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Chessie



Chessie is the pseudonym of Virginia-based Stephen Gardner, a young and talented multi-instrumentalist who began his music career several years ago at the age of 16 with the cult anti-rock group Lorelei. Gardner embarked upon his Chessie project in '95, systematically filling four-track cassette tapes with his swirling, disorienting breakbeat compositions. Samplers are not normally part of his studio arsenal -- he prefers to loop his beats with the aid of reverb units and let the natural flow of the loops have a say in the ultimate structure of each tune.

Atop this organic base, Gardner adds live bass and guitar, creating a mesmerizing mixture of edgy beats, unsettling soundscapes, and often improvised melodies. His ongoing studies in composition and improvisation clearly pay off in tracks like "Ivy City Interlocking," which cannily blends structure with chance, the familiar with the startling. It is truly a new music; one that refers to the currently popular strands of jungle, post-rock, and dub, but moves well beyond the usual facile and superficial experiments into a more ambiguous and far deeper realm.

Yes, all the "right" influences are there in the grooves, from Cage to Satie to Autechre, but Chessie is clearly onto something quite different and special here. Where Signal Series stuns with its iconoclastic brilliance, Meet handily surpasses it in every measure.

Besides being a great record, Meet also turned Chessie into a duo. While recording the album, Gardner began working with Ben Bailes, a sound engineer and producer based in New York City. The two enjoyed working together so much that Bailes joined on as a full-time member of the group. In 2001 they released Overnight, a record dedicated to railways and train travel. Featuring field recordings and samples of trains and stations, the album is a rich, beautiful ride through the ups and downs of railway travel. The train samples on "Daylight" create a dense, rhythmic collage of sound. It's a pleasure to see Chessie's sound becoming more and more distinct with each new release.

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