Jonny Dillon – Songs For A One-String Guitar
"I love it. SO beautiful"
Josh Rosenthal [Tompkins Square]
Songs For A One-String Guitar is the debut instrumental acoustic guitar LP from Jonny Dillon. Better known for his analogue electronic music productions and all-hardware live sets under the ‘Automatic Tasty’ moniker [Lunar Disko, CPU, Wrong Island], Jonny’s records (bearing heavy acid and electro influences), along with live appearances at venues like Berlin’s Panorama Bar and Kiev’s Closer belie the fact that he has been quietly exploring the musical landscape of the guitar for nearly twenty years.
Recorded as a series of sketches over the last 10 years, Songs For A One-String Guitar represents a snapshot taken over a long exposure; one individual’s private response to a variety of currents and inspirations both musical and emotional. While informed in large measure by the world of Irish traditional music and song (of Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Seán Garvey) along with that of primitivism and the American Spiritual (of John Fahey, Hank Williams and Mississippi John Hurt) these songs are equally a personal attempt to give expression to an inner landscape, from the experience of sorrow and loss to the promise of redemption and renewal.
The LP opens with ‘Turning Invisible In An Imaginary Rose Garden One-Evening’ a contemplative piece played in free-time; “I’ve been playing this piece for years, and it’s gone by so many different names in that time. It’s a sort of shoe-staring daydream, to my mind at least. I want people to disappear when they hear it, and think it suits the LP to open up slowly and reflectively”. While a contemplative strain underpins some of these songs, others are informed more directly by the experience of grief; “I wrote ‘A Requiem For Joe Dillon’ at the death of my uncle. He used play lots of wonderful songs of his own at family gatherings when I was a child, and while a very gifted and sensitive soul, was also troubled by his own demons. The last time I saw him alive was at my family home with my father; I was going out to see some friends and Joe called me back, gave me a hug and made the sign of the cross with his thumb on my forehead, to bless me. It still chokes me up when I think about it. A song of his ‘Light A Penny Candle’ I included to finish the piece in his honour.” A sense of longing and hope is present in other pieces; “Songs like ‘Again But With Feeling This Time’ and ‘Start Again (Carry On)’ come from a sort of hopeful yearning feeling which is always within me; a melancholic sort of joy in search of redemption. For me, music has the strange capacity to express contrary positions simultaneously; to console, redeem and offer transcendence while also expressing suffering and pain. I don’t know what any of this means, but feel as though I’m trying to find my way home by writing the same song over and over again.”
Songs For A One-String Guitar may seem to represent a departure for those who know Dillon for his electronic productions alone, though the reality is that these songs merely represent a new opening onto an old landscape; they are an invitation to more fully share in one individual’s yearning to find meaning through creative expression. “These songs are very personal to me, so there’s a certain nervousness in my seeing them released. I hope that they prove of some use, and that they do some small good to those who hear them.”