TWELVE MONTHS (2006)
01 January - 5:33
02 February - 4:22
03 March - 4:56
04 April - 5:08
05 May - 6:35
06 June - 4:22
07 July - 5:17
08 August - 4:37
09 September - 5:33
10 October - 5:42
11 November - 5:43
12 December - 6:22
TOTAL TIME: 65 MINUTES
One track for every month of the year, each with its own nuance and attitude. Recorded in one day back in Spring of 2006.
Recorded in San Marcos, Texas at the Bluebonnet Duplex, March 20th, 2006.
LH - Guitars
Music, Concept and Artwork by LH
Production by Thee Hef
© 2000-2019 Les Heifner
From a diary entry in 2006: "Each track corresponds to one month. January starts in the key of E, and each track correspondingly goes up one key, until track 12, December, which starts in D#, and goes into E at the end. This means the entire cd transcends an octave." I believe that that is generally correct, but by "CD" I meant album, or record. Twelve Months was recorded in one day, Monday, March 20th 2006. It remains for me, another testament to the true wonder of improvisation and the act of creation. When music wants to dance, and you're ready, the right things just happen. Of course this also requires the right time and the right place, and a person who can share the dance.
The setting for this recording was a small duplex in San Marcos, Texas on East Bluebonnet. Located North of Texas State University, this little neighborhood was an easy place to get some serenity, interrupted only occasionally by the passing of deer, a fat ginger cat and the occasional student walking to or from class. Bret Nix, (highly talented visual artist, bassist for Holding and The Falk, etc.) and myself had moved into this place for a great price, only to find that the landlords and maintainance people were located in Austin, 25 miles North. They couldn't be bothered to answer calls or make repairs, so the place was kind of falling apart, but in this brilliant;y beautiful Hill Country landscape. But with that beautiful backdrop came lots of personal uncertainty. There was uncertainty and drama going on with those I was dating. Uncertainty in the house I lived in. Therefore there was uncertainty in where I'd be living in the future. In addition to all the rest of the uncertainty, it felt like everyone I knew and wanted to be around was either moving away or moving on to projects with other people.
I sat down with the guitar at the computer that day, ready to start working. The right foot clicked and stomped until I got something close to the settings you hear on the record. About a minute into adjustments, I had the sound I wanted. I hit record. I'm not sure if it was a calendar in front of me, or just a realization that the twelve months of the year could correspond to twelve tracks on an album. Either way, I chose that as the theme, and out came the pouring of music, reminicent of a moving version of the cover artwork, a photo I took from a flight coming in for landing at Love Field in Dallas.
My process was as follows: I'd record a segment of guitar at any length that felt necessary. Everything was improvised. Nothing was deleted. Then I'd repeat that recording 3-5 times. Then I'd start over the top of that piece until the segment ended. Then repeat again, but this time, maybe 1-2 times. Finally, I'd add a layer of high guitar, low guitar or both throughout the whole track with no loops. Since these were improvisations, on the day, the recordings do contain unintentional noise and static. I personally (perhaps conveniently) feel that these unintended blemishes are charming and down to Earth. Others may find them unprofessional or annoying. The artist is not inclined to give a shit in such cases. This is in many ways a live recording, just with slight pauses and overdubs, minutes later.
I can't speak for others, but for me, ambient music is about simplicity, tonality, melody, rythym and the abilities to both float away with the tracks while listening, or just as easily have them on while cleaning. I hope that I've satisfied those needs in this continuing ambient tradition. I find this record to be a satisfying listen for turning up the speakers to 11, turning everything else off, and just sitting. When played loudly, I find this music be like a relaxing and meditative blanket. At the same time there are moments in this record that seem ready to explode into some hard music. Of course it never does. It swells, scratches and teases its way through each day and each night of every month of the year. Interstingly, night or day, I find it's just as satisfying at a low volume when rising in the morning or turning in for the night. What I now remember, listening to this record in 2019, is that each track or 'Month' has its own particular nature and attitude, reflective of my own emotions and reactions to these months.
Three or four days later, in Austin, I ran into Lee Renaldo before a Sonic Youth show and passed the CD along. I'd still love to know what he thinks of this kind of thing, for lack of a better phrase. Twelve Months at times seems classical and in other places it sounds rock. Twelve Months seems reminicient of The Thought Police from 2000, but this has its own colors, and it's own temperatures. One could think of the album itself as a solar system, with each track as a gas giant planet, they all spin at slightly different speeds but with starkly different colors and densities. The distortion and density you hear, on the brink of clipping into the red, is just a hint of the star which holds that system, this record, together.
Special Thanks to those little monk fellas.
Photos from March 20th, 2006 and March 23rd 2006. The last photo, AN the elevator at sxsw, was the Basis of the original cover art for the initial MP3 Release. The rest just happen to be from the day of recording, coinciding with turbulent weather.
Have a random listen to some working tracks, interspursed with already released tracks. This Playlist changes from time to time.