Steve Roach on Bandcamp

Kamelmauz is on Bandcamp and now Steve Roach is too. The prolific ambient musician–and influence on my own music–has always maintained a stellar DIY web site, but the move to the egalitarian territory of Bandcamp is a big transformative move.

The Effects-Driven Life

It turns out that guitar pedal shop Electro-Harmonix has a pedal guru, Bill Ruppert. He’s been showing what you can do using pedals as modules in signal chains in which one leans into the so-called Send loop, into which the Wet sound, or effect-alone sonic product, is fed.

He gets impressive, even magical at times, sounds–as this video demonstrates.

Moving effects into the DAW using GuitarRig and other software makes doing similar sonic transformations even more accessible.

The Reign of Rheyne

Rheyne Music on youtube

There are always a bunch of camps dueling in what I term the ‘fat middle’ of clubby music making. On the edges most controversies fade away. For example, at the time software synthesizers matured, late nineties, hardware purists rose to denigrate computer-based synths. More recently, the strong and fast moving wave of IOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod,) music making has evoked a reaction.

These arguments neither get resolved, nor matter.

Live in New York City? Start Researching…

“You’re only here for a minute.”

via Soundcheck WNYC

Randy Weston
“Fly Hi”
Playing on Thursday at Apollo Theater (253 W 125th St, Harlem)
Get: Tickets (start at $55)

The Brooklyn-born jazz piano great Randy Weston has been making music for more than five decades. Early on in his career in the 1960s, the composer and bandleader began mixing elements of African music with his jazz. Weston spent nearly a decade living and traveling around the African continent, including to Morocco, to trace the connections between jazz and African music.

On Thursday night, Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Quintet perform at the Apollo Theater as part of the star-studded Jazz Foundation of America benefit “A Great Night In Harlem.” Download the NEA Jazz Master’s Latin-tinged tune “Fly Hi” from his recent album, The Storyteller.

Kamelmauz: Limber I Monos Om (mini ep)

Limber-I-Monos-Om
This new set follows from the surging iPhone band-in-a-hand moment. It refers to a truly odd collaboration made possible by the strange new world of the iPhone, its so-called apps, and the kinds of sonic exploring the technology makes possible. Originally I was just biding my time, waiting for the iPad, and knowing eventually be plugging it into the studio machinery.

But the iPhone came along and with it–soon enough–came a slew of app-driven opportunities, including the most prime ones of all, courtesy of ambient giants Brian Eno and Steve Roach. I have collaborated with each, and with their colleagues, in these two slow, ambient pieces. Almost anybody who has an iPhone knows what I’m speaking of–Bloom, Trope, Air–in the latter case, and, may well also know of the fine Immersion Station app of Steve Roach and Eric Freeman. (Visual mixing is very cool!)

The odd point is that none of my collaborators know they have served as my collaborators! Yet, it was inevitable I was headed toward plugging iPhone/iPad into my digital rig and into Logic and force such collaborations to bear sonic fruit. Several other apps were used; I didn’t keep notes for the ninety minute exercise cum experiment. And, at the end, I did process the tracks in the convolution reverb studio and did a down-and-dirty (what I term,) mixmaster.

The overarching formula for each piece is: Intro (Eno) / Outro (Eno+Roach.)

As always, full digital, free download are available at Kamelmauz-Soundz Bandcamp for the savvy and well-equipped soundnaut.

Intro i

The Longitudinal Mode of Vibration

 

In 1981 Ellen Fullman began developing the “Long String Instrument,” an installation of dozens of wires fifty feet or more in length, tuned in Just Intonation and ‘bowed’ with rosin coated fingers. Fullman has developed a unique notation system to choreograph the performer’s movements, exploring sonic events that occur at specific nodal point locations along the string-length of the instrument.

The artist’s description of her breakthrough discovery from her fine web home.

From there a few excerpts from her artist’s statement.

My work resides between the fields of sound art and music.

My music explores natural tunings based on the physics of vibrating strings. Through observation, I have determined that there is an optimal bowing speed in which strings speaks most clearly in the longitudinal mode, presumably based on a relationship to the speed of the wave moving through the material, which in turn regulates the pace of the walking performer.

Ms. Fullman first came to my attention in 1997 when she released a record Suspended Music shared with the Deep Listening Band. After hearing it, I tracked down The Long Stringed Instrument, her annunciation of her innovation recorded in 1985.

A new recording, Through Glass Panes, is just out, its on its way; here a review at The Liminal UK. Full notes at Important Records. MP3 Download of the title track at Free Music Archive. embed:

 

Videos at Havenozen. h/t too.

Harmonic Cross Sweep download at Epitonic.

Fullman is an exemplar of the sound explorer. There’s much I might say about the essential gravity of the feminine principal in what the untutored might term avant-garde music–of the last fifty or so years. Called to mind are Eliane Radigue, Eleanor Hovda, Dana Reason, Ikue Mori, Hildegard Westerkamp, Zeena Parkins, Maryanne Amacher, many many more, and, above all, Pauline Oliveros*. Yet, to honor this principle means to me to just deeply stop and deeply listen.


*“Deep Listening is experiencing heightened awareness of sound, silence and sounding”

Alluring, Ancient Future Voice

 

sussan-deyhim

The Iranian-born, now US-based, singer, composer and auteur of dazzlingly original music, Sussan Deyhim, came to my attention on a track by the pianist Janis Mattox, embedded in the classic Asphodel compilation, Swarm of Drones in 1995. (The Asphodel drone series, three sets and seven discs, launched, literally, tens of my sonic quests.) The Mattox track stood out because Pauline Oliveros was there, and she’s a touchstone of mine for twenty years. For Deyhim’s part, she’s a soft ripple in the track’s wordless atmosphere. Yet, it led me to a recording she made with Richard Horowitz from seven years before this introduction, Desert Equations – Azax Attra (Made to Measure) and I was transfixed.


Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz – Desert Equations – Azax Attra

If asked to describe Deyhim’s art, and she’s another artist I am moved to hear every last note, I would do her nowhere near enough justice by suggesting she is a middle eastern Meredith Monk. Going deeper, Deyhim, who started as a masterful dancer in Tehran, strikes me as a musician for whom the gestural and kinetics and movement of dance is deeply ingrained in her music. Knowing dancers dance to music, here, the music sounds to the dance.


Sussan Deyhim & Bill Laswell – Meykhaneh

In 2008, having released records infrequently, but having collaborated also with Peter Gabriel, Robert Rich and Bill Laswell, (and others,) she made up for her modest output by releasing five records on her own label, Venus Rising. These included unreleased sessions going back seven years and encompassed her entire range, from austere spiritual chants to beat driven downtempo to startling experimental flights. Deyhim’s flood of music left me hoping for even more.

 

cityofleaves

Her new album, City of Leaves, dials back the experimental mission for the sake of recapitulating her multiple perspectives on her own sound. Still, and as always, her mettle as composer and singer and sonic alchemist is proven again in questing music that is visionary, achingly persona, and intensely modern. Her new record is a great starting point to launch a journey through Deyhim’s boundless artistry.

Sussan Deyhim home
Interview at Worldstreams

Don’t Worry, Be Tuned

McFerrin Vocabularies

Bobby McFerrin‘s VOCAbularies, his first new recording in eight years, is an astonishing record, . His sunny experiments in the collected human voice are always welcome. When assembling my roster of favorite records for the last year, VOCAbularies started out in jazz, but I’ve moved it into the experimental catch-all category. There it rises close to the top.

I had the lucky privilege of singing in his Voicestra in a one shot performance at The Omega Institute in the late eighties. There were roughly about 200 volunteer singers distributed in the four corners of a large hall, and McFerrin conducted from the center. He told us all something that stuck with me, ‘Don’t worry too much about being in tune because you’ll help each other find it together.’

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

The Pentatonic is a deep wellspring of possibility built upon a complex evolutionary and cultural integration. I recommend fooling around with the black keys to get the experience of melodic resolution out of which the natural improviser is evoked. Consider too that this five note mode, and its variations, join a singular repertoire of materials that can be traced back through contemporary music, and then farther back through folkloric musics from just about every corner of the world, and, finally, and speculatively, tracked back to what I believe to be its biological origin as a fundamental sonic insight within the emergence of proto-music, or that sound-making precedent to music ‘proper’. Reflect upon what music was before, in whichever culture it was so, it obtained the various instrumentalities we commonly associate with music.

(What was music it was a form of artistry, or entertainment, or, medium for communicating sentiment, or, a form for integrating language, etc.)

Resource:
blues scale cyber text for the theory of American music

(The pentatonic modes are an essential aspect of my RhythmRiver experiential learning concept. One of its programs is called Pentatonic Drift.)

In the Vanguard

village-vanguard

One of the high points of taking part as both witness and participant at Soul In Buffalo. A Curriculum of the Soul, was the music provided by pianist Kevin Doyle, as I presented an experiential learning moment, .Playing With the Gods, An Experiential Learning Moment in the Curriculum in the Soul, as the last event of the conference. (“A three-day free conference, will celebrate and explore Charles Olson’s legacy and extension through A Curriculum of the Soul, a series of poetic essays published as fascicles edited by Albert Glover and John C. (Jack) Clarke.”

Kevin essayed classic after classic on his portable acoustic keyboard. He very likely didn’t know several things about me. First, I’m a completely devoted jazzbo for almost 40 years, and, I’ve never done squareONE experiential learning to a jazz soundtrack. There’s a large section of my mostly private thinking about adult experiential learning which, in different ways, refers to improvisation in music, and, obviously, this in turn is anchored to my experience of jazz.

Another highlight happened when a group of us went to Casa-Di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo on Friday night. Poet, scholar. musician Charles Palau regaled our end of the table with stories of his living the jazzbo’s life in the seventies in NYC. I remain in awe, and come close to experiencing envy–an emotion I otherwise am not configured to feel–to hear about nights spent at the feet of the masters. Those lucky persons always know how fortunate he or she was, yet, because I spent my formative jazzbo years in Vermont rather than in the jazz clubs of New York, I always find the recounting of more direct experience moving.

(It occurs to I might in a future post explain how lucky I was to land in Vermont–where I figured out another approach to jazz.)

Most incredibly, there is a final, third connection to the jazz atmosphere of the Olsonian karass. The first time I heard lived jazz was in my parent’s living room sometime in the sixties. The player was Jack Clarke, himself a student of Charles Olson, a poet, and as I learned in November, an artist for whom jazz was a touchstone. I didn’t realize I had this connection until a week before the conference when I asked my mother if the “Jack Clarke” who played at parties at my childhood house, was the same John Clarke who was a professor of American literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and, a poet, and, crucially, one of Olson’s deepest students; although, initiate might be the superior term.

My mother couldn’t pin down the chronology, but it may be that Clarke was in Cleveland at Western Reserve University at the same time my mother was there, teaching English.

This strange, almost circular, connection would have more profound ramifications were I more familiar with the fascinating milieu of Olson, The Black Mountain School, and, its consequential counter-the-consensus culture turn. A turn made as the influence of Olson, Creeley, Glover, Clarke, and others, rippled through a series of east coast generations, ending up soulfully centered in Buffalo.

I had a thorough, transformative engagement with counter-culture elements, roughly during its third generation, that comes to roll on the tracks of this revealed circular connection. For, it did happen that jazz sonics entered my environment with Jack Clarke, and then, something like forty years later, the hippie-cum-hipster comes to taste a bit of the Olsonian soul.

As for John Clarke, I’d like to point you in the direction of a description by poet Steve Ellis, of the thrust of Clarke’s explorations.

It blooms off of this stem:

His poetics begins with an opulent persistence of materials in mission. He takes these out of their “natural” context, believing that they belong in propositions and that a nonpropositional storehouse of poetry has no real claim on poetic materials.

He considers poetry not as a “criticism” of life, but as one of life’s alternatives. He’s not involved with the ethics and accuracy implied in diagramming such an alternative so much as he is drawn towards a recognition of those periods in which he is committedly living and using it — by which poetry comes to an effectiveness which is neither commercial, classic nor aesthetic. (continued)

…something like this approaches the devotion to jazz-making. (Charles Mingus: “In my music, I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.”)

source: JFK’s Head Blown Out from a Cosmic Inflationary Spiral: Stephen Ellis on Poetry, Jack Clarke, Palestine, Position-Taking, the End of the World, and Cyberpoetry – www.jackmagazine.com

(The Jack in jackmagazine is Keruoac. However, the beat is universal.

Deep Riches

Robert Rich

I’ve mentioned Robert Rich is a big influence on my own approach to sound design and ambient music. (The biggest difference is he is a master and I’m a charlatan.) What I have always responded to in Rich’s soundworld is the way he conjoins slow developing abstract sonics with at times tactile organic, and painterly ambient landscapes. As a listener, one can almost reach out and touch his sound.

As a musician he has been plying the analog waters for decades. Although he conducts his soundworld from a laptop these days, his genius is expressed through his command of modular synthesis. To this he adds (usually,) heavily treated flute, pedal steel guitar, and percussion.

Here’s an example of his innovative use of modular synthesizers.

Ambient music pioneer Robert Rich uses the MOTM-730 VC Divider to trigger 4 voices in synchopation, but with non-standard timing. He refers to this as the ‘penny in the dryer’ effect. | src

Robert Rich portal at Synthtopia. Interviews, performances, and a five part series on synthesizers.

Robert Rich Live @ Klusa Daba Festival 30.08.08 from Viktors Keino on Vimeo.

Interview-podcast podcast at solipsisticnation/

In the years that followed he developed a complex range of sounds founded upon the seamless integration of electronic, electric, and acoustic instrumentation, and the exploration of complex just tunings. His music continues to tend toward the organic and much of it is based on a concept in synthesis he refers to as glurp. His interest in using unique sounds has inspired him to create a large collection of original field recordings and homemade instruments. One of these instruments is a range of flutes made from PVC pipe. | wikipedia

Rich has issued, on average, about one record per year over 30 years. He’s collaborated with a lot of similarly evocative artists such as Alio Die, Ian Boddy, Markus Reuter. This includes masterful work with Steve Roach. Having absorbed almost every one, the best ones count as major masterpieces against his minor masterpieces. Sure, there have been a few missteps, but even these count as fascinating experiments. His so-called sleep concerts, where he unwinds hour after hour of archetypal lunar ambient sound are legendary. His very slow sleep music has been recorded, with Somnium being a highlight of his output.

Here’s are a handful of stone masterpieces to consider.

Robert Rich-Steve Roach - Soma
My favorite of his collaborations with Steve Roach.

Robert Rich-Lisa Moskow - Yearning
Peerless tribal ambient that achieves pride of place in that section of his recordings inflected by world music.

Robert Rich - Troubled
This compilation features recordings from 1993-1995, including The Simorgh Sleeps on Velvet Tongues, that was anthologized by Asphodel on Swarm of Drones. With drones, tribal meditations, and dark ambient excursions, this may be the only Rich record able to showcase the breadth of artistry.

Stalker

My favorite Rich record is a collaboration with Brian Lustmord. Known for eerie, if not downright frightening, dark ambient, Lustmord’s aesthetic is slowed down and given the cinematic treatment by Rich, and Stalker ends up for me a relentlessly beautiful desert island disc.

Alio Die

Alio Die is a mystical sound designer and auteur of ambient musical soundscapes. (Like good ol’ Kamelmauz, he has a regular name too, Stefano Musso.) An Italian, Alio Die is mining the same electro-acoustic wellsprings that deep divers such as Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Ian Boddy, Peter Namlook, Robert Rich, are also mining. However, he strikes me as the audionaut most secure in gathering in olden European sources, especially voice.

His music is too graceful to fall down into the dark layer. Airy and serious, very focused yet open–Alio Die is sound to travel on.

Alio Die:
home page
MySpace I | MySpace II
@ Projekt Records

Look Beyond Appearances – 2009 Music Gems


Staff Benda Bilili from Congo. ‘Staff Benda Bilili’ means look beyond appearances–an apt title for my brief listing of some of my favorite new music from last year.

Every new year between 1974 and 1986 I prepared a listing of the previous year’s best jazz records. I used my evaluation to merchandise records at the store and support broadcast on the radio. At the time, it seemed my sense of the previous year had to be credible for the simple reason that I was in a good position to mightily sample the year’s jazz releases. The record companies were generous in recognizing my dual role. My base sample was large, usually numbering several hundred records.

This comes to mind because this year I have for the first time since then gone to the considerable trouble to assess listening highlights for the past year. The biggest challenge was going back to figure out what actually came out last year. Then, armed with a raw list, in January I mined for recordings I had missed and was interested in.

Between the fan blogs and forums, and, the old line critics, I apprised myself of other critical views. Just a few steps in this direction had me reflecting on how much the critical culture around music has come to–paradoxically–accept and deny the ramification of the internet in its year-end recaps. In a follow-up post, or two, I’ll delve into this. It’s suffices to suggest that the old style critical culture has not grasped how prolix the wider musical culture has become. On the other side, the smart musical mobs do not grasp, and likely have no good reason to grasp, what were the precedents to today’s iTunes and share-ism.

One way the old and new school may be bridged is to consider the consequence of share-ism: as music sales have imploded, exposure has increased. This means that the critic is no longer positioned as a gatekeeper by their main advantage, that the critic can sample more music than the dedicated fan. Where this really is evident is in the new school muso’s ability to deeply ‘sample’ on the margins. This comes about because the unit cost of exposure has plummeted. This is in contrast to the old line critic who seems to still be wed to taking stock of what gets pushed their way. Whereas the informal and amateur culture is advantaged more by pulling music into their orbits. Think about it!

Meanwhile, my own list simply reflects what I really enjoyed. I make no other claim. Some of the music below represent long standing guilty pleasures. *marks one recording in each broad genre that I’d tell you to leap into first. I’ll be highlighting individual recordings in the future.

*Asleep At the wheel – Asleep & Willie country-folk
Levon Helm – Electric Dirt country-folk
Michael Hurley – Ida Con Snock country-folk
Buddy & Julie Miller – Love Snuck Up country-folk
Lhasa De Sela – Lhasa country-folk
*Celer – Breeze of Roses electronic
Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions electronic
Burkhard Beins – Structural Drift electronic
Stephen R. Smith – Cities In Decline electronic
Monolake – Silence electronic
*Abdullah Ibrahim – Bombella improv
Sun Ra – In Detroit improv
Pierre Dørge & New Jungle Orchestra – Whispering Elephants improv
Keith Jarrett – Testament improv
Louis Moholo-Moholo – Sibanye: Duets with Marilyn Crispell improv
Martial Solal – Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can’t Give You Anything But Love improv
Cyro Baptista & Banquet of the Senses – Infinito improv
Wadada Leo Smith & Jack DeJohnette – America improv
Bill Dixon – Tapestries for Small Orchestra improv
Kenny Barron – Minor Blues improv
David S. Ware – Shakti improv
Gretchen Parlatro – in a Dream improv
*Or the Whale – s/t pop
Neil Young – Live Archive v.1 pop
J.D. Souther – If the World Is You pop
Ry Cooder – I, Flathead pop
The Band of Heathens – One Foot in the Ether pop
*Allen Toussaint – Bright Mississippi R&b
Los Cenzontles – American Horizon r&b
Buckwheat Zydeco – Lay Your Burden Down r&b
*Staff Benda Bilili- Tres Fort , Tres Fort world
Lucas Santanna – Sem Nostalgia world
Orchestre National de Barbès – Alik world
va – Brazilika world
Tinariwen – Imidiwan:Companions world
Oumou Sangare – Seya world
Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali world
Culture Music Club – Shime world

(139 recordings I enjoyed from last year – below the fold)

Continue reading “Look Beyond Appearances – 2009 Music Gems”

Primordial Dank

V. Lustmord, aka Brian Williams, (Wikipedia) comes into view as Robert Rich’s collaborator on the essential Stalker disc. His ambient vision is vitalized in his career-spanning effort to have his music identified with the dark current of the human shadow. This emphasis poses an opposition to the tribal, mystical, “outer space,” aesthetic and does so by amplifying (what I term) the “demonic ominous omen.” He does this, usually, by creating very slow, cavernous drones, with thundering rhythmic strikes and alien-sounding vocalizations and chants, all sluggishly spiraling around a subterranean ritualistic core. At its darkest, Lustmord’s soundworld is seriously creepy, and at times horrific. Although, its scary effectiveness diminishes with repeated listening!

The Monstrous Soul, is the highlight of his output. web site

The dark ambient genre has an interesting history because it’s complete lack of even modest commercial potential meant that in the early eighties it arose as a DIY effort centered on one-of cassettes, and, compilations. It was one of the first such efforts too. Even today, as a mature genre, it remains focused on etching the ‘sub’ in sub-culture. Dark ambient, being a kind of a bastard offspring of the industrial music genre, isn’t easily differentiated when its sonic world crosses back-over to via metallic machine textures. Lustmord often has one foot in his ‘other world’ and one foot back in the industrial family.

Lustmord does duty as influence mostly for his approach to delays and crawling sense of development. Also, Lustmord, here, stands in for other, lesser influences, especially Coil, Current 93, Paul Schutze, and Bill Laswell.

Devilish effects aren’t at all a goal in Slidemare. Still, if a listener is creeped out for some reason, it might be at moments in the ambient stream where Lustmord was in the back, unconscious, of the designer’s mind.

Deep Sonic Space


Pioneering and stellar ambient music creator, Steve Roach

Part III. Here is where my recollection of musical influence and inspiration gets interesting–to me. When I returned to Cleveland in 1992, one of the first resources I tapped into was the two fabulous library systems. This happens before the internet, and even commenced about a year before Cleveland Public Library got rid of their vinyl records. Also, this era (of my listening,) in Cleveland was greatly advantaged by the local used record and CD scene. (I obviously didn’t know at the time record retail would implode in Cleveland within 10 years.) But, at the time almost all my listening time was invested in jazz.

This would change very quickly because the cost of a music trial via borrowing from the library was minimal, and, the potential for a rewarding listening experience was great. For the next ten years, including my five year stint in record retail, I set in motion a huge process of discovery that roamed over the world of music. Whilst I had scratched the surface–outside of rock–in all sorts of locations, (ie. genres,) for the previous decade, upon returning to Cleveland, it was on.

Except, not everything hits one’s aural radar screen. Until you take a flyer. The flyer in this case was taken on a CD by the American instrumentalist, composer and sound designer Steve Roach. It’s spoke to me from the rank it occupied on a to-be-shelved cart at the Mayfield Heights Branch. I pulled it out. Its cover was intriguing.

Listening to Roach (Wikipedia) for the first time, I was amazed. On one hand, here was sound akin to my favored The Deep Listening Band, on the other hand here was also something unhinged from new age music. (I did not like new age music!) Familiar as I was with Stockhausen and Ligeti and Vetter and Hykes and others, Dreamtime Return seemed to me to be experimental and ambitious. And, I really like ambitious experiments!

In my estimation Dreamtime Return, four years past its release by the time I heard it in 1992, is Roach’s first complete masterwork. Although working backward through his discography circa 1992 was enjoyable enough, as it happened, Steve Roach was about to go on a roll, one that continues to this day. He’s made a mountain of brilliant music and produced many other masterworks. His collaborations with Vidna Obmana and Vir Unis opened the door to a huge wellspring of deep ambient music from Europe.

A huge influence is putting it mildly. One more thing, Steve Roach is equally accomplished as a 21st century entrepreneur, nailing down an enlightening web presence and a DIY ethos years before the scramble along the same lines was unleashed.

Steve Roach – The Magnificent Void – desert island disc for me – hard to pick just one – steveroach.com