Monday, June 09, 2008

Review in Computer Music Journal...

Computer Music Journal

MIT Press

Summer 2008, Vol. 32, No. 2, Pages 86-88

Reviewed by James Harley

Guelph, Ontario, Canada

The Desert Fathers is a duo comprising Jeff Kaiser and Gregory Taylor. Mr. Kaiser combines his computer with quartertone trumpet, adding a more direct element to the music- making. This release comes from a direct-to-disc session recorded at the 2007 Boise Experimental Music Festival. The music is divided into two segments: Visions (Saint Anthony) and The White Monastery (Saint Shenouda). The tracks are more clearly shaped, and do not run one into the other. Each is a substantial duration, in the range of half an hour, so represents a wide- ranging musical adventure. One presumes the music is primarily improvised. In comparison to Voiceband Jilt, this release is far less ambient. Interventions are more dramatic, new material is introduced not always as one layer of an ongoing texture but more often as a signifier of a new idea or section (even while there may be some continuities). The trumpet is subject to a variety of electronic manipulation, including delays, harmonization, pitch shifting, reverberation, and much else. There are times, listening to the recording, when it isn't possible to really discern whether there is a trumpet being played at the moment or whether the sonorities are making use of processed samples of the trumpet. I find this to be an interesting continuum to explore, and it helps sustain interest over the course of the tracks.

The quartertone capability of the trumpet is not overly apparent, given the generally avant-garde style Mr. Kaiser is playing here, enhanced by all manner of signal processing. Still, there are occasional moments when one hears more sustained, melodic playing, and the microtones are apparent. Certainly, his abilities as a player are highly accomplished.

One might expect that a disc entitled Coptic Icons be contemplative in character. In fact, this music is not meditative, at least in a "new age" sense. There are no program notes provided with the CD to enlighten us as to the meaning of the title (or the name of the duo, for that matter). Nonetheless, it is common knowledge that the original desert fathers were monks who lived hermetic lives in the desert during the early years of the Christian era, praying in isolation. It might be easy to overlook how difficult their lives would have been, just to survive, let alone to maintain the discipline required of their spiritual calling. The writings that survive are sometimes surprisingly fierce in tone. I hear some of that fierceness in this music, although I wouldn't characterize it as being aggressive. There is great concentration here, keeping in mind that these would have been live performances, and even though we can only listen to this as documentation of that experience, it succeeds admirably.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Harry Partch and his first cigar...

Keith sent me this quote from Harry Partch: A Biography by Bob Gilmore

"[Harry Partch] also found gainful employment delivering prescriptions all over town on his bicycle, 'including the wide-open red-light district,' probably for the maladies of the prostitutes. He recalled one woman there offering him his first cigar, which he smoked all the way through without getting sick."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Boise Experimental Music Festival: Jim McAuley, MVP

Jim McAuley at the Boise Experimental Music Festival.

Well...back to San Diego, still with this awful flu and bronchitis.

I thought I'd put up some random pics from the festival. I was saving my energy for The Choir Boys' shows (our new piece, "Helicopter," which by the way, went VERY well) but that meant I didn't take many pics this year. Also: the overall quality of the music at the festival this year was at the real extremes: extreme highs and extreme lows. I'm not going to talk about what I felt were the low points, but focus on just a few of the high points (this is *not* an inclusive list of high points).

Definite highs: Jim McAuley, Connolly/Frazier/Wallace, Emily Hay and Motoko Honda...with the MVP award going to Jim McAuley for being the first musician in a few years to move me to tears by a live performance ("Eyelids of Buddha," available here on his CD Gongfarmer18.). Stunning skill, musicianship, compositions, improvisations...truly gifted and wonderful player.

Oh, by the way, the stage was at the Shriner's El Korah Temple...interesting place...I liked it.

Emily Hay

Ted Killian

Colter Frazier, Jim Connolly, Rob Wallace

Bob Sterling

The Transhumans: Justin Cassidy, Bob Sterling, Patrick Rodriguez

Justin Cassidy

Andrew Pask

Jim Connolly

Emily Hay

Rob Wallace

Colter Frazier

Motoko Honda

I love his music...Bo is gone...

From the AP:

Rock pioneer Bo Diddley dies at age 79

1 hour ago

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A spokeswoman says rock pioneer Bo Diddley has died. He was 79.

The spokeswoman says Diddley died of heart failure Monday. He had suffered a heart attack in August 2007, three months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa.

Doctors said the stroke affected his ability to speak, and he had returned to Florida to continue rehabilitation.

Diddley was known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat.

His first single, "Bo Diddley," introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as "shave and a haircut, two bits." The B side, "I'm a Man," with its slightly humorous take on macho pride, also became a rock standard.