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potpie 46

The Sound of Drywall

by Peter Segrist, offBeat
Aug 2006

Working primarily with experimental drone/ambient sounds for just under a decade now, minimalist Potpie (a.k.a. Mike Karnowski) recently released his 13th CD, Waterline. As with all his albums, Waterline is a limited edition; only 50 copies exist. Each has been hand-dipped in brown water so that the cover resembles the many New Orleans homes and businesses that still bear the same murky, horizontal stain.

Though released after Hurricane Katrina, and containing a song entitled “Blues for the Lower 9,” the album is by no means making any sweeping social or political statements regarding post-Katrina New Orleans, instead relying on old-fashioned creativity and innovation to give weight to the pieces. “My musician friends have talked about how our music should reflect the hurricane and the resulting state of affairs,” Karnowski says. “Some feel that it should make our music angrier and louder while others feel that it shouldn’t affect our music at all. Frankly, I think most New Orleanians could do without the Katrina references in the music,” he says. “Is anybody really listening to ‘Louisiana, 1927’ while putting up drywall? I doubt it.”

Each song on Waterline elicits a specific and unique feel or emotion, often beginning with minimal drones, and eventually breaking into liberating jams, incorporating sine wave generators, acoustic guitars, and bullhorns just to name a few. Describing his unique creation process, Karnowski says, “It may be something concrete like, ‘I’m going to contact mic all the air conditioners in my house, and then blend them all together and play feedback guitar over it.’ the other half the time the piece just evolves on its own.”

Potpie’s CDs are available from and some out of print rarities (8-tracks, etc.) are at McKeown's Books.