Rich Johnson – Up the Turret Mil

Rich Johnson
Up the Turret Mil
Loyal Label – 2008

Northern Minnesota born trumpeter Rich Johnson explores a mix of trumpet, acoustic guitar and piano with laptop glitch, sampling, and musique concrete. Blending his many influences-including Bob Dylan, Don Cherry, Low, Kenneth Gaburo, Jimmy Giufffre, Fugazi-in creating Up the Turret Mil, his first solo release.

Up the Turret Mil is a collection of eleven generously diverse tracks. Many of the songs began as experiments with laptop and electronic-acoustic treatments on the trumpet. A vast majority of the sounds throughout the recording are sculpted out of Johnson’s sampled trumpet playing.

Starting quietly, the album smolders over the opening two tracks. The title of the first track is taken from a line in Joanna Newsome’s album “Ys” and tries to capture the feeling of “Squinting Skyward”. Johnson lays down simple samples of saxophonist Jason Rigby, keyboard and bass and mixes them with slow building glitched-out trumpet. One of Johnson’s favorite writers is Jack London, his book “Star Rover” was the inspiration for the second track. Its story of entering trance states to “walk among the stars and experience portions of past lives” is the inspiration behind the mix of laptop manipulated trumpet wails and simple melodies. “Ignite a Noise” does just that, with trumpet and skittish electronic rhythms colliding in a stuttering happiness. The album continues with pieces ranging in influence from slow core, jazz, folk, experimental ambient and musique concrete.

This music has a feeling of intelligence from an intuitive perspective – it’s as if the inner, slightly more introspective musician is vying with the outer, extroverted techno-wizard.