With his latest recording, Too Late to Die Young (Tompkins Square), American-primitive pioneer Harry Taussig, 75, has refined certain aspects of what he has done before. Too Late to Die Young is an in-depth exploration of a single guitar in a single tuning. “I now realize the direction in which I had been heading all along was the right one,” says Taussig, “toward independent composition within what is essentially a classical music tradition.”
In addition to the traditional meters of 4/4 and ¾, Taussig now moves in and out of polyrhythms based on 5/4, 7/4, and 9/4 so smoothly as to be almost undetectable. However, the major leap he has made out of post-modernism is central to his new recording.
“Whenever I heard a record reviewed, it was always in terms of the recent past, ‘a taste of soul with an AC/DC attitude and a little Dub in the background’ is typical.” This is appropriate for the post-modern era, Taussig says, where the attitude is that “all that can be invented, has been” and reworking the past is the only way forward. Sampling is perhaps the best representation of this approach.
“I want to go further,” he says, “I believe that post-modernism, now almost 50 years old, is due for a reevaluation. Invention is again possible without obvious references to the past.
“When people listen to my new music, I don’t want them to think of the roots of American Primitive Guitar or other musician/composers, I want them to think, ‘that is Taussig.'”
Taussig also is the subject of the newly released Beyond the Confession : Kid Millions Reworks Harry Taussig, also available on Tompkins Square.