2018 was a transitional year, the beginning of what may be viewed as a fallow period.
Not very much music work was done in ‘18, and I expect that several years will pass before I have anything to show for the extended research-and-development work that is now underway.
(I’m sure glad that I’ve never razzed my fellow musicians who are on long intervals between releases, as that would surely – and properly – be coming back at me very soon!)
What Have I Done?
The Mukunda’s Friends group album Pastimes of Creation was finished in February and released in March, after an intensive mixing-and-assembly session leading up to New Year’s Day. Featuring virtuoso accordion work from Jaro Czerwinec and meditation chants from Baliyan dasi and friends, the album had a great reception at its premiere on Radio Spiral’s program Around the Campfire. Big thanks to hostess Diana Smethurst for featuring the album, along with a handful of eyes cast down pieces!
Pastimes of Creation was an eight-year journey, and its release, along with that of The White Island and my performances at The Gatherings and Star’s End in October 2017, closed out my apprenticeship.
As I wrote in a recent blog, in order to take composition, recording and live performance to the next level, now is the time to focus on sound design and grooves, along with tuning in Just Intonation.
As for composition, I wrote just one piece this year, the wedding song Two Promises, for flute, clarinet, piano and strings. It was well received, and hopefully will be the first of many.
Two Promises clip:
I recorded two short guests spots this year, for esteemed European colleagues. I also have three longer tracks from one of them, which will probably be the only recordings I work on in 2019 – apart from proof-of-concept experiments, like this polyrhythmic groove I recently posted.
Groove Experiment No. 1:
None of Their Damn Business
My withdrawal into the studio is timely, given that the music industry – speaking in ethical terms – has really hit bottom. The passage of the Music Modernization Act empowers corporate thieves and strips music creators of their legal and intellectual property rights. This legislation is so unconstitutional that it would surely be struck down by any decent judge – but that requires a formal – and expensive – legal challenge. So far, at least, no one who can afford to do the right thing is showing any interest in doing so.
It’s a logical dead end for the industry business model, which has always been corrupt, always the exploiter and enemy of the creative musician.
The only solution for me is to work entirely outside of that world, and now I will have ample time to reflect on how – or even, if – I will go about releasing albums, when their time comes. The state of the industry is depressing (including toxic social media), and turning away from it is simply liberating.
Words, Words, Words
One blog post that felt especially important to share addresses the role and function of the Artist in society. We live in literally insane times, and the important role of the artist is being devalued, debased, pawned, forgotten. “Civilization” has been deprecated, replaced by ignorance, rage, intolerance, exploitation and hatred.
It is therefore essential, for those of us who prefer sanity, to try to remind everyone of what’s important: truth and beauty. We lose sight of these at our peril. Details are in the news…
Speaking of truth and beauty: 2018 saw my second pilgrimage to Tucson to hear Steve Roach for three nights, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his landmark album Dreamtime Return. This was captured in a two-part blog, beginning here.
Other memorable concerts featured Joan Baez at the Chicago Theatre, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Ravinia Festival, with their visceral, movement-illuminated rendition of Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro.
The studio ever evolves
I have two new MIDI controllers to use in generating percussion grooves and atmospheres. An old Windows 7 laptop is also being repurposed to run Camel Audio’s fantastic Alchemy softsynth (which runs beautifully in Win7, but is unstable in 10).
Into the studio! 2019 promises to be an exciting year. Stay tuned for news (and occasional audio clips) of the process.