James Plotkin, as a guitarist, bassist and sound arranger, has been at the nexus of extreme and marginal music since his first band, Old Lady Drivers (later known simply as Old) released their debut album on the seminal Earache label in 1987. Moving from high impact metal through experiment noise and tingling, metallic ambience, he has worked with Scorn, K.K. Null, John Zorn, Flux, and more recently the disjointed ambience of Lotus Eaters, his own beat-mangling Phantomasher project, and the slow metal supergroup Khanate. As Plotkin told Outburn magazine "There's nevber enough outlets for everything because I always have to be doing something."
At kranky HQ, Plotkin's ambient guitar release A Strange, Perplexing, was a staple in the play pile. So we jumped at the opportunity to release two collaborative projects James Plotkin had worked on. James Plotkin and Mark Spybey first collaborated at the Anchorage Festival in New York City, playing together underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Enjoying the improvisational performance, the two decided to record together. Mark Spybey sent James Plotkin a tape of his recordings of vocals, toys and various noisemakers, to which James Plotkin added his own embellishments and then remixed. kranky released A Peripheral Blur in the fall of 1998.
"Guitars and toy sounds are processed into totally unrecognizable drones, then layered to create strange ambient soundscapes that achieve a fine balance between intricate and minimal. The title is apt, as there is always a sense that something not quite there is at the periphery of what one is hearing, which also makes one want to listen to the disc again and again... As the album unravels, the later tracks slowly expose their teeth, becoming more dynamic and slightly less ambient, until the final cut arrives with jarring bursts of noise. Unlike some ambient albums... A Peripheral Blur... pulls the listener into its fascinating world."
Rolk Semprebon, Anodyne Dec. 1998
James Plotkin's tape exchange with Brent Gutzeit, begun after a meeting in Tokyo, took five years to reach fruition. James Plotkin originally gave Gutzeit a tape of some guitar music, which Gutzeit mutated and distorted by adding his own instrumentation and processing.
James Plotkin told Sadness Is In The Sky that
"By the time Brent was finished with his versions, there were plenty more directions I could have taken so it was just a matter of finding a path and sticking to it. It was more directly the casual attitude towards completion that decided the direction of material, with the amount of time being taken a result of this as well."
The James Plotkin/ Brent Gutziet CD, Mosquito Dream, came out on kranky in May 1999.
"The decorated clangor floating through these six tracks is spectacular... Plotkin's original guitar track becomes indistinguishable (except for the opening of 'Wires') in a cultured 'melodiless' meticulously textured sound, with its expansive sensory responses, and can only be described as a pulsating galactic breeze. Each piece has its own identity connected as a seamless whole."
Green Mountain Music Review, July/August 1999
Mosquito Dream (with Brent Gutzeit)
A Peripheral Blur (with Mark Spybey)
Austrian site (in German) - www.servus.at/fadi/jim1.htm