Music

I write, record and perform music deriving from many forms, particularly jazz, “classical” electronic music, ambient music, and Indonesian gamelan, with influences from a wide variety of artists: Laurie Anderson, Frank Zappa, Wendy Carlos, Pat Metheny, Brian Eno, and even John Cage – lyrical pieces with unique timbres and harmonies.

My esthetic could be best summarized as exploring the fractal edge of planning and coincidence. I like to assemble a situation in which I’ve got the basic outline of things under control, but then improvise inside them, allowing the uncontrolled and unplanned portions to inspire and surprise me, both in my music and my photography.

I’ve been a musician since I was in the fifth grade, starting on trumpet after a big argument with my parents (they were set on saxophone; I thought I’d have to learn too many fingerings and that trumpet would be easier. Ho ho ho. Yeah, okay, you were right…). I was terrifically lucky to have Ed Parshall and Ron Rose as band teachers; they gave me a chance to learn jazz and improvisation, and to take off on my own from there.

In 1972, there were two events that shaped my musical life forever: the release of the Clockwork Orange soundtrack, particularly Timesteps, and 90 minutes of messing with an ARP 2600. After that, I could not get enough electronic music: Carlos, Stockhausen, and the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center were all I could find, but I immersed myself in it. Seventeen years later, I stumbled across an electronic-music mailing list on this thing called BITNET. Soon after, I became the list manager just by being there at the right time, and a couple years later, after a lot of encouragement from my friends on the list, I bought my first synthesizer: the Ensoniq VFXsd (which I still own!).

A couple years after that, Mike Metlay, and old friend and co-listowner from EMUSIC-L, invited me to the Team Metlay Ballistic sessions, and later was kind enough to use my realization of Pemungkah as the basis for a piece on the Team Metlay release Beneath Stars. When he started the Different Skies concerts at Arcosanti in 2002, I signed up, but was unable to participate until 2007. Different Skies is a tremendous experience: a number of musicians (on the order of 20, sometime fewer) gather in the Arizona desert. For a week, we play, improvise, and work out music, and then on the Saturday of that week, we play a concert for the residents and others who have come to hear us. It’s more than a gig; it’s a chance for people who’ve known one another at the remove of email or a phone call to actually spend some time together doing what we all love most: making music with friends.

I released an album of my own in 1995, Shatterday; it was a critical success if not a financial one (producing CDs at the time meant a run of a thousand, most of which ended up getting damaged while in storage, sadly). I didn’t release any more recordings until I shared what I’d been doing with the folks at Different Skies and was strongly encouraged to release it. In 2009, Ocean Music was picked up by Earth Mantra, and not long after that, I began releasing more music.

The most recent album is “3AM”, which favorably impressed John Shanahan at Hypnogogue Reviews (go ahead and read the review, I’ll still be here). I really do think it’s some of my best music yet, bringing my jazz training back to the electronic esthetic and resulting in an intensely personal album.

I’m working with Rebekkah Hilgraves on an installation piece (I think our deadline has slipped a tad now, but I’ll mention it here when I have news), and am experimenting with various iOS synthesizers and programs to see if I really can get my studio down to something that fits in a backpack.

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