Coultrain, “Like a Dusty Piano”

Sjimon Gompers

Coultrain's Aaron M. Frison, photographed by Ernesto Pacheco.

Continuing the ongoing adventures and developing story of Seymour, Coultrain premieres the stripped-down and sinewy acoustic key tones of, “Like a Dusty Piano”. As St. Louis’ son Aaron M. Frison prepares to release the latest chapter, Side Effex Of Make-Believe; divided for love’s sake December 21 from Fresh Selects; the Coultrain artistry method that balances minimalism and elaborate productions takes a detour turn through the more perilous patches and rocky roads of romance.

While the Coultrain catalog defies the designation of genre pigeonholes and catch-all terms, Frison shows how sparse arrangements can be just as effective as big productions on “Like a Dusty Piano”. And like the subject of the song’s title, the instrument is placed on the center stage as the operative simile and the heart of the track’s ghostly processional. Parables and proverbs of distrust between lovers are sung with words of worldly warning. Between the keys, Aaron delivers life lessons and cryptic allusions aired out like a couple’s laundry on a clothesline from the the lyrical onset of, “Beware of the quiet times that give you joy perpetually, if you know what I mean, you need to see why, because for every laugh you steal, there’s a hidden tear crawling underneath, lying at your feet.” Even as the “run, run” chorus hints at the break ups of packed-bag departures, the mournful back-up voices and simmering percussion haunts like the empty absence from another that endures onward after the final goodbye-kiss.

Further listening from Coultrain’s Side Effex Of Make-Believe sets the stage and raises the high stakes with the cinematic smooth, sweet, and sinister, “Kiss of Death”. While “Dusty Piano” showcases the power and potency of Aaron’s style stripped down to the it’s acoustic essence, “Kiss” purses up lips and deceitful looks in a grand sweeping orchestral entrance. Read our interview with Coultrain’s Aaron M. Frison following the jump.

How does the Seymour story connect, album to album, through the narrative progression tapestries of the Coultrain discography (The Adventures Of Seymour Liberty, GodMustBeABoogieMan, Jungle Mumbo Jumbo, to now Side Effex Of Make-Believe)?

The story in itself moves in a cyclical motion, acting on intuition and romance alone. Each release is either an integral part or an extension of an idea introduced in an earlier recording.

Like the wordplay of your name, in reference to the great John Coltrane, I have always loved how your work too has pushed boundaries that really don’t have strictly roots in the modern notions of jazz, rhythm and blues, and the like, where you are always pushing everything from arrangements, production, delivery and expression to more exploratory territories. How do you observe, and describe your own multi-faceted work?

Thank you, and I don’t. I just allow the power that is, speak through me. You see, it isn’t me at all.

I’m sure everyone always asks you this, but are you more of a fan of the Coltrane’s earlier jazz works, or the wild more experimental stuff that he was making in the late ’60s era? Desert island Coltrane album for you?

John Coltrane is a pioneer beyond compare. All his works are phenomenal, from the early stuff with Miles and company, to bebop.

Returning to your new EP, Side Effex Of Make-Believe; can you tell us a little about side effects of imagination, and games of pretend that make up the moody, rich, and evocative soundscapes of departures and inspired dismay of this grandiose outing in six song movements?

I would say its a mixture of silly expectations, and the only thing that is real where we think we are.

I like how you can orchestrate an entire elaborate score of electronic and sweeping string sections and the like, but also break things down to the simple, acoustic piano keys of the powerful, “Like a Dusty Piano”. How do you personally connect the stripped down instrumentation and presentation to the larger productions? Sometimes I feel like the emotion is more bare and intimate, with the more sparse harmony over-dubs, and the raw piano notes.

Raw is a good adjective for it. And because I must obey the mood of the music, the more haunting minimal pieces compel me to approach them in a more naked fashion. The larger productions also push me to curve and bend my attitude, character and style. But overall, it really is just obeying the music in arranging whatever I do.

Beyond the hype of 24 hour news cycles and diversion of sports, what for you has the climate been like in St. Louis?

It is exactly the same as it has always been, while its disappearing.

After the no indictment verdict in Ferguson, I saw the Hawthorne Headhunters track you posted on Facebook with the inclusion of lyrics: “Strange pigs, put your weapons down Stand your ground, make them all back down Your chemicals won’t affect us now because we are determined No justice, no peace.” What for you is your own personal prayer and answer to the unrest of inequality not just in Ferguson, but the nation and world over?

What you are looking for doesn’t exist.

Coultrain’s Side Effex Of Make-Believe; divided for love’s sake will be available December 21 from Fresh Selects.

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