Mike DeCapite's Liner Notes For Curlew's Fabulous Drop
As the man responsible for the "act of colossal incompetence" which you hold in your hands, it falls to me to inform you that somehow, in mastering this music to CD, I have mastered it backwards. For several days I have been holed up in my office, drinking whiskey and getting stoned on marijuana in an attempt to write this and to block out the gloomy prospect of my future and the complaints of the janitor, who’d like to get in here and do a little cleaning up. Can you imagine how fast, and with what relish, word of this kind of thing gets around? "Get rid of that nincompoop!" the president of the record label was heard to say. I’m told George Cartwright Accepted the mishap in a spirit of forgiveness and good-humor. That is, until the label head decided, "Well what’s done is done! It’s already been pressed; let’s just release the damn thing! No use throwing good money after bad." George asked for my head on a plate.
I choose to temper his reaction by reminding myself that George is known for a certain shall we say fastidiousness concerning his work, and also that an artist is as vulnerable as anyone else to the occasional lapse in perspective. Basically, the whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. It was such a simple mistake. Nothing like the charges leveled at me in a crowing, malicious Internal Memo, circulated here at work to my enduring shame. Citing my "glaring ineptitude", my "incomparable idiocy", the "manifest shoddiness" of my character, my "unpardonable inattention" to my duties "or even to the matter at hand", and noting that my grasp of the responsibilities which I am paid to fulfill is "rudimentary at best" the memo proceeds onward through a load of hyperbole like "never in the annals of recording history" to a declaration that I simply "lack…all common sense". The document is so thorough in its enumeration of my crimes that I’m considering having it framed as a sort of diploma of failure.
While I agree that I’m guilty of a moment’s distraction, I feel I must defend myself against the memo’s accusals of "sheer obtuseness where anything musical is concerned" and "shameless disregard for the band’s intentions". Actually I’ve got a pretty good ear, and although I admit this might not be the place to bring it up, I’ve got to say that I, for one, like this record as it is. I stand by it. Hearing it backward gives one a glimpse of the music’s precision and grace. It’s a reminder that the world is a wild, exact system of near-disasters. Time is interesting either way you run it. What’s the big deal? "Of all the wrong-headed slip-ups!" indeed. Curlew flings us backward through violent intersections to open squares and wide easy boulevards where things seem to be happening just as we want them to. Ann Rupels nimble rumbling Deuce-and-a-Quarter bass keeps us veering and rolling (backwards), absorbing the shock and inviting me to run an affectionate handover the dashboard. Kenny Wolleson’ attentive, slapstick drumming corrals us along, delineating our margins while suggesting ways to break through them. Davey Williams’ and Chris Cochrane’s guitars vie and slice at each other, they help navigate the(backwards, against traffic) trip, bopping each other with the maps, encouraging the horn, aggravating it, squealing for dominance, like a string section dragged through a small vortex in time. George has it hard in reverse, headed downtown full speed. On the way, he’s laughing, careering, steering, declaiming, scattered like manhole steam and meditating upward like moonlit rooftop smoke… He’s the3-D voice at the center of all this. Blue secrets have their say, night is falling down 2nd Avenue, the lights congest…and dawn breaks above East Broadway. He’s always got another valentine up his sleeve. Depending how you hear it, he’s either giving it or getting it back.
While we were still on speaking terms, George told me that the week he spent back in New York, rehearsing and recording this material, was among the best weeks of his life. And although his songs at least were written beforehand, Fabulous Drop is the document of an excited week of crashing around the city. Intended or not, it’s Curlew’s valentine to New York, Here it is, holographic. In other words, I do not agree that I am "the supreme fuckup of the music industry." Rather I think of myself as the man who brought you this music in all its (backward) majesty. I can only hope I’m not alone in this assessment. Nevertheless, I know where I stand, and for what they’re worth, I hereby tender both my apologies and my resignati
- Michael DeCapite