Posts Tagged workshop

The Receding Horizon: 2012 in Review

Three things are inevitable: death, taxes and year-end reviews…

2012. What a year it was! And it didn’t end early, after all…

First of all, many thanks to everyone who supported my musical explorations this year. Whether it was attending (or helping facilitate) a live event, spreading the word, keeping up with the music online, or whatever – y’all know who you are. Muchas gracias!

This year, I played my first live shows (six in all), which were a major learning experience, significantly changed the way I set up my gear, and yielded one album’s worth of finished music and a second album’s worth of work in progress.

In November we finished recording for the first album, The Separate Ones, completing a nearly seven-year odyssey. I expect to release it (on CD and by download) in late January. There will be a CD Release party at Royal Coffee in Chicago, and a streaming feature on StillStream (details to follow when ready).

In early November, I revisited the recordings of my live show on April 1, the multimedia jam with art painters Royce Deans and Tali Farchi, and determined to release them on yet-to-be-titled Album #4. The recordings need remixing and perhaps a few added brush strokes. Hopefully the entire art package will be Royce & Tali’s work.

With most of 2012’s studio time involving preparation for live events, the only finished compositions to emerge this year were Darklight Canon, which will be included on Album #4, and Snowdance in Starlight, which appears on the Free Floating netlabel’s third Christmas/winter collection, all|is|calm 2012.

In other compilation news this year, my early piece Last of His Breed made it onto two Sound For Good compilations: Oceans and S4G-Mix-I. The latter was a survey of the label’s entire output to that point, so being included was quite a feather in the old cap. Many thanks to Jack Hertz and Crazy Dymond, respectively, for choosing it! Last of His Breed was the last (and my favorite) of four formative early jams which launched my ambient journey in spring 2004.

Mini Djembe and Thunder Tube

Besides changing significantly in its arrangement, The Keep acquired some new gear this year: a Roland Loop Station, djembe, clay pot drum, mini-djembe, thunder tube, claves and a big loud shaker. I also picked up a couple of baskets for rocks and Go stones, cut five new claves from downed branches, made one shaker out of locust bean pods and another out of plastic curtain rings, and bagged fallen leaves for sampling. Many thanks to John Briggs for the loan of a mini-darbuka.

Now it’s time to be a studio hermit for a few months, so I can get some albums finished.

New Toys Dec 25-12

L-R: Centipede, Loud Shaker, Locust Bean Pod Shaker, unfinished Claves

So far, the best-laid plans for 2013 shape up something like this:

Pastimes of Creation, the Keshava-Lila trio album, just needs one more bit of recording. I hope to release it in mid-March.

Memory Palace, a collaboration album with Chris Russell (for which half of my parts are done), for the Relaxed Machinery label.

Album #4, which will be submitted to rM.

By this time, it should be spring (at least), at which point I’ll come out of the cave and play a home concert – at my place. If all goes well, the program will be six improvised pieces from the two September shows, which I hope to have worked up into final form. Those pieces should be Album #5. Highlights of their gestation can be heard on my Events page.

Album #6, Nuances of Illusion, with violinist Ezra Azmon (who tears it up on Like a Riven Cloud from The Separate Ones) providing source material for recycling. These last two will probably be released on my Kalindi Music label.

Then – after a short vacation – work on the long-planned covers album will begin the next phase.

Some compilation pieces and guest appearances are also in process:

Butterfly Effects, the James Johnson recycling album on rM, is cued up for release early in ‘13. My piece Two Fractured Mirrors is included, along with pieces from Altus, Disturbed Earth, Scott M2, Northcape and othersI also dreamed up the album’s title and acted as Info & Project Manager.

I’ll have pieces with Chris Russell (Particles and Waves) and Peter James (in progress) on the second rM artists’ comp, inFUSE, which title struck me through a nice dialogue with John Koch-Northrup and Steve Brand.

I’ve submitted a piece, Radiant Perception, for the Free Floating compilation a.m. If it makes the cut, a.m. will be the fourth Free Floating collection to include a piece of mine. Radiant Perception was the immediate follow-up to Exquisite Divination of Patterns (from Conception), and these – along with Crystalline (from all|is|calm 2011) – form a clearly-bound trilogy of softsynth pieces.

So far, the only live events I’m contemplating for ‘13 are a repeat at Daley Plaza and hopefully expanding the Carving Through Shadow workshop into an all-day deep dive. I’m always open to offers, of course…

Finally, as usual, it was a great year for music from my peers. In December alone, Steve Roach, Steve Brand and Max Corbacho all released awesome new work, to end the year on a high chord. Other releases of note came from Robert Rich, Lucette Bourdin, Andrew Lahiff, Chris Russell and Peter James. Low Volume Music by Steve Roach & Dirk Serries (returning from a ten-year hiatus) was the year’s coolest surprise and a major highlight.

Bring on the lucky ’13!

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A Fledgling, New to Flight

After a five-month break, during which I played only one live event (a laptop-driven atmosphere for an art show opening in mid-May), I emerged from The Keep in September for a workshop and my highest-profile concert so far.

Having determined to begin exploring a more earthy, tribal sound, I recently added a djembe and clay pot drum to the percussion section. And for these shows I finally got to bring along my keyboard controller, as there were no space constraints. So I had the artistically-necessary feeling of leaving behind the safety of the nest. This timing was perfect, especially given the nature of the first event.

September 15: the Carving Through Shadow workshop was an exploration in going within and expressing the journey through drawings. I’ve been keen on working in such a situation since I started playing live, so I was jazzed to finally have a chance to give it a try.

The music followed the workshop’s three-part program:

1. Getting Comfortable was a purely atmospheric, slow-moving and fairly minimal synth zone. It’s a great pleasure playing around in this mode.

2. Getting Uncomfortable, an inward descent, got down, dirty and earthy. The whole percussion section came out for this.

Getting past some discomfort of my own, I finally undertook to use my voice as an instrument, to open another door inward. Immediately, a couple of the participants joined in, giving voice to their own work. That was a good start, for a direction which I hope to pursue down the road. (Anyone know an overtone voice teacher anywhere near Chicago?)

3. A New Way was about coming back up to the surface and integrating what was discovered. For this I used mostly layered guitar loops.

The energy was good all around, as everyone came ready to go for it. Many thanks to expressive arts therapist Eve Brownstone for running the event, and to everyone who took part!

Set List:

1. Haven
2. Inanna
   First Day Apart
3. Emerge

eyes cast down Live Rig

September 25: Music of Many Worlds – concert at Chicago’s Daley Plaza, under Picasso’s famous unnamed steel giant, as part of the Daley’s lunch-hour concert series.

Chicago Picasso - Photo by J Crocker 2004

Photo by J. Crocker, 2004

This show also celebrated the one-year anniversary of my move from Toronto to Chicago.

To help capture the mood, I picked up a wonderful eagle T-shirt from the Amerinkas gift shop. So now it’s a feeling of leaving the safety of the eyrie – hopefully to soar.

Apropos of this, the most exciting development from this show is the Fledgling suite, which came about of its own volition. Three pieces that were intended to be separate simply drew together (both musically, and as a concept, when their titles turned up). The middle one, First Expanse, is modeled on one of those formative studio jams from Spring 2004 (see my First Iterations blog).

Like many pieces from this year’s shows, these are works in progress, hybrids of composition and improv, trying out some cool ideas. I’m excited to see how they move forward; Fledgling could end up being the centerpiece of an album as well as live shows.

eyes cast down Live at Daley Plaza 9-25-12

The program was completed by guitar staples First Day Apart and Radha’s Tears, which will open and close the Separate Ones album, along with one cover: Future Tribe, from the Serpent’s Lair album. I’ve dreamed about opening live shows with this piece for years. Hopefully I’ll really nail it sometime, so I can send it to Steve and Byron.

Along with taking photos, my wife recorded about 20 minutes of video on her iPad, some of which I will post as soon as I can get it together.

Big thanks to the team at Daley Plaza for helping to make this happen!

Set List:

Future Tribe (Roach/Metcalf)
First Day Apart
I Am But a Fledgling…
First Expanse
… New to Flight
Radha’s Tears

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