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Micah Gaugh; Photo Credit: Byron Dean
It’s always a pleasure for The Big Takeover to introduce hidden gems, especially from this neighborhood. Today say hello to NYC-based avant-pop artist Micah Gaugh whose new single “Remembering” offers a jazz-imbued dose of peaceful existence and pensiveness.
The accompanying chilled video features the actress Nucomme. Daniel McKleinfeld handled video animations and Tono Radvanay performed video photography with technical assistance from Lucas Freire. Edited by Henry Schroy, Joaquim Castro (Canal Canal) also filmed the sax video clip – and is a standout part of this single. Micah’s sax is the icing on the cake – the sweet sort that rounds out a composition, opening a portal to some other inviting and illustrious space.
This track precedes the release of his new album Stars Are a Harem on May 12. This music weaves in the sensibilities of jazz classics like Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, but on a much more accessible route than most avant-garde jazz. This is closer to the “cool jazz” of the 1950s with the songs on this album being portraits about women. This summary really catches the attention: “Each composition is the soundtrack to a mind-painting focused on an experience with an individual woman”. The first insight into this comes from the lyrics for “Remembering”:
It’s so easy to sleep
as the flower falls from the tree
you’re so lovely
and the breeze from the sea as the lake
flows by gently awe inspiring
you told me that I would be your Prince
that is left to happenstance
the fire that burned could be seen from across the street
we were camping slightly the moon
in your eyes disappears with the rain
I can’t complain
in the tent we were ghost with a glow so absurd
my word graceful songbird
tried and true what were we supposed to do
what could we do with our time
Recorded in Harlem, there are 13 tracks on the new album. Other players on the LP include Kevin Shea, Henry Schroy, and Leon Gruenbaum.
Although born in Panama, Micah Gaugh spent most of his adult life in the East Village, New York, leading him to many adventures through music and visual art. Micah acted in the season five premiere of Sex in the City and the play American Book of the Dead. He also composed the score for the ballet Highrise and for the musical version of Sweet Sweetbacks Badass Song with Melvin Van Peebles. Micah also paints and writes novels. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries across the USA and as far away as Brazil, France, Japan, and the UK.
The prolific Gaugh has collaborated with many other established artists over the past few decades. Among them are Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, The Fugees’ Lauryn Hill, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, John Zorn, Bootsy Collins, Lady Miss Kier of Dee-lite, Cecil Taylor, Meshell Ndegeocello, DJ Logic, The Roots, DJ Spooky, and Burnt Sugar. He also participated in remixes by James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) for The Sounds, Ladytron, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Gaugh’s former band Apollo Heights, now known as The Veldt, has been previously featured here in The Big Takeover. In that relation, he’s also collaborated with the likes of Chuck D (Public Enemy) and, most recently, with Schooly D and Pablo Power at Okay Space in NYC.
The new album follows several previous LPs: Everything (2006), The Blue Fairy Mermaid Princess (2013), and Pessego do Verao (2016). Gaugh has also written two operas: Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights and a piece for the artist Rirkrit Taravanija featured in il Postino di Tiempo, as well as composing the music for (and acting in) the Matthew Barney film Di Lama Lamina. Another impressive achievement is that he completed the Noise Mass choral work, commissioned by the Chiesa Rosa in Milan.
Stars Are a Harem is available for pre-order on Sê-lo Records’ Bandcamp. The album includes a 14-page music booklet 13 piano pieces for children – Stars Are a Harem (Micah Gaugh), as well as a 13-piano song suite midi file for those wishing to remix, sample, and loop the audio.
On the evening of May 12 (at 9:00pm EST), the band will be putting on a release show in New York at NUBLU (62 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009. Phone 212-979-9925).
We also invite you to indulge yourself in a couple of Micah’s past offerings:
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