Guitarist Nick Millevoi & Co. drive breezily, fast and noisily down his “Streets of Philadelphia”.
For his new, debut album through Bandcamp, Philly-to-Collingswood transplant, guitarist and songwriter Nick Millevoi revisits the subject of his recent book of mesmerizing compositions, “Streets of Philadelphia,” and finds his knotty topics both noisily frantic and easily at peace.
“I wrote all this material with a totally intuitive creative concept: writing melodies with no thought about scales or musical motifs that would have to be present in the music, just letting myself be influenced by my surroundings and seeing what came out,” said Nick Millevoi. “Of course, there are a lot of similar melodic and rhythmic ideas present, but those were unplanned.”
Of course, they were unplanned. Nick Millevoi is a master improvisation-ist whether on his own, live or on record, as well as with his bands such as Many Arms and Desertion Trio.
This time out, for “Streets of Philadelphia” – “conceptually inspired by the City of Brotherly Love and sonically inspired by the AACM, Louis Andriessen, Captain Beefheart, and John Zorn” – Millevoi brought Veronica MJ (viola), Tom Kraines (cello), Dan Blacksberg (trombone), and Anthony DiBartolo (marimba, percussion) for a ride down his narrow, rocky inclines. Plus, the 14 tracks of “Streets of Philadelphia” (as opposed to the book of the same name’s 25 compositions) was recorded by Eric Carbonara and David DeLizza, mastered by Colin Marston, and put the listener in the middle of the room as the ensemble play, much in the same fashion that Lou Reed used on his binaural classic, “Street Hassle.”
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“I wanted to reflect this ‘unplanned’ concept in how the music was performed and last year did three concerts at Pageant: Soloveev, each featuring two unique ensembles performing selections from the book,” said Nick Millevoi (the album was recorded by January 2020, all pre-pandemic) of the group on this record being the first ensemble to perform that series of concerts.
“It’s a group of musicians who I’ve worked with, in separate contexts and are all so amazing. Each one of them was really stoked and had great positive feedback when I initially sent them drafts of the book, so the group sort of assembled itself in this way. It felt really special when we all got together and Eric Carbonara approached me immediately after the concert and said he wanted to make a record of this material. That kind of enthusiasm was really encouraging! In that way, this whole process has been about moving forward with what works and following that kind of energy and it’s been really rewarding to see the results.”
Those results – from solo cello and marimba pieces “Silver,” “Camac,” and “Sepviva,” to viola/trombone, trombone/guitar, and marimba/guitar duets (“Vaux,” “Battersby,” “Opal”) to a string trio ( “Markoe”) and three full ensemble recordings (“Gaskill,” “Mower,” and “Plover”) are a stone-cold, zig-zagging groove.
The “Streets of Philadelphia” album will be released exclusively as a Bandcamp download on Friday, December 4. The download includes a PDF of the original songbook. “For physical media lovers, there are still (very limited!) copies of the original songbook available, printed in color on risograph by Erik Ruin, whose cover artwork is featured on both releases,” said Nick Millevoi.
Pre-order now or purchase on 12/4 at nickmillevoi.bandcamp.com