Jason Ogden shares some of his most ambitious material to date

Category: music 74

Please Be Seated is a two-track instrumental EP that stands in deliberate contrast to Ogden’s countless releases and collaborations. 

Matt Carter

Jason Ogden is full of surprises. Never one to repeat himself, Ogden has been releasing music for decades, always looking for new sounds or ways to reinterpret the familiar. From his early days leading the post-punk projects NFA and Hospital Grade, to his later folk experiments with Penny Blacks and collaborations too numerous to count, Ogden is admirably free in his vision as a musician and an artist. So it only makes sense that his latest release, Please Be Seated, is something altogether unique when placed along his boundless trajectory. 

Please Be Seated is a two-track instrumental release clocking in around the 23 minute mark. Free from traditional forms, this near-half-hour experiment combines guitar, drums, piano and a variety of other noisemakers, working in harmony and dissonance, to create a landscape that is at times frantic and meditative. 

“It started late one night during lockdown about two years ago,” said Ogden, explaining the project’s genesis. “I was experimenting with a shitty keyboard I found in the trash on Orange Street. I eventually just started recording it and played for like 12 minutes, just improvising with zero structure.”

Please Be Seated grew from there developing constantly over a two year period with Ogden adding new layers above and below the initial structure he created. 

Of the two tracks that make up this release – Phase 1 and Phase 2 the first is the most free, existing largely without structure of any kind. The second, which hints towards a more formal approach in its composition, eventually builds from disjointed beat placement to a point that feels somewhat familiar with its various contributing tones working together in a slightly more amicable relationship to define this, Ogden’s most ambitious recording to date.

“Phase I was very much more off the cuff and improvised takes of the other instruments,” said Ogden. “Phase II was much more sort of clinical and I made an effort to make certain things lock in and follow or compliment each other.”

To reinforce the freedom and broaden this experiment’s already vast sonic palette, Ogden called upon old friends Jud Crandall and Greg Abrams to fill in the few remaining spaces he couldn’t fill on his own.

“I decided I needed a sax on one part. I do not own, nor can I even play a saxophone, so I asked Jud Crandall to lay something down,” said Ogden.

“I was very grateful to have received his invitation and have been excited since then to hear the end results,” said Crandall. “I have enjoyed the fruits of his experimentation for sure.

“I had only heard a portion about one to two minutes in length, that I tracked a few short improvised takes to, so I still got to enjoy discovering the piece’s overall zigs and zags and zones. The only real direction Jason gave me was to think of sitcom intro music for inspiration, which was unusual and unexpected, but made for a novel improvisation exercise.”

Abrams helped round out the second half of this recording adding keys to the recording’s fusion-like climax.

“On the end of Phase II, it was the same for the Rhodes-style keys.  I don’t have the gear or the skill to play the more fluid, psyche-jazz stuff I had in mind so I asked Greg to give it a shot,” said Ogden. “Both he and Jud nailed it. This was all during heavy restrictions, so they did their parts at home and sent them to me.”

Please Be Seated is available now for streaming or purchase on Bandcamp

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