The Eternal Sonic Mind of Dave Stafford







Dave Stafford, a fellow traveller on the ambient path, is, apparently, a kindred spirit. Although, I’m fairly confident his music-making spirit has been burnished by many more suns than have cooked my own spirit. I say this because his body of work and writing about his work is enormous, and this all is fit to a huge sonic range of experimentation.

We both use the electric guitar as a sound source; we both love the iPad touch paradigm; we both tend to get all over the experimental sound-producing apps for the IOS music-making system; and, finally, we share devotion to Mixtikl, DroneFX, Vosis, TC-11, and Scape. Oh, and Dave digs Guitar Rig, as do I.

Dave also shares his philosophizing and what are to me, his “meta thoughts” about being an experimental musician in the fast moving environment of the DIY producer/composer/musician. Even more valuable are his ongoing studio notes. He is incredibly generous in sharing his sausage making tips. thanks man!

It is just a guess, but Dave and I share something key: we both are searching for the sonic epiphany.

Dave Stafford:

Pure Ambient

Pure Ambient Blog


The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Guilded Palace of Sin

The Gilded Palace of Sin isn’t strictly a country rock record. But when Parsons chose to mix the country with whatever else, he did it so well that it drew the ire of the Nashville establishment who felt that Parson’s music was a stain on the wholesomeness of pure country music. A sort of hippie invasion, if you will. Looking back, it’s funny to think about. Not only Nashville’s revulsion at Parson as an unsavory character—because there were no unsavory characters in country music—but also because country rock and country pop now dominate a large section of the consumer music market. That sort of genre blending, the country aesthetic mixed with dance beats or rock riffs, is a flower off the tree of Parson’s Cosmic American Music. Although I’m not so sure he would be happy with the dumb-downed legacy that is the current state of country music. American it is. Cosmic it is not.
Counterbalance No. 153: Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

The Guilded Palace of Sin remains for me, after forty-six years, one of my favorite pop records of all time, certainly in the top five.

I put the following compact disc in my car player and listened to it twice.


The hook for me, once again, was Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s pedal steel magic. His playing reinforces my own sense that The Burrito Brothers were a psychedelic country band, with Sneaky’s shapeshifting steel fronting the lead guitar aesthetic with its leaps between swirly chorus-effect and bandsaw fuzz.

Plus, marvels of lip-synch and stand-up pedal steel.

Sneaky Pete also anchored The Flying Burrito Brothers on tour.
Calgary, August 1970

There are some fine audio-only concerts from 1970 on youtube.

Seattle Pop Festival – July 27, 1969

December 6, 1970 – Lyceum Ballroom – London, England

Dub Collision: Run the Same Dream



1 MARY GAUTHIER I Feel The Same 4:16
2 THE SELDOM SCENE It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue 3:20
3 STURGILL SIMPSON Living The Dream 3:51
4 FLECK & WASHBURN Bye Bye Baby Blues 3:26
5 AMY LAVERE Self Made Orphan 3:57
7 THE BOTH No Sir 3:46
8 RYAN ADAMS Stay with Me 3:06
9 ALISON MAY Ophelia 4:00
11 ROSANNE CASH World of Strange Design 3:24
12 SLOAN You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good 3:42
13 JON DEE GRAHAM Look Up 3:15
14 ARIEL PINK One Summer Night 3:57
15 PARQUET COURTS Black and White 3:04
16 THE WAR ON DRUGS The Haunting Idle 3:08
17 THE WAR ON DRUGS Lost In The Dream 5:25
18 WUSSY Acetylene 3:53
19 WUSSY Teenage Wasteland 4:39
20 STONE COYOTES Let The Wild Horse Run 3:37
21 MICHAEL NESMITH Grand Ennui 4:48

Taster of some favorite 2014 folk/country/pop/rock. Enjoy the mp3 on your ‘device.’

Download mix mp3

Goodbye Alchemy, Hello Alchemy


Relative to actual human problems and the delicate equilibrium of the mortal coil, waking up one morning and learning that the software synthesizer you’ve made the biggest investment in over the years is no longer available, no longer being developed, and has come to be a casualty of its developer’s own unknown game plan, doesn’t count as a problem. Ben Gillett shuttered CamelAudio without notice last week.

He and his team developed plug-ins, and, CamelAudio released in the fall 2011 an IOS version of their flagship desktop synthesizer Alchemy. The IOS app was a boon to my own direction. Two and half years would lapse before I started using the iPad to control the desktop Alchemy. This provided another wave of inspiration. Alchemy is a unique combination of a sample-based resynthesizer connected to a very array of deep modulation concepts.

CamelAudio disappears, so my immediate problem-solving has to do with how to secure Alchemy remaining a central music-making tool on the laptop, and, on the iPad. The unknown future prospect is that the legacy installs will become broken by future updates. Luckily, both my four year old MacBookPro and three year old iPad 3rd Gen. can be dedicated to their legacy set-ups. This enables me to protect Alchemy and use it far into the future.

As for Camel Audio and Ben Gillett, I hope the sudden closing reflects the transfer of their intellectual property into hands that will honor CA’s innovative software by using it as the basis for amazing new capabilities and software. Amidst all the hand ringing and passive aggression which flavored the music making community’s response to the news, I dropped my own best wish: that Apple turns out to have been the purchaser, and uses Alchemy to burnish Logic X’s capabilities, and, deploys something like Alchemy as a flagship audio app fit to the large screen real estate anticipated to be the main point of the upcoming iPad Pro. It is even within the realm of possibility that Logic X will come to the iPad were ARM CPU’s to come to Apple laptops.

Hold onto to your Intel MacBooks!


Dr. Bill’s Bird Calls Favorite Jazz for 2013

david ake bridges

My muso colleague Dr. Bill weighed in at the end of January with his best of 2013 jazz choices. His list names a top ten. There is one point of overlap between our different estimations, Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom date, No Morphine No Lillies.

Yet, I too enjoy almost everything I also heard that is on his larger list. Our tastes are very similar.

Local educator and jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, David Ake appears at the top of his list. Last year he became the head of the music department at Case Western Reserve University and put out a fine small ensemble date, Bridges. I like the record immensely.

Dr. Bill has been broadcasting on CWRU’s WRUW 91.1 for decades. Walking Dr. Bills’ Rhythm and Blues Survey starts at 10pm on Aunday, and his jazz hour, Bird Calls follows at 11pm. He is truly an expert, advocate, and reviewer and scholar.

For me, Bill was also, along with Harvey Pekar, one of my key musical mentors. I first met back when I worked in a Cleveland Heights record store, Budget Records and Tapes, in the winter of 1971. He insisted I check out Howlin’ Wolf–and I did so–and he then carried the blues flames to me. (Harvey covered the jazz fire.) We both became crazed jazz heads over the next many years and we both worked in music retail and were broadcasters, Bill here in Cleveland, and me in Middlebury, Vermont.

I was pleased as punch that we took up our friendship when I returned in 1992. We get together and have what we call sessions–something muso tend to do!

Freshly Ground (South Africa)

Freshly Ground ‘Nomvula ‘ live on eXpresso

Freshly Ground – Doo Be Doo

Freshly Ground [Facebook]

Freshlyground is a South African Afro-fusion band that formed in Cape Town in 2002. The band members variously hail from South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Freshlyground‘s musical style blends elements of traditional South African music (such askwela and African folk music), blues, jazz, and features of indie rock. (Wikipedia)

…a huge group in South Africa. Terrific musical personality captured in videos on youtube.

Art and Laurie

Sometime in late 1976 Lester Koenig sent to me at the Vermont Book Shop Living Legend by saxophonist Art Pepper. It blew me away. My experience of Pepper’s music had commenced in the aisle of Music Madness in Cleveland Heights a couple of years before the package of promos from Contemporary Records arrived.

Point Omega – Harvey Pekar in the late Spring, 1974 (from a remembrance of Harvey on squareONE explorations.) (Harvey walks in and heads to the jazz rack, fingers through it part way, and then notices a record displayed on the pegboard. He lifts it up and out of its holder and walks over to the counter. Harvey: This is incredible. Me: What? Harvey: You have no idea how rare these sides are. This record isn’t rare. Me: Huh? Harvey: I mean this LP contains really rare music from Art Pepper. Until now you;d have to hunt for them and probably you wouldn’t find them. Me: Okay! Harvey: You don’t know Art Pepper. I don’t even know why this record is here. Art Pepper is an alto saxophonist–is this white cat with a ton of soul. He sort of takes off from Yardbird, You don’t know Pres, Lester Young. Me: No. Harvey: hmmph. Anyway, it’s useless to sound just like somebody else. Art found his own sound and, man, all his great records are collector’s items. This is a goldmine, this one right here. Ring me up. How much?

Art Pepper was a master player. Hear for yourself.

Laurie Pepper, Art’s widow, has made her life’s project the sustenance of Art Pepper’s legacy. Laurie’s personal blog is full of recolelctions and photos of their life together. Her essential jazz blog leads to an archive of music on Bandcamp. The archive includes name-your-price gems, such as:


I was startled to see Notes of a Jazz Survivor (full documentary) on youtube. It is one of the most important movies about the great American music jazz and about one of its singing angels, Art Pepper.

thank you Laurie Pepper.

Kamelmauz: O meu toque …in the brewing process


A new recording project has inserted itself into the line-up of projects. The best way to put it is that my initial release of sound based in IOS (iPad) capability will be intuitive and inexpert, and the follow-up, Racket, will be less inexpert.

June 2012.

Diverse sound experiments, and some along the lines of, for example,


produced in the marvelous DroneFX app. This app can be configured as kind of ‘self-player’ or, as a controllable synthesizer. This latter mode has captured by enthusiasm.

Senzari’s Formulaic Fail


Comparisons with Pandora quickly come to mind when describing Senzari. Both services let you search for your favorite artist to create your own radio station which will mix that artist’s tracks and similar ones by other bands. Since algorithms aren’t perfect, you can still skip a few songs if you don’t like them.

However, Senzari’s CEO is quick in pointing out the differences between his service and Pandora’s. One of them is the depth of its catalogue: with 10 million songs, Senzari boasts “10 times more tracks than Pandora”. This is clearly a huge asset for Senzari – we all know how frustrating it is to fail to find an artist on these services. This is also an important element for a platform that hopes to please listeners all over the world, with different music tastes, including Brazilian and Hispanic music. (How Senzari Plans to Take On Pandora and Traditional Radio)

Sometime in my second hour of auditioning Senzari last week I realized its algorithm for choosing music sucked. I suppose I should qualify this impressions by adding ‘for my purposes.’ After all, my purpose, as long as I’m going to be subjected to some kind of algorithm, is to enlist it to aid a serendipitous journey of discovery.

Pandora leverages the Musical Genome Project to great effect. The Pandora user loads in multiple “seed” choices when initializing and developing a custom radio station. This really revs up the subsequent unwinding of the algorithm’s musical choice-making. It is easy to develop custom stations that step off trail.

Whereas Senzari’s current algorithm fails. To set-up a station you select a single artist. There’s no way, yet, to refine this initial choice. The ensuing broadcast set reflects this ‘monological’ approach.

Presumably, refinement of this “single factor” comes with plugging in social factors gleaned automatically from Facebook friends on Senzari. Whatever…

I started with rock choices, and started stations with the seed of The Byrds, then of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Initially The Byrds station reflected the folk rock core of the early Byrds, ignored the group’s country-rock breakthrough, and, then morphed into a mostly non-stop 1965-1967 pop hit machine, interspersed with minor tracks from Roger McGuinn and Stephen Stills. My first thought? Way too much of the machine part involved in executing the algorithm was showing through.

My Jellyfish station cycled through Jellyfish and XTC. Inexplicable. Likewise, the Ry Cooder stations cycled through about ten artists. Senzari didn’t get the AFrican core of Abdullah Ibrahim or Randy Weston. The most successful station I created was the one with experimental guitarist Aidan Baker, but only Baker’s context and musical relations are not very familiar to me.

Nor could Senzari make a station from Amos Garrett or The Quarter After. I stopped trying to stump it when it went 0-2.

Next I decided to challenge the obviously thin formula by introducing two left field seeds, Pauline Oliveros, and, Bill Laswell. In both cases, the test I posed to the darn algorithm. was to travel down the various branches implicit in the substantial diversity on offer by Oliveros and, then, Laswell.

Here’s what the formula spun on the Pauline Oliveros station:

Gordon Mumma
Deep Listening Band
Gordon Mumma
Henry Cowell
Pauline Oliveros
Charlemagne Palestine
Henry Cowell
Terry Riley
Pauline Oliveros
repeat: Gordon Mumma
Charlemagne Palestine
Deep Listening Band
Lou Harrison
Harry Partch
Pauline Oliveros
Oliver Messiaen
Gordon Mumma

On one hand this provided an intriguing aural trip. On the other hand, the formula revisited the same records by Mumma and The Deep Listening Band and Henry Cowell, and so shouted out to me how stupid it is, as a musical set-inducing piece of programming.

The Laswell set was even more narrow, and, as a ‘machine take’ purportedly able to access hundreds of recordings related to the various genre preoccupations of Bill Laswell, laying into Jah Wobble and Burnt Friedman for seven of the first twelve tracks was ludicrous and revealing.

Burnt Friedman
Jah Wobble
Bill Laswell
Burnt Friedman
Bill Laswell
Jah Wobble
Burnt Friedman
Jah Wobble
Burnt Friedman

Senzari won’t be damaging Pandora based in their having a superior music-choosing technology. For me, if there are sensitive muso types laboring for Senzari, their day hasn’t arrived. The musical results sound random, and in comparison to Pandora, Senzari’s hype is cynical.

Dub Collision mix: A Cover Album Volume 1


Likely volume one of an never-ending series. This compilation includes rarities, covers by unlikely proponents, and an appearance by Clarence White.

1 Dillard & Clark Expedition – Don’t Be Cruel 1:49
2 Rusty Dean – Only Daddy That’ll Walk In Line 02:22
3 Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Losing Hand 5:14
4 Barbara Streisand – Free the People 3:12
5 Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes – Rad Gumbo 5:28
6 Golden Smog – Spooky 4:50
7 The Grip Weeds – Hello, It’s Me 3:38
8 Emmons & Pennington – Deep Water 2:53
9 Wilco – 100 Years From Now – Wilco 2:47
10 Bill Frisell – I’m So Lonesome I Should Cry 7:34
11 The Imagined Village – Scarborough Fair 6:45
12 Brinsley Schwarz – Day Tripper 2:42
13 Robby Turner – Call Me The Breeze 4:47
14 Steinar Gregertsen – Pali Gap 6:03
15 Bobby Womack – All Aong The Watchtower 3:20
16 Neil Young & Pearl Jam – Baby, What You Want Me To Do 7:45