A beautiful mixture of rock, electronica, blues, and ambient
The Driver's Companion, track by track, by Mark Rushton:
1) Theme From Lincoln Highway - I'd been creating and layering music loops for a couple years, and this was one of the more complete things I had finished in late 2001 or early 2002. It's got a nice funky feel to it, with deep bass, soaring synths, and crisp percussion. I used to call this my "coffee table electronica" song because it's relatively conventional and doesn't have as much "edge" like many of my later recordings do. I still think it's a great track, and that's why it was placed first on the album.
2) Psychometrics - A pairing of rock and electronica. It starts out with layered guitars blazing and a crunching hard rock beat thumping before it settles into a more relaxed middle section with haunting voices, odd percussion, and bells going around in your head. Eventually the layered guitars return before fading out into proggy ambient electronica bliss at the end. Even after all these years I find this music exciting and vibrant. I've always liked multi-part songs that unexpectedly fit together and I feel that this one does.
3) Downdream - It's pitch-shifted acoustic guitar picking with electronics swirling around and a tight and driving electro beat. This leads into a blues guitar section that gets busy, and then momentarily quiet, before returning with a beautiful ebow-ish guitar solo. It's mixed around a bit before it ends as it starts.
4) Adventitious - I really should have called the "The Adventitious Blues" because it would have likely gotten more attention. It's blues licks put with an electronic/fuzzy backing with some wah guitar and thick bass and strings added. It just bubbles right along. There's no drums on the track. I have this odd break about 2/3s of the way through, a sign of things to come. The blues/electronica stuff is brought back again to battle it out before the electronica wins in the droning/crackling end. I even stuck a timpani sample in there and it had an excellent transition effect; a nod to my childhood when we had concert band at school. I played this for Jon Harnish in my vehicle and he was just knocked over by it.
5) This Is How You Disappear - Yes, the title is ripped off from a Scott Walker lyric. Mid-tempo riffing with a nice shuffle beat and pieced-together acoustic playing. Harmless background music. At the end, I bring forth this beautiful wall of electronic noise behind the rhythmic guitars and drums.
6) Free The Airwaves - Electronics are back, all slowed down, drifty, bleepy, and droning. Quite pretty. I come from the days of vinyl and all my albums have a point where you determine "side two" and if this was on vinyl it would be the first track on side two. There's a definite shift in mood here from "This Is How You Disappear", very late night and chilled out.
7) The Seedling Mile - Yet another "Lincoln Highway" reference, although not to the other song but the road itself. Back in the 1910s the government was trying to get the public interested in concrete roadways, so they'd go several miles outside a city and build a mile of concrete roadway and invite people with cars out to drive on it to see what they think. It was called "The Seedling Mile" and we had a section of road between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon on the Lincoln Highway that signified the "seedling mile" for that road. As for the song, you get strict drum machine loops joined by real drums, tight keyboards, scratching, electronics filling the sky, and a bit of flute almost-melody. It's all enclosed in a pop song structure.
8) The Congener - Synthy-pop with a somewhat mid 80's Cabaret Voltaire influence. Lots of ominous sounds, swathy synths, and thick electro drums in this one. At one time I thought I'd go more in the direction of dance music, but the dark side seemed more appealing to me so this was one of the last "dance-ish" tracks I did.
9) Powerdown - For this album, it's probably the most experimental track. Improvised loops, bird chirps, weird synth squiggles/drones, and orchestra combine with ballpark organ.
10) Perpetual Vision - Ahhhh, the voices, the blues chords in the background, the bass rumblings, the synth ostinato going from ear to ear, spilled percussion, and the Bill Nelson-ish ebow guitar solo. I really love this track. The whole mix has a "soupy" quality to it. You can't really go wrong with using blues riffs, either. They connect with a lot of music listeners in an immediate way.
11) Swimming Under Stars - A long meditative piece based on a rather small number of loops. Lots of people have written me about how they like this one. Years ago, when I lived in Houston, I used to swim in the evenings at the apartment complex's main pool, and it was always so warm and nice. With Houston there are so many lights that you can barely see any stars.
I made this album between 2001 and early 2003, and I believe it's held up rather well over the years. Although my style has changed a bit by the time of this writing (early 2008) to a more ambient and experimental style, I still love these recordings.