Horizontal Household Ballads

by Learning Music

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Horizontal Household Ballads

Stories from various homes in the form of keyboard-laden, minimalist, hypnotic pieces that change slowly over time (horizontally, without the common verse/chorus, male/female dramatic structure).

What is a horizontal household ballad?

Horizontal – As opposed to the linearly immediate and obvious vertical, these pieces are long, stretched out, changing gradually over time. (this is the longest LM album yet, seventy-some minutes). They took a lot of commitment and patience to make, employing great efforts to avoid dualistic (masculine-feminine/verse-chorus/loud-soft) dramatic techniques. They may also take some patience to listen to, (though perhaps they are better NOT listened to, but rather absorbed subconsciously).

Household – Subjects tackled in these songs include mostly elements of various modern families; stories of relationships that are ingrained over long periods of time.

Ballads – This is a very old term, at one time describing a form of epic storytelling, later referring to folk songs that traveled around europe (with wandering minstrels) and eventually to the Americas. It is a word also associated with modern love songs. Many of the electronic keyboard tones on this album sound like they could have come from a pop ballad of maybe fifteen to twenty-five years ago; sounds that could be considered dated and even cheesy (correct me if you don’t think so). However, I have, to some degree, here attempted to rescue these sounds from obsolescence, with hope that the cultural associations of sounds are but transient, that all instruments may someday be accepted into the melting pot, and judged not by their geographical or historical or social heritage, but by the pure tones which they produce.

In this sense, I believe there is a bit of time-travel genre-bending in some of these songs, which is why Malisa Humphrey’s cover art seems appropriate. Thanks to Malisa for the art, and also to Max Markowitz, who helped create several of the songs on this album.


released November 1, 2009

originally released as issue 2.9 of Learning Music Monthly

• all songs written and recorded by John Clement Wood, Oct 09, except 1, 4, 6, & 9 by John Wood and Max Markowitz (a.k.a. ing)

• artwork by Malisa Humphrey :: artslant.com




John Clement Wood Los Angeles, California

John Clement Wood is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, working with artists as varied as Mike Kelley, Sebastien Tellier, Anni Rossi, Cougarship, and the Black Keys. He produced 36 disparate albums of original music as part of the Learning Music Monthly album-a-month series. Wood composes music for a variety of film and media. He is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts ... more

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