Buster Sledge releases Dreamer, Dead-inspired grassed-out epoch

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Buster Sledge is a trio of fiddle, banjo, and guitar and of three voices - fronted by an American living in Norway - with many musics as software and bluegrass music as hardware. They offer an original repertoire of music that brings the structur0e and pop-esque melodic focus of american old-time fiddle music and lyrical meter and storytelling focus of old mountain-ballads and country songs together with current harmonic and lyrical elements from rap, pop, jazz, or whatever seems to serve the song. Through this dogma the group musically reconciles the past with the present in the sense that West Side Story is a digestibly modern and free interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

The four song thirty minute EP consists of loose ends that never made their way into Buster Sledge’s other previous or coming larger recording projects - it contains a straight-ahead grassed out barroom-banger (Sit Up Straight) to a crooked George Jones-inspired country-crooner (I Could Be Nowhere (Drinking Nothing) and finishes off with a wide-open Grateful Dead-esque extended form jam-tune packed with folk music references (Dreamer and Leave the Day).

“I Could be nowhere (drinking nothing)” is a slight tip of the hat to already ongoing discussions about free will. Michael says: “I have always enjoyed the country-song-automaton - the "I" in the song that can't exactly explain why, but here they are doing that thing that they really shouldn't be despite the huge cost to them - and this song is my contribution to that theme.”

The 17 minutes long track, “Dreamer” is maybe one of the oldest in the Buster Sledge catalogue: “I think I wrote it in New York City in 2017 while I was studying composition and not writing many "songs" (as opposed to "pieces", which I'm writing with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek) at all - and it has pieces of much of what was happening for me at that time woven into it: Gesualdo-inspired harmony, big open solo sections (I played in a Grateful Dead band at that time), and a break-the-fourth-wall text written from the place of frustration I was in at that creative impasse. Buckle up!” – Michael Barrett Donovan

The EP finishes with “Leave the Day”, an epilogue to Dreamer inspired by solo vocal folk traditions in both the United States and Norway.

Dreamer was recorded by Sjur Lyseid (Little Hands of Asphalt, Flight Mode) in Globus Studios in the band's home town of Oslo. Worth mentioning about this release is that it will exist only on fifty cassettes in physical format; very often concert-goers share at the merch booth that they don't have a CD player, would like to have a physical souvenir, and will hold it in their hands as they stream it from spotify. If that is the case, then why not hold a cassette or something in any other outdated format?

Moreover, this new way of consuming music - streaming - overlaps with the old way of listening - physical formats like CD, LP, Cassette and so on - in a way very much similar to how Buster Sledge musically overlaps the old with the new. Streaming offers convenience and variety but can rob music of its sentimentality and the "stuck with these 3 albums"-experience that results in a deep familiarity with those three albums. Modern music offers many sounds and many chords, but that can rob the music of its "stuck with these 3 chords"-feeling that can result in a deeper level of focus on fewer musical elements. Striving for balance is all one can hope to do!

Buster Sledge – «Dreamer» EP
Release: October 19th 2022

1. I Could Be Nowhere (Drinking Nothing) (04:34)
2. Sit up Straight (03:27)
3. Dreamer (17:48)
4. Leave the Day (01:27)

Michael Barrett Donovan (fiddle, lead vocals)
Jakob Folke Ossum (guitar, vocals)
Mikael Jonassen (banjo, vocals)