Michael Scott Dawson’s latest offering, The Tinnitus Chorus, is an album of wide-eyed collaborations. He is joined by an inspired cast of revered friends and kindred strangers including Suso Saiz, M. Sage (Fuubutsushi), Eli Winter, K. Freund, (Trouble Books / Lemon Quartet), Dasom Baek, Lina Langendorf (Langendorf United), Vumbi Dekula, Jairus Sharif, Yutaka Hirasaka, and his bandmates in Peace Flag Ensemble. The collection is bookended by two pieces with Michael Grigoni. It will be available in stores on September 6 through We Are Busy Bodies.

Present Day, the first album single, is a collaboration between Michael Scott Dawson and Jairus Sharif.  The title of the track is both a nod to Dawson’s feeling like he’d opened a beautiful gift when he received Sharif’s saxophone contributions and as reference to the improvised nature of the piece. 

Dawson describes Sharif’s 2022 album Water & Tools as a cosmic masterwork of spiritual jazz. “Jairus moves in a lot of directions and I was open to anything he threw my way, but what he delivered left me touched. I felt heard. There’s such a warmth and tenderness to his playing. It took all of my being not to make the track 20 minutes long.”

From birdsong and decaying tape to Western sprawl, each of Dawson’s previous solo records have moved in a singular direction but here he approaches things through a kaleidoscopic lens. While his weathered ambient sketches serve as a through line, they are woven with all manner of instrumentation from clarinet and modular synth to steel guitars and flugelhorn. Improvised Congolese guitar nuzzles next to American experimental folk. Handmade electronics give way to spiritual sax. M. Sage contributes something referred to as a “mystic music box”. The result is a strange and beautiful journey that feels lost between genres and yet wholly unified.

Dawson reflects on the genesis of the album with a smirk and a shrug.  He has been marred by ear troubles in recent years and had been struggling to complete an album of solo material. The clicks, ringing tones, and hiss in his ears had been drowning out the ringing tones, clicks, and hiss in his studio. When he reached out to We Are Busy Bodies to provide an update on the record he was met with an unsuspecting proposal that perhaps he shift focus to an album of collaborations. Dawson jokes that the label rejected an album without ever even hearing it. The truth is he had been ruminating on the idea for years and the nudge from WABB proved to be the motivation he needed to shelve his insecurities and invite artists he admires to join him for The Tinnitus Chorus.

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