MP3 David First - Universary
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8 MP3 Songs
POP: with Electronic Production, ELECTRONIC: Pop Crossover
The last time David First released a recording in the pop/rock vein he influenced an entire generation's music. In a recent issue of Mojo Collections Magazine, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore mentions a 45rpm, The Zipper, by First's punk era band, The Notekillers, as one of the songs he gave to the other members of the band when they were starting out. He calls it a "mind-blowing instrumental single".
Never content to stay in one place for long, First has led a musical life that's been a dizzying ride of sonic innovations and explorations. Just out of his teens, he played a legendary concert at Carnegie Hall with renowned jazz avant gardist Cecil Taylor. In 1982 Television's Richard Lloyd personally asked First to play guitar in his band. Over the past 12 years, perhaps finally staying in one place long enough for people to catch up with him, First has been one of the pivitol figures in the swirling world of "downtown experimental" music. He's been called everything from "a bizarre combination of Hendrix and LaMonte Young (the "father" of minimalism and major influence on the Velvet Underground)" in the Village Voice to "the next big thing in guitar gods" in Time Out NY, to "a fascinating artist with a singular technique" in The New York Times. First's genre-bending music has made him quite possibly the only artist who has been reviewed by every jazz, classical, and pop music critic at The New York Times. Last fall, his 9/11 anthem "Jump Back" (over 4,000 copies were given away at Ground Zero and other locations around NYC after the attacks) was cited in Time Out New York and by Jon Pareles in The New York Times. In November of 2001, First (who lives 2 blocks from the WTC site) performed the song at the United Nations.
What do you do to follow all this if you're someone like David First? You roll the dice and put it all on the line. The result: his most ambitious and musically satisfying work to date. Universary is a marriage of slamming beats, vertigo-inducing drones, noise-rocking virtuoso guitar playing, thoughtful lyrics, and passionate singer-songwriter melodies. And yet it all feels completely natural. It all flows from the one source that could possibly combine all these threads and make it seem inevitable: David First.
Not that he does it completely on his own. Joining First on Universary is an illustrious group of musical collaborators eager to take part in the project. Cellist to the stars Jane Scarpantoni (Lou Reed/REM/Tricky/Indigo Girls), harpist Zeena Parkins (Bjork), celebrated trumpeter Roy Campbell, madwoman vocalist Shelley Hirsch, and saxist Michael Blake (of John Lurie's Lounge Lizards) are just some of the amazing contributors to the incredible layers of sound and song that is Universary. And making it all spin, sparkle and shine is co-producer Joshua Fried who's previous credits include re-mixes for They Might Be Giants, Chaka Khan and Ofra Haza.
One moment otherwordly and mesmerizing, the next moment moving and thought-provoking, this always grooving and hook-laden pop masterpiece is destined to take its place alongside the classic breakthrough recordings of the past thirty-five years of psychedelic history.
Universary - a celebration of the infinite and the infantile in us all...
On Universary, etc:
First's upcoming CD Universary, is full of dance beats imposed over impressively complex-looking tuning charts. (From the other side, the repetitive chord progression from "Pyramid Song" on Radiohead's new disc, Amnesiac, reminds me enough of Arvo Pärt to spark hopes for a bilateral rapprochement.) If there is a point of success in that direction, First, the master of the unnoticeable transition may reach it before any of us are aware he's there. (Kyle Gann)
_New York Times_
David First, a composer and guitarist, explores the eerie and dizzying effects of unconventional tunings and inexorably changing psychoacoustic phenomena. His Universary Orchestra integrates his findings into rock songs. (Jon Pareles)
_New York Power Pop_
It knocked me speechless and took me to a distant place. I had to recover my senses - it was quite an education for me in a way no other music listed on this site has been. I heard varying moods of layer upon layer of sound. David used a classic structure of pop song and created something new yet familiar. Live and synthesized tracks were meticulously woven together into a serious but sometimes playful mix. (Sherman Boim)
On Jump Back - an ode to the people of New York City:
_Time Out New York_
From budding folkies looking for catharsis to pop stars looking for good PR, there will be no shortage of songs inspired by September 11. One attractive entry to the rapidly burgeoning canon comes from David First, a protean guitarist and composer known for his contemporary classical experiments. First lives a mere two and a half blocks from Ground Zero and recorded this pop song at home weeks after the attack. Spirited, uplifting, and honest, it makes a nice candidate for a time-capsule piece about his autumn. (Jay Ruttenberg)
_New York Times_
Musicians have not been waiting for commercial releases. In recent weeks songwriters as illustrious as Mr. (Neil) Young and the million-selling country singer Alan Jackson provided newly recorded songs for broadcast, bypassing the mechanics of commercial releases. David First, a New York songwriter, gave away copies of his song "Jump Back" to workers on the site. (Jon Pareles)
What distinguishes this single is the intelligence as well as emotion within its construction. The tempo is medium, the beat is gentle yet steady, and the message broadcasts not over a mob of waving fists but through a stream of innovative chord changes, surprise modulations, and carefully conceived details..."Jump Back" doesn't exactly hit listeners in the gut, but its more rarefied reflection on recent events gets to the heart of the matter with neither pandering nor pretension. (Robert Doerschuk)
This is such an awesome CD. I have really been affected by it since it was handed to me on a subway. I am not from New York, but plan to go there after high school. I just wanted to say that I think it is really cool what you are doing. (Jenn)
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