Over the Tones

Part II. influences. Stuart Dempster, colleague with Ms. Oliveros in The Deep Listening Band, is heard, but not seen, in this video in what I will term ‘the cistern series.’ There should be enough clues here to figure out what’s going on. (If not, see his page at epitonic. There, should you register, two free-legal, superb examples of his music are available.

The music of David Hykes, the composer and singer, stormed into the room widened by my encounter with The Deep Listening Band. Singing that left me speechless.

David Kykes has a great youtube channel.

Listen From Where You Are

Maybe/hoping, by Sunday, I’ll post mp3’s and downloadable Apple lossless tracks from my completed recording, Slidemare. (Tonight I’ve posted the track list and credits, and will post track notes with the tracks.) To build up to this, I’m going to provide context by exemplifying the most important influences for my first new recording in 8 years. There are four tracks that didn’t make the cut, so I’ll post at least two of those, too.

These masterful influences also provide a portent of the kinds of sound worlds I design in a painterly way. The genre conventions I have one foot in are several: drones, dark ambient, and, noise. My play-in-sound is intended only to please me, so, tis not likely to be universally palatable! My music, for the daring listener, hopefully warrants excursions through its strange sonic worlds.

I’ll present examples in the order the various exemplars flowed into my own sound field. First up, Pauline Oliveros. She’s, firstly, a genius in many dimensions–as composer and instrumentalist, as educator, as philosopher, and as inspiratrix. It is enough to say that her Deep Listening Band provided a startling initiation when I first heard their self-titled recording on New Albion almost twenty years ago. Her deep listening philosophy has been very influential for my sense of the total experience of sound.

What is Deep Listening?
Deep Listening┬« is a philosophy and practice developed by Pauline Oliveros that distinguishes the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary selective nature of listening. The result of the practice cultivates appreciation of sounds on a heightened level, expanding the potential for connection and interaction with one’s environment, technology and performance with others in music and related arts. (src=deeplistening.org

An interesting report about Deep listening from a sensitive neophyte:

Rustic Illusions

My late friend Jamie helped me form my most abiding musical prejudices right from the git go starting in 1969. I came to him with hat in hand. He would pull vinyl out of his collection and donate it to the cause. At school he’d chuck me and tell me had another cardboard box of promos ‘just in’ from Warner-Reprise or Columbia. That was invite enough to know what we would be doing after school.

What do my prejudices owe him? It is easy enough to itemize: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Little Feat, Ry Cooder, Frank Zappa, Alan Toussaint, Richard Thompson, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jackson Browne, The Band, Geoff & Maria, Bobby Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, The Grateful Dead, and the list goes on and on. Mike Nesmith! He gave me a copy of The Kink’s Lola vs The Moneygoround. We were among the few who would rise to defend The Kinks against the Beatles and the Stones.

Then, as years turned into decades, we sustained a discussion about the record business. Although I had no track record whatsoever, Jamie welcomed my half-baked ideas about artist development. This led to actual adventures. We both survived the damnable beast, although he liked to play with it and I preferred to keep it far away.

Later, as a supporter and mentor of musical artistry, Jamie found his natural niche. This made sense, and his devotion echoed a deep value we both held: everybody is some kind of artist. Jamie was a cosmic cowboy gardener and of course it was better with him there in the studio helping you hear and see how good it was going to be.


Jamie liked the name for the band that never was: Anthem’s Rest. After we graduated from high school, Jamie urged me to buy a pedal steel guitar. I did so. He had a good idea how he would put my playing to use too, ‘after we get through college.’ We spent hours talking about what the fantasy band would sound like. Unbeknownst to me at the time, imagining mastery could not compensate for putting in the long hours to actually achieve mastery. Oh well.

Jamie's Hawken '72 yearbook page
Jamie’s Hawken ’72 yearbook page

The thing is, I suspect his vision for my own future contribution was like his vision for the many musicians he inspired and never ever gave up on. His belief was unwarranted with respect to me and my Sho-Bud. Yet his belief, generosity, and positive vibe needed no warrant or rationale. It’s just the way he was.

Goin’ Back

Jamie Bruce Cohen 1953-2008. Devastated. How can he be gone?

In September 1969 Jamie and I closed our latch the first day of 10th grade. Both of us were newcomers to prep school. Sometime later I entered his musical sanctuary–hard to describe–and got a glimpse of what I was in for.

He pulled out Moby Grape’s first record out of his enormous record collection and showed me the naughty cover. Played it. It would take many many words to describe how our musical and personal connection developed over four decades.

Jamie was the most relentlessly creative person I’ve ever met among the many many creative persons I’ve encountered. He was an all-rounder: musician, spoken word actor, writer, artist. But this list doesn’t capture fully the fact that he was always scribbling and musing and cooking and making experience his canvas too. He loved life and his people and, shit, well his biggest of hearts…

The Byrds. Our musical lodestar. On the day Byrdmaniax came out we set up his dad’s big ass speakers in middle of the den floor, smoked a bowl, and then laid down with our ears between the speakers. Jamie turned to me and said,

“This is what you call a first time listening experience!”