Music on new CD comes from the earthThe story of their new CD, according to Bruce Heksel, is “The landscape speaking through guitar.”
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
The story of their new CD, according to Bruce Heksel, is “The landscape speaking through guitar.”
Hence the title of of Patchouli’s 10th release, “Terra Guitarra.”
It’s the first all-instrumental guitar project by the acoustic duo, which consists of Heksel and his wife, Julie Patchouli, of Maiden Rock. The other nine have featured all original compositions, vocals as well as instrumentation. The release also marks their 10th year performing together.
Heksel began composing the music last summer. “He walks the Rush River every morning,” Patchouli said.
“He literally composed these songs in his head while walking along the river,” then came back to their home studio to record a “scratch track — just to get the melodies out of his head.”
Four of the 11 songs were written in the first four days he focused on the guitar project, she added: “Flamaluna,” “Terra Guitarra,” “Walking to Wyoming” and “Winds of Merkanthur.”
The compositions were inspired by Spanish and flamenco guitar styles, but also are world rhythms that conjure Parisian cafes, epic journeys and moonlit alleyways. Other tracks are more fingerstyle, which is the style Heksel studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.
He created the album by listening to places he came across in his travels, Heksel said: “From walking along pristine trout streams, dense woodlands, golden meadows, ancient cobblestones, and watching smoldering sunsets and the emergence of the Harvest moon.
“The songs in this collection were received whole as compositions from the land itself, held in my mind and immediately recorded on guitar to captivate the original voice of the place,” he added.
“Some of the pieces reflect dialogue between the place and the emotional state I carried into it, such as moments of joy, of profound loss, ecstasy and new beginnings. While in other instances I was in a state of openness and it seemed as if I was hearing the voice of the land simply reveling in its existence.
“Through this project I had a sense the Earth was itself reaching out to balance my energy and emotions and in so doing imparted its essence in these melodies.”
Heksel also created the artwork for the CD cover, which depicts a colorful landscape created out of guitar shapes.
It’s highly unusual a CD by the duo to be without vocals, said Patchouli, who is the primary lyricist. On the release she plays guitar, percussion and bass.
Both are, in fact, accomplished multi-instrumentalists. He has done post-graduate study of theology and symbology in addition to classical study in piano, guitar and composition. She has been a student of ethnobotany and environmental studies, and plays trombone, upright bass, guitar, marimba and percussion.
“This is perfect Sunday morning coffee music,” she ventured. Still, she added, “a few songs we do as Patchouli have a similar sound,” inspired by Latin rhythms, but “These are more complex compositions” in a style they describe as “folkmenco” or “nuevomenco.”
As touring troubadours, they have performed more than 1,600 times, covering enough ground to equal over six times around the earth.
On their tours and in the studio they are occasionally joined by conguero Willy Crow Mojo of Maiden Rock, who plays conga on selected tracks of “Terra Guitarra,” and drummer and percussionist Justin Webb of Chippewa Falls, Wis.
The CD is a release of their independent record label, Earthsign Records, and recorded at Cricket Studios in their home.
“Terra Guitarra” is available online at www.terraguitarra.com or at the following locations: Best of Times Bookstore, Simple Abundance and the Red Wing Arts Association Depot Gallery in Red Wing; Swan Song Gallery in Maiden Rock; Maiden Rock Apples and Abode in Stockholm; and Third Street Deli in Pepin.