The Six Parts Seven
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|The Six Parts Seven|
The Six Parts Seven performing live in 2006.
|Origin||Kent, Ohio, USA|
|Years active||1995–2008 (Hiatus)|
|Labels||Suicide Squeeze Records, various|
The Six Parts Seven was an American post-rock band formerly based in Kent, Ohio. The band was founded in 1995 by brothers Allen and Jay Karpinski (playing guitar and drums, respectively), who had earlier played with Old Hearts Club, a band of similar style (but with vocals). In 1998, Tim Gerak was added to the core member line-up, playing guitar and also credited with additional engineering on the band's later recordings.
Most of the group's music is instrumental, featuring multiple "clean" (undistorted) electric guitars, with electric bass and drums, as well as electric lap steel guitar, viola, and occasionally also piano, vibraphone, or trumpet. Rather than relying primarily on strummed chords, songs are generally built by combining single-note melodic lines. Most songs are slow, subdued, and introspective, calling to mind the sound of similarly restrained groups such as Bedhead, Low, and American Football, as well as Louisville groups such as Slint and Rodan. Songs are often long (over five minutes), featuring much repetition and little contrast, creating a meditative atmosphere. Though the drumming of Jay Karpinski is often syncopated and jazzy, the group favors duple meter as opposed to the more complex meters favored by math rock bands. The Six Parts Seven's precise, intricate pattern-based sound also calls to mind the work of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich. More recent performances of certain songs have featured Allen playing a four-string Fender Jazz Bass strung with normal electric guitar strings in place of his usual guitar set-up; and this appeared on their latest studio album, entitled Casually Smashed to Pieces, and was credited as "mid-range bass".
The band has been through a plethora of line-up changes, and minor positions in the band have proved to be a revolving chair, while retaining the core force of the Karpinski brothers and Tim Gerak. Former vibraphonist Eric Koltnow left the band after the Everywhere and Right Here era, as well as former lap steel player Ben Vaughan (formerly of the Dirty Lords, Tusco Terror, and Silent Command) after becoming a father. Minor positions, such as the newly added trumpet (Keith Freund from Trouble Books), have been filled by members of other bands from the Akron, Ohio area. Allen Karpinski recently revealed in an interview that his brother Jay had left the band.
The Six Parts Seven's name is apparently based on a literary reference, quite possibly from the Howard Zinn book A People's History of the United States. The quote is from Virginia Governor William Berkeley in 1676: "How miserable that man is that governs a people where six parts of seven at least are poor, endebted, discanted and armed." A recent interview with another band member claims the name derives from a childhood game between brothers Jay and Allen Karpinski. Although its name is similar, The Six Parts Seven should not be confused with the British band Six by Seven.
The group has toured the United States several times and performed in March 2006 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Since the early 21st century its music has been used frequently by National Public Radio's All Things Considered news program as between-segment music. Group leader Allen Karpinski was interviewed about the group's music on the same program in September 2004.
- Allen Karpinski - guitar, electric bass guitar, keyboards
- Jay Karpinski - drums
- Tim Gerak - guitar, banjo, lap steel, samples
- Mike Tolan - electric bass guitar, guitar, organ, banjo
- Steve Clements - grand piano, keyboards
- Jake Trombetta - electric lap steel guitar, guitar, piano
- Jennifer Court - clarinet
- Keith Freund - trumpet
- Brad Visker - electric bass guitar
- Ben Vaughan - electric lap steel guitar
- Eric Koltnow - vibraphone
- Matt Haas - electric lap steel guitar
- Mary Mazzer - electric lap steel guitar
- Heather Wiker - viola
- 1998 - In Lines and Patterns... CD (Donut Friends)
- 2000 - Silence Magnifies Sound CD (Troubleman Unlimited)
- 2002 - Things Shaped in Passing CD & 2xLP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2004 - Everywhere, and Right Here CD & LP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2007 - Casually Smashed to Pieces CD & LP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2003 - The Six Parts Seven/The Black Keys EP CD-EP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2003 - Attitudes of Collapse One-Sided LP (Burnt Toast Vinyl)
- 2004 - Lost Notes from Forgotten Songs CD (Suicide Squeeze)
- 1995 - The Six Parts Seven Cassette
- 2001 - Untitled EP (Solo Singles Series) CD (Troubleman Unlimited)
- 2000 - Slightest Indication of Change CD & LP (Slowdance Records), SLOW-007
- 2001 - Troubleman Mix-Tape 2xCD (Troubleman Unlimited, 2001, TMU-050)
- 2002 - Devil In the Woods 52 7" vinyl (Devil in the Woods records), DIW-52
- Review of Silence Magnifies Sound by John Dark, Pitchfork Media
- Short story review of Casually Smashed To Pieces [The Wheel's Still In Spin]
- Review of Casually Smashed to Pieces by Thomas Lloyd, The Silent Ballet
- "Six Parts Seven's Harmonic Rock" from NPR All Things Considered program, 16 September 2004
- The Six Parts Seven MP3s
- The Six Parts Seven audio samples