Nathan Salsburg, the great Kentucky folk guitarist and archivist, brings those roles together in his Landwerk series. On each Landwerk release, Salsburg records over excerpts from his collection of 78 rpm records, using them as launchpads for fresh compositions not unlike the way a rapper might write lyrics over a sampled loop. The source material for Landwerk No. 3, coming in December, ranges from 1919-1940. In a press release, Salsburg offered insight into the project:
I’m still haunted by Walter Benjamin’s formulation that “only a redeemed mankind receives the fullness of its past.” I remember thinking about that, about all of the absences and the lacunae and all of the things that I don’t know. 78s are weird, because they’re mechanically reproduced, but each one has an aura. No 78 is the same in terms of its surface noise. Every record bears the scars of its existence, and they all sound different. The records I was working with here are sonically unique objects, so it became this very personal sense of uncovering, discovery… These 78s weren’t meant to survive. They were meant to be promotional devices, or to be listened to 10 to 12 times with a steel needle. So the fact that these voices survived at all is no small miracle.
Our first preview of Landwerk No. 3 is “XII,” which sounds low-key spectacular. Listen below.
Landwerk No. 3 is out digitally 12/9 on No Quarter, with a 2xLP edition to follow on 1/13.