David West's new book Music: Drawing Down the Muse is a survey of drawings done in situ (usually in rehearsal or soundcheck) with various musicians or groups, over the last 20 years. The idea of the series was to define what the experience of the music "felt like," and to capture the emotional dynamics of each different situation. Some of these groups still exist, and others existed for a short period of time, or were "supergroups" that were entirely a one-shot deal. The series began in San Francisco in 1990 with Monte Cazazza's "Love Force," and continued during the 90s in New York, defining an epoch and an interest in music with a narrative structure. Over the last 10 years in Paris, the focus has changed to the international – with the inclusion of many French and European musicians. From Wire to Patti Smith, from the Bush Tetras to Daniel Darc, and from Devo to Silver Apples, West has strived to express the effect of the musical charge . . . often working with musicians over several days, and with the cover of invisibility he creates . . .
The selection herein is a cross section of the best to date. The editor and book designer is renowned photographer Ruby Ray, who coaxed the project to fruition.
You can check out a sample of David West's work here.
“Inside this book you get portraiture vérité of bands in action. Banging away in rehearsal. The appreciative eye watching the battle of the bands as they try to navigate their way through the sometimes complicated maze of illusions, delusions and solutions of grandeur before asphyxiation and evaporation of all the notes into the air. I’m the wrong person to comment on rehearsal as I work in a more backward way. I don’t care if a performance is anally-retentive-perfect because a computer can do that now. I’ll work hard on something to a point then I stop, as what I want surprises myself, especially in a live situation. It’s a viewpoint probably not shared by most of the bands in this book but that’s what makes things interesting. It’s up to others to state theirs and that takes us to the artist.
David West hits the target dead center BOOM with his beautifully liquid renderings of NYC bands in rehearsal. Mr. West captures a scene in the late 1990s largely ignored. These aren’t vacuous American Idols but musicians who are The Real Deal. Like a fly on the wall, David gives you an inside view from his own multifaceted eye. There is a dripping aquatic fluidity to his drawings. Mr. West is not afraid to let the ink, gouache, and watercolor run and flow never betraying the nature of his medium. That’s why he’s The Real Deal. If you the viewer can’t understand, appreciate and see that in his work then go out and get corrective eye surgery!”
"West reminds us of the centuries held tradition of the artists’ way of using portraiture. His work reveals the enchantment of flaws, nerves, and tension of the unbearablity of being a musician. His talent is of visual emotional representation; from eye to hand to heart. Through these works on paper- ink, guache and color pencil, we become mesmerized by the focused immersion into sound."
—Karen Finley, Shock Treatment, A Different Kind of Intimacy
"Before he became an urbane Parisian, I met David West in New York's still-gritty 1990s Lower East Side - where he and his astute pencil stayed up all night transposing the nocturnal subterranean adventure to paper."
—Jonathan Toubin, New York Night Train
"From the corner of a seedy Lower East side rehearsal room, I watched David West interpret our sound and looks into a look reminiscent of 1940s grotesque. A feeling many musicians know all to well. Fascinating work."
—Kid Congo Powers, The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds