My fifth album, The White Island, will be released on CD and in digital formats on October 1st, just in time for my performances on Philadelphia at The Gatherings and on Star’s End, on the 7th and 8th.
This album concludes a most unexpected arc in my performance history. The music is all improvised, and all but one of the tracks are solo guitar pieces, recorded live either in the studio or in performance.
I say “unexpected” because it came as a pleasant surprise to me that I could improvise at all. So I’m really pleased that I’ve somehow been able to jam in an extended mode: of the album’s six solo pieces, five of them are over eight minutes long.
Also unexpected was the frankly experimental nature of three of these tracks. They are a fairly severe contrast to the more serene vibe of the three Mirage pieces.
Here is a Preview Clip, featuring bits from all seven pieces:
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The front and back covers of the CD package are graced by photos from my wife Dasi, looking out over Lake Michigan on an early November evening, with the sun setting behind us. The two interior photos were taken by me, on our wilderness camping trip this summer.
All pieces were performed on 6-string electric guitar, unless otherwise noted.
Track List and Details:
- Mirage One 8.30
Studio recording, June 11/15; rehearsal for June 20/15 concert. As mentioned in my 2015 year-end review, I planned an improvisation between the composed pieces First Day Apart and Fading Angel in my two concerts that summer and, from those concerts and two rehearsals, obtained three releasable pieces. This was a revelation, which suddenly made an album of guitar improvs a Necessary Project.
- The Four Directions Seemed Aflame 9.00
Studio recording, Jan. 1/16; fretless guitar with EBow. All was not quiet on New Year’s Day. This was a stab at a collaborative piece, inspired by a wildlife scene from our Boulder Lake camping trip. This performance – which ends up with four loops going – didn’t leave any room for my collaborator, so it meets its destiny here. This taught me that I’d best compose my part for the collab piece, which has been done, but not recorded yet. It’s a little restrained compared to this…
By the way, the “wildlife scene” wasn’t a forest fire, thankfully. It was four hawks circling overhead. This just sounds like a wildfire…
- Mirage Two 11.10
Studio recording, June 30/15. Rehearsal for July 6/15 concert.
- The Eons Are Closing 16.20
Studio recording, Jan. 16/17. This is the crazy one, starting with its tongue-in-cheek title, lifted from a Frank Zappa piece. There are eight 16-bar improvised parts: two each on 6-string, 12-string, fretless with EBow through a harmonizer pedal, and electric mandolin through an octave pedal. These were copied, messed with and arranged into something structure-like.
The middle section has all eight of them going at once, followed by each instrument’s pair of clips. Some of them are run backwards, and they’re put through some fun effects. The mandolin, pitched down two octaves, often sounds like a crazed bass marimba or some such, which I think will require further exploration.
- Mirage Three 8.55
Recorded in concert, July 6/15.
- Submerge 5.11
- Mystic Memory 14.38
Recorded in concert, Apr. 1/12. 12-string with slide, severely modified with lots of processing. The guitar is tuned to Alexander Scriabin’s mystic chord and the performance is fairly avant at times. This inspired the composed piece Transcending Memory on my Souls Adrift, in Disrepair album.