Made up of Dirt Diva, Trash Bag, Volt Vixen, and Ditch Witch, Fitness Womxn is a four-piece health conscious no-wave punk band out of Carrboro, NC. A wheezing namesake tilting off. With drums, bass, synth, and guitar, these post-punk lunks mull over repetition only to spit back up deliberate dance beats and anaerobic indigestion.
Precious Bryant (1942-2013) was a gospel musician, singer, and blues guitarist from Talbot County, Georgia. Making her first recordings in 1969 with folklorist George Mitchell, Precious toured locally, nationally and internationally from the 1980s to the early 2000s receiving four Living Blues awards for her first full-length album Fool Me Good (2002). Deemed “a Georgia musical treasure” and “one of the best who ever sang and played this spirited style of blues,” by Mitchell, Bryant has also been cited as an influence by Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal.
Precious Bryant's take on the Sonny Boy Williamson classic "Don't Start Me Talkin'." Tony Bryant on bass guitar. Recorded by Fred Fussell at Precious Bryant's home, Talbot County, Georgia, January 9, 1993.
Slut Pill hails from the mountain town of Whitesburg, Kentucky. The trio, Carrie, Mitchella, and Paulina, take the listener through twisting punk, classic rock, and surf inspired riffs and beats, self-described as "contraceptive rock". These friends are influenced by good music, good times, and each other's strength.
Susu Robin is a multi-instrumentalist living in Dawson City, Yukon. Trained extensively in classical piano, Susu also loves to explore other instruments such as the accordion, fiddle, ukulele, penny-whistle, and harmonica, among others. Her fourth album will be recorded in 2019.
Carole Pegg was lead singer and fiddler with pioneering folk-rock band Mr Fox with an acclaimed solo singer-songwriter album Carolanne Pegg. Radik Tülüsh, was the former wild fiddler with Tuvan band Yat-kha. He is currently a member of Tuvan band Huun-Huur-Tu and has made two solo albums.
Jake Xerxes Fussell is a guitarist, singer, and researcher from Columbus, Georgia, who plays (mainly) traditional songs. He has released two solo albums of this material. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, and hosts a weekly radio show, Fall Line Radio, every Wednesday afternoon on WHUP 104.7, a community FM station out of the nearby town of Hillsborough.
Tavishi is the solo sound project of composer, multi-instrumentalist, performer, visual artist, and scientist, Sarmistha Talukdar. Tavishi, who works as a biologist, draws inspiration from scientific research data as well as her own experience as a queer Indian woman living in America.
Village of Spaces is comprised of core members Dan Beckman-Moon, painter Amy Moon O.S. and a rotating crew of multi instrumentalists. Dan and Amy have been collaborating on art and musical projects for 15 years. VOS weave together a narrative of personal mythos grounded in a familial musical tradition. They perform a combination of original material rooted in mystical psychedelic experimentalism, Amy’s mother’s 1970's catalog of self taught original folk tunes, and compositions that Dan learned during his time performing with folk revivalist, woodcarver and political/spiritual activist Gordon Bok.
Marisa Anderson channels the history of the guitar and stretches the boundaries of tradition. Her playing is fluid, emotional, and masterful, featuring compositions and improvisations that re-imagine the landscape of American music. Her work applies elements of minimalism, electronic music, drone and 20th century classical music to compositions based on blues, jazz, gospel and country music.