muted tones

november 06

new ends to old stories

Joshua Dumas helps organize this series and is filling in this month at the last second due to unfortunate circumstances. Don't expect much.

curator log:

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cultivating peacefulness

december 04th, 2006

As I said below, I wasn’t able to put a lot of forethought into this piece, but of course there is a personal and social musical and aesthetic history that informs the work: Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, Yo La Tengo, Califone, Brian Eno, Ned Rifle, the Dirty Three, Augustus Pablo, the Stars of the Lid, Robert Hass’ haiku translations, a desire to cultivate a quiet thoughtfulness in my work, Mark Rothko. And of course there is circumstance; having to work with very limited time and means.

This was a good and hard weekend. I had many dear people I desperately wanted to spend time with and another recording obligation that had to be fulfilled. This meant I had to work on my Tones piece in the pockets, five or six hours after work on Friday until a late visit with WJ. Saturday morning before a field trip with MT and TP and then nice long eight hours Saturday day/evening before meeting good cats out. Sunday was all squeezed, before recording the Notes and Scratches choir stuff, and then a good five hours between then and visits with JW and WJ, returning home around 2am to put the final touches on the piece until 4:30am.

This process and the limits of my technology meant that I couldn’t abandon or revise anything. ProTools free can only run 8 tracks at once, meaning I had to record six tracks, then mix/bounce them to the two open tracks, I did that four times finishing with four stereo tracks I then mixed together to make the final work. Once bounced I couldn’t go back and change those sections, meaning the whole piece is a kind of rescue mission; hastily figuring out to add to or unpack the ideas past-recorded to give the thing a structure and arc.

I think Rothko is particularly important for me, for this piece. The thing that I love about his work is that you can live in it. Standing in front of one of his giant canvases, the paint can surround you, you can enter that colorful quietness and ‘be’ inside it. This music aspires to that. That with headphones on in the eveningtime, a patient listener might, for a moment, inhabit an other-place inside song; that this could be your home on the river where you might revise the stories you’re making, and aspire to kinder, less terrible endings.

Or you might be bored stiff!


december 04th, 2006

Fender SG :: seven tracks
Turser jazz bass :: two tracks
Casio SK-1 :: three tracks
beat up Yamaha classical acoustic (strung with steel strings) :: two tracks
Hohner melodica :: two tracks
Dewey bells :: two tracks
singing saw :: one track
broken Farfisa :: one track
tambourine :: one track
voice :: one track

Our lovely front room
MXR distortion pedal
Bassola(!) 25 bass amp
T-Power guitar amp
AKG C-1000 microphone
Atus phantom power supply
XLR and instrument cables
Tascam four-track
late 90s Apple iMac
Digidesign ProTools Free

Spinach pie and dolma from the Middle Eastern Bakery on Foster
Good new tangles
And as always: trouble, hope


december 04th, 2006

Special thanks to Rob for letting me occupy our living room this weekend!

and done.

december 04th, 2006

Yeah, there are parts that sound like a Yanni outtake. Yeah, there are some serious tempo missteps. Yeah, there are some real bad notes. Yeah, the structure is underdeveloped. Yeah, it’s a bit boring in spots.

But there are a couple nice moments, and though it is late and I’m all sorts of tired, it is nice to see a thing though. Having had no time for forethought or revision, I felt as much like a spectator as a maker in all this. And while there are many things I would change, tones I’d recolor, and chords I’d revise, this feels okay and I am not ashamed of it.

For now, to bed! I’ll write more tomorrow, and pass the torch onto Danny, who is gonna have a brilliant month I reckon.

the text

december 04th, 2006

Thick summer haze thinned
the highway light.
But on clear nights
I’d read by it,
forgetting, or making
new ends to old stories.

Love contaminates
the smallest rooms wholly.
Its half-life is
a hair on a pillow,
a forgotten watch on a nightstand.

See, I’d made a home
on the river, ramshackle,
by the edge of the rain-
sick floodplain.
Its pressed wood
suspended, uncertainly
slept near the water.

For months that tin roof
kept my face dry,
the rough cedar struts
kept my heart off the earth.

Some evenings
the freight barge would wake me.
The swampfishers’ laughter
some mornings.

Gear :: Farfisa, guitars, bass, glass of water, etc.

december 03rd, 2006

Gear :: iMac, stereo

december 03rd, 2006

Gear :: 4track, etc.

december 03rd, 2006

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