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Song Premiere: Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch, 'Etimasia'

Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem
courtesy of the artist
Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem

Film director and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch is also a musician — not surprisingly, a very cinematic musician. His tastes in music are so much a part of his films: He often casts musicians in key roles and music as part of the storyline. Think about his film Down by Law, with saxophonist John Lurie and singer Tom Waits. Or Stranger Than Paradise, in which "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a key character. The list is pretty long.

In 2010, Jarmusch curated the music festival All Tomorrow's Parties and joined us as a guest DJ on All Songs Considered to talk about his picks including Sunn 0)))/Boris, Raekwon, Hope Sandoval and T-Model Ford, who all make music with a rather dark veneer. In his own music, Jarmusch can usually be found playing dense, languid guitar textures — this recording with Jozef Van Wissem is a fine example. Van Wissem plays the lute with his heart equally in the 17th and 21st century. His love for the Baroque seems equal to his love for cut and paste techniques and finding adventure in the antique.

Together the two musicians have made a record called The Mystery of Heaven and it's out Nov 13th. Here's a song from the record, called "Etimasia."

While you listen we asked Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem to tell us about this collaboration, which Jarmusch says will also be part of his next film, Only Loves Left Alive.

Jim Jarmusch writes:

"I see our music together like moving landscapes as seen from a moving train or a car, maybe a boat. Sometimes my electric guitar describes prominent things in the landscape but more often, against the crystalline foreground of Jozef's lute, I try to paint in the background mostly with noise and feedback — maybe some pastel clouds rolling by, or a dark storm passing through. Sometimes I try to paint in a soft blur of green trees, sometimes strong rays of bright, white light ... Jozef is a very open and sensual musician, and it's a joy for me to create these landscapes with him."

Jozef Van Wissem writes:

"The electric guitar is in reaction to the lute mirror images which are the basis for the material on this record. the lute compositions and sound are idiomatic to the classical baroque lute repertoire from around the 1620's. Classical lute themes are mirrored and emulated. Jim's work on Mystery of Heaven is electric guitar feedback and quite visceral, physical stuff as he moves around to get the long notes and drones he needs. This sound gets kind of perfected on this album. "Etimasia" means "empty throne" and relates to the agnostic concept of the godhead. Here, Jim adds feedback to a repetitive low bass lute theme leaving imaginative space. The "Mystery of Heaven" title itself as well refers to non-existence.

The Mystery of Heaven will be out Nov. 13 on Sacred Bones.

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Bob Boilen
In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.