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Floored By Four is the eponymous debut from mike watt's "Manhattan project," a quartet of renowned musicians comprising Dougie Bowne on drums, guitarist Nels Cline, Yuka Honda on keys, and bass, spiel and compositions by watt. Their debut studio album was recorded by Matt Vertaray, then mixed by Dougie, Yuka and Matt at Bowne’s basement studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Floored By Four is being released September 28 by Chimera Music.

All of the Four are gifted musicians but more importantly original, idiosyncratic, and unpredictable musicians. Their playing is bursting with undeniable character and imagination. Each have extensive histories playing diverse types of music and the results of this collaboration defy categorization. Floored By Four shifts effortlessly and unexpectedly between dark and mysterious jazz, avant-punk, exotic otherworldly sounds, strutting Memphis soul… echoes of Sun Ra, Booker T, Bitches Brew, Can, Funkadelic, Sonic Youth, Beefheart, Xenakis…

Watt recollects of the recording sessions: "It was very sweaty due to NYC weather that time of year, very humid and hot. It was great though. I was kind of nervous like I usually always am while recording, but there was a great trippy energy about this proj. The other three were very kind to me to take direction for each tune using just bass and some idiotic words from me for direction. I tried to bring out the personalities for each tune for the corresponding cat I wrote it for but at the same time wanted to make a team effort as much as possible. I wanted to be the grout between the tiles."

All the tracks were composed by watt. Cline describes: "Watt sent mp3s of bass lines that are his structures, building blocks. The arrangements were arrived at through mutual creativity and from Watt's ideas/directions/metaphorical delineations. He had already conceived the album as you see/hear it, with each piece's title being a band member's name. There is a lot of instrumental music on the record, and the guitar is both supportive as well as almost front and center. I think my awareness of music like that of Miles Davis in the late 60s-mid 70s is helpful in a situation like this, but also I have played quite a bit in different situations with Watt over the years, absorbed some salient aspects of his universe..."

Dougie: "We recorded to tape, playing together- the old style. It turned out to be more than appropriate: the process insured that we commit to performances, communicate directly with one another with immediacy and realness that is often, and not surprisingly, lost in the digital recording age. This recording sounds like the idea that Watt had for it- four people, who have histories together and separately."

 


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Yuka: "I had played with Dougie a million times. He taught me music, he is my mentor. I had never played with Mike or Nels but soon I realized that all of them are very similar in that their sound comes from a very deep place of their heart. I am and always will be floored by these three. They are all amazing players but in terms of music, their skill almost doesn't matter. It's their heart and soul that make these sounds."

Anecdote: These two New Yorkers came to record with these two Southern Californians via pure serendipity -- Honda’s band, Cibo Matto had opened a few dates for Porno For Pyros which included watt helping out on bass. At one show, one of the Pyros' half-naked, fire-breathing dancers accidentally caught fire, and a sharp-witted watt saved the day by quickly pouncing and smothering the flames with his body. After this memorable impression, Yuka kept up with watt through Myspace and Facebook and when watt came through NYC playing bass with Iggy & The Stooges, she attended with her ex-husband Bowne, who had drummed with Iggy himself for several years. After the show, Honda mentioned to watt that she missed playing music with Dougie, and a light bulb went on in mike's noggin.

When M. Ward invited watt to open for his show at Central Park’s “Summerstage,” watt seized this opportunity to assemble his "New York" project. He supplemented Honda and Bowne with longtime musical crony Nels Cline who was staying in Brooklyn at the time. The album was recorded in three days prior to the “Summerstage” performance, the ensemble’s only live appearance to date.

And Yuka and Nels are now engaged to be married...

Nels Cline is the lead guitarist in Wilco. He has recorded numerous albums with the Nels Cline Trio and the Nels Cline Singers and has been a member of Quartet Music and Geraldine Fibbers. He has also played in groups with Julius Hemphill, Thurston Moore, Charlie Haden, Mike Watt and many more.

Yuka Honda was half of Cibo Matto. She has played extensively with Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, and has recorded with Dave Douglas, Beastie Boys, Bernie Worrell and Los Lobos, to name just a few. She has released three Yuka Honda albums on Tzadik Records and a collaboration album with Yoshimi of the Boredoms.

Dougie Bowne is best known for years of drumming with John Cale, Iggy Pop, Arto Lindsay and the Lounge Lizards. Dougie has recorded albums with Marianne Faithful, Cassandra Wilson and his own jazz trio with John Medeski and Fred Hopkins, as well as producing albums by Chris Whitley, Doveman, and Benny's "Todo o Nada", a platinum album in Mexico.

A founding member of the seminal band the minutemen, mike watt has also played with fIREHOSE, and Dos, and recorded three albums in his own right supported by musicians Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Flea, Petra Haden, Nels Cline. and many others, too numerous to list. Watt has been bassist with Iggy & The Stooges since 2003. He has also toured as a member of Porno For Pyros and recorded with Sonic Youth, Elliott Sharp and loads more. In his “spare time,” Watt does an internet radio show and reads the entire New York Times every day.

   
 

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