The recent concerts went great - I had a good time, and I hope the people who could come out to hear the music enjoyed it. Now we have a new CD to promote: React with Ian Boddy. This is a live recording from last Summer's unique concert in Philadelphia for Star's End 30th anniversary. Ian and I rehearsed intensely for one day, trying to come up with some new material so we could make this event special. Jeff Towne from Echoes recorded the concert, then I edited, mixed and mastered it after I got home in August. It's full of energy, with some dynamic surprises.
I encourage you to check this website a few times in the next month or two. I am working to get a huge change up online, a complete redesign of this site. My friend Jason Clark in Louisville KY has pulled in the resources of his design firm, VIA Studio, to help me come up with a look and feel that more closely suits my musical vocabulary. Now I have a lot to learn, as I try to fill the new framework with content. You might experience some gaps and glitches as I get up to speed with Web 2.0, but I think we'll see a more interactive and elegant design that can grow to accomodate new ideas. I encourage your feedback when this change occurs.
Copies of Eleven Questions with Markus Reuter have arrived from the factory, ready to ship to press and radio people at the end of the week. I'll be posting the cover art and relevant info up on the site when I get a chance, and Dixie will update the order form so that people can purchase copies directly from us if they wish. In the meantime I'm taking a short break from the studio to freshen up for a new project, and it's grape harvest season so I'm busy with my silly winemaking hobbies. Once the live album with Ian Boddy comes out early next year, I'll have released five different titles during this 12 month period. That seems a bit too much, so I'm thinking maybe it's a good idea to go slow on the next project to avoid oversaturation.
I returned from this year's tour over a month ago, and hit the ground running with seven mastering jobs and some session work awaiting. Furthermore, we had to move our server which had been housing all of my websites and email, which meant finding an external web service for the first time in years. Now things are slowly getting back to a normal pace, so I'll squeeze in a quick camping trip this week up in the high Sierras, before starting work on editing and mixing the live recording with Ian Boddy from the Star's End 30th anniversary concert. He plans to release this in a few months on DiN. Coming even sooner, you'll be able to hear the fruits of my session with Markus Reuter, a new CD called Eleven Questions due on Ocober 23 from his label Unsung Records. You can hear preview snippets on our Myspace page. For that matter, some of you may have noticed that I also have a solo Myspace page.
Help! I'm drowning! Well, just too many commitments. I haven't said much about the new work yet, because it came on so fast that I wasn't sure I would finish in time for the tour. It turns out that things are getting done in time - just barely - and I started working on live material today. I haven't had much energy left to update this website, or other related activities beside the occasional walk downtown with headphones on, listening to new mixes.
I am putting finishing touches on the music for a video installation called Illumination I by Michael Somoroff, which will open in New York on June 21. The music will also come out on compact disk, in about two weeks, hopefully. As I write, we are working on tweaks to cover art and liner notes. John Bergin is helping once again. The music is minimal, slow and very subtle. It's closer to the vocabulary of Below Zero, Stalker or Somnium perhaps. If I don't have time to formally release it before departure, we'll have it on the road and available on the website upon return.
Speaking of website sales, my wife and I are trying to decide what we'll do about orders while on tour. Dixie's coming with me this time. We might just redirect everyone to CD Baby for a month or so. You won't be able to get an autograph, but at least orders will get processed. Otherwise, you might have to wait a month for shipping.
All the best - Robert
Many months of work are coming together all at once it seems. Dan Colvin spent a week with me in early March making final edits and master renders for the film Atlas Dei. Now it's in the authoring phase, cover design, that sort of stuff. I added some pages to the website for the film, http://www.atlasdei.com, and people will be able to order the DVD direct from that site, or from this one, as soon as it's available, hopefully before June.
The first trailer for the film is uploaded on several sites now, and hopefully circulating the web a bit. Feel free to copy and share it for the "viral marketing" effect. It makes the film look a lot faster than it really is, but it does show the richness of Dan's imagery. You can view the trailer on the Atlas Dei website
I have edited some of the music from the film to release on CD, "Music from Atlas Dei" which will also be available before June. Although most of the music has been released before, the versions here are layered with new sounds and edited or remixed specifically for the film. There are four completely new compositions, which fall mostly on the melodic side of what I do.
I haven't quite started preparing for the upcoming tour, although I'm beginning to stress out a bit about the looming dates. I even have "tour dreams" where I show up on stage without having any clue what I'm going to play. (Oh, wait, that's not a dream, it's a memory!) I suppose it's the equivalent to the "showing up to the final exam when I forgot I had signed up for the class" dream, or the "standing on stage in underwear and people start laughing" dream. These are universal memes, aren't they? The brain has to process the natural fear of sticking out into the unknown and pushing oneself to new risk or commitments. It's dealing with stepping out of the comfort zone and into new challenges.
To add to the sense of chaos, I am trying to finish the new project with Markus Reuter "Eleven Questions" which went on the back burner to finish the film, and also I might work on music for a video installation project for a New York based sculptor/video artist, which I will have to complete for a mid-June opening. I wonder how I'm going to get that done at the same time as rehearsal for the concerts? I guess I'll burn that bridge when I stumble off it.
I am getting ready to resurface again after about 8 months of woodshed time. I'm touching up the mastering details for the surround mixes on "Atlas Dei." Dan Colvin and I hope to get this DVD out by May. We'll need a bit more time just to get the thing authored, package design, stuff like that. Images from the film, and soon a short trailer, now appear on http://www.atlasdei.com.
I just finished a great collaboration with guitarist Markus Reuter, from Austria. I still need to finish editing and mixing the music, which I hope to finish in the next month or two. We're calling it "Eleven Questions." We somehow managed to create 13 short pieces in a week, which fall together as a sort of puzzle, sometimes odd and playful, sometimes rather intense. This will probably come out on Markus' label, in order to take advantage of a new distribution deal which might get us a bit more visibility.
I'll do a few shows in June and July, mostly prompted by the invitation to play a short set at Nearfest in Pennsylvania, a big prog music festival. Hawkwind and Magma have also agreed to perform! I haven't sent an email newsletter since last summer, so that's coming shortly, as soon as a few more concert dates come together. - RR
The organizers of Nearfest - which is apparently the largest progressive rock festival in the world - invited me to perform the solo spotlight on the third day of the festival, which will be Sunday June 24. Of course I agreed, and I'll figure out how to shrink my live rig down so I can travel by airplane, since I don't expect to be on the road touring yet by June. Who knows - if I get enough other good invitations for the same season, I might be able to play a few more.
In other news, work progresses on the film with Dan Colvin, which we have titled "Atlas Dei." My compositional tasks are almost finished, and then we'll tackle the final surround mixes and authoring for the release. We're hoping to release in DVD format and either Blu-ray or HD-DVD, with all of the work maintained at highest resolution. I'm hoping it will sound and look amazing. There will be about a half hour of new music, and an hour of surround re-mixes and newly layered edits of older works that fit with the flowing images.
Otherwise, I have been busy with new mastering work, some sound design for Camel Audio, and a game-music project for a large company that sucked up some of my time then fell through. Sigh. Oh, and I put up a page on MySpace as a way to stream longer samples of music and reach out to new listeners. You can hear some crunchy compressed versions of four songs, and see who has asked to be my "friend". Go to www.myspace.com/rrich.
I'm Home! Happy to have my feet back on the ground. You might notice that I didn't write anything here immediately after the tour ended a few weeks ago. That's because I felt a bit burnt out and I just wanted to hang out around home for a while and not worry much about duties such as web updates. I haven't been totally idle, though. In between gardening, cooking and taking walks I have been tearing apart the studio a bit to make room for a surround monitoring environment. The speakers are in place now and I have a steep learning curve ahead of me for my first surround mixes this year. The incentive for all this is to score the film by Daniel Colvin that I used for visual backdrop on tour. I plan to remix some of my older work into 5.1 (or at least "re-purpose" it into surround if I can't completely remix it.) I'll also build up some new material from the ground up in 5.1. Who knows, maybe this will end up triggering a new album. If nothing else I hope that we can get the film out on DVD by early next year.
Writing in between the first concert of the tour and my departure onto the long road next week. I'm very happy with the outcome of the San Jose CET Soto theater concert last weekend. We had about 300 people. The first set I played along with the 80 minute film by Daniel Colvin which will accompany me on the tour, and the second set I previewed my new laser projectors, which looked pretty good even in this large venue against a gauze curtain. My friend Christian Tanimoto III took some good photos in this difficult lighting, a few of which I excerpted here as a preview of the coming tour. I might not be adding much to this news page in the next couple months, since I'll be on the road, but I invite any of you who make it to one of my shows in North America to come up and introduce yourself. I look forward to meeting you in person! - RR
I can't believe how busy things have gotten this month! As I write this, Electric Ladder is at the factory, and I expect to have it ready to release in a couple weeks. So, if you are reading this you may have noticed that you can now see the front cover and hear sound samples. The release comes right in front of a big tour for which I am currently in the cyclone of planning and practicing. It's very DIY as always, as I am building new flutes that I can play with my gimpy right hand, and I'm even building laser projectors to augment the visuals in the show, which will include motion graphics by Dan Colvin and John Bergin.
Here's another bit of interesting news: I sold the www.amoeba.com domain name to the chain of record stores in California, so I have folded the archives of the Amoeba band website into my home domain. Rick Davies has also started to work on a new version of the Amoeba band page, which will be housed at his homepage, www.worththechaos.com. The guys that own the Amoeba record stores have been extremely pleasant to work with, and they have committed to keeping my CDs stocked there. We're even dscussing ways to free the more serious electronic/ambient/spacemusic artists from the ghetto of the new age bins. If anybody out there has any brilliant ideas on ways to categorize the deeper music away from the schmaltz so that people can find it in a record store, please forward any suggetions along.
Here's another interesting tidbit. Underground comic artist and long-time progressive music supporter Matt Howarth has completed a book of short stories called "Enriched Visions" that were directly inspired by my music. Originally I had offered to co-write some of these stories with him, but life got in the way last year and I flaked out completely. So, he finished these stories with my blessings, and with the editing help of Recording Magazine editor Mike Metlay. These are pretty crazy, surreal underground science fiction stories, sprouting completely from the recesses of Matt's hyper-creative mind. I take no credit for them whatsoever; but I think it's cool that he put my name on the cover as inspiration. He has self-published this 350 page book through his website, and here's a direct link to www.bugtownmall.com/
Lithosphere is out and selling well, with good response so far from listeners. I am quite busy in the studio, trying to finish "Electric Ladder" which I set aside back in February to finish other projects. Paul Hanson came in to try some reed parts, which I have been digitally mangling to fit into the dense cyclic electronic environment which already frames the album. I am trying to finish this in time for the tour I'm planning for springtime. Considering that it takes a few months from finished mix to CD release, I am beginning to doubt I'll finish it in time, although I should be able to perform parts from the album in concert. I also did some more film work for Micheal Somoroff. The grape harvest in October also kept me busy with winemaking activities -- always a welcome excuse to avoid the studio! Life is good, the hand is healing (although not what it used to be) and I am starting to plan new approaches to live performance. Next year's tour will include some nice visuals, something I haven't put much effort into in the past.
For those trying to think of unique Christmas presents, may I suggest the art box version of Echo of Small Things? Once I sell enough of these to finish paying off my production costs, I'll send the profits to my photographer friend David Agasi to help him move back from Japan. Perhaps I should call this the David Agasi relief fund? (OK - David may not appreciate the references, but it's true!)
I heard from Ian Boddy in Engand that Lithosphere has arrived from the factory, and my copies should show up in a week or so. You can now hear some sound samples and we should have it up for sale on the order form very soon.
I had a couple more surgeries in August, trying to free up the adhesions in my right hand, then fighting a post-op infection. At first I felt a bit disappointed by the partial success of these efforts, but I'm happy to report that I get incremental improvements as time goes on. I doubt that I'll ever get the full motion I had before the big accident in March, but I am continuing to work on it and slowly getting some sensation back as the nerve grows. In the meantime I haven't stopped making music, only selecting from among the instruments I can still play.
Recent studio work includes: mixing and mastering (albums by Ben Fleury-Steiner and Chad Hoefler among others); scoring the short Rothko-inspired film by Michael Somoroff mentioned below; and designing some sound textures for Paul Haslinger to augment his work on a television mini-series. I'm getting ready to resume work on my next album in preparation for a tour next Spring.
I finished mixing and mastering Lithosphere, the new collaboration with Ian Boddy. The master is on its way to England for Ian to hear. I have another mastering job to try to finish before my upcoming hand surgery on the 18th.
A few days ago I had an interesting meeting with an artist and filmmaker named Michael Somoroff. He is creating a 15 minute abstract film in homage to Marc Rothko's last painting, Black on Gray, and we share a common love for the patient aesthetics of Andrei Tarkovsky. I'll create the score for his film, which should show at Art Cologn in October. Then, hopefully, I'll get around to finishing Electric Ladder and preparing for a 2006 tour -- assuming I can get my hand moving properly again, that is.
Echo of Small Things just arrived from the manufacturer, and we are starting to ship. You'll find it on the order form. Some short samples of the music are now up on the site as well. Enjoy!
Thanks to the many people who have written to share their kind wishes for recovery after the hand accident. For the curious or morbidly inclined, I will occasionally post pictures and personal observations about the healing process on a separate page. I recommend that squeemish people might prefer not to visit that page. Some of the photos might be slightly distubing to some. I'm keeping this blog in the spirit of education for those who might someday have similar mishaps (and I pray you don't.)
I've had an "Interesting" few days this last weekend. I am typing with left hand, after four hours of surgery Saturday morning (March 12). I slipped with a glass jug that I had been cleaning, which broke and pierced my right wrist, severing an artery, 7 tendons, ulnar and radial nerve. Quite a mess. I woke up after the anaesthesia with a big fat wrap on my arm, making it rather hard to do anything since then. Things should be OK. I'll be re-learning how to move three fingers over the next few months, and hoping for sensation to come back to the little finger over that time. Luckily most of my music doesn't require much hand dexterity (...well, flutes will be tough for a long time, and I guess I won't be doing another piano album anytime soon!) I have chosen not to cancel my various commitments in the coming months, so I should have plenty of distractions and some extra challenges.
All the best,
The first of three simultaneous recording projects has come to fruition. I have finished Echo of Small Things, the collaboration with my photographer friend David Agasi, who has been living in Tokyo for the past three years. The music is finished and mastered, and the CD will be in manufacturing during March while 125 boxes and 1250 photos get printed on the east coast. Jeff Kowal (a.k.a. Terra Ambient) has been designing the package and CD layout. In a few weeks I'll post a new page on the website with more detailed information. The box should make quite a beautiful work of art.
I will postpone the completion of Electric Ladder for a few months, because Ian Boddy will be coming to visit at the end of March for a marathon recording session. Between now and his arrival, I'll be working on new sounds for that project. We hope to have it completed and released on DiN in time for some European concerts in September. That means three new releases planned by the end of 2005. Yow!
Recently my 1998 release Below Zero went out of print at Soleilmoon/Side Effects. So, the rights reverted back to me and I am in the process of re-pressing the album to add to the Soundscape catalog. Soleilmoon was kind enough to send me 1000 extra covers, so the new pressing will look just like the old one, with that wonderful heavy paper and John Bergin's haunting artwork. Below Zero is one of my more challenging albums, with big slow-moving slabs of abstract sound, but it's also one of my personal favorites and I'm happy to keep it in print.
Tour plans are forming for spring 2006, so check the Concerts page in this site, and contact me directly if you want to arrange a gig.
After an early summer dominated by gardening, hiking, and some sound design in the studio, I shifted back into gear with a new computer (Mac dual 2.5 GHz) and a new software platform for recording (Logic.) I'm happy to broadcast my thanks to Jeff Taylor at Apple for his assistance. This change involved several updates in the studio that I had been avoiding for several years, with the inevitable setbacks that those sorts of instability can cause. So now I'm back on track and thick in the middle of several different projects.
I have been beta testing two excellent new musical widgets. A prototype of the new MOTM 650 MIDI-CV converter is allowing me to expand my microtonal vocabulary on the modular synth, as it can respond to the MIDI Tuning Standard and stores up to 16 tunings. At last! This is opening up a huge expressive door for me. Also, I have been creating a sound library for a new synth plug-in that emulates the venerable ARP 2600. If you happen to be a computer/synth person, you should investigate the Way Out Ware website. This is one of the first analog emulating software synths that actually lets me do the sorts of things that I like about true analog. It can also play microtonal scales. Hooray!
With all these new tools that allow me to work in Just Intonation, I have been inspired to explore my melodic side again. I started two new recording projects, which are both moving forward in parallel. The first is a collaboration with my photographer friend David Agasi, a project that we plan to call Echo of Small Things. He'll provide about 100 each of 10 handmade black and white prints, while I provide a CD of music to combine into a limited package that could form an exhibit in art galleries or a beautiful collectible object. We might also release the project in a more affordable standard CD package. The music is very environmental, with slowly moving textures and a somewhat detached mood.
I plan to call the other new project Electic Ladder, where I'm trying to push the modular synth into some new tonal directions. So far it involves a blend of faster melodic cycles and percolating rhythms, the usual atmospherics and lots of intricate examples of just intonation. I'm hoping to be able to perform some of this new material in 2005 on tour.
These and other new projects should keep me busy for at least the next six months, so if you don't hear from me soon, you'll know what I'm doing! - RR
My new solo piano CD Open Window should arrive from the factory in about two weeks, so I'm posting a whole bunch of additions to the website, not only the release news but also some old interviews that I never had time to include. My life this spring has been split between technical upgrades in the studio, some mastering jobs, sound design for the next solo album, and . . . well . . . basically screwing around. I like to think of it as idea creation. If I don't have some new experiences, then I'm not likely to come up with new musical ideas.
In my case, the experiences might seem rather mundane. I'm trying to establish a breeding population of native California tree frogs in our backyard, after installing a small pond. These were the frogs that taught me polyrhythms in my grandparents' garden 30 years ago, and I don't hear them anymore in the south Bay Area. A neighbor friend has been helping me with the tadpole transplants, and together we are trying to re-establish a previously ubiquitous species of "spring peeper" to an otherwise cement-encrusted suburban wasteland. It's a labor of love - not only because these diminutive amphibians gifted me musical sensibilities - but also because I feel a deep need for more wildlife in our vicinity. I have already managed to kill dozens of tadpoles by letting them get too warm (the local raccoons killed many more, before I installed the electric wires) but I think we may have enough survivors to hear some music next year, and perhaps to survive the onslaught of cement.
Lastly, in this globally messed-up time, let me please pass on a word that keeps recurring to me in my efforts to understand the mess we keep making: Kindness. We never have enough. This word resonates in me as I work on new music, and I hope it means something to this cluster of organisms we call Humanity. If I become guilty of making "pretty" music this year, perhaps it comes from a corrective sensibility, or a deep sadness (perhaps hopefulness?) for the condition of our planet.
I think I just finished mastering the solo piano album, which I decided to name Open Window, after one of the pieces. John Bergin is currently working on the cover art, and actually inspired me to change the name of the CD. This particular song title resonated with him and suggested possible imagery. I have been listening to the various iterations of this album for at least two months now, and it's starting to sound like someone else's music. I guess that's a good thing. I will release it on my own Soundscape label.
You'll notice under Concert News that I'll perform at least once this year, a solo piano concert after the release of the new CD. Maybe I'll line up a few others, since I'll be in better practice around that time. In the meantime, I have the studio torn up a bit, installing a new mixer and re-wiring MIDI cables in hopes of getting a new computer in the next few months. I'm still intending to spend most of this year working on a more melodic electronic album.
The solo piano CD is thick in progress, and has the working title "Small Moments." I think I might have just finished the main edits, and now I go to submixes, EQ and mastering. I am very happy with this music. Though not technically perfect, it shows heart and soul that connects in a way that I crave.
The new year starts with a new CD, a live recording from the last tour: Calling Down the Sky. You can purchase this from the order form, as usual. The studio is a bit torn up right now, with some gear purging in process, but soon I hope to start work on a solo piano CD. Also, I'm processing ideas about the next electronic album, which I plan to keep on the melodic side of the spectrum. Don't expect that one to come out for at least a year.
Since returning from the tour in late August, I worked on the scores for two films and edited material for the upcoming live CD. I am almost done with mastering the CD, which contains 74 minutes from the 100 minute improvised concert at Jim Lanpheer's house in Denver. The album will be titled Calling Down the Sky, in reference to the summer of big weather. You can expect to see it within the next few months.
I'll be heading out for my 2003 Summer tour in about a day, and I'm finishing up some small updates to the website, rehearsing, packing the van, doing laundry and all that. I plan to play some old pieces on this tour, some that I never performed live before. I'll be dragging around the modular system as well, to make squelching noises for Bestiary and Outpost. Some people have asked if I will play pieces from Temple of the Invisible. I wish I could, but that album lives in a strange hermetic place. I couldn't perform it live unless I had an ensemble of 6 or 8 people, with access to a dozen instruments. Maybe someday I'll get the "Rites of the Bronze Age" ensemble off the ground to make that happen. In the meantime, I'll play the handful of compositions and improvisations that feel good to me in concert. There will be some surprises, though. In the meantime, Temple of the Invisible has received some generous press, and I hope that people get a chance to hear this very different direction for my musical inquiries. I hope to see you on tour during the next few months.
Temple of the Invisible is finished and at the factory. I should have copies available before the end of the month, just in time for the concerts starting in May. I'm very happy with the results, especially the contributions from talented friends including Sukhawat Ali Khan, Forrest Fang, Paul Hanson, Tom Heasley and Percy Howard. Their performances add a lot of depth to this album. The first copies of the CD will be available exclusively from the order form on this website. Now I am working on some new material for the tour, and re-working some moldy oldies to try performing live with the modular synth. I hope to meet some of you in person at a concert in the coming months.
I seem to be busy all the time, yet my progress on "Temple of the Invisible" remains slow because of all the other activities. If you are reading this, you probably noticed that I restructured the website and changed the look a bit. It's not perfect, but I think I like the colors better. Also, I was busy preparing for the Beyond the Pale concert, which went well. I started my set way too late for my own taste (1 AM), but musically I was happy, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Planning a Summer concert tour has taken a chunk of time. I've also started a new "hobby" writing food articles for two local newspapers, which I have added to the newly expanded food portion of the website under www.rrich.com. I must apologize en masse to the many people who have sent me CDs to listen to in the past year. They have piled up into three stacks so tall that I'll never be able to listen to all of them and give an intelligent response. It's not that I don't care, I just don't have enough time to do everything. Occasionally I do find time to listen, and if I can, I will respond eventually. Thanks for your patience!
Sorry for the long silence. For additional news and communiques, don't forget to check our sister website, www.glurponline.com, which will get updated even when I'm avoiding my duties as webmaster for my own site! Glurponline is an officially sanctioned fan site with cummunity networking and third-party opinions. I know a few of you have been wondering why I've been so quiet in the last few months. I'm not completely idle (although I have been taking a bit of a break this summer, since the spring tour wore me out a bit.) Since May, I have mastered a few projects for different people, mixed a brilliant new CD by Mandible Chatter, and helped with various recording and mixing projects for friends including Tom Heasley, Percy Howard's Meridiem, and Haroun Serang. I just finished writing a software review for Remix Magazine, which should appear in a few months. In between these little projects I've been slowly developing the music for a new album, which will involve no synthesizers at all, only acoustic sounds. The working title is "Temple of the Invisible," and I hope to finish it by year's end. In Autumn, I plan to perform a few concerts, including a peace vigil with Terry Riley, and a set in the Beyond the Pale Festival, organized by the band Neurosis. Other artists in the four-day festival include Low, Jarboe, James Plotkin, Savage Republic, Neurosis, their side projects, and many more. It'll be an unusual festival, as always. Check the Concert News page for the latest updates.
Busy times right now! First, the collaboration with Ian Boddy, Outpost, is now available from the website order form. Second, I will be leaving in a few days for a two month tour of North America. The schedule is up on the Concerts page. I felt like performing some old pieces along with new stuff, so the concerts should range from Outpost and Bestiary all the way back to the early '90s. Just to make it more challenging, I decided to haul the MOTM modular synth out on the road, so at least I'll be getting a bit of weight-lifting exercise between all the driving! I hope to see many of you - in person - soon.
New recordings and concerts have kept me rather busy, so I apologize for the long gap between website updates. I can now announce the new collaboration with Ian Boddy, due out in the spring. The album will be called Outpost. It has a bit of a science fiction feel to it, telling a strange nonlinear story. I'm mixing the album this month, and I hope to finish it by mid-January. The two concerts this autumn went very well, particularly the Morisson Planetarium show in San Francisco. I'm feeling a bit encouraged by the success, so I'm planning a few more gigs for March and April, including a Gathering in Philadelphia on March 23. Check the concerts page for updates.
I'm filling my spare moments with mushroom forays, now that the winter rains have arrived in California. It's a late season this year, and the timing of the rains has made it a bit tricky to find good moments to go up into the hills. We have been taking more time this season to cook dinners for friends, enjoying the fruits from local vineyards, and just basically savoring how good it is to be alive. Increasingly I come to value the small things in life that make each moment special. As I reflect upon my role as an "artist" I realize that I'm simply trying to create poignant moments in people's lives. Those small epiphanies, those poignant moments, somehow continue to motivate me to create something meaningful or beautiful, whether it's music, food, writing, or merely good conversation. The medium doesn't matter much to me anymore, only that mysterious, elusive sense of life.
Bestiary is released ahead of schedule, and you can now order it from the Petri Dish. It should hit the streets in mid September, but advance copies are already in my hands. In other news, I spent the early part of the Summer helping some friends on their projects, mastering, modifying some studio electronics, and basically having fun. I'm playing with a prototype Metasonix TM1 tube waveshaper (MOTM compatible offspring of the Hellfire Modulator) and experimenting with a new analog mangling circuit for another company. I'm also starting some sound design for the next CD, which will be a collaboration with a friend from England. I'll wait until we are further along before I say more about it.
Bestiary is done! John Bergin has finished the cover, and Release plans to put it out in mid-September. I'm really excited about this album. It was fun to make,and it sounds very different from anything I've ever heard before. In the past, people have asked "what does glurp sound like?" and finally I have an unequivocal answer. I'll keep it under wraps until September, though, since I think you'll enjoy the surprise. In other news, I am wrapping up work on my first solo film score, for a short film called "City of Dreams" by first-time director Yahia Mahamdi. Hopefully it will find its way into film festivals and PBS television sometime this year. Also in the movie world, a Touchstone/Disney film called "Crazy Beautiful" comes out in June with a soundtrack by Paul Haslinger, a tiny bit of my sound design, and some lovely vocal work by Lori Carson. During the coming month, I have another review to write for Electronic Musician, some more film sounds for Paul Haslinger, some mastering jobs.... then work begins on two new collaborative album projects, which should involve some experients with new kinds of distortion. Stay tuned for more developements.
Somnium is now available. By now you may have noticed the new pages on the website that provide all sorts of information about the release. Other than that, I have been plugging away on Bestiary and trying to get a bit of mushroom hunting done. I have some mastering jobs coming up in the near future, and life is good!
I'm still here, plugging away in the studio on several projects. My new solo CD Bestiary is moving along nicely, and I hope to complete it by springtime. I am also tidying up the last details for the Somnium release, scheduled for late February. Another co-release with Hypnos, Somnium should also get an additional promotional push from Release Records. For the cover art, we will use one of those haunting photos by Brad Cole, as on Humidity and Stalker.
Recent mastering clients have included Trance to the Sun, Surface 10, Zero Ohms, and Thomas Ronkin. Tuba virtuoso Tom Heasley has been recording some solo improvisations in my studio for a possible CD release, and Percy Howard's Meridiem has been tracking for pre-production on a collaboration that may involve Jane Siberry and Happy Rhodes. I am also currently working with Paul Haslinger on some sound design for his score to an upcoming Touchstone film "Ed Seventeen." Amoeba might do a few gigs in March and April. Rick is currently rehearsing with a touring version of the band in Tucson, and I plan to join up with them later on.
On Saturday February 3, John Diliberto and Jeff Towne dropped by the studio on short notice to record me playing solo piano for a Living Room Concert on their syndicated radio show, Echoes. I wish I had more time to practice, but I think it turned out tolerably well. Listen for it if you live in an area where Echoes is broadcast. If you don't live in range of an affiliate station, check their web stream from my links page.
At last I feel like I'm back into a creative groove in the studio. I spent the last several weeks fussing with new computer hardware and software. What a waste of time! I really begin to wonder sometimes if all this complex technology really helps us to make better music. I must admit, however, that the new recording setup sounds better than anything I have used before.
This autumn and winter should be an intense time for recording. The new stuff I am working on is very weird and very electronic. I am surrounding myself with the images of Yves Tanguy and with viscous new sounds of analog electronic abuse. I sent a few audio tidbits to Synthesis Technology, who make the MOTM modular synth. You can find some samples at their website. I don't think the final album will be as extreme as some of these experiments, and it should include many quiet and haunting moments.
It's one of those times when I seem swamped in work, but I feel like I'm accomplishing very little. The big news this month is the release of Amoeba's Pivot and the reissue of my 1982 debut Sunyata. As usual, those are available on the Petri Dish order form. Somnium is in the authoring process, which is when when the DVD gets assembled and the navigation screens get written. I'll have to make a few compromises to satisfy the requirements of the DVD format, but it seems like we'll be able to overcome the technical hurdles soon. In the studio these days I am working on a lot of sound design, mostly using an analog modular synth called MOTM. I wrote a review of it for Electronic Musician Magazine, which should come out in the January issue. It's a bit ironic, since I have been moving away from synthesizers for the last few years, and now I find myself excited by new technology that harkens back to 1970! I am also starting work on new Amoeba material as well as new solo ideas, which I probably shouldn't talk about until something concrete comes of it.
The second leg of the Spring tour went relatively well, with no mishaps except for the usual wear and tear on the car. The shows in Madison WI and Nashville TN were recorded for web broadcast (on the Sonic Foundry and Live on the Web websites, respectively) and I got a few good recordings that might find their way into release at some point in the future. Since getting back, I have been doing upgrades to the studio, some engineering work for other people, and preparing Somnium for DVD authoring. It won't come out until February 2001, on Release Records, but the planning will take some time considering the stretch we're taking with new technology. The preparations for the release of Amoeba's Pivot are almost complete, with artwork and mastering in the works. Look for that release in late September. Also in September, look for a New York art magazine called Issue #4, which will feature an enclosed CD containing some unreleased live material from the Huizen AlfaCentauri concert and a few songs by Amoeba.
The reissue of Trances/Drones on Release is now available from the Petri Dish order form, at a new lower price. The artwork has been changed a bit, and you can have a look at the new cover. You can also purchase one of the few remaining T-shirts from the Spring tour. There are only a few of these left. You can see what it looks like here.
I am home for a short mid-tour break before heading out again to drive a loop around the country. I was very pleased with the first three concerts. A technical problem in Huizen forced me to play a completely improvised set, which turned out pretty good. (In case anyone was wondering about the technical details: while moving the rig to the center of the stage between acts, a short circuit developed in a power strip, which smoked and even blew the house breaker. While trouble-shooting the problem, a midi cable got mispatched, so I improvised the whole concert with looping delays and drones.) The concert in Italy was a private Deep Listening session, with a two hour set of slow motion music, in a setting of great food and warm people. The Gathering concert in Philadelphia felt especially good, and huge thanks go out to Chuck Van Zyl, Jeff Towne, and the others who helped pull it off so smoothly. The Cathedral at the University of Pennsylvania is a perfect venue for this type of music, and the audience was wonderful.
In other news, the re-release of Trances/Drones on Release should come out in early June, and Somnium is in the works, but on hold until I finish the tour.
The Spring 2000 concert tour is taking shape. See concerts to find out more. On this tour, the performance will be in a similar style to what you hear on Humidity, which means they'll be on the abstract side of what I do, more improvised and ambient. In other news, I just finishing producing, mixing and mastering the new album by Percy Howard's Meridiem, The Scattering Time, which includes contributions from Jarboe (Swans), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, Swans, Land), Jonathan Byerly (Grassy Knoll), and many others. I think it's an amazing album and I am looking forward to its release.
Humidity is now available from the Petri Dish order form. As you might already know, it's a 3-CD set of live concerts from 1998. It is packaged in a double folding jewel case with a 9-panel booklet that opens out into a 15" poster of the front cover.
Some updates regarding ongoing activities: The artwork for Humidity is on its way to the printers, and the album should be available at the end of January or early February. It won't appear on the Petri Dish order form until I have it in my hands, though, which might mean about a month from now. Sorry for the delay. Speaking of delays, Percy Howard has decided to cancel the Meridiem tour. Percy might re-schedule the tour for a later date, but that's up to him. His album is moving along nicely though, and should be finished in a month or two. My own tour plans are shaping up, and it looks like I'll be doing some concerts in the U.S. after returning from Europe in April. Possible dates include New York City, Philadelphia PA, West Hartford CT, and Memphis TN. If you have experience organizing concerts, and want to arrange something for this tour, you can contact me here. In other news, Somnium is complete and I am working out arrangements for DVD authoring, with a release planned in late Summer. Also, the new Amoeba CD Pivot appears to have found its home at last, on Release Records, who reissued our first CD Watchful . We are quite happy about this development. Oh, and finally, Happy New Year!
Dixie and I returned from our honeymoon in Europe, and I found myself immediately buried in projects, which is a good thing! Both Amoeba's Watchful and the ACID loop CD-ROM Liquid Planet are now available. We have finally decided on the artwork for Humidity, and I am happy to say that it's going to be another image by Brad Cole. I am almost done with the music for a 7 hour DVD called Somnium, which might come out this summer on Release. This is a distillation of the Sleep Concerts that I have given occasionally for the last 18 years or so. (I guess that means I'll have to buy a DVD player, now, huh?) Aside from my own work, I have been busy recording two albums here in the studio for friends of mine. The first is for singer/songwriter Jill Knight, and second is for Meridiem, a band with rotating lineup led by singer Percy Howard. Percy's last two projects involved Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, Charles Hayward, Trey Gunn and Vernon Reid. I plan to be touring with Meridiem in early 2000. I also have some solo concerts coming up in March and April.
I won't be getting much done in the next couple months, since most of my time will be spent preparing for a wedding (Dixie and I will be getting married in October.) I also expect to see the reissue of Amoeba's Watchful in October, as well as the ACID loop CD Liquid Planet. My guess is that Humidity will run late, and we may decide to postpone it until February 2000. The 6 hour sleep music project is taking shape, and I hope to finish it before the end of the year.
I've been doing a lot of odds and ends these last few months - some business, some sound design, some mastering and some preparations for the next projects. Let's see.... where to begin? First off, the new Amoeba CD is done and awaiting release next year pending negotiations. We're calling it Pivot. Also, Inner Landscapes is available now from this website and from Hypnos (as usual, see the Order Form.) Amoeba has completed negotiations with Release/Relapse for the reissue of Watchful, and if all goes well we might also work out a reissue of my old Trances/Drones, which I pulled from Extreme. And while we're on the subject of reissues, I recently dusted off the original tapes of my very first album, Sunyata, from 1982. I spent a bit of time trying to get it up to modern standards, and concluded that it might be worth releasing if enough people are interested. If I decide to re-release Sunyata, it will probably be in Spring of 2000 on Hypnos/Soundscape. The next Hypnos/Soundscape release is due out this Autumn, a 3-CD live set called Humidity, and we're currently exploring cover art. These last few months have also been busy with sound design. In June, I completed a loop CD for Sonic Foundry, for use with their ACID software. It'll probably be called Liquid Planet. I also did some textural loops for a scifi horror film called Pitch Black (a Greame Revelle soundtrack), and more recently for a TV documentary about digital animation (Paul Haslinger's soundtrack). Currently I have been travelling around to some remote locations in California and Oregon, recording some new environmental sounds for my next project, which is a 6 hour Sleep Concert DVD (or maybe 5-CD set.)
Almost done with the new Amoeba (gasp.) I'm finishing up the final mixes this month and soon start negotiating with a new label, which will remain nameless until we sign the papers. Inner Landscapes is on its way. Mike Griffin at Hypnos has done a wonderful job with the graphics, changing the look from his usual Hypnos template (Thanks Mike!) There's a new order form which allows secure online credit transactions, and I'll take pre-orders for Inner Landscapes and hold them until I have copies ready to ship. After I finish the mixes for Amoeba, I'm planning to tear apart the studio for a few upgrades, then it's off to a sound design project for Sonic Foundry, and maybe some concerts in Summertime.
Wow, it's been quite a while since my last update to this page. Sorry about the delay, I've been a bit of a studio hermit lately. The previous year seems to have been absorbed by Amoeba and mastering jobs, along with a few concerts and planning for this years' live releases. Speaking of which, Inner Landscapes is due out in March. It will be a co-op release between Hypnos and my own Soundscapes label. The live 3-CD set is scheduled for Autumn. I have also reclaimed my rights to the Extreme release of Trances/Drones, which I might re-release in 2000. As far as I know, Trances/Drones is officially out of print. I still have copies if anyone wants one (see the Order Form). I have also been making plans for my next solo album, which may be quite a departure from the territory of electronic music. Only a hint for now, the tentative title is Rights of the Bronze Age.
Both Seven Veils and Below Zero are now released, and should be available from stores nationwide, or if you can't find a copy locally you can order them from this website. You can learn more about both albums from the four interviews recently added to the Interviews section.
Plans are moving ahead for some limited edition releases next year. I have been discussing a co-op release with a small label that will currently go unnamed. The plan is to re-release Inner Landscapes as well as a 3-CD set of the best live material from the concerts in May. Stay tuned for further developements.
Well, 1998 has been a busy year so far, but everything seems to be taking longer than expected, especially the new Amoeba work. It looks like the new Amoeba album will end up taking most of the year.
I performed a few concerts in May, mostly down in the Los Angeles area. Those concerts included a lot of new material, using some weird new sounds that I had created in previous months for a sampling CD to be released by Big Fish, called "Things That Go Bump in the Night."
I've been doing a lot of engineering recently, as well. Highlights included mastering the excellent new Love Spirals Downwards CD, an excellent new album from a band called Claire Voyant, among others, and spending two weeks in Mexico editing a CD of chamber and choral compositions by Arturo Salinas.