« The weirder the better »
(pic by Mehdi Benkler / James Sedwards with This is not This Heat @ Bad Bonn Kilbi)
par Dejan Gacond
The insectoid mutations of William S. Burroughs. His world dwelt by bizarre creatures, post-sub-conscious journeys, hallucinatory trips, and his cut-up technic deeply influenced James Sedwards. He’s the first writer coming in James’s mind when i asked him what he thinks about literature, then he added ; « the weirder the better. » Burrroughs or the profound consciousness of layers. A surveyor of the entangled infra-world’s stratums. Burroughs’s books sound like complicated noise tracks, like superimposed lines of guitar, like incessant rhythmic cut-up. Through his different musical projects James Sedwards is building a kind of sonic extension to the work of the mythic writer. From his collaboration with Thurston Moore to an improvised performance with Lydia Lunch, Weasel Walter and François Cambuzat going to his band Nought, James explores the sonorous limits of consciousness and of its wandering double. According to him, sound and noise can’t be differentiated ; « It’s all sound or It’s all noise… It’s just how it’s organized. » It doesn’t matter if he plays noise music, guitar or bass like on one song the other day at Bad Bonn Kilbi with This Is Not This Heat. Sensation remain essential, the energy too. He refuses to be associated with categories, to be put in a box. Slayer or John Zorn, Lydia Lunch or Pink Floyd… music has to be considered as a delirium of senses… and not as impermeable categories shriveled up on themselves. A pop song can awaken in a body some sensations equally intense as the one produced by a devastating wall of sound.
Being open to the others and keeping a pronounced taste for experimentation…. James Sedwards has been a session musician for a long time and his natural capacity to work for other people’s music can be felt in his deeply human personality as much as in his attitude on stage. He seems permanently attentive at the harmonious totality formed by a band, this subtle balance of connexions, looks, reciprocity with each one. Music can be envisaged as an improvisation « free of any kind of construction » or as a « completely composed » ensemble such as the complicated structures of This Is Not This Heat, « It’s all part of the same langage » explains James. His kindness and some timidity emanates from him when we talk, maybe a way to protect himself or his talent. Instinct and technic skills have rarely coagulated with so much fluidity than in his way of playing music. From the man and from the sounds and noises he produces with his instruments spurts out a kind of simplicity. « I’ve met Thurston Moore in my kitchen… we drank a cup of tea. » he explains in the shade of the trees behind the Bad Bonn. Thurston Moore just moved in London and they were living in collocation with James during a year. A few months later they decided to play music together. They worked as a duo during six months before being joined by Steve Shelley and by Debbie Googe following James’s proposition. The recording of « The Best Day » was already planned. Steve and Debbie had just a few days to learn the songs. « The first time we played music all together was the first day of recording. We recorded the album in three days… » Through this process, without really noticing it, they became a band, a tribe, a small community. James Sedwards says that besides bringing to the sound a deeper density, Debbie Googe is also « a real social glue. » The natural faculty of My Bloody Valentine bass player to gather people contributed to transform this ephemeral project into a real band who just recorded a masterpiece named « Rock n Roll Consciousness ». A complete, harmonious, dense and powerful record. A music piece touching totally as much as the infinitesimal. An album as much intellectual as instinctive, as much rock n roll as conscious.
While James explains me the trajectory of his collaboration with Thurston, it’s hard for me not to project myself two years ago. Almost the exact same day, in the shade of the same millenary trees surrounding the Bad Bonn. From this place emanates a particular energy. It was boiling that day of june 2015. I was abundantly sweating… it was with feverishness I started to talk with Thurston Moore who was about to play a few hours later with his band. A surreal instant. Indescribable. I was stammering and words were juxtaposing in a weird way. I remember my shacking hands when Thurston asked me to sign him the little kaleidoscope of nothingness fanzine i just gave him… A few meters away, Debbie Googe, James Sedwards and Steve Shelley were having a drink…
« Noise never ends » says James suddenly bringing me back in 2017… He talks about his band Nought, « it’s been there forever… it’s my first project and i guess it’ll be my last as well… » Right now, Nought are finishing to write « a challenging piece of music ». James needs to find a balance between his different projects, satisfying at the same time his refusal to belong to some defined category of musician. He needs to remain open to the evanescent fury of instinct as much as to the peaceful reflexion of the mind. A few meters away from us, some midges are forming a constantly moving swarm. A molecule boiling with atoms… It looks like a book written by William S. Burroughs… We wonder a little while about this phenomenon… it looks like a telluric knot suspended in the air.. can you believe this ? Thinking about it, music is a thin blend between the air and the soil. James embodies this oscillation. A journey through the geological layers of unconsciousness, a cosmos explosion, an idea of emptiness, a delirium of senses… music is a fuel… something to share… an oscilaltion… a romance with infinity… the music of James is the amplification of a William Burroughs’s book…
Bad Bonn Kilbi, Düdingen, 3 juin 2017
La Chaux-de-Fonds, 7th of june for the english version