Available: digital download and cassette | Streaming on all major streaming platforms
Release Date: March 15th, 2023
Credits: Written, recorded, and produced in Kingston, ON by David Parker
Featuring remixes by Nick Schofield, Michael C. Duguay and ELMS
Mixed by Jason Mercer
Mastered by Kevin McPhee
Album art by Ben Nelson
Witches’ Butter is an album that grew from a single idea: the mushroom. My son was born in 2019. I was communicating with him by singing and making spontaneous music with him and by reading him books. He had a great kids book about mushrooms. When he was just a year or two old, we spent weeks during the height of the pandemic at the place where I spent my summers in childhood. I started noticing all sorts of mushrooms in the forest that I had never noticed, including what I thought was a Witches’ Butter specimen. Mushrooms became a shared interest between my son and me, something we had in common across an age gap of almost 40 years.
Musically I was leaning towards long form compositions, mantras, drones, chants, and music without chord changes. Maximalism, played at loud volumes. I was enjoying Jenks Miller’s work as the band Horseback, whose album Impale Golden Horn is described as “Healing Music” in the liner notes. Can music heal? A connection to a feeling of spiritual renewal or regeneration can be a healing one. Drone music song forms can allow us to commune with the now-ness of an unchanging musical statement. In this style, the music is unchanging or slowly changing over time, maintaining an adherence to a point of focus, a dominant note – like a mushroom.
I wrote and recorded these songs, patiently overdubbing multiple parts, with all the tools at my disposal: guitars, upright basses, synths, my voice, percussion, MIDI, and software. Each time I carefully revisited the statement I had made, and then tried to make a complementary statement on an accompanying track until the songs sounded full and complete.
I love concerts where people feel comfortable and natural being together in a room with several amplifiers turned up and pointed every which way, where loud music envelopes and elevates listeners into a whole community. That was the intention of these songs. The inspiration of mushrooms as a togetherness, a whole being with various mycelia branching in various directions, resonated with me and this work.
As I worked my vision slowly changed. I began by layering tracks of guitars and basses, as in the album opener “The Invariant Form of the Intuitable World," named after a phrase from Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological works. I found myself veering towards the expressiveness of synths and digital instruments in “A Murder of Crows at Dawn,” named after a revelatory morning waking up to hundreds of crows all cawing together in the trees behind our home. Finally, I experimented with adding a simple repeating chord progression in the title track “Witches’ Butter,” allowing me to explore my voice as an expressive tool to mix among the other resonant sounds on the recorded tracks.
Making this album was an isolating experience. I worked alone in my basement, which was slowly becoming a studio. I needed to reach out and get feedback from others. At this point the idea of remixes seemed worth exploring. I asked three collaborators to contribute, and the album is much richer, and the songs so much more developed, as a result. I also benefited greatly from Jason Mercer’s patient mixing of the original songs. Nick Schofield took my idea and stayed faithful to it on “The Invariant Form of the Intuitable World (Nick Schofield Remix),” sending me multiple versions, and working with me to find a sound that put my improvisations into a more accessible space of synth basses and pads. Alex Unger (ELMS) took a radically different approach, exploring the darkness that lurked underneath the minor key tones and building substantial rhythmic sections on “A Murder of Crows at Dawn (ELMS Remix).” Michael C. Duguay flipped “Witches’ Butter (Michael C. Duguay Fourth World Remix)” into a pop song, for which I’m forever grateful. I’m so happy each of these artists brought their aesthetic and creativity to my material.