2017 could be summed up in large part as The Philadelphia Year. Much of the year’s activity grew out of my two performances there in October.
Without some determination – and a lot of good fortune – it would have been an off year. The Keep was more-or-less abandoned for five months, during our apartment search, moving and unpacking, and our Boundary Waters camping vacation. I won back much of that time with two busy months preparing for the Philadelphia shows, and an end-of-year intensive which saw a long-gestating album completed at last.
My fifth album, The White Island, a set of guitar improvisations, was released on Oct. 1. The album was completed one day in mid-January when I recorded eight spontaneous parts on four instruments (6-string, 12-string, fretless and mandolin) and assembled them to create The Eons Are Closing, the album’s centerpiece, its longest and perhaps most experimental track, and a damn lot of fun.
The White Island was very well-received by listeners and reviewers alike. These reviews from Star’s End and Textura nicely articulate what listeners are hearing. The album was my third to make the Star’s End annual List of Significant Releases.
My first live performances since 2015 – at The Gatherings (opening for Jeff Pearce) on Oct. 7, and on Star’s End Radio later that night – kick-started the creation of my new website, and the rest of my composition activity for the year.
My hope was to play all-new material for my 45-minute Gatherings set, and an inspiring new idea for a seven-part theme album (to be titled Virtue) resulted in two new pieces: One Pitcher of Water and Counsel of Perfection. The latter piece ended up being over a half-hour long and this was premiered at the concert. These two pieces signify a significant change in my sound, which will become clear as the Virtue album develops.
For Star’s End, I jumped at the opportunity to create a longform version of the track Astral Drift (from the Souls Adrift, in Disrepair album), for which many new elements were composed and new sounds added to the mix. This was tons of fun to play, and was greatly enjoyed by listeners.
To close out the year, I’m delighted to announce the completion of the meditation-ambient album Pastimes of Creation, by my devotional project Mukunda’s Friends. I spent four days, up to New Year’s Day 2018, assembling and mixing the CD-length piece, which was eight years in the making. That album’s story will be posted shortly.
What’s on the slate for 2018? As always, I have plans…
The release of Pastimes of Creation is imminent, and my next recording will be Arvo Pärt’s classic Fratres. This will be released as a digital-only EP, assuming that permission from Mr. Pärt’s publisher can be obtained.
After that, two projects will begin, the longform Astral Drift, and a new collaboration with Chris Russell, with whom I made the Memory Palace album.
Completing all of that will reduce the work-in-progress list to a mere five albums…
The album from Mirror of Dreams, for which I recorded 12-string guitar parts on two pieces in 2016, is expected early this year. I’ve just been invited to record a guest part for another artist, to be included on an album of his collaborative pieces.
So 2018 looks to be a busy and productive year. Opportunity is texting, to say she’s at the gate…
My ongoing gratitude for airplay and support to everyone who plays the music, and especially to Chuck van Zyl of Star’s End, Rusty Hodge of SomaFM, Renee Blanche of Night Tides and Diana Smethurst (aka Gypsywitch) of Radio Spiral. Cheers to them, and thanks to all of you who support the music!