Electric Guitar One


Band: Emma Ruth Rundle
Album: Electric Guitar One
Best song: “For Paul”
Worst song: “Dialogue Preceding”

One of the self-evident parts of fandom is the strange reality of coming near the subject of said fandom. I suspect it’s not a real thing for super duper mainstream artists.

Let me back up.

I’ve interviewed a bunch of musicians in my life and have, generally, taken to the idea that they’re just people. Name-dropping isn’t going to do me any good, but meeting people like Chris Walla or Ike Brock or Wayne Coyne or Doug Martsch didn’t bother me; ultimately, they were just some dudes. 

Not so with Emma Ruth Rundle.

I saw Rundle as part of a Sargent House tour recently at Rock and Roll Hotel, where she middled for Mylets and TTNG. The show, of course, was amazing. But, the thing that struck me was that she was in the crowd during the Mylets set and I was completely awestruck by her and was embarrassed to talk to her.

It’s hard not to chalk it up to a latent sexism or creepy dude thing. Rundle is a beautiful woman whose work I adore and have trouble expressing my love for (the work, not her). Some Heavy Ocean is my favorite record of the year and I’m similarly crushed with adoration for the Marriages record. What was I going to say?

Ultimately, when we worked her own merch table after her superlative set, I went over to buy Electric Guitar One on vinyl. I talked to her, albeit briefly, shook her hand and was very fast to get the fuck out of there. I thanked her for coming back to DC and mentioned how much I loved the DC9 show from the summer. And that was that.

I had a little conversation on Twitter with an Internet friend about feminism (Go check out Eden’s site. She and it are awesome), creepiness and self-awareness. As you’d expect, it wasn’t as in-depth as these conversations need to be, but that’s the nature of Twitter. Because she’s a nice person, Eden seemed to see the best in people when she said “I doubt that you are” in regards to my being a big-talking feminist who only used it as a guise for hitting on ladies.

An aside: I’m going to embody my biggest criticism of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist here and do too much in the way of definition. In my defense, I’m not a good writer. Even so, I’ll apologize in advance for this bullshit.

Because, ultimately, I don’t know what my motives are. Certainly not all the time. I think of women as people as much as I think of men as people, which is more than I can say for the raging antifeminists of the so-called Men’s Rights Movement. I try to be empathetic and, therefore, progressive in my politics. I idolize my sister

But, still. I always think of those dudes who worship women and end up hurt by them and bitch and moan about “the friendzone.” I like to think I’ve turned that corner, such as when I was dumped last spring and didn’t blame the young woman. Instead of blaming her and saying that she was awful, I was simply sad about it. I’ve done a lot of dating since my last Very Serious Relationship and learned a very important lesson: No one is owed love. It’s is not a puzzle to be solved, nor is it a matter effort.

This all fits into my absurdist/atheist (though not the MRA/libertarian/Reddit atheist way) worldview. We don’t control much about the world, least of all other people. B doesn’t follow A directly, and C certainly doesn’t follow B. The world doesn’t make sense most of the time. Good people die young, Pol Pot lived into his 70s.

But that’s relationships. What of my relation to all genders, in general? Do I put women on pedestals that I don’t reserve for men? Why couldn’t I talk to Rundle other than a cursory couple of words?

To take it out of the gender side of it, I wonder how much of it is simple awe of art I love. Elliott Smith is probably my favorite songwriter of all-time and I was never lucky enough to meet him, though I suspect I would’ve had a similar reaction to him. I was a big Built to Spill fan, but when I interviewed Martsch, it was like talking to anyone else. I once shook Brann Dailor’s hand and had a similar situation to the one I had with Rundle. I suspect I would do the same for John McEntire (or anyone else from Tortoise) or, most definitely, Chelsea Wolfe.

In the case of Emma Ruth Rundle, part of my admiration of her is her being super into gear (which is kind of a traditional dude thing). Watch her perform with Marriages in 2013.

In addition to the tapping lead line after the verse, check out the pedal setup (around 5:10 in the video) she’s got! That’s the kind of Guitar World centerfold thing usually reserved for old men which long hair who hang out in the back of music shops and extoll the virtues of Steve Vai. The fact that she’s a singer who doesn’t play annoying noodly stuff is amazing and I am entirely enamored with her use of those technologies for good, soulful music.

Electric Guitar One is mostly ambient guitar noodling and atmospheric stuff, but it shows the kind of skillset Rundle has. This should surprise no one who has heard her work with Marriages (see above) or anything by Red Sparrowes. She’s someone who plays the guitar as an end, not something to fill the space around her already wonderful voice. She’s a wildly skilled musician and someone I simply can’t believe exists in the same space of humanity as myself.

You can stream or buy (or both!) Electric Guitar One here.

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