This is a remastered full-length version of the original composition, before it was edited down to the CD version that was published in 2006.
Please feel free to stream it here (HEADPHONES STRONGLY ENCOURAGED !!!), but this composition contains a very wide spectrum of dynamic range. The whole point of remastering this piece was to present the original composition in its full length. The sonic presentation of this piece suffers greatly from MP3 compression and the limitations of internet bandwidth. In addition, it is my hope that you will download The Pilgrim in a high resolution format and that you will listen to it in your favorite listening environment with your best playback system.
Here are some writings about the original release:
> "Absolutely beautiful brand LP/CD set from Lescalleet, a US tape/loop/noise artist with a very personal sound-bent and a recent collaborator with Nmperign. However, all of his already-great work pretty much pales in the face of this harrowing, at points almost disturbingly voyeuristic and emotionally bruising set. Dedicated to the memory of his late father, The Pilgrim contains music made up from the aspects of previous Lescalleet work that most moved his dad as outlined by a letter reproduced on the inside of the glossy gatefold sleeve and moves from Basinski-style minimalism through creepy, nocturnal, barely-sounding breaths and drones that sound like something from the early Nurse With Wound catalogue. On one side of the 12" picture disc is a recording of Jason at his father's side during the last moments of his life, a microphone in his pocket catching their last sad, awkward exchange of words, his father almost inaudibly weak. Have to admit that I found this side particularly difficult going, with his father's words sunk deep in a dream of hiss. Indeed, I can't think of another record that goes this far beyond any notion of entertainment in favour of the personal preservation of life-force and spirit and the process of working through melancholy memory. On the other side of the LP is a live recording from just after Jason received the news of his father's terminal cancer, playing music with aspects of his father's letter in mind, all low, transporting car engine drones. On the CD, we get a further long/exaggerated version of the parts of Jason's music that his father singled out that moves from hallucinatory reminiscence all the way through rage and into some kind of acceptance. It's an intensely personal project, right from the beautiful picture disc with a photograph of his dad through the full-colour deep blue of perfect lost purity on the gatefold sleeve and the full-colour oversize CD/book package with pictures and notes, all wrapped in a glossy gatefold sleeve (by the way, don't slit the gatefold sleeve to get the CD holder out of the package, simply reach through from the open LP side and remove it). Privately-pressed by Jason himself, the whole set is highly recommended and some kind of high watermark for extremely personal sonic exegesis, though certainly not for the faint of heart." - David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue
> "There’s a common criticism of much contemporary electro-acoustic improvisation that it’s “emotionless”, too remote, effete, too unconnected with how people live their lives, how they feel. Even if we grant that this can indeed be the case in a given instance, those of us who follow the music probably also agree that it’s generally untrue, that it’s more a matter of listeners being conditioned to respond to certain archetypal triggers which may have been hidden or replaced. On the other hand, it’s also decidedly true that overt displays of emotional attachment, of personal sorrow, etc. are, if not taboo, looked at with some suspicion. I’ve picked up a bit of a shift in that stance in recent years, for example in the work of Stangl and Kurzmann (schnee_live) or, more recently and less overtly, in some of Kai Fagaschinski’s performances. This amazing, heartrending release by Jason Lescalleet, however, casts all those concerns to the wind, strips the cool façade to display the naked, beautifully emotional core of its creator.
“The Pilgrim” is a deep, loving homage to Harrison Foster Lescalleet, Jason’s father, who died of cancer in September, 2005 after having been diagnosed in the spring of that year. It includes both an LP and a disc, the former imprinted with, on Side One, two snapshots of the senior Lescalleet and on the reverse, a tape reel. The LP begins with a performance from May 16, 2005, shortly after Jason learned of his dad’s condition. He introduces the piece by reading, in a voice that seems on the verge of breaking, an e-mail his father had sent a couple years prior upon receiving an earlier recording of Jason’s, his duo with John Hudak, “Figure 2”. To Jason’s surprise, his father had greatly enjoyed it (one gets the sense of an undercurrent wherein it had been a long struggle to get the elder Lescalleet to appreciate his work) and made some insightful comments, an evaluation that obviously meant an enormous amount to Jason. He follows it with an extraordinarily strong, relatively brief piece, all low rumbles. It’s not difficult to read into the work any number of emotions including forlornness and pissed-offedness. There’s also something both eerie and profound in watching (or imagining) the stylus track across Harrison Lescalleet’s image, as though the sounds are somehow coming being elicited from it, from him.
On Side Two, Lescalleet lays it out, stark and unapologetically. In late August of 2005, about a week before his dad would succumb to the disease, Jason visited the hospital, bringing along his four year-old daughter and a tape recorder. We hear their conversation, Jason being accommodating, trying to speak of everyday things like his father’s comfort, who he’s spoken to, etc. His father, very weak by this point, responds as best he can, his voice slurred (there’s something of an evocation of Robert Ashley’s great, disturbing “Automatic Writing”). There are extended gaps where no one speaks and we hear the noise of the room, the air conditioner, the occasional clatter of shifting utensils and furniture. It’s awful; it’s beautiful. For Lescalleet to put this out there is one thing. Given the history he provides with regard to his father’s recent appreciation of his work, I’m more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t have minded at all being remembered in such a context. For the listener, however, it’s very close to having been ushered, perhaps less than willingly, into that same room, unable to experience the depth of emotions that would have come from a lifelong association with the dying man but, via his son, beginning to sense these feelings, if twice-removed. Critiquing it is beside the point. It’s there, unsweetened, and I can’t commend Lescalleet highly enough for having the guts to go there.
The CD is a single 74-minute track that can be read as a portrait of Harrison Lescalleet’s life as experienced by his son. It begins with church bells and rain, soon shifting to a mournful, cavernous five-note “melody”, repeated for several minutes. This morphs into what appears to be a subtle mix of field recordings as we hear, very softly, chimes, far off dogs, maybe a gull or two (I often had difficulty distinguishing between the recording and sounds outside my window, always an enjoyable dilemma) before a electronic, throbbing drone wells up from below. A more or less steady state is maintained for quite a while, the throb and an occasionally occurring high-pitched tone providing enough forward impetus that one easily imagines a slow boat ride, oars dipping silently in black water, through a dark and vaguely threatening clime. The chimes, muffled, reappear. It’s a very unusual piece for Lescalleet, at least in my experience of his work, far more tonally centered, far less overtly in turmoil (though that’s there, beneath) than the harsh rough and tumble I’ve come to expect and savor. More occurs in the first hour than I can possibly get into here; suffice it to say, purely on a musical level, it’s absolutely stunning, solid and endlessly fascinating. It gradually builds in volume and intensity until, about an hour in, the work it begins to sputter, the mechanism breaking down, then explodes in an anguished, raging cry against the reality of death. Everything turns ugly, horrific. Five minutes of an extreme noise, fist-shaking assault, the body consumed by disease, anger. And then you hear a small girl singing. At one bedside visit, Harrison Lescalleet asked his granddaughter Audrey to sing him a song. To the surprise of all—no one realized she knew the piece—she launched into “Molly Malone”. Lescalleet writes: “Listening back to the recording later, I could hear Audrey falter as she suddenly realized that Molly dies in this song, and that maybe it’s not such a cheery song after all.” The effect on the listener, after the shattering squall, is devastating. The gentle chimes that surface throughout the piece take things out, serenely, quietly.
“The Pilgrim” is a brave and powerful document, one of the strongest, most rewarding experiences I’ve had in quite some time. - Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
> “The Pilgrim” has been an on-going project of Jason’s since his father’s passing in 2005; that it has come to fruition as such a lavish edition (a full-color gatefold LP sleeve housing a full-color picture disc lp and... nestled deep within the “sealed” pocket of said gatefold, a full color 7” x 10” 8-page booklet with a 74-minute compact disc tucked inside) says everything about Jason’s drive to celebrate his father’s life.
Starting with his performance at the intransitive festival of electronic music (side 1 of the lp), Jason began constructing a series of pieces based around his father’s interpretation of the Hudak/Lescalleet “figure 2” release as corrupted wind chimes and/or the sounds emanating from the floor of a ‘32 Chevy... And in fact the latter sentiment captures the essence of this piece; low-end rumble made “rickety” by the combination of its tape-wow/flutter origins & the faint crackle of the LP-surface.
The next piece (side 2 of the LP) is an un-airbrushed field-recording of Jason’s final exchange with his father, then lying on his death bed. Given the context on first listen I could barely get through it (too much resonance with my own unchecked emotions on the loss of my mother a few years back) but on subsequent listens i can now appreciate it as one of the most intense listening experiences I’ve ever encountered, rendering many “audio documentary” style recordings powerless in comparison.
Finally, the cd contains a single extended-length piece of immaculate low-end clusters and ripples; starting with the aforementioned corrupted wind chimes and continuing on a flowing, linear path through a frenzied climax of pure rage - before we’re again in the hospital, listening to Jason’s daughter Audrey singing “Molly Malone” over the faint backing of muted bells. Just glorious.
Where the live recording is all about re-capturing a hazy, time-worn memory (Jason and/or his father as children), the piece on the CD is crystal-clear, assembled with the benefits of modern sound-assembling apparatus and a remarkably keen sense of frequency-relationships (Jason and/or his father as adults) - when i first played this piece (at a more-than-fair clip) every single un-bolted appliance in my house was vibrating in resonance...
This set, in my mind, is the crowning achievement of Jason’s musical life-on-earth thusfar; he’s managed to channel the infinite sadness of his father’s passing into a grand statement that’s both intensely personal and penultimately triumphant." - Keith Fullerton Whitman, Mimaroglu Music Sales
released April 11, 2006
I started this project as a memorial to my father. I ended up thinking about my brother and myself.
...and Greg Kelley, Bhob Rainey, Andrew B. Schontag, Giancarlo Toniutti, Vic Rawlings, Joe Colley, Howie Stelzer, Dustin and Audrey...
...John Hudak had a lot to do with it.
Special thanks to Mike Shiflet and Erik Hoffman,
and much love to Todd Deal for his watercolor painting of Harrison Lescalleet.