shares a stunning dense mix of self-reflective music culled mostly from his personal Bandcamp collection. We recently reviewed
his latest work, Long Read Memories
, an affective synthesis between the personal context and the formal expression found in the music, and were eager to learn more about his influences and process.
The eight tracks which comprise Long Read Memories were recorded between 2000 and 2018, a process the artist describes as penning “a letter to childhood’s end and the scars and catharsis carried into adulthood.” These recordings chronicle his decades long attempts to come to terms with a childhood trauma: when Chelmets was his a child, his older brother was arrested for murder, and is still incarcerated as a “juvenile life without parole offender, regardless of US Supreme Court rulings to the unconstitutionality of this sentence without consideration of age.” Long Read Memories directly foregrounds these biographical aspects in the form of field recordings of the events in question and media samples integrated with the artists playing and arrangements. He describes this as “something [he] must do,” an expressive outlet, for catharsis, perhaps as a ritual, or perhaps just because.
Here at ACL, we have always loved discovering lesser-heard works, and find it important to encourage everyone to make art and express themselves in whatever way they are able. For most of human history, the social context of musicking (a necessarily active process prior to recording) made listeners active contributors; singing, playing, dancing. For all that music-as-studio-art enables, the commodification of music in the form of physical recordings becomes much more of an economy of scarcity and relatively passive contemplation. Of course there are many of us who make music for the same reason that Whettman Chelmets describes above. Something I really appreciate about Bandcamp, as a longtime supporter of DIY music, is that the platform makes it possible for such cathartic labor of love and self-reflection to circulate, resonating with the right listeners. That’s how I’ve come to hear Thoughts that Linger and Thoughts that Stab, which weaves together a myriad of personal expressions into a dense, wandering mix of meaningful music making. (Joseph Sannicandro)
Please introduce yourself.
I’m 41 years old and I’ve been making music as Whettman Chelmets for 20 years now. Interests shift from soundscapes to more composed ideas. Right now, the sound is grounded in this type of dronish movement with guitar, synths and various found sounds. Harsh beauty or something like that. I’m raising a 15 year old, a not quite 2 year old, I have a wonderful partner, and I spend my days working for the Public Defender’s office.
What’s the local scene like where you live? Any labels, artists, events, etc you’d like to shout out?
I live in Joplin, Missouri. Population 50,000. 3 hours from St. Louis. 2 from Kansas City. 2 from Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s always been this kind of dropping off point. It’s a small town in the bible belt but we had a wonderful punk scene when I was a kid. At the Drive In came here. ALL came here. Marky Ramone. Lots of wonderful experiences going to local shows around here. The best part about a small town scene is that things aren’t quite codified as to what is cool and what isn’t, so very often bands from many different genres perform together and share an audience out of necessity. I’m not as familiar with the scene now as I spend my time with family. The Cesspool Castle puts on these wonderful basement shows to about 15-50 metalhead kids at a time open to almost any kind of experience. Great place to stop in between bigger cities.
Tell us about the mix.
The mix is largely from my Bandcamp collection, and mainly things from this year. On top of my own work, I noticed a lot of great music out there that kinda draws from this pool of reflection on one’s experiences. A lot of the artists featured do so, whether unconsciously or not. I love to cram mixes with so many different tracks and snippets of tracks. I think it’s 32 artists into 58 minutes, so things just sort of flow into the next. Memory often works that way, you know?
Anything else you’d like to mention before we go?
Long Read Memories is my latest, and featured a wonderful review from A Closer Listen. I’d really like people to hear what I did on that as I’m very proud of the story I told — of getting my story, my experiences, out there. We carry so much baggage. It’s so much better traveling lightly.
Thanks so much for sharing with us.
Hear more from Whetman Chelmets: Twitter, Bandcamp, Spotify
Kajsa Lindgren – 1991 (Warm Winters Ltd.)
Diamondstein – The Mountaineer (ft. Sheenah Ko) (Doom Trip Records)
Pink and Yellow – They Know (self-released)
qualchan. – Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out and That’s Okay. (self-released) –
Nate Scheible – B03 (Never Anything Records)
Donoval & Fiala – VIII (Canigou Records)
James A. McDermid – Madrid, 1960 (self-released)
Laura Luna Castillo – Eight Eyes of Anticipation (Cudighi Records)
HAWN – Cody Matthews (Strategic Tape Reserve)
cacero lazo – Okyr (Submarine Broadcasting Company)
Elizabeth Joan Kelly – Trinity Quadrant Cantata (self-released)
Nicholas Langley – Cat’s Eyes (Third Kind Records)
9T Antiope – Dry Run (eilean rec.)
Leaaves – Wave Aperture (Asura Revolver)
Fae Moonbeam and Seffi Starshine – Second Movement (Girly Girl Musik)
Intrusive Thoughts – Mimicry (Girly Girl Musik)
Gimu – When a Chance’s Bound to Come (The Committee for Sonic Research)
Whalt Thisney – Beyond the Clouds (Girly Girl Musik)
Sumatran Black – Is This Heaven? (это рай) (self-released)
Black Robert – Climb Up the Streetlight (Binaural Space)
The Gateless Gate – Wise View (self-released)
Valyri – Etheralism (Asura Revolver)
SELVEDGE – ATOMS (Vivarium Recordings)
Belly Full of Stars – skeletondrive (Courier)
brusalan – Galaxy 500 XL (self-released)
Here On Mars_ – Ultimatum B Minor (self-released)
Qoheleth (Phillip K. Discs) – Meditations in the Key of TV
Binaural Space – Eternity is Forever (self-released)
Dominique Vaccaro – 004316 (tsss tapes)
Dino Spiluttini – No Mercy Shown (ACR)
Tyresta – Your Light Once Shined (Past Inside the Present)