Brokeback is Douglas McCombs.
Douglas may be familiar to many of you as the bassist for Eleventh Dream Day, Tortoise, and most recently Pullman, an all-acoustic collaboration that features members of Come, Directions in Music, and Rex. During the last two years Brokeback has released two singles and played numerous live dates throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Through Brokeback, Douglas has sought to explore something not as densely structured as his other musical outings with a focus on rhythm and texture. The idea with Brokeback is to keep things simple and let the melodies hang in the air. By the nature of this decision the music is sparse, but not without sounding full and realized.
"Field Recordings" From the Cook County Water Table is the most actualized offering of the Brokeback experience to date, whether it be recorded or live. "Field Recordings…" features contributions from Noel Kuppersmith (Chicago Underground Orchestra) and Josh Abrams (Sam Prekop Band/Town and Country) whose versatile bass playing helped Douglas achieve the textural depth for this debut and first in-depth documentation of Brokeback. Noel has been a frequent collaborator in Brokeback’s live setting. Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground Duo/Isotope 217) plays cornet on the opening track, "after the internationals" and Mary Hansen (Stereolab) lends her angelic voice to the song, "the great banks". Both John Herndon and John McEntire contributed their percussive talents, while McEntire handled the recording duties by himself. The contributions of these individuals cannot in any way be ignored, but it is important to view the record as a piece in the context of Douglas’ intention: melodic rhythm and rich textures. At the heart of Brokeback lies the vision and playing of Douglas McCombs.
In Douglas’ own words: "Brokeback wouldn't exist without the Fender six-string bass. I consider myself a bass player, and though I have dabbled with slide instruments (lap steel and dobro) I was never really interested in moving into the higher register until I became aware of this instrument and its perfect blend of twang and low tone. I began planning this album years before I could even afford to purchase one. It may seem ridiculous to give so much credit to the instrument, but most of these melodies practically wrote themselves, and they were exactly what I wanted to hear."