Archive for the 'Instrumental' Category

Sep 23 2016

Music For Frank Moore Documentary

Published by under Instrumental,Music,Studio

Some months ago my friend and musical ally Robert Douglas (aka Carl Off) was asked to contribute music to a documentary project about American performance artist Frank Moore. His circumstances wouldn’t allow his participation, so he connected me to the producers, Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash. Carl and I had collaborated, previously, in the improvisational studio and performance duo known as Ain Soph Aur, and he’d tasked me with creating music for From The Heart of Brahma, a film he made about Prumsodun Ok, a queer Cambodian American dancer who’d drawn upon traditional Khmer dance to create new, inclusive, narratives.

The Let Me Be Frank documentary morphed, rather quickly, from a feature film into a series of shorter pieces based on Moore’s book, Art of the Shaman. Since Moore had been born with cerebral palsy, he was unable to speak, so many wonderful fellow artists, collaborators and friends were asked to read sections of the book. My job was to create musical beds beneath these readings. Most ended up being very ambient, though some were more rhythmic.

It has been a really enjoyable and collaborative process.

To watch the episodes (currently 4, so far, with many more planned), visit frankadelic.com or Vimeo. You can also read the text the series is based on, and explore a vast collection of Frank’s other work on eroplay.com.

Here is a playlist of some of the tracks I created for the project:

 

For those who are interested, here are some very scant production notes about the tracks:

Affected Infected – Voice
A New Free Love – Trombone
A Tribal Body – Cambodian Buddhist Monks, etc
Back Brain – Live Looping Synth & Guitar
Death Tickets – Electric Guitar
Destructive Games – Acoustic Grand Piano
Elementary Acts – Acoustic Guitar
Feedback Cycle – Imagined Psychoactive Ritual
Flesh Pleasure Creatures – Jazz Odyssey
Inside The Ritual – Rock Odyssey
Into The Volcano – Toe Tapper
Jump In – Jazz Odyssey
Magical Action – Recorders, Ocarina, Cat
The Braided Path – Guitar Suite
The End of Evolution – Guitar Suite
The Holy Obvious – Piano
This Hidden Yoke – Trombone
Trance Myths – Kalimba

Listen to the music I created for From The Heart of Brahma:

 
 

      Brahma Suite

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Aug 25 2015

Found: 80’s Synth Pieces Created at Long Beach City College

In the early 80s, I spent quite a bit of time in the Synth Lab at Long Beach City College. It was a fairly small room, packed with two Moog 15 racks, a 35 rack, a sequencer, and a keyboard. There were also two Oberheim 4 voice synthesizers, an Apple 2e system with an AlphaSyntauri digital synthesis system which I grew quite fond of. In the lab, there was also a Mini Moog, a drum machine of some sort, an 8-track 1″ reel to reel, a 1/4″ stereo reel to reel, a mixing desk, and a rack with a spring reverb unit mounted in it. I believe there was also an Arp String Ensemble in the studio, too, which is used on one of the tracks.

None of these devices were capable of storing or recalling preset sounds. Every sound had to be created from scratch. Also, this was pre-MIDI, and we had no time code system. All tracks were recorded one at a time, track by track, played by hand on a keyboard. (There’s one exception that I’ll address in a moment.)

Tracks

      Afanasevo Steppe
– This track was recorded, most probably, using the SEM based Oberheim 4-voice synths. It is clearly an attempt by me to be musical.

      Bypass
– This track was recorded, I believe, exclusively with the AlphaSyntauri computer-based synth and is probably the most abstract of the four recordings.

      Edifice Falls
– This track features voice (me), lots of modulated voice (Moog modular), the Oberheim 4-voice, and the Arp String Ensemble.

      Tripadation
– Without even the slightest bit of embarrassment, I’ll confess to enjoying a bit of chaos and dissonance. This rather frenetic track was primarily created with the Oberheim 4-Voice synths, I believe.

      Not Sputtered Hot Horn
At the time, and perhaps still, this was one of my favorite creations. It was created, I believe, entirely with the AlphaSyntauri, which lends it a rather charming edge. Based on a rather simple set of 4 note clusters (without nuts).

      Ether Binge
– This track was found on a different tape, at a different time, but I thought I’d include it here because it was also created in the LBCC Synth Lab. My good friend Rychard Cooper, now ensconced in academia at CSULB, and I went on a bit of a synth bender, and created this rather wild and wooley tracks. In addition to using nearly all the patch cords for the Moog modular systems, it also features the AlphaSyntauri, tape loops, Frippertronics, recordings of ash trays, bathroom ambiance, and just about everything else we could throw in there. The recording is the result of hours of experimentation captured on 8 track, then mixed to stereo, then mixed to cassette.

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Oct 06 2012

Live at the Health & Fitness Expo – October 5 & 6, 2012

The Arts Council for Long Beach was given a space at the Long Beach Marathon’s Health & Fitness Expo, and they contracted my Toaster Music cohort, Sumako, to curate it. He gathered a talented group of local artists to body-paint lovely bikini-clad models while I performed my unique brand of lap steel & synth based live looping. There was also a muralist working directly behind me. All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience, with everyone working at a high level, and sharing a sense of collective comraderie.

On Friday, I performed for just shy of 5 hours, and on Saturday I performed for 6. It was, ironically, a musical marathon of sorts.

I used two main sound sources: 1) My custom built Indy Rail Lap Steel Guitar, and 2) My beloved Novation Nova Digital Modeling Analog Synth.

The guitar runs through a series of effects: MXR El Grande Bass Fuzz -> Marshall Vibratrem -> Home Brew Electronics Psilocybe Phaser -> Danelectro Surf & Turf Compressor -> Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Jr -> Digital delay. On Saturday, just for variety’s sake, I swapped the El Grande for my cherished ZVex Wooly Mammoth. It was tasty.

The Nova is a great synthesizer, made by a company called Novation in the late 90’s. It is a computer based synth that simulates analog circuitry. It doesn’t have a keyboard, so it was being controlled via MIDI by a Korg Kaossilator Pro. This is a musical instrument in its own right but, in this case, I was using it as a ‘keyboard.’ The Kaossilator Pro can be programmed with both scale and key settings and, when I move my finger across the touch screen horizontally, it sends only those notes to the Nova.

Both instruments go into a GigaDelay, set for 8 seconds, via a Mackie mixer, where I do lots of stereo panning. You can see a photo of the rig, more or less, below.

Anyway, before I blather any further, here are excerpts from both days:

Craniundulant – Part 1

Craniundulant – Part 2

Part one consists of excerpts from Friday’s performance. I selected several complete movements and strung them together. It reflects more accurately what I do.

Part two was created differently. I divided the 6 hour performance into 10 minute segments and, from each segment, took a two minute chunk. These chunks have a 30 second overlap, where they fade into each other. Thus, you get a brief snapshot of the evolving performance without ever hearing a complete movement.

Here’s a crappy photo of my rig:

HFExpoRig

And here’s a photo, taken by Gertrude Erin Grayson IV, who is the talented artist that is painting the mural behind me:

Artist Village - Day 1

Here’s a shot of the Saturday crew:

Here’s a shot of the Friday crew:

Here are other photos, posted on facebook, and a bunch more posted by Sumako.

I must say that everyone really stepped up, and brought their ‘A’ game to the event. Everyone was really kind and supportive, and it was a real joy to be a part of the event. Mad props and kudos to Sumako for pulling this together with very little time. It was great.

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Feb 17 2009

Music for Trombone and Voice

I volunteered to do some sound design work for a fledgling theater group’s 2nd annual 6 play festival. One of the plays took place in Heaven, Earth, and Hell. I created a soundscape for Heaven using trombone and voice, and one for

      Hell
using audio from a live performance by sound artists SMGSAP. The director decided not to use the tracks I produced, but I rather liked the piece I created, so I thought I’d share it here:

      Music for Trombone and Voice (A Heavenly Soundscape)

I’ve received quite a few mixed reactions from folks who have listened to it. Most find it pleasing, but decidedly unheavenly. That’s ok. It feels reverential, peaceful, and heavenly to me.

Please feel free to leave comments.

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Mar 04 2008

Found Sound Drum Track

Published by under audio tracks,Instrumental

I’m working on a documentary about a friend who is an artist. Amongst the many things she does, she’s been given a fellowship at a local art center where they have a rather extensive printmaking studio. She’s been working there for months, making prints from cardboard packaging, paper bags, etc. In the process of filming her there, I noticed that the space had an interesting acoustical environment, and that many of the machines and other equipment could make interesting sounds. I went there a few weeks back and recorded a whole bunch of different sounds, took them home, chopped them into small segments, and created a piece of music from them.

This is just a rough draft, sort of playing with the various elements, just to get a feel for them. This is, by no means, a final product.

Also, it may be helpful to know that, aside from the parsing of the various sounds, and some basic effects like reverb and delay, the original source sounds have been unaltered.

The tune starts with a metal drawer closing. The ‘kick drum’ sound is a silk screen. There are sounds from springs, a metal sink, a drying rack, an ink roller, etc.

Here’s the link

Please feel free to let me know what you think!

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Jul 24 2007

New Sandblaster Demo Track: This Eden

As you may know, some years ago I undertook the rather ambitious task of creating a custom guitar. It was an educational experience, fraught with unique challenges but, ultimately, rewarding. A friend pointed out that I’d not recorded an example of its various sounds and whatnot, so I did.

I’m including three links here. The first is

      an early attempt
, with a total of 6 tracks. Please be forewarned that the lead is a bit wooly. I hope to improve upon it with some practice. In this early version there are very few effects (some delay and reverb, and gain on the lead).

In

      the 2nd version
, I added 6 additional tracks. Three are individual notes in a chord, sustained by a device called an e-bow, and played at double speed. I also added a bass guitar part (the only track not played on the Sandblaster) and two one-note harmony tracks at the end of the solo.

I’m also including a very brief example of the

      e-bow tracks
, on their own, so you can get a better sense of them.

UPDATE:

A friend suggested that I add

      a spoken word element
to the piece.

After living with this first version for a while, I felt that a different reading of the words would work better. I also added some rather complex effects to the voice.

The result is

      This Eden - V2
.

Read the words.

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Apr 26 2006

Musical History…

For as long as I can remember, music has been a part of my life. At a very early age I was fascinated by music, and listened to it all the time. I remember, when I was about 7 or 8, walking to the library and, in my mind, hearing a complete orchestral performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. At the library I’d listen to records somewhat indiscriminately. I really enjoyed romantic era orchestral composers, but also loved pop music, rock, and even some wacky experimental stuff. All this before I was a teenager.

I also studied music, learning violin, keyboard, guitar, and trumpet at various times… None of which with any proficiency. I also sang and, in the 6th grade, was invited to be the featured soloist for a performance of Leonard Bernstien’s Chitchester Psalms with the Santa Monica City College Choir.

By the time I hit Jr High, though, I stopped playing instruments completely and didn’t take music up again until after High School. I started attending the local community college, and they had both a sound recording program AND an electronic music program. I immersed myself in both. I was working with multi-track reel to reel tape machines, analog synth’s large and small, and even some very primitive digital computer-based synthesis on an Apple 2E.

Continue Reading »

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Apr 14 2006

45 Sec Compilation

As a result of my last gig I was invited to participate in a compilation album that’s being produced by a young fellow I met at the gig. I guess that the plan is to produce an LP (those 12″ vinal things…) with up to 40 tracks, each no longer than 45 seconds. To be honest, I love stuff like this. So far, I have produced two tracks.


      The first
is from my performance, the middle bit with my Lap Steel, that runs about 12 minutes or so. Using special software, I reduced the running time to 45 seconds. Thus, the entire performance is represented, but it happens at a much faster rate. The pitch would have stayed the same but I decided to drop the whole thing down one octave, just because it felt better to me.


      The second
is more of a multi-track studio affair. I built the thing up one track at a time, improvising each track as I went. For example, I recorded the first guitar track, then improvised the 2nd and 3rd tracks just listening to the 1st. These three tracks became the 3 note chords. I then recorded the 1st 1/4 note arpeggio, also an improv, and then the 2nd without listening to the first. I improvised the bass part while listening to the chords, then added the 3 vocal tracks, the lap steel, and the bells.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for the project, but I do like it. It is simultaniously lilting and wacked… (BTW, I described it to my wife using the same two words and her reply: “Lilting and wacked… Just like you!”)

Enjoy!

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Apr 12 2006

LP 45 Second Project

When I performed at the Dung Mummy Anniversary event last month, I met a young man by the name of Adam Reese. He performed with the Hop Frog Drum Jester Devotional, smacking a mini trap set. A few days ago he contacted me about a project of his own that he wanted me to participate in. Evidently, he’s producing a compilation LP with tracks by a multitude of artists. Each track, however, must be no more than 45 seconds. This is a unique challenge. He explained that he wasn’t really looking for ‘noise’ stuff. He said he’d enjoyed my performance, and was hoping for something reflective of that. Well, leave it to me to take a perfectly good suggestion and corrupt it terribly. I took the audio from the middle portion of my performance, the bit with the Indy Rail lap steel, and time shifted it from nearly 12 minutes to exactly 45 seconds. I also applied a wee bit of dynamic processing, reverb, EQ, and dropped the audio down one octave.

Hear the result

      here
. [NOTE: This is an uncompressed WAV file that’s about 7.5 MB.] Now, I don’t know if this will be my actual submission, but the result was interesting in a ‘tweaky’ sort of way.

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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Mar 23 2006

Dung Mummy Audio Excerpt

With the kind assistance of a volunteer, I recorded my performance at Dung Mummy on my video camera. The performance, in its entirety, was about 25 minutes. This excerpt, about 11 minutes in length, comes from the middle, when I had switched from my gretsch to my Industrial Guitar Indy Rail.


Click here to hear audio. Note: the file is about 10 MB.

If you’re interested, you can see pix of the guitar effects I use and read about what they do.
Enjoy!

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