Does music mean anything?
Can you say what it is?
If not, do you ask it?
If it doesn’t reply, do you call again?
Has music ever asked a question of you?
Can music speak meaning without words?
Can music speak no meaning with words?
Does music keep you company, or do you keep company with it?
Does music improve your life or does it improve the life around you?
How much music can fit into your life?
How much meaning can fit into a piece of music?
If it sounds good, is music true?
If words sound good, are they true?
Some of the best records ask more questions than they answer, and others answer questions you didn't ask. I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good is a new recording collaboration of Sam Ashley and Werner Durand, recorded in 2016. When it was sent to me for consideration for release on Unseen Worlds in 2017 we had just had a year of Donald in the White House and the gruesomely plain chatter around it, something like small talk at an execution, which still dominates day in and day out. I was thankful to find something new being made that searched for bigger, non-personal truths, and was plain about the fact that it was. What else could I do to reciprocate but give it a release?
Sam Ashley’s mystic parables imbued with benevolent humor are drawn from a lifelong pursuit of a present-day shamanism. Werner Durand’s wind work on invented and traditional instruments stems from the minimalist tradition, routed through his own unique studies of obscure world musics.
The two artists first met in Berlin in 1984 while Sam was touring Atalanta with Robert Ashley’s opera company, with whom he was a principle vocalist for many years. Sam Ashley’s work has appeared on other Unseen Worlds releases (J. Jasmine: My New Music) and in solo and collaborative performances alongside “Blue” Gene Tyranny and other artists across the world.
Werner Durand, also active since the late Seventies, performs music for saxophones, Iranian ney, and self-made wind instruments. He is a linchpin figure in the experimental music scene in Germany and abroad following formative studies with Ariel Kalma and Gilbert Artman in Paris, Indian Classical Music with Kamalesh Maitra, and Iranian Ney with Ali Reza Asgharia. He has worked notably with David Behrman (Music With Memory), Arnold Dreyblatt (Animal Magnetism), Muslimgauze, Henning Christiansen, Catherine Christer Hennix (Born of Six), David Toop, and Amelia Cuni (Ashtayama, Diasporagas). He also was a longtime employee of Ursula Block’s gelbe MUSIK (Broken Music).