JEFF HUNT is an artist, producer, designer and writer, best known as the founder of independent recording label Table of the Elements (lauded by Pitchfork Media as “a national treasure"). Since 1992, he has documented some of the most prominent figures in experimental sound. He and Tony Conrad—the profoundly influential composer, musician, artist and filmmaker—maintained a prolific and durable relationship until the latter's passing in 2016. From their partnership flowed releases both archival and contemporary, documents that dramatically rewrote the history of American minimalism. These also divulged previously unheard recordings by Conrad’s peers from the early 1960s, including the protean filmmaker and artist Jack Smith and Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale.
Hunt was a prime mover in the career resurgence of John Fahey, producing several new titles before the guitarist’s death in 2001; he also collaborated with Fahey and Dean Blackwood on their Revenant recording label. His partnerships with award-winning graphic artist Susan Archie and acclaimed filmmaker Tyler Hubby span decades, and he enjoys an ongoing alliance with pan-media craftsman Bradly Brown.
As a creative director and consultant, Hunt has contributed to more than 170 audio titles, often with long-time collaborator Archie. Examples of their unusual approach to raw materials and innovative design have been acknowledged in media sources including Print, I.D., Artforum, Time, and Rolling Stone. Hunt has left inventive fingerprints on works featuring Mike Kelley, Cecil Taylor, Woody Guthrie, Captain Beefheart, Thurston Moore, Robert Longo, Hank Williams, Albert Ayler and Christian Marclay.
In 2000, he served as art director for Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 4, the alchemical sibling to the 1952 Smithsonian classic and a convulsive rebirth of an Old, Weird America. In 2001 he contributed to the epic Grammy Award winner, Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton.
As a curator and event producer, Hunt has hosted film screenings and multiple-day music festivals. He writes about music, the arts, and the general conundrum of Southern identity, and has contributed extensively to Amoeba Music in Hollywood. He also makes several appearances in Tyler Hubby’s award-winning documentary feature, Tony Conrad: Completely In the Present.
He lives in Austin, Texas.
“What if we could intrude in the moment? Rhys Chatham has been devoted to a wordless anthem for 30 years. What is it, exactly, that ‘Guitar Trio’ conveys so effectively, with its minimalist origins, rock & roll rhythm, shimmering, ecstatic harmonics, and fluid, ever-evolving, ever-expanding nature? Why does it resonate, generation after generation? What simple, human fundamental does this bit of music communicate about Rhys himself? What if we could go back to that night in Wisconsin, stop the clock as we have now, and ask him?
“No need: Look at his face again. Bliss. There’s your answer, simple and obvious. Rhys Chatham is singing his song. “Guitar Trio” is a serenade, a love song to sound itself, from a man whose entire life has been a rhapsody, a bending and a blending of forms and genres. Losing himself within the embrace of sound is his passion, and with “Guitar Trio,” he allows you to share his infatuation, and indulge your own, too. See the exuberance in all those boys on stage, frozen in a mid-tumble blur of beard, denim, guitar, and western-wear shirttail? They’re also in love with sound. That’s okay; there’s plenty to go around.
“Sound goes low, deep to the core of the Earth. It goes high, too: higher than we can tolerate, then higher than we can hear, then higher than any living creature can hear. It goes higher and higher and higher still, until it rains down as sunlight and collects in pools as all the colors of the spectrum. Feel lucky? Reach out and grab just enough to make a single chord. Who knows? It might even be enough for a song.”
From the liner notes:
Rhys Chatham, "Guitar Trio Is My Life"