Doug Wartman with Per Contra
Mix energy, virtuoso skills and a dash of audacity and you get the perfect recipe for The Movement of Color and Sound. Doug Wartman, still a year shy of the legal drinking age in Pennsylvania, creates his own high with rapid fire riffs, precise tone and a remarkably crafted style that sounds as though an improvisational set will break out at any moment. Movement is his first CD and contains thirteen songs that set a tone for what promises to be a career with many more.
From the start – Dance Party in the Queen St. Kitchen – Wartman shows his ability to stay an exacting course through technically precise music, but manages to make it sound fluid and relaxed. It is a dance party and the listener is invited.
Rubber Fish, the second track, takes a melodic turn that is more an exception than a rule in Wartman’s work. Without hesitation, he turns back to his unique brand of music with This is What Happens to Me at Night on track three and keeps it rolling through Drunk Money and Camelot.
White Buck shows his ability to affect pace and make the music move in fluid succession. It was a Mirage and Never Ending Daydream are unique pieces with solid transition work throughout. A Year and a Little Bit More is the only track that has a letdown, with a grinding sound that buries Wartman’s sound under an avalanche of reverb.
Turtle vs. Elephant, Fire, Lit Up Again and Ace provide a nice exit, demonstrating Wartman’s range and vision without pretense. Carolyn Gabdois provides a surprisingly strong rhythm with the bongos on Dance and the rest of the supporting team, Kyle McDonough, Gwyenne Bevan, Grace Mackell, Anne Mackell, Amanda Thomer and Rick Yerkes all provide competent support.
Look for more work from Doug in the Future. If he keeps his current pace, you’ll probably see him in a venue nearby soon. No matter where you are in the United States.
PC - You've created a distinct sound with your playing. Which musicians influenced your style and in what ways do you notice those influences in your work?
DW - I guess the list would have to start with Bradley Nowell (Sublime), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jack White (White Stripes), Omar Rodriguez Lopez (The Mars Volta), and Nick Drake. Jimmy Page is one of the most technical and prolific players because of the way he plays and connects riffs, balancing improvisation with speed and finesse. Bradley Nowell was the inspiration for me to want to be a musician. White and Lopez take guitar to new boundaries, White uses what could be called a traditional form but completely revamps it into something fresh. Lopez is completely inventing his own style and doing things with the instrument that have not been done before. Lastly, Nick Drake because he shows how a quiet technical acoustic piece can be beautiful.
PC - You have a straight forward sound and yet you add subtle touches to create a strong texture in your music. Do you consciously create your music to be so rich in the first composition, or is that an outgrowth of improvisation as you build and complete the work?
DW - It depends on the piece. Some will be composed and played to their exact structure, except for a change in tempo or dynamics, depending on the situation when the piece is played. For the most part it's supposed to be played the same as it always is. On the other hand, there are pieces that will have small to large completely open sections that are strictly meant for improv at the moment. Other songs are constantly changing, having new parts revised or added to them.
PC - You're currently studying music. Which school do you attend and what are you studying?
DW - Bucks County Community College (in Pennsylvania) and this semester I am studying harmonic theory, aural theory, jazz history and guitar.
PC - How do you cope with the "Business" side of the equation. Do you find that you spend a great deal of time trying to get work and put together CD's, or is that something that you're putting aside as you develop your skills and style?
DW - I am trying to balance both, all of the CDs that I have put together have been produced by me. The initial building process of recording and packaging the music did take a long time and cut into my creative time. Otherwise, scheduling shows and practicing for the shows is time consuming, because I feel every time I pick up my instrument it is to practice for a show and not to create new work. It's nice to give myself a break once in a while to be creative. Recently, I have been inspired by my classes, that I am anxious to get home and get to work on new music. The more I play the more I'll develop my style and the more I learn and apply my skills.
PC - How would you define your work? Without labeling it, how would you like the listener to perceive what you do? What do you want the listener to take away from your music?
DW - I would describe my music as non-boring instrumental music. I want them to be completely sucked into what they hear, let them enjoy it for themselves and interpret it the way they want, if it comes off as energetic or completely relaxing. I want the listener to feel inspired when they hear me play.
PC - When you're not playing, what else are you doing? What are your other interests and hobbies?
DW - Finding and listening to new music whether it is new music that just came out or something from 200 years ago. Appreciating other instruments. Also I enjoy working out, being fit, whether it involves surfing, rollerblading, or running. And it is always more enjoyable when I have my friends around to talk to. Spending time with my girlfriend Grace and my friends.
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