Words ANDREW TUTTLE
There’s definitely recent albums I could just as easily write about, but I want to allow myself more years with them, so I’m going to write about a record that I’ve had well over a decade to get acquainted with.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard Playthroughs (Kranky, 2002), but it must have been around the time I turned 18, freshly out of school and embracing the music community in my home city of Brisbane. I do know that when I first heard opening piece “Track3a (2waynice),” I was astounded that something so slow and sparse could envelop me in a timeless, motionless dream state.
Being a teenage guitarist down the “I just missed the ’90s” wormhole of writing songs with overly elaborate structures (plus having grandiose and unfulfillable ideas about instrumentation), I was also newly discovering electronics at the time.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that this album was a game changer for me. Eighteen years later, Playthroughs still sounds as fresh and vital as ever; Keith Fullerton Whitman’s proficiency at signal processing, adeptness at sound design, and sense of restraint still blows me away.
Having absorbed the album hundreds of times after its release, Keith’s solo Playthroughs performance in Brisbane in early 2005 was also a revelation for me. I was in my early 20s and music performance wasn’t exactly new to me by then, but Keith was far and above everything I’d heard to that date. His set applied the minimal tones of Playthroughs to a history of synthesis, creating something that was absolutely physical, aural, and spatial. For reference, listen to his outstanding Lisbon (Kranky, 2006) album, taken from a 2005 performance at the beautiful Ze Des Bois in Lisboa.
In the years since Playthroughs, Keith has released a large number of consistently high quality albums. I’ve been fortunate in my time as a musician to hang out with Keith on several occasions and also to play at ZDB in late 2018. These tidbits tip the hat to music’s amazing sense of community, but today it has been a joy to re-listen to this album.
Andrew Tuttle’s latest album, ‘Alexandra’, is now available through Room40’s Something Good imprint. Stream it in full below, along with a new video, and check out the banjo/guitar slayer’s rough guide to cricket here.