Andy Charneco affectionately calls his debut CD “a complete egofest.”
The disc, titled The Listing Attic, contains 17 of Charneco’s synthesizer-and-soundbite collages. The composer is wary of the “ambient” tag but admits a musical preference for “people who experiment with tape recorders.” A musician since 1979—he spent time in local bands Fidelity Jones, On Beyond Zebra, and the Watchstoppers—Charneco has long engaged in what he calls “little tape projects” on the side.
On The Listing Attic, they take center stage. Released on Charneco’s own Three Eyed Cat label, the solo effort represents “the chance to see what kind of music I would make if I wasn’t trying to please other people.”
Other people do have their uses, though. Pieces of several tracks have been performed on stage, but Charneco acknowledges that he’d need a band to replicate the disc’s tunes in a live setting. (Unfortunately, the trio of friends thanked in the disc’s liner notes for “useful percussion sounds” wouldn’t suffice.) If he does decide to assemble a live combo, Charneco says, it will be an unconventional one. “Maybe cello, banjo, and tuba,” he hazards.
Charneco claims film soundtracks as a major inspiration. Indeed, the off-kilter jollity of much of The Listing Attic would be well suited to a skewed children’s film. On the multilayered “Storybook Land,” for instance, he sought to capture the local site’s “combination of fantasy and seediness.” It’s not the only track that owes a stylistic debt to amusement-park clamor. Charneco says the calliopelike jangle of “Grant Wood Child” is the disc’s best indicator of “the direction I’m going in.”
He’ll be going in it soon: Charneco is already at work on a second disc, slated for release this fall.
The Listing Attic is available at Tower Records, Borders Books and Records, and Flying Saucer Compact Discs, or by mail for $10 postpaid from Andy Charneco at 1701 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036.