October Grooves – Building a Memory Palace in the Forest

My wife and I have taken several long-weekend trips to the Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center near Bloomington, IN, and from the first visit (18 months ago), it became our go-to getaway place. It features pervasive quiet, pristine grounds for walking, deer wandering fearlessly, tranquil temple space, and four retreat cabins nestled in a woodland ideal for hiking.

Dasi & Deer

So you might imagine my anticipation of a full nine days there, during my favorite season… my first real vacation (meaning, a week or more outside the city) in at least three years. Kalman Cat accompanied us in all his royal pomp.

I took the laptop, and spent a couple of hours per day working on several projects.

The primary focus was on Album #3, Memory Palace, a duo with Chris Russell, which was about half-finished, but on hold since my Stateside move two years ago. I’m wearing the Percussionist hat on this project.

The first task was to listen to the three pieces already done. Fortunately, I still like my parts, and I only made a few tweaks to one of them.

So, my parts for two pieces remained to be done. Elements for one of them had already been recorded on New Year’s Day ’13, so only the arrangement remained. This one is atmospheric rather than rhythmic, and utilizes some amusing homemade/processed samples. I think of it as the album’s slow movement.

The final track is more complicated, as it will be alternating acoustic and electronic grooves – with some potentially thrilling polyrhythmic crossfades, as the electronic parts are all in odd-number time signatures (I got to wear my prog rock drummer hat again!). Anyway, I got those parts done, so hopefully a studio session or two with the acoustic drums will finish this. Then it’s over to Chris.

There was enough time to spend one day each on two future projects:

First up was the Ambient Orchestra Concerto. It was time to get clear on the basic parameters, so it’s not merely a warm and fuzzy idea any more. I hope to start working on this late next year, with 11 colleagues signed on and hopefully more to come.

Kalman Walks the Line 2

The last day’s task was listening to some live improvised pieces from last year, and making notes on how best to work them into proper compositions. There are probably two albums’ worth of these, and I hope to get them moving in the new year.

Forest 26

Finally, the Retreat Center’s Cultural Building looks like a fine live setting for the music, and its visitors are very likely to be an ideal audience. So I’ve begun a discussion with the events manager. I’m hopeful that we’ll arrange a performance for the spring or summer.

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