Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Panomorphia (New CD release)

A few years ago, one of my favorite musicians had a guitar solo on a major movie soundtrack.  The piece was just a few minutes long,  but it was absolutely brilliant.  I spoke to a friend of his, who joked to me that the guitarist had actually recorded the song in his home studio, and it had likely taken him less than a half hour.  “Yes”, I said, “but it took him 40 years to get there.” 

Panomorphia actually took several years to produce, but the music is rooted in the tape delay improvisations I explored three decades ago.  Looping, as it’s called now, is the music technology that allows the artist to generate multiple layers of sound on sound, stacking melody and rhythm on the fly, creating spontaneous compositions.  But the method can be unforgiving.  As the music builds and takes shape, each new layer is critical.  A note out of key, a strum out of time, a phrase out of context can send the music in a different direction, spoil the mix entirely.

For me, looping is just the starting point.  It’s the paved road, but not the journey.  In late 2008, I recorded a series of electric guitar improvisations.  The recordings were made, usually late in the evening, directly to a stereo recorder. During each session, I did my best to put the day behind me, and play without expectations.  Afterwards, the new tracks were set aside for several months, in order to come back with the freshest ears possible.  The best tracks were selected based on those moments when I didn’t recognize my own playing, where perhaps, I had forgotten the recorder was running, and found myself at the end of an hour long space walk. 

Next, in came drummer Celso Alberti, bassist Michael Manring and trumpet/fluegal horn player Jeff Oster, who recorded live to each loop performance.  Sometimes responding to the ebb and flow of the music, or finding a pulse and driving home their own orchestral groove.  I added new parts of my own, building structure and melody. With each layer, the song evolved into something new, but all in keeping with the spirit of the original performance. 

Panomorphia will be released on April 2, 2012
Multiphase Records  MP-CD117

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sculpterra Panoramic

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of playing with Diane Arkenstone’s band at the Sculpterra Winery in Paso Robles, CA.  The setting was beautiful, and we lucked out with the weather.  During a break I walked over to the vineyard and took some photos, including this panoramic stitch.  Rather than smoothing everything out, I kept the soft blend to each frame, showing the steps through each perspective.  Plus, I have a thing for the NASA probe montages and the classic wintery moonscapes.  --cw