Ryan Jewell splits the difference between the two sides of his creative brain on new album 'T.V. Sun'
Columbus expat Ryan Jewell has been a professional percussionist for years, most recently playing drums with Ryley Walker, Chris Forsyth, Elkhorn and others. Sometimes Jewell’s gigs last for months on the road; other times it’s a one-off studio session. But his latest release is more personal.
T.V. Sun, the new album from Jewell’s solo(ish) project, Mosses, features some of the first songs the musician ever wrote.
Mosses sprouted several years ago when Jewell got a dulcimer and an oscillator around the same time and started making drone-y, tonal music. Then, in 2013, Jewell had heart surgery and wasn’t allowed to play drums for a couple of months, so he got his first guitar and started noodling around, expanding on his dulcimer experiments.
Later on, Jewell’s partner, Danette Bordenkircher, got a job in upstate New York, so they settled there for a bit. “We were kind of the only two people up there in this small mountain town in the Catskills outside of Woodstock,” Jewell said recently by phone. “We were together all the time and had all these instruments, so we just started playing together.”
The songs — a fresh, endearingly diverse mix of instrumental jammers and vocal-driven bops — came together over the span of years. “I would do something and then put it on the shelf for eight months,” Jewell said. “I'd let the ideas marinate, and then come back to it fresh and be like, ‘OK, do I still like this a year later?' A couple times I was like, ‘I don't really feel this anymore. This is not where my musical taste is at now.’ But then I’d be able to make a little adjustment to things and it would feel current again.”
Much of T.V. Sun, which is out today (Friday, March 6), was recorded by Psychedelic Horseshit’s Matt Horseshit in his living room, inside Double Happiness and various other locations around Columbus, allowing Jewell to experiment with different sounds in different spaces. “There might be a drum part or a synthesizer recorded in one room five years ago, and then a fresh piano part from six months ago in a different state, and by the power of some weird wormhole or something they’re all just living together in this one song at one time,” Jewell said. “[But] I think of [T.V. Sun] almost like one big, long piece. … It’s very intentional, how they all go from one song to the other.”
While this record was painstakingly pieced together over years, Mosses also released a tape last year that was improvised and recorded in one day. “I have these two parts of my brain that are kind of at odds with each other. It can be random or it can be very sculpted. There’s an openness to either approach,” said Jewell, who sees each version of Mosses working in concert with the other. “There's attention to detail, even if those details are chaotic. It's like you step out into a crazy leaf storm, and the way those leaves fly around, it's totally chaotic, but it can be great. If you notice the details of chaos, that can be just as beautiful as something that's intentionally detailed.”