LET IT FLOW, LET IT FLOW, LET IT FLOW

MAX HATT & EDDA GLASS

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS - Loren Bien­venu Rio next ap­pears at Sweet­wa­ter Har­vest Kitchen (1512 Pacheco St., 505-795-7383) at 11 a.m. Sun­day, Feb. 1; no cover.

We al­ways wanted to do a gig in New York. We didn’t think our first one would be at Lin­coln Cen­ter,” Max Hatt, gui­tarist of lo­cal duo Max Hatt/Edda Glass, told Pasatiempo. The two per­formed at the famed venue as part of the 2014 New­Song Show­case & Com­pe­ti­tion in Novem­ber — and ended up win­ning the grand prize. Hatt and Glass (who also per­form with their bossanova project, Rio) write haunt­ing orig­i­nals for gui­tar and voice that com­bine har­monic com­plex­ity with spa­cious, at­mo­spheric sound­scapes and highly nar­ra­tive lyrics. Their songs evoke both the wind-swept des­o­la­tion of the Amer­i­can West and, im­prob­a­bly, faint stir­rings of Brazil. Per­haps this is why Gar Ragland, direc­tor and co- founder of New­Song, said in his ci­ta­tion for the win­ners that they “of­ten de­fied cat­e­go­riza­tion, mak­ing them ar­guably the most dis­tinc­tive fi­nal­ist act — let alone win­ner — we’ve ever had.”

The com­pe­ti­tion, now in its 14th year, so­lic­its sub­mis­sions from song­writ­ers of all gen­res, with more than 1,000 ap­pli­ca­tions from around the world re­ceived last year. “It’s af­fil­i­ated with NPR Moun­tain Stage [a weekly West Vir­ginia Public Ra­dio broad­cast of live folk, coun­try, and blues per­for­mances], so it has more of a cre­ative bent to it,” Glass said, ex­plain­ing why she was drawn to the com­pe­ti­tion. “It was re­ally the only con­test we en­tered, and sure enough —” she added, trail­ing off with a laugh.

The duo’s road to suc­cess was by no means short. First the mu­si­cians sub­mit­ted a track on­line as part of the ini­tial re­gional round, which they won in the South­west cat­e­gory. Af­ter that they sent in a video, and only then were they in­vited to com­pete live at Lin­coln Cen­ter as one of twelve fi­nal­ists from across the na­tion and Canada. As vic­tors they re­ceived a com­pre­hen­sive prize pack­age use­ful to any work­ing mu­si­cian — in­clud­ing pri­mar­ily “re­ally, re­ally cool op­por­tu­ni­ties,” ac­cord­ing to Glass. On the list is a per­for­mance on Moun­tain Stage; a show­case at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val’s AS­CAP Mu­sic Café; a record­ing ses­sion at Echo Moun­tain Stu­dios in Asheville, North Carolina; and a date back at Lin­coln Cen­ter.

At the time of the in­ter­view, Hatt and Glass were gear­ing up for their ap­pear­ance at Sun­dance. Hosted by the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Com­posers, Au­thors, and Pub­lish­ers, AS­CAP Mu­sic Café is an eight-day show­case at the film fes­ti­val. Max Hatt/Edda Glass per­forms at 2:40 p.m. on Fri­day, Jan. 30. Ad­mis­sion to the café is limited to those with fes­ti­val cre­den­tials (spe­cial ac­cess to non-film events), but Hatt en­cour­aged any Santa Feans at­tend­ing Sun­dance to stop by and say hello.

“We’re huge film fans to begin with,” Glass said. “A lot of our songs are re­ally cin­e­matic, and the lyrics draw from film images and iconic images from the West — women stand­ing in the door­ways, that sort of thing. We just have a nat­u­ral affin­ity for that.” She specif­i­cally cited Arthur Penn’s West­ern drama Lit­tle Big Man (based on the novel by Thomas Berger) and Jim Jar­musch’s stark black-and-white West­ern Dead Man as films that in­form their mu­sic. The lat­ter fea­tures a sound­track by Neil Young, an­other source of in­spi­ra­tion. “Our phi­los­o­phy is re­ally that you have all th­ese in­flu­ences. We don’t try to man­age them into one sort of Franken­stein hy­brid. We just let what comes out come out. There’s bossa nova, Neil Young, movies, Coltrane, all th­ese dif­fer­ent things. If you let them flow they’ll find their own way into your mu­sic.”

In terms of the com­po­si­tional process, Hatt’s solo gui­tar pieces form the ground­work for the duo’s songs. A life­long stu­dent of jazz and bossa, as well as a lover of rock and roll, Hatt said that his com­po­si­tions “tend to be fairly long nar­ra­tive, melodic forms.”

“That’s true, they don’t tend to be AABA. They are ABCDEFG,” Glass said, re­fer­ring to a stan­dard song struc­ture in which each A rep­re­sents a verse and B is the bridge. Dur­ing the ini­tial cre­ative phases, they work in­de­pen­dently, with Glass writ­ing lyrics based on recorded demos of Hatt’s com­po­si­tions. “We pretty much work separately. I’m a per­fec­tion­ist. I like to get the lyrics to a cer­tain stage be­fore I want to show them to any­one.”

Their piece “Oc­ca­sional Sum­mer” of­fers a good ex­am­ple of the way in which Hatt’s syn­co­pated rhythms and bossa-tinged melod­ics meld with Glass’ nar­ra­tive-and im­age-re­liant lyrics. Over lush yet sub­tle gui­tar work, she sings: “Last March, I was dig­ging in the yard/I found a small painted horse, lost for good and maybe mourned, till now/Like a bot­tle on the shore, mes­sage blurred, but it all re­turns.” The song’s own mes­sage is blurred, in part due to its enig­matic words but also as a re­sult of Glass’ breathy vo­cals and Hatt’s at­mo­spheric chord voic­ings. The song is the sec­ond track on Max Hatt/Edda Glass, their de­but al­bum, which is slated to be re­leased in late Fe­bru­ary. How­ever, both mem­bers con­ceded that their first record­ing has been eclipsed by prepa­ra­tions for the next one.

“Pat San­sone of Wilco was one of the judges in New York. He is go­ing to pro­duce the EP,” Glass said. San­sone and an­other Wilco col­lab­o­ra­tor, drum­mer Glenn Kotche, will prob­a­bly per­form on the record­ing. “So it will ba­si­cally be a quar­tet record. The whole last month has been spent get­ting demos done so we can send them out for pre­pro­duc­tion. We’ve been un­der the gun, but we’ve got all the songs done — we’re just fine-tun­ing some of the ar­range­ments.”

The gui­tarist does not ex­pect any di­rect over­lap be­tween the EP and the duo’s forth­com­ing record. But both record­ings share the trait of be­ing funded by an out­side source. The de­but re­sulted from a Myrna Loy Cen­ter grant, awarded to the mu­si­cians when they were living in Mon­tana, be­fore they re­lo­cated to Santa Fe at the be­gin­ning of 2014.

“Mon­tana is a re­ally deeply beau­ti­ful place, and part of that beauty is that it’s very iso­lat­ing. Some of that is cul­tural iso­la­tion. It has a shap­ing ef­fect on artists. It’s kind of like an in­cu­ba­tion phase. At the end of that we wanted to get out and share our art, so that was the at­trac­tion of New Mex­ico,” Glass ex­plained.

Since re­lo­cat­ing, Hatt and Glass have per­formed most fre­quently as Rio. The bossa nova group, which Glass jok­ingly re­ferred to as their day job, per­forms reg­u­larly at places like El Mesón and Sweet­wa­ter Har­vest Kitchen and of­ten in­cor­po­rates other mu­si­cians to round out the sound. Th­ese in­clude lo­cal main­stays Justin Brans­ford on bass and Cal Haines on drums. Glass said they both feel grat­i­fied to have been em­braced within the com­mu­nity, mu­si­cally and be­yond. “We’ve been re­ally warmly re­ceived. It’s touch­ing. There’s so much cul­tural so­phis­ti­ca­tion here and ap­petite for mu­sic and cul­ture.”

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