Tongue Depressor and John McCowen – Blame Tuning

Tongue Depressor and John McCowen – Blame Tuning Anxious Magazine

Full Spectrum Records welcomes the mighty Tongue Depressor into the fold with the release of a new collaboration with long-time friend and fellow-spirited sonic explorer John McCowen: ‘Blame Tuning.’

The long-standing project of Henry Birdsey and Zach Rowden, Tongue Depressor has evolved a mythic drone vernacular over the course of a broad series of albums since their inception in 2017. Rooted in shared sonic language that references western swing, gothic americana, and the spectralist avant-garde, their work together embodies glacial sonic forms that are both monolithic on the exterior and microscopically shifting on the interior.

McCowen, of course, is no stranger to this sort of tonal depth and color, having struck up a creative partnership with Rowden after relocating to Brooklyn in 2018. The two bonded immediately upon meeting–thanks to their mutual obsession with the works of composer Iancu Dumitrescu–and played together frequently, developing a deeply resonant connection as a performing duo.

These two projects gradually drifted toward one another, eventually overlapping into a humble sort of “super group,” and ultimately resulting in the work that comprises ‘Blame Tuning.’ Their shared country upbringing and excitement over similar sonic phenomena would make the realization of these jams almost necessary. “The feeling I get from playing with Zach and Henry is reminiscent of my early years in punk and improvised music,” explained McCowen via email. “People with similar obsessions getting together with a shared excitement for when things are somehow magically ‘on.’”

Recorded straight on ¼” reel-to-reel at Birdsey’s New Haven, Connecticut home in October 2021, the two expansive performances now on display function as a sort of yowling blues raga, raging against the light as the trio backs slowly into the void. Little planning or true preparation was done before this session; indeed this is simply the sound of three highly attuned friends and creative partners operating via pure wavelength. 

released April 28, 2023

Recorded October 2021, New Haven, CT
Mixed by Henry Birdsey
Mastered by Andrew Weathers

Henry Birdsey: pedal steel, lap steel
John McCowen: contrabass clarient
Zach Rowden: double bass