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The American Dollar
by: Dean Van Nguyen - March 11, 2011

Untitled Document

John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo have been crafting their atmospheric brand of cinematic post-rock for over five years now. Forming under the collective name of The American Dollar, the duo could hardly have envisioned the economic hardships that would be suffered shortly after its establishment. But the irony of their name is that they truly seem to appreciate the value of a dollar bill, as evident in allowing their entire back catalogue available on a “name your price” basic. This is a collection that is quickly growing as 2010 alone saw the release of The American Dollar’s fine fourth album “Atlas,” an EP “Live in Brooklyn and the second instalment of their “Ambient” series. According to Emanuele, the method has proved mutually beneficial to the band and their audience.

Through your website your back catalo is available on a "name your price" basis. What was the thinking behind that?
We're finding that it's making the music more accessible in places where the dollar is so much stronger than their currency. Buying a legitimate CD becomes out of reach for the average person and also just to [American] people struggling through the times we're going through economically. Hopefully, it will have some kind of cathartic effect on people that will help them through, as people have told us it has in the past.

You recently released the EP “Live in Brooklyn.” How did the project come about and was there a particular reason you choose Brooklyn?
We decided to do an experiment and record a matrix of audience mics and a soundboard recording of a show we played in Brooklyn. It came out better than we expected and decided to do a release. No particular reason for Brooklyn really, just happened to be where it took place.

You also put out “Ambient Two,” the second of the “Ambient” series. Can you talk me through the concept of the two records?
Sure, basically “Ambient One was created on an entirely experimental basis. We were planning to strip out the guitar, drums and some other things, which were obtrusive to sitting in a sound mix with speech, and we were going to use these as alternate versions to provide to our contacts on that side of things. We decided to do a small release of “Ambient One in a record store in Japan, where our music is quite popular, and it ended up being quite a hit, so it's something we've done again with “Ambient Two,” and a third volume should hit shortly after our next full-length record. We've also found these albums have proven popular with people trying to focus on studies and other mental activities.

The word "cinematic" gets used quite often to describe you guys, but in music that expression can be quite slippery. What do you think people mean when using it to describe The American Dollar?
Well, lately we've been often setting out with cinema as the inspiration for the tracks themselves. In our recording space we have a large display and great movies on DVD and Blu-ray such as “Planet Earth,” “Manufactured Landscapes,” “Baraka” and many others. Social documentaries and really amazing landscape footage provide a great inspiration and this may be how our music comes to be described in this fashion.

Equally you get pigeonholed as a post-rock band quite a bit. Was that a genre you set out to work within?
Well, post-rock is certainly one of the genres some of our tracks fall into. We're always trying to branch out and find new sounds and ideas, trying to un-limit things. Lately I've been feeling a bit more pure ambient than particularly post-rock or electronic, but this is always shifting.


"Social documentaries and really amazing landscape footage provide a great inspiration and this may be how our music comes to be described in this fashion."

The American Dollar
"Live in Brooklyn EP"

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what it is

Misty post-rock, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, but always built with guitars, drums, base and the occasional electronic squiggle.