Max Avery Lichtenstein got his start as a film composer with a penchant for writing music that can touch hearts. His music has appeared in independent movies like Jesus' Son, Tarnation and The King. Now Lichentsein is trying his hand at arty chamber pop with a project he's calling Camphor.
With the help of musicians from other relatively known bands (Bright Eyes, Beirut), Camphor is now a five-piece band based in Rye, NY. Their first release, Drawn to Dust, is a showcase for Lichtenstein's evocative writing style, fleshed out by a group of talented artists.
While writing most of the material for Drawn to Dust, Lichtenstein was inspired by the Japanese concept of "Wabi-sabi", the aesthetic premise for unrefined, imperfect creations. The idea is that the most profound moments in life can be found in the most seemingly mundane. Lichtenstein says that the band kept "that attitude in mind during the recording process as well, allowing the rough edges to poke through every now and then." Live tracking and microphones placed to capture found sound conveys Camphor's way of "accepting the inevitable decay of things."
In addition to philosophical experimentation, Camphor has diverse directions in music as heard in "The Sweetest Tooth." An organ embellishes an easy, mellow rhythm guided by Lichtenstein's throaty baritone, while the chorus explodes with what he calls "about thirty layers of instruments clanging away, including a hammer-struck anvil."
Camphor is signed to Friendly Fire Records which will release Drawn to Dust on February 8th, 2008. The band will also release a video for their song "Castaway" which includes "Playmobile pirate toys." A tour is in the works as is Lichtenstein's many other projects, including a return to his roots in film music.
Yesterday's Second Stage Artist
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