NY based contemporary Jazz pioneers NOW VS NOW recently released “Pergamos”, the 2nd video off of their latest album “The Buffering Cocoon” (Bugge Wesseltoft’s Jazzland Recordings) which contains the project’s most ambitious compositions to date. Named in honor of a dear, departed friend of the band who described their music as “a buffering cocoon,” the album is a warm collection of futuristic, electronic music, which boldly cruises through vaporwave, analog synth-pop, modern electro-R&B and apocalyptic proto-new wave. (from https://www.nowvsnow.com/about) NOW VS NOW self-identify as an experimental electro-live cyberwave band and are made up of Jason Lindner (composer, electronic musician, keyboardist on David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar), co-founding JAM pedals artist bassist Panagiotis Andreou, and phenomenal drummer Justin Tyson.
Panagiotis has long been a friend of JAM pedals and hailing from Greece himself, he is perhaps the most suited to talk about the track “Pergamos” which employs many idiomatic melodic and rhythmic elements encountered in traditional Greek music.
How did the title “Pergamos” come about?
The melody running through this track is our approach on a traditional rempetiko song, heavily influenced by Takim’s (a traditional greek ensemble I am very fond of) slow “a la Turka” rendition also titled “Pergamos”. What is unique about this piece is the clave feel of its 9/4 rhythm, which begins with a group of 3 quarters, not so frequently encountered in western music. As an immigrant in the United States often seeking comfort in my home country’s music, I found myself listening to this particular song quite a bit. I introduced the idea of making a NvN take on it to Justin and Jason, they liked it and it was one of the 2+1/2 pieces we had prepared before we hit the studio for this album!
The main melody of the track performed by you on a heavily-effected bass is in 9/4 commonly referred to as “zeimpekiko” rhythm. What was your experience trying to convey the flow of this time signature to musicians not as familiar with Greek music as yourself?
Now vs Now have a long history playing in odd meters. I should note at this point that Jason has studied odd meters with James Hurt, a very big influence for many musicians in NY. Hurt’s concept is merging the eastern melodic rhythm with the west’s harmonic rhythm, which is something that manifests in our music quite a bit. So I guess it wasn’t difficult to convey the rhythm at all. What was challenging was turning the idea into a NY sounding track instead of a Greek song and the key to it was the second section of the song based on a bass line that came up when we were jamming in the studio.
How did you go about crafting the lead sound mentioned before? What effects did you use?
That is the Electro-Harmonix POG set 50% Dry, 75% upper octave and a hint of the sub-octave into the JAM pedals Red Muck into the JAM pedals Delay Llama set for slap-back. Initially it was just the EHX but Jason wasn’t feeling it and added the JAM pedals effects, and he was right to do so.
To which extent would you say musical instruments like pedals and synths themselves informed and inspired the creative process behind the album?
I was steered into learning how to craft sounds with pedals by my dear friend Jojo Meyer. He has helped me grow as a musician in many different ways and experimenting with effects was definitely one of them. I remember him telling me to get a distortion and an octave pedal, which I did, albeit reluctantly, as I knew then that I didn’t understand what I was doing, when at the same time there were others who really did. John Davis and Tim Lefebvre to mention but a few of them! I distinctly remember Mark Guiliana was quite surprised to see me bend on stage during shows to adjust knobs on pedals! As far as Jason goes, when we started playing together he would often burn through amplifiers during live performances with his Rhodes and amplified piano, but it wasn’t until he showed up to rehearsal one day with a Prophet 6. That instrument took NvN to a new path which continues to drives us to this day!
The penultimate section of “Pergamos” moves to a face-melting dubby feeling 9/4 which tastefully counteracts the first more melody-driven part of the track. Was that dub feel what informed the accompaniment of the rhythm section throughout the melody-driven first part?
The dubby feeling was the result of us jamming on the melody’s pulse in seeking to evolve the main idea into a well formulated track. Most of what we end up tracking stems from “on-the-spot” jam sessions.
“The Buffering Cocoon” was a major step forward for NOW VS NOW both in terms of aesthetics of sound as well as compositionally. Can we expect to see/hear you pushing the envelope even further?
It’s a crucial period for NvN. If it doesn’t “happen” for us now, we might not be able to continue, which would be a personally devastating outcome.