DAVID VAN AUKEN drops ‘American Harmony’ March 24 from Debacle Records
“A New Theory On Dreams” is the first single from the album
David Van Auken‘s take on American country blues and finger-style guitar caught the attention of Debacle Records immediately because of his varied and non-traditional accompaniments. His compositions grasp old traditions, conjuring the familiar while exploring new landscapes in synthetic textures that sit gingerly in the mix; never overpowering the simple guitar lines while adding worlds of depth and harmonic gravity.
Once they spoke about the record it became apparent this was the magic of his creative process. After studying early American guitar forms for over a decade, David wanted to approach his first collection of original material in a way that paid homage to the guitarists he’d loved and emulated, but from a perspective that also felt fresh and distinguished him from the titans of guitar he had spent his time looking up to.
David: “At some point in early 2021 I realized I had about 17 original guitar pieces, and it occurred to me that maybe I should record an album. Most of the songs, while somewhat technical in playing style, are pretty simple structurally, so I thought it’d be fun to go into the studio and see what additional instrumentals I could come up with as a means of broadening them. I’ve always been a big fan of electronic/experimental music that leans towards the ambient realm and I thought it’d be cool to see if I could approach some of the sounds I’d heard in those styles to see how it’d blend with my guitar playing.
“The engineer I worked with, Benjamin Cleek, focuses a lot on film scoring, so I thought he’d be a great fit for helping me to realize my vision.
“I’d reference sounds I heard in music I’d love from Boards of Canada etc. etc. to all sorts of experimental music. And he always came up with a sound/synth/or original sample we’d create for me to explore on the keyboard in harmonizing with my guitar. In many ways, it was like the freedom I was allowed in exploring sounds on the piano as a kid.
“All the acoustic guitar tracks on the album were recorded in just 4 quick sessions and the additional instrumentals were created over the course of a year or so, visiting Ben’s studio once a week. Man, it was a blast, yet a lot of hard and sometimes painstaking work too…luckily I kinda only remember the fun of it all.”
It’s rare for a debut to have this incubation period and not come out overwrought and fussy. Luckily, David and his collaborators have such an ear for light-touch embellishments that the record always keeps it bright and focused.
Written and Produced by David Van Auken
Recorded and Mixed by Benjamin Cleek
Mastered by J.J. Golden
Guitar, Synths, Melodica, Squeezebox – David Van Auken
Cello – Benjamin Cleek
Sitar – J.J. Gregg