We at THE BOMBER JACKET are happy to premiere a new song from Emperor X today for our tenth issue. Stream here:
Emperor X is the moniker for Los Angeles musician C.R. Matheny. In the last ten years of his career in music, Matheny has released six studio albums, the latest of which is Western Teleport–a highly acclaimed collection of songs that marks the musician’s signing with the revered New Jersey label, Bar/None Records.
“Nap Time for Tom Coughlin” is a mix of a new song off the musician’s forthcoming album that will be released later this year. Thematically it’s a bit of a follow-up to the song “Canada Day” from Western Teleport, narrating a new nostalgic journey with an unknown romantic accomplice. The song premiere is tied to important news from the artist: Emperor X will be touring the United Kingdom and Europe for the first time, this summer. He will be playing a series of shows exploring cities in Norway, Germany, France, Slovenia, Belgium and England. Matheny says pursuing the tour was a no-brainer:
It was coincidence that my friends in Extra Life introduced me by e-mail to the rad folks in Berlin at Paper & Iron Booking, who are arranging this tour, right around when things were starting to pick up for me. And when someone says, ‘Hey, can you come play Europe this summer?’ the only correct answer is ‘Yes!’
Thus far, Emperor X tours in the U.S. have meant long trips on Greyhound buses, Matheny’s preferred method of transportation. “This is partly because it is the cheapest way for a solo artist to tour (if you buy a monthly pass), and partly because public transportation is just how I roll–you meet great and awful people, you really see the country as it is with all rough edges intact, and you avoid the sterile freeway rest stops,” explains Matheny.
In Europe, he will be traveling by bus, train, and plane. Although he’s never toured in Europe before, he’s not deterred by possible setbacks or language barriers. He explains, “I know there are some scary parts in Europe, but I’m fairly confident no one’s going to walk up to me with a shiv bleeding from their armpit at 4 a.m. like they did in New Orleans. I don’t know, maybe I’m naive here, but I’m pretty sure the night trains aren’t going to be anywhere near as rough as the American intercity bus system.”
The European tour will see Matheny continuing with a musical treasure hunt he has been working on for the last few years, something he refers to as his “geocoded cooperative exercise.” For each release of his since 2008, he’s buried master tapes with fragments of unreleased material or stems for remixes. He then posts the GPS coordinates of the secret locations on his Twitter feed so people can dig up the tapes, which come with instructions and a code to unlock a digital copy of the music. Once the person types in the code, the music is also released on the musician’s website, available for everyone. But if no one finds the physical copy with the code, the audio stays encrypted and no one will ever hear it. His music becomes fossilized in time. Matheny says the process is “a natural next step in the evolution of how we disseminate culture in near-post-scarcity democracies.” He continues:
The more an artist involves people in the distribution of their work, the more the people feel a sense of ownership of the cultural resource and the more they see the work of art as a vital part of their society. Cheap video technology, the Internet, and the U.S. military’s GPS satellite system make this particular method possible, but there are certainly others. It’s a lot of fun to peacefully exploit technological developments originally intended for precise targeting in warfare. I also like it because it uses the internet to get people out of the multimedia haze we spend our days in and out into the real world, in the sun or wind or rain, digging in the dirt. Most importantly, though, I see it as a response to the increasing importance of marketing for all arts, but music in particular.
In each city in Europe, Matheny plans to bury tapes containing songs he’s working on as he travels, some of which will wind up on his next album. Fans can follow his Twitter feed to discover the locations of the musical fossils. He’s also planning on releasing future GPS coordinates through viral videos and songs.
The “Nap Time for Tom Coughlin” track is the first of its kind, featuring a special musical clue at the end of the song. Matheny embedded two tones in the last two seconds with hertz frequencies that depict the GPS location for a tape he will hide in Europe somewhere (the frequencies are subtle, so pay close attention). The first tone is the latitude, and the second is the longitude. Matheny will reveal more specific locational clues through Twitter when he’s touring next month.
Emperor X European tour dates are as follows:
29.06.2012 Oslo (NO), Gut Feelings Festival
30.06.2012 Laerz (DE), Fusion Festival
02.07.2012 Berlin (DE), Schokoladen
03.07.2012 Frankfurt (DE), AZITA Store
04.07.12 Vienna (AT), czirp czirp: WALK
05.07.2012 Ljubljana (SI), [a]Infoshop
06.07.2012 Munich (DE), innen: stadt. außen
07.07.12 Leipzig (DE) Nullbisunendlich
08.07.2012 Bochum (DE), Rottstr. 5 Theater
09.07.2012 Gent (BE), Cafe Video
10.07.2012 Paris (FR), Le Trabendo (with Here We Go Magic)
11.07.12 Amsterdam (NL), Studio K
12.07.2012 Liverpool (UK), Bold Street Coffee
13.07.2012 Bristol (UK), The Cube
14.07.2012 London (UK), The Waiting Room