[caption id="attachment_1647" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="Photo by Quintron"][/caption]
When one decides to record a whole record while inhabiting a museum, there's bound to be a handful of challenges. Lack of traditional studio pleasures. Night at the Museum jokes. And of course, unruly middle-school kids on a field trip. "This kid actually started throwing shit at me," eccentric musician Robert Rolson -- aka Quintron -- told Hive. "He was throwing spitballs at me. I lost it on this kid in front of his whole class. I just told him to fuck off … but at least he got cursed out by an art exhibit.”
But such low-points were few and far between. The gig came about when the curator of the contemporary wing of the New Orleans Museum of Art invited Quintron and Miss Pussycat, his long time collaborator, to do something of their choosing. In a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone scenario, he decided to record an album as part of an exhibit he put together called "Parallel Universe” (which ran from January 30 to May 3, 2010). Since his debut record in 1994, Quintron has released 12 albums, but Sucre Du Sauvage is the only one where he had three months to focus on the details like using a vibraphone and tympani, in addition to his standard drum machines and Fender Rhodes.
By sacrificing the quietude of a studio, Quintron benefited from having a sizable audience while recording without the fuss of a live show per se. Nobody claps at the end of the tracks, nobody shouts out requests and nobody heckles him -- not on the record, anyway. Actual songs were written at night when the museum was closed and during the days he recorded ambient, experimental sounds. Throughout the process, Miss Pussycat would saunter in every now and then to record vocals for songs.
Culling from over 1,000 hours of tape, Quintron split Sauvage into two halves. The first half of the album is a series of infectious near-novelty songs where an organ and xylophone recall the sort of happy music that those middle-school kids might love, but the hooks aim for adult ears. But bubbling beneath the candy coated surface lie grim realities, like on "Face Down in the Gutter," or the swampy-blues groove of "New Years Night (Boogie Children)."
The second half is a series of experimental, more atmospheric tracks, like "Elevator," which are composed of Quintron’s organ, but also elevator noises, "the museum is closing" announcements and duck sounds (from the pond in the same park as the museum). Quintron cited both Dr. Demento and Philip Glass as influences, which, taken respectively for each half of the album, makes a lot of sense.
"Those are the kinds of songs I want to write -- things that are deeper than novelty that have that candy appeal where you want to listen to them over and over again," he said. “My solution to doing something that I thought would be interesting in an art museum was doing what I do in that context. I can't believe that they actually went for it."
Sucre Du Sauvage is out now on Goner Records.