Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke have officially released Noon, their third collaborative album and first in fifteen years. The new collaboration follows 2005’s Sixty Six Steps and comes 18 years after Clone first paired the Phish bassist with the pioneering acoustic guitarist.
The pair introduced the album with a virtual listening party on Thursday night which began with a brief video chat conversation between Kottke (who introduced himself as “Mike Gordon”) and Gordon (“and I’m Leo Kottke”) about the album and their history of collaboration. Over the course of the characteristically quirky conversation, Kottke/Gordon and Gordon/Kottke offered up fun facts about the album (“Noon” is spelled the same both upside down and backwards), explained why it’s been so long since they linked back up (“We couldn’t decide whether to have a drummer or not so we decided we just better sleep on it for ten years”), and discussed how the ball finally got rolling on the new record (an impromptu cell phone recording session on a Burlington rooftop).
The continued in speaking about the importance of playing music face-to-face and revealed that they struggled to find a rhythm when they began to collaborate at Trey Anastasio‘s Barn studio but were encouraged to continue by one short moment of inspiration in the third hour of an otherwise “wretched” session. As Kottke (Gordon?) explained, “We couldn’t leave because neither one of us wanted to admit that we sucked. And then we only had a brief glimpse, and that was enough.” Watch the interview portion and the visually pleasing album listening party that followed below:
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon – Noon Listening Party
The 11-track Noon also features a pair of unexpected covers, including The Byrds‘ “Eight Miles High” and “Alphabet St.” by Prince. It turns out that the duo had originally planned on putting “Alphabet St.” on Sixty Six Steps, but got gunshy in the recording process. As Gordon told American Songwriter ahead of the album’s release,
We dabbled in ‘Alphabet Street’ when we were figuring out material for our last album 15 years ago. We were in Costa Rica and stayed there for about a week getting our songs together and then we recorded in the Bahamas. When we were in Costa Rica, I said I know this Prince song that has this really great groove to it. Then we get to the Bahamas and our producer is David Z. The only caveat there is that David Z discovered Prince. So we thought that was a little close for comfort. When we were in Vermont making this album, and David Z wasn’t there anymore, we said we gotta try this song again.
The album will also features a studio rendition of Gordon’s “How Many People Are You”, which he first debuted with his solo outfit back in 2015. Additionally, Phish drummer Jon Fishman is also featured on five tracks. “Leo was really intrigued to get us together,” Gordon said. “We have 2,000 concerts, etc., of telepathy. Fish is really a unique drummer. He has all these grooves that he’s working on constantly, that have all these patterns from all these different genres. I just said, ‘We want you to do your thing.’”
“The vibe is very different from the other two albums,” continued Gordon. “I was hearing a darkness in the material Leo was bringing, and some of the material that I wanted to bring, that I thought just reflected going through 10 more years of life. There are overdubs, but it’s still more like you’re in a cafe or a living room with these two guys. And even when we had drums, we wanted to maintain that feeling.”
“I just knew there was a shape and that we were following it,” noted Kottke. “We were trying to get to that place that we get to in a little room, just chasing each other. We’ve found that at soundchecks, and at my place, or his place, or some motel room. We wanted to get that late night feel. It’s a more intimate record than the others are, I think there are depths to it.”
Listen to Noon by Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon in full below and watch a live video of You can also choose from an assortment of physical copies (including a limited edition splatter vinyl) and Noon merch here.
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon – Noon – Full Album
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon – “Flat Top” (Live)
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon – Noon – Track List
1 Flat Top
2 Eight Miles High
3 I Am Random
4 Noon To Noon
5 From The Cradle To The Grave
6 How Many People Are You
9 Alphabet St.
11 The Only One