The Bellwether Project

More Talk About Tonight


Slang is the brainchild of Dave Schools and Layng Martine III. The Bellwether Project, a collection of ten unique tracks, stems from a decade long friendship and the gradual intertwining of musical sensibilities. It is a record of complementary forces, fusing Schools' roots in improvisational rock with Martine's work in musical montage.
Dave Schools is the bass player for Athens, GA rock band Widespread Panic. Over the last fifteen years, Widespread Panic has toured relentlessly, built a catalog of 9 records, and developed an extensive fan base around the world. During this time, Schools and Panic have had the opportunity to play with a myriad of musicians including Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, Jorma Kaukonen, Robbie Krieger, NRBQ, Vic Chesnutt, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and others. Schools' early influences were the hard-driving sounds of rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and the Grateful Dead, but his musical taste is much broader than rock, encompassing many styles of jazz, blues, and electronic music. Says Schools, "I've had an interest in constructed music since I first heard the circus organ solo in 'For the Benefit of Mr. Kite'. They cut up the tape, dropped it on the floor and put it back together."

Layng Martine III, also a bass player, was born in Greenwich, CT and raised in Nashville, TN. He is the namesake of his father, a renowned Nashville songwriter who has penned songs for artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood, among others. Martine played bass in several bands throughout high school and college and eventually moved to New York City, where he landed the highly coveted position as assistant to experimental/electronica mastermind Bill Laswell. Martine has worked on over 100 Laswell projects and has released his own records under the creative moniker "Corporal Blossom." It was in Laswell's Greenpoint Studio that Martine first met singer/songwriter Lori Carson of the Golden Palominos. This meeting would eventually lead to their collaboration on her 1999 Restless Records release, Stars, and later again on The Bellwether Project.

Layng Martine III first met Dave Schools in 1988. A fan of Widespread Panic, Martine caught one of the first of the band's notorious New Year's Eve gigs in Athens. Martine recalls, "I wasn't prepared for the show I saw that blew me away." Over the next few years, Martine caught several more Widespread Panic concerts and a friendship between he and Schools emerged. Although the two often spoke of collaborating artistically, their conversations generally gravitated towards recommending new music to one another. Says Schools, "My head was turned around by [Material's] Hallucination Engine, the first Praxis record and [Nicky Skopelitis'] Ekstasis." All three are Laswell-helmed records.

Nearly a decade passed before Martine and Schools would begin the early recordings that would eventually become The Bellwether Project. In December of 1998, Martine drove to Athens to visit Schools and the two spent an evening putting beats together. The next day, Schools played along with them, improvising on bass over the beats they had recorded. Martine took those recordings, and based on the best ones, began rough structures of would-be songs. Martine called upon a few other musicians to collaborate and new structures began to emerge. He then sent a few tracks to Schools, who enjoyed his newly found creative outlet, Slang, because it allowed him to work outside the parameters of his role in Widespread Panic. After hearing near-completed versions of the initial tracks, 'Moonlight's Fair,' 'Third Ear' and 'Southern Wind,' both began to take the Slang recordings more seriously. Schools contacted San Francisco-based friend and guitarist Eric McFadden and they both met with Martine in Seattle, where they spent a weekend recording furiously. Seattle-based musicians Jon Hyde and Pete Droge came on board and added a few guitar tracks.

Upon Schools' return to Georgia he put the Slang demos into the hands of long-time friends, Jeff Bransford and Jeff Duckworth, who were in the early stages of initiating an Atlanta-based record label, Terminus Records. With their interest and support, the project began to snowball. More recording took place in Manhattan and rural Long Island and the remaining tracks were completed, resulting in finished collaborations with some of music's finest: turntable master DXT (Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock) members of Viperhouse (Michael Chorney and Zack Tonnissen,) Fognode, Jay Rodriguez, Pete Droge, Gordon Raphael and Lori Carson.

The Bellwether Project weaves a multi-textural cinematic soundscape, brimming with abstract imagery and atmosphere. From the groovy and audacious feel of 'Field Guide to Snapping' to the gritty march-funk pastiche of 'Dirtwater Telegraph' to the dreamy pedal steel featured on 'Moonlight's Fair,' the album is an unpredictable ride, beautiful and mysterious. 'What A Day May Bring,' clocking in at over nine minutes, feels like the emotional core of the record and moves gracefully on to 'Little Bird,' a delicate lullaby sung by Lori Carson. The finished product is a compelling fusion of sounds, both modern and traditional, and resonates each artists' diverse tastes in music.
The debut release from Slang reveals the cut-and-paste creativity of two incredible artists with a mutual vision. The Bellwether Project, with Schools and Martine as its creative nucleus, is electric and organic, featuring innovative, modern touches and amazing production.

Slang set off on another sonic adventure with More Talk About Tonight, the second release from the critically-acclaimed alliance on Terminus Records. Filled with sophisticated arrangements and free improvisations, the album is both indefinably modern and reassuringly classic at the same time, as if the duo in charge (Layng Martine III and Dave Schools) were equally as influenced by Herbie Hancock as Brian Eno. They pilfer freely from abstract rock, alternative jazz and electronica, and the result is nothing short of beautiful cacophony.

For More Talk About Tonight, Martine began by tracking the improvisational threads that developed out of the recording process when he gathered the "core band": bassist Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), drummer Matt Abts (Govít Mule), keyboardist Ray Packzkowski (Trey Anastasio, Viperhouse) and guitarist/special effects master Knox Chandler (The Golden Palominos). More Talk About Tonight plays like a night at a post-apocalyptic speakeasy, with friends like Vic Chesnutt, DJ Logic (Medski, Martin & Wood), Lori Carson (The Golden Palominos), Eric McFadden (George Clinton), Paul Pimsler, Jay Rodriguez (Groove Collective), and others occasionally stepping up onstage to join Martine and Schools for a song or two before disappearing back into the smoke-filled room. More Talk About Tonight weaves a brilliant soundscape brimming with abstract imagery and atmosphere.

Slangís critically acclaimed debut received raves from all corners of the musical world. In fact, music from The Bellwether Project was featured in an American Express/Tiger Woods commercial and has appeared in cartoons, beer commercials, and, as Layng and Schools muse, perhaps even an adult film or two. "But if The Bellwether Project was like recording people talking over coffee," Layng supposes, "More Talk About Tonight is doing that in a foreign language. Itís thought provoking and captures your attention, but also a little more challenging to translate."

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