Photo: Tess Kramer

Shimmy-Disc founder Kramer molds an indie-folk grace under the moniker of Let It Come Down with “Vicky”

Joyful Noise Recordings recently announced that renowned producer, composer, musician, and Shimmy-Disc label founder Kramer would be their 2020 Artist-In-Residence. Over the past four decades, he has secured a place as one of the essential figures in post-punk’s history, all the while establishing Shimmy-Disc as one of the most influential labels during that same period of time. As part of his residency for Joyful Noise, Kramer will develop a 5xLP box set of new material and will re-launch Shimmy-Disc.

“I’m devoting the entirety of 2020 to the series,” Kramer reveals. “I’ll be focusing on my work as an artist and collaborator, precisely as I did when Shimmy-Disc was operational in the ‘80s and ’90s.”

The first release from this box set will be from Let It Come Down, a project that has been roaming around in Kramer’s head for over 20 years. He originally conceived the moniker as a studio-only, one-man-band called TIME, but all that changed in 2016 when he met singer Xan Tyler (Mad Professor/Mission Control, Technique, Orinoko, GlassHouse). He subsequently went to Scotland to work as producer on an EP of hers.

“I’d been hearing Xan’s voice in my dreams for decades, so you can imagine the shock I experienced when I first heard her voice while awake,” said Kramer. “I invited her to work with me on an LP of songs I’d been working on for a long, long time.”

Songs We Sang in Our Dreams, Let It Come Down’s debut LP, will be released on June 12 via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise.

For the video to single “Vicky”, Kramer stepped in as director and editor, with cinematography handled by Renton Quarantino. The remarkable clarity of Tyler’s voice and the glistening plucks of an acoustic guitar are all magnified through the gorgeous black and white imagery. The track is a graceful bit of indie-folk that possesses a beautifully realized melodic perspective, one that focuses on the natural evolution of each note and their impact on the listener. There are also elements of dream-pop woven into the fabric of the music, allowing for an even deeper exploration into its emotional depths.

“For his unforgettable ‘Screen Tests’, Warhol would shoot 16mm film, often at 18fps, and then playback at 16fps,” Kramer explains. “Or he’d shoot at 16fps and play back at 14. He was experimenting with Time, and with the building blocks of Memory. His frame-rate manipulations brought a vaguely perceptible ghostliness to those ‘13 Most Beautiful’ vignettes. They had a dream-like feel to them, which often rendered them Timeless. You could watch one of these screen tests 100 times and have 100 different experiences. There was so much to see, and so much of it could be terrifying.”

He continues: “Robert Wilson later went deeper into what was going on here, in some of his art. if you film someone’s face at 100fps and then watched it frame by frame, you’d see dozens of wholly different expressions, dubbed “micro-expressions”. the human eye can’t see it, but the camera can. of equal interest to me was the fact that the person being filmed (unless they were informed of it beforehand) is unaware of the existence of this phenomenon; a mixture of the voluntary, and the involuntary.

This cinematic dynamic provides a fertile foundation for VICKY, expressing the character’s lifelong battle with her central inner demon; the impossible duality that makes us human.

Warhol instructed his subjects (almost 500 of them between 1964 and 1966) to sit perfectly still. Sometimes he also asked them to try not to blink. I removed those obstructions for the filming of Xan Tyler, and for Vicky.”