The songs on this compilation (Some Small History) were recorded between 1990 and 2007 in five different houses and six studios, mostly by myself but occasionally with a revolving cast of friends and musicians. They are not in chronological order here but rather sequenced in a way to (hopefully) make for a more pleasant listening experience; placing all the lo-fi distortion and hiss in one place tires the ears, and the varying nature of the songs here both in their origin (most likely a bedroom, but sometimes a living room or even a real studio) and their eventual release (as B-sides, compilations, EPs, vinyl accompanying fanzines, or for the first time here in this collection, etc.) leads to this kind of randomizing structure anyway. The songs are of a piece but not a terribly linear one. Despite the fact that the tracklisting bounces around from year to year, you can still place many of the songs in their time period by the sounds you hear… Early on, it’s pretty much one mic on a guitar (usually a red Hofner guitar I got at a thrift shop in Texas), vocals and some minimal drums. At some point, a Casio and its drum machine become regulars, and not long after, some analog synths creep into the mix (sometimes a bit too high in the mix…). Around the turn of the century, 4-tracks on cassette become 16 digital tracks and while the fidelity improved, I still used the thing like a 4-track and never learned to do anything fancy with it. One of the reasons for that is that I like to work fast; most of the songs on all Portastatic records, particularly the ones recorded at home, are written as they are recorded, layer by layer, until they’re done. This leads to happy accidents and weird parts the first guitar plays that then every other instrument has to deal with, and a bridge or outro that has little to do with the rest of the song… But the songs aren’t tossed off in a careless way (believe it or not, there are boxes of tapes full of songs that did NOT make it onto this collection); it’s more about capturing a certain sound or an idea before it goes away and then making it into something more complete. Obviously, some of the songs here—covers, or revisiting of old songs with a new arrangement—don’t fall into this category, and hopefully that’s a good thing for the pacing and variety of a collection this long. —Mac McCaughan July 15, 2008 Some Small History Release Date: August 9th, 2008
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