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Mirabella

by Mirabelle

Texas-born guitarist and composer Michael Chambers' debut features field samples, handbell choirs, norwegian fiddles, african percussion and an onslaught of stringed and brass instruments. An epic album of dazzling color and shifting sonic terrain.
Genre: Avant Garde: Classical Avant-Garde
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Three Views of Mirabella
9:40 album only
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2. Brazilian
7:58 album only
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3. Chansons De Bilitis
1:51 album only
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4. Handbells (Interlude)
1:03 album only
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5. Loretta
1:49 album only
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6. Tanz Variations
4:42 album only
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7. Rvs
1:30 album only
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8. The One Who Halloos the Hunt
2:58 album only
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9. Futurefield
2:30 album only
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10. Handbells II
3:12 album only
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11. Augenlillies
8:59 album only
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12. The Dark Grain
1:25 album only
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13. III (a Fragment)
1:18 album only
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14. In Memoriam
1:32 album only
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15. Finale
7:34 album only
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16. Coda
2:09 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Kip Hanrahan liked it a lot.
John Zorn admired it's orchestration.
David Torn has yet to listen to it, but I'm sure he will.
Sakamoto must have it by now.
Irmin Schmidt got one.

...

My interest in exotic musical material speaks of a desire to be surprised and dazzled by what I hear. It also follows that as an artist you make what you hope to hear made. Once I began writing this record it became clear that, with the sound of Mahler's orchestra ringing in my ears, I would be building my own orchestra from the ground up. The development of new sounds became a major priority. Wineglasses played to tape were pitched (via altering the tape speed) to create the floating aura of violins. Cowbells could suggest to the listener a summer's day on a high countryside, or even a bucolic swipe of sun on the face. But they would also speak to the historical. Beethoven, Bruckner, Schubert or Mahler would have understood this - the way a horn call would have been immediately understood, with great specificity, as a hunting call. I'm fascinated that sounds themselves can carry that kind of information. This album is an homage to such feelings, stirred by suggestion, through sound.

Of course I had help from an enormously talented roster of musicians and personalities in bringing this about. Principally, they are:

Marc Anderson, percussion - I knew of his work with Steve Tibbetts on the ECM label. A very sensitive musician with a broad sonic palate. A scholar. His contributions, which included repinique, berimbau, cuica, mbira, kayamba and congas, enriched the sound world of this project immeasurably. He hears things. His voice is malleable and multifarious. His sensibility, utterly natural.

Sara Budde, clarinets - "The neatest person ever," I must have said on more than one occasion. Brought a vocal beauty to the record that would not have existed otherwise. Tremendous soloist. A generous spirit, and definitely kindred. Smells nice.

Owen Howard, traps - In the mold of a modern jazz drummer, which means he's totally open. Another widely expressed sonic palate. Another great listener. Wise, but quietly so. Have I ever enjoyed a working relationship so much, especially in so small a span of time? Probably not. Also a gratuitously insatiable espresso drinker. Which makes him particularly fine in my book.

Claudia Mogel, violins - Claudia plays mean country/roots music. But is also totally open to suggestion. Knocked it out of the park in an afternoon and I got so much good material from her that she's on a majority of Mirabella. Her playing evoked a unique texture which I used to bring the music into 'plein air'. Lovely.

Loretta Kelley, hardangerfeles - Loretta and I spent an afternoon together recording in a friend's kitchen. Nice reverb. High ceilings, marble floors, quiet fridge. She was in town playing that evening at a music festival, so I had her for only a few hours. I can tell you she brought two hardangerfeles (norwegian folk fiddles), each with its own tuning, each distinct. A fascinating survey. But what she really brought was a deeply felt and fully-formed world of musical rhetoric, grammar, and scholarship. I learned a lot from her rhythm (by observing her beat as she played.) It's totally fitting that the album would conclude with her as a kind of coda to the journey. An ellipses...until next time.

Finally, thank yous. I want to thank some friends whose consultations and support made Mirabella better than it had any right to be, and whose friendship and caring were without exception and could've be taken for granted, but weren't.

Joni Daher, Michael West, Chris Nairn, Vered Raz, Jeff Brown, Mark Maziarz, Uday Krishnakumar and Dave Bondy. Thank you all. You came to my rescue at various points when I needed a clear view of the record. Patiently listened and offered advice. Didn't sugarcoat. Never flagged in enthusiasm for what was happening. Thanks also to Thimali Kodikara for her superior design sense and for the interview (my first) in which I was able to nail down so many thoughts. Thanks to my friend Joey Parlett of Little Jacket for the late-game assist getting the final work 'into the barn'. By the way, you can hear his pen scribbling at the beginning of RVS on what one might refer to as SIDE ONE of Mirabella. And thank you Dave Bohn, for music, friendship and the promise of a future collaborations. Also gratitude to Liz Salen for being the ultimate facilitator, graciously affording me the time and flexibility needed to dedicate myself to this project.

Let me also extend a hearty thanks (and hello) to Christopher Libertino. A budding friendship with striking parallels on matters of music and life. He is wonderfully relevant, wonderfully. And a vegan, which I like.

And finally, this album would be absolutely nowhere without the absolute support of my wife, Jen Durbin.
Mirabella is singularly dedicated to her for way too many reasons to list here.

Please note that the track entitled 'In Memoriam' is dedicated to people who passed on during the six years' span of my work on Mirabella.
RIP: Mick Karn, my grandparents Gran & Dede, my Aunt Val and Jen's sister Chris.

** 'Brazilian' is dedicated to my father James F. Chambers III, who graciously bought me my first guitar.

Special Note from MC to Shamalah Allah, nee Rhonda Brown: Thank you so much for bringing the music back in where it clearly belonged. Your gesture was beyond kind, utterly altruistic, and gracious, and i am humbled by it to this day - it will stay with me as a pivotal moment in the twist and turns of my life. I won't forget it. It certainly deserves to be paid forward...

...

Produced and Recorded by Michael Chambers at The Milk Factory, 2006-2007 and The 1896 Studios & Stages, 2007-2011
*Additional Engineering by Marc Anderson at Lellofruck Studios, 2008

Mixed by Marc Urselli at EastSide Sound, NYC, Oct. - Nov. 2011
*except 2, 5, 7, 14, 15 (sections b, c) & 16 by Michael Chambers
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, NYC, Mar. 2012

Musicians:
Michael Chambers: guitars, percussion, handbells, field samples, harmonium, various brass & strings, tapes, edits, conception
Claudia Mogel: violins, voice samples
Sara Budde: clarinets
Loretta Kelley: hardangerfeles
Owen Howard: drums and percussion
Marc Anderson: hand percussion

Other Sonic Contributors:
Amy McNamara: "twins" voice on The Dark Grain
Jen Durbin: claps and WOZ sculpture on Three Views of Mirabella
Medbh McNamara, Jordan Refol, Oliver Perry, Charlie Perry, Eli Lief and Karenna Lief: voices on Loretta
Conor Durbin: antique school bell on Three Views of Mirabella
Joey Parlett: pen on RVS

Field Recordings:
Vienna - Prague, Austria & Czech Republic, May 2007
St. Croix, Virgin Islands, August 2007
Washington, D.C., US, November 2008
Barcelona - Sitges - San Sebastien, Spain, August 2009
Paris, France 2009
Hudson River Valley, US, 2007-2009

Guitar Tech: Manny Salvador, Walker St., NYC
www.mannysalvador.com

Graphic Design: Thimali Kodikara, www.oneloudbellow.com
Photos by Michael Chambers, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Apr. 2012

Contact and Inquiries: mirabelle.mc@gmail.com
Legal Representation: David Bondy, Esq.
Licensing and Royalties: BMI / SoundExchange
Publishing: Mirabelle Music, 2012

and, for more information regarding this project, check out: MirabellaMc.blogspot.com


Mirabella was designed to be experienced in one sitting; possibly with an intermission after 'The One Who Halloos the Hunt'. Splitting it into individual tracks will not tell the full story. Also, the titles are optional. It is recommended that they be disregarded when listening to Mirabella as the audio alone expresses the proper shape of the work.

Mirabella is self-published and brought to you by Norwegian Hut - an independent music label.
Find out more at: www.norwegianhut.com

---
INTERVIEW with MC, follows
Thimali interviews MC on 4/17/2012 for our packaging and artwork development meeting.

Transcript as follows (conversation at the kitchen table):

...covers and packaging that are about withholding information and about design at the same time. They're very graphic design kinda orientated and I think that that pidgeonholes it into speaking to that crowd. And I think those are cool looking and they're elegant sort of solutions to how that music sounds in terms a visual, but I think ... it's not that I'm attached to TOMITA, cos this... (holds Dafnis et Chloe) because again, there's something kind of a little new-age cheese about it, about the painting itself, but there is something that sits outside of any kind of fashion. It's sort of unhip and when I think of other covers I like, unhip is where I'm at.

That's that band I saw last night...(CAN)

Last Night?

Yeah, do you know these guys?

No, I don't. Who are they and what's the deal?

They're amazing. German band, active from like 1968 to 78 before they disappeared for a while. Krautrock, but the drummer was a jazz drummer who got into playing grooves. Two of the other musicians were students of Ligeti and Stockhausen, so avant-gard electronic studio musicians turned rock musicians. Um, uh, it's amazing. I'm gonna send you home with some of that stuff just to borrow if you do CDs at all.

Yeah. Yeah, I do music. (laughs)

Yeah, yeah. So there's something about those covers that's kinda "duh"...it's like a little bit...

Like, how old is this? This is...?

That's probably '78, and I can't tell you why I like that but there's something sort of dated and again kinda duh and kind of cheesy about it, but it somehow walks a line. It's also kinda interesting to me.

Does it relate to the music at all? Is it like, a bit psychedelic or surreal in anyway?

I don't know. I'd be interested to know what you think. That's not their best record, but the one with the okra on it is amazing. Um, and no, it doesn't necessarily. I don't know how it relates to the music. It's just like a cool graphic and you know sometimes you just get used to an album looking a certain way and it just kind of adopts that mystique over time whether it was intentionally lined up image to music or not, and I'm willing to allow that to happen with my project as well. It doesn't have to....like the name Mirabelle originally wasn't something that I attached to the music particularly. It was just a word I liked the sound of. But over time the connotations blend and there's overlap in how you perceive it, the name....and you think....

Like what?

There are alot of band names that are bad, considering what the music is. The Police. Pretty dumb name for...and I don't get how that relates to their music. But they're The Police, y'know? So it's like over time by virtue of....

You forgive it.

You forgive it and then maybe you just accept it.

Other kids name their bands after The Police, or something sounding like The Police.

Right, yeah. So you can allow some of this to happen and I'm willing to allow some of that to happen with the image um, and particularly because I don't have a concrete idea of what the image would be. There's another CAN record. I pulled this just because I think...here's my concept sheet...the record when you listen to it, you're going to hear first of all crickets which connotes nighttime you know nocturnal...a lot of nocturnal sounds, a lot of dark sounding nighttime stuff. And the scenes on the disc happen a lot at night. Whether you listen through the record and perceive that it's a nighttime record, or not, I'd be interested to know just how it strikes you. But that's a thought I have so I pulled this cover thinking you know there is a nocturnal aspect to that that's interesting. Another album cover that I think of that I liked for that reason was Beta Band. There was a Beta Band record.

Which one?

It was like a purple cover. It was kind of really dark. Maybe I can pull it up. That is to say it's an album cover that I remember seeing...
I realize I'm going into all this and I don't have images to give you beyond these photos that I've taken.

It's okay.

But if you had some idea or if you had access to images that you'd manipulate - I don't know if you have that kind of capability with a library...

There's always...it's always feasible.

Okay.

But I think the way we should start the conversation out is you telling me about this piece of music, for the record.

About a piece of music?

Mirabelle. About Mirabelle.

Oh.

The story of Mirabelle. How it came to be and what it is.

Okay.

Why it exists. You're talking about...

I will start at the beginning, but it will be a longer story.

It's alright.

You have time?

It helps with the concept, you know?

So I was playing in a group with a freak-folk musician kind of connected to the Devendra Banhardt set. Her name's Danielle Stetch-Homsey.

Okay.

Baritone ukelele player. Um, and...

I didn't know there was such a thing as a baritone ukelele.

Yeah, I know, right? It wasn't very bariton-y for that matter....oh this is the one I'm thinking of....awesome cover, I just love it. I love that cover. That's a cover that I wish I had. You know what I mean. That's one that would be pretty kick ass and that's one, by the way, the idea of having the layout like this and having as much...and you know, the information on the outside means you can't clutter it up with too much information so it's about, it's about...

...sparsity...

Figuring out what you want to include and what you don't but also that it doesn't compete with whatever image it's laying over if we go to the edges. So, that's another reason I pulled this out was just thinking we can be flexible with what information we put on. I'd be interested in any thoughts you have.

Do you have a piece of paper I could have?

Yeah, these are for you. You can write on the back or you can use this.

Isn't that nice? What do you think?

That's awesome, yeah. Super awesome.

(Thimali writing)

Keep going anyway, I didn't mean to...

So, I was in Danielle's band for a brief time. We did a few shows. I basically got phased out because I was pushing a musician-y agenda on music that she wanted to have be simple. Totally her perogative. Very cool. But after I was out of the band we got together one more time cos I had a piece that I'd written sort of based on the sound of her music that I thought you know sounded like hers but was mine. It was sort of a Bartokian melody. Bela Bartok?

Love Bela Bartok, is one of my favorites.

String quartets?

Mikrokosmos.

Oh yeah, did you play those? You played those as a young pianist. Great. What book did you get to?

The first one probably.

The first one. Yeah, well that's... I teach, I teach out of that with my students.

No way.

Yeah, cos I want them to learn all the weird...

That's awesome

...Rumanian and...

I love that shit.

....Hungarian rhythms.

I think that's why I like noise and other weird things is probably because of Bartok

Oh yeah, I love Bartok.

...Messiaen and people like that.

Love Messiaen. In fact, there's an organ piece. The very penultimate piece on the record called Finale ends with an organ piece that's an homage to Messiaen and one of the sounds in the album is a recording I made in the church of St. Trinite where Messiaen was resident organist in Paris for something like 40 or 50 years. And he improvised every Sunday on the organ in St. Trinite.

Wait, so you played there? You recorded...? What do you mean you recorded there?

I took...I...(pauses) There are a lot of field recordings on the record where when I travel I wouldn't take a camera. I can't stand to be tied to a camera. I do it a little bit. I do bring sound equipment and record environments that are meaningful and you know could be...I mean that's all you'll hear in all the pieces, you know, crickets from where we got married. Late at night by the pond with the frogs chirping and splurping in the water you know. The ambience of St. Trinite as a way of building part of the spirit of Messiaen into the work. To tie in with the organ piece to be honest. Bruckner and Messiaen were big influences in terms of organ music...and Buxtehude, an early music guy. Um...so anyway, back to the beginning. Danielle and I got together and she showed me ProTools. How she'd recorded her first record. A total DIY, in your bedroom record. Showed me how ProTools worked and we recorded a demo version of the tune. And that tune's melody became a springboard for five or six different treatments of that melody that ended up being absorbed into the album somehow. So in the opening track, called 3 Views at a point about six minutes in you'll hear a marching band, with multiple mandolins, people clapping. It's mixed with a field recording of a Viennese polka band on the street from one of my trips. Where actually the Viennese band and my homemade band are intersecting in a way that Charles Ives' music would have had multiple marching bands in different keys clashing with each other. And it's to create a street scene but the melody that the mandolins are playing in that piece is the melody of the piece that I wrote for Danielle, which was officially the first melody of the album. And it appears....

This album? Her album?

Yeah, this album. Cos we didn't use it, we just recorded a demo where she sang on it and I played keys on a bicycle wheel and mandolins. And just really kept is simple. Some birds chirping or something. In that sense it became a theme for the record. The first melodic theme for the record. And it got worked into a lot of different pieces. It's hidden all over the place. In the second part of the record, there's a handbell piece that's four minutes. It's just handbells, like a handbell choir. And the main melody that's kind of a cantus firmus throughout that piece is the same melody from Danielle's demo.

Wow.

So hoping that someone that listens to it a hundred times, god bless them, would pick up on that. At some point they would start to hear that the melodies resurface and cross-pollinate. And that's part of the different layers in the work. It's kind of built impasto, like you know, impasto painting where it's layer upon layer upon layer to create the effect. Where layers get subsumed and hidden underneath but they're still part of the texture of the piece. In this way I've taken full composed pieces like the marching band piece, which on its own I could play it for you and you'd be like, "that's a great two minute tune", but then I took it, and receeded it into the background and superimposed a second tune on top of it so now we have like two things happening simultaneously and one...and there's depth perception as I push one back and one forward. And then those become a piece, that's sort of the way they line...I like how they line up. And I take that, and it gets put in somewhere. So, I'm building pieces, finished pieces, that then become building blocks for bigger pieces, which is where a lot of the over-the-top orchestration comes from. Like in the finale you'll just hear something that's apocalyptic, intended to be, where there's just a lot of stuff going on and ideas bouncing off of each other. And to get a good sense of that you could listen to an Ives symphony, like symphony 4 where three or four....

I don't know Charles Ives? I have to look him up.

Yeah, it's like three or four marching bands going on simultaneously over the top of each other in different keys. So you'll hear like a little hymn, you know, from...a lutheran hymn poking out at the same time you're hearing military music, all simultaneous and it becomes this big soup that's sort of, you know, that same idea. That super-texture created out of a collision of all the smaller pieces on top of each other in layers.

So what do you think your...I'd say that most peoples ears can handle...and even musicians making music can handle creating and listening at very simple levels and you are asking your listeners to completely disband with that perception.

At times. At times.

And both in process and how in you've produced it from what I've heard, it's multi-layered. I it's like got so many layers to it. And it seems like there is so, there is...so much meaning in every tiny nuance of the piece. Like you're saying, like....

Well to me...I don't expect...yeah...

...building blocks made out of bigger building blocks.

I don't expect people to pick up on that necessarily, although you could....

I think you can hear. I mean from what I've heard I think you can hear entire scapes happening.

Right, right, right.

So I guess both from the perspective of an artist, musician/artist, and as a listener...you as an artist, what is it that you are trying to accomplish for yourself on a personal level and what are you trying to accomplish for your listener in terms of their benefit. What are they getting out of it? And what are you getting out of it?

Well...I mean starting with me, and it's sort of I think the thread that runs through answering both of those questions: what the listeners want and what I would want are not so dissimilar because I'm a great listener of music. I have thousands of CDs, thousands of records and I feel like I've assimilated it all and loved it all, regardless of genre. So I'm trying to make music that just turns me on. At the outset it was, you know when I was in high school I listened to Duran Duran, The Fixx, but I also listened to...I heard Andreas Vollenweider the swiss harp player, the new age harp player on Jonny Carson. And was like, I love the harp. I just fell in love with the sound, so I was listening to that at the same time. And then I would buy a tape of Stravinsky because a friend gave me a ride home and it was the most technicolor, visceral, intense, kick ass, explosive music I'd ever heard. So these things are co-existing early. In college I got into Jazz, big time. Miles Davis, Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler...I mean the furthest reaches of what you could listen to in terms of dissonance, you know. Ayler. And then I lived in San Francisco in the late-90's and I had a friend who had some classical music and I was just intrigued. I'm just a musical omnivore. I have Autechre and CAN and a shit pile of classical and rennaisance music...and I can't get enough of it. It's an insatiable curiosity. So when I sat down to make a record, well, I have to reconcile all of these influences because I love the harmonic color in Debussy and Messiaen, but I also love The Fixx and Duran Duran still. I love a good bass line and a dance. And I like metal. Early on I was....

I love that metal...I've been telling people about that metal piece ever since...

Yeah, I mean I was a...like a rock guy you know. And I'm a guitarist, so like those rock...Van Halen turned me on. I've never listened to that stuff thinking it's this genre or that genre, I'm just an omnivore. I'll eat anything you put in front of me and I think compositionally I've pulled from everything. And the record was exploring all the things I love in music under one roof. So I started off writing piece after piece after piece, without regard for how they would fit together in a collection or on an album. I did a country tune that didn't make it on the record, that's great. I love it. But it's got Celtic harps, Korean frame drums, and you know, it's got the weird touches that something like that would have if someone wasn't thinking I'm gonna make a country tune sound country.

Right.

You're going to pull from your world music. From your Korean Dok Sun bands. You're gonna pull from your Gamelan music to do your country song because there are no borders. It's all just...it's all just music. So I wrote thirty pieces of varying lengths. Some were like ten minutes. Some were you know one minute. Some were 30 seconds. Some were 15 minutes. And then started to put it together. Oh shit, I guess I'm making a record. And, how do I make this a coherent, cogent paragraph of a thought? That took years. That was a big part of the compositional process, was just figuring out what to use, what not to use. And in some cases breaking pieces apart and recombining them, like a collage process. All that's to say that I wanted to make a record that kicked ass to my ears as the ultimate musical omnivore. And that meant that I needed to have a metal tune that rocked, because rocking is an emotion to me, in music. To rock out is like a turn on, right?

Absolutely...(laughs)

...and I want that in my music, but I also love Mahler symphonies and Messiaen, and the big color of the orchestra, so I needed to reconcile that with having all the color I could get into the record. And then there's music I love that's austere. Where it's not about tons of color, or rocking out, but it's a spiritual beauty that's quiet and has a lot of space in it. And that's something I can get from a piano solo by Ahmad Jamal, where he sits out a bar, and the decision to sit out and not play that bar is a compositional statement that blows my mind. Like the space that the musicians leave in it. The music of Arvo Part, I don't know if you've ever...

Love Arvo Part. I went to an Arvo Part-y (laughs) at Le Poisson Rouge.

Did you really?

It's probably the geekiest thing I've ever done in my life.

That's awesome.

Arvo Party...

Hah.

Well, then you know that the space in that music is powerful.

Absolutely.

And so in Mirabella, you have pieces that are just sparse like that, that have that space. At the same time that you're having the color and garishness of the full blown post-romantic orchestra. The album was reconciling all of these things and also each piece was a compositional challenge to me. Could I write a metal tune in odd metered...stuff, you know? That's a purely musiciany challenge. Like how do I do that? So, in a way this album is school for me. It was my undergrad, graduate level program to know how to do this. I'd always recorded. I'd recorded on 4 tracks in high school. I'd loved John Taylor's bass playing quite a lot, and the dance beats. And the pop, and the hooks. So, I mean, those were things I had to reconcile. I love brazilian jazz. I have a piece called Brazilian that has a chorus that's got chords that remind me of Jobim. You know. So obviously just a lot of musical references kicking around and how do you reconcile these into...to where you feel you know how to work in all these areas. And what a turn on it would be to have an album that could go into all the emotions that are encapsulated inthose kinds of musics. Including in particular...this is the last genre description I'll give you...is this too much?

No, this is fabulous.

Okay.

It's amazing.

So, a really huge influence in terms of the sonic identity of the record was the field recordings of Alan Lomax

Don't know Alan Lomax.

...and David Lewison...these are guys that took tape recorders around in 60's through the South, through the Georgia Islands....through the...through the...through Mississippi, and recorded people on their porches. Singing songs in the backwoods. Moonshiners. You know. People with no teeth, whistling with a banjo. And the recordings are crude...uh..they're actually they're quite good but they're outdoors. They're not aniceptic in the ways....

You know Tony Schwartz?

No.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah, what's that?

Oh my god. You'd be the fist person I'd have thought...

Alright, hey you can't know everything...

No, no, absolutely.

Tony Schwartz.

Yeahhhhhhh. Oh my god, you'd be so into that.

What's Tony Schwartz.

Tony Schwartz is...was...was, he's passed now, an agrophobic that was born and raised in New York City and in the 1940s he bought the first recordable tape player that came on the market. And as an agrophobic he couldn't leave his home so he actually...he could walk his zip code but that was it. And he wrote to the company that made these recordable tape players and asked them for the addresses of all the other people who'd bought these recordable tape players, cos you could do that back in the day I guess, and wrote to every single one of them and asked them to record just ambient sound from wherever they lived.

Oh my god.

So...that's exactly what they did,

Where have you been all my life Tony Schwarz? (laughs) That sounds like right up my alley.

I interviewed him for my dissertation.

What? Really?

Yeah, I was like you are my soul mate and you don't even know it.

Oh my god, that's amazing.

He gave me one of his tapes basically. I'll tell you the story. But he...I didn't mean to interrupt.

No, please.

He became best friends with Marshall McClewan (MC CHECK THIS SPELLING). Like, they were like total buddies in...well, throughout all of this, but basically Tony kept...he just kept going...like as soon as they started selling these abroad he's like doing the same thing so he's got like recordings....

Are they music or are they just environments, they're just the sounds?

I think they're all Folkways recordings now. The Library of Congress bought the entire collec...I mean he had thousands, like tens of thousands of tapes by the time he was done. Of like recordings from all over the world. He was given a radio show in New York and pressed a bunch of vinyl records of these recordings that he'd collected over like decades. And um, yeah, so I mean he ended up being like a sound expert. Like he'd do things...he'd... you know that anti-nuclear bomb ad with the daisy picking kiddie girl?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

That's his. He won an oscar for that.

Oh really?

And he'd do things like...like there was a local school that was gonna get shut down and he called like the local congressman or whatever, had the power to stop it or make it happen so this advocacy group called him and like, we really need your help and at the time he had his radio show so he made two ads. One was: "Congressman so-and-so has stopped the building of a...or knocking down this school in this so-and-so neighborhood. If you agree with what he is doing, call this number." And the other one is like, "Congressman so-so is causing the destruction of this school in this neighborhood. If you disagree with what he's doing call him at this number." Same number. And he called up the Congressman and was like, one of these ads is gonna get played in the next two hours, you tell me which one is gonna get played. Things like that, so he got really political with his sound making too.

That's really cool. I'm gonna look him up.

He's awesome. But he wrote a bunch of books on like sound and music and the...our...the societal effects of these...I'm not talking properly today...how sound and music can effect you know, societies of people...like small and large societies of people basically. He was very technical about it that's why I'm surprised you didn't...hadn't heard of him. The Responsive Chord is a book that he wrote.

The Responsive Chord....

Anyway, I did not mean to talk...

No, that's great.

(Hi, kitty cat..)

I have just a couple more thoughts on where I was at.

Yeah, please, please do...you were talking about....

David Lewison was another guy who did recordings in Indonesia of Gamelan orchestras and his recordings were released in a series on Nonesuch label.

Really?

Yeah, yeah, yeah....

And that stuff, you know, in the late 70's the island traffic had built up enough to where you couldn't record the gamelan orchestras during the day without competing with cars honking and truck noise and what have you. So they always recorded them at night and of course the backdrop of that is loud crickets in the reeds, and bullfrogs, and you get the sounds of nature in it, and I found that charming; deep to have that context audible...

Hm, hm.

...for how the music was happening. And that's what I love about the world music stuff that I've collected that's really dear to me. It's just the aspect of the music happening in the context of an environment and the environment's connection to the ritual of music making. And...But I also like the control that you get from the studio at the same time. So I created environments, you know, as part of my fictionalization of that idea to do these field samples and then work them into the pieces as meticulously as the notes themselves of the music to create environments, and, fictionalized environments. There's a piece called Futurefield on there that's a combination of a pavement putting down some tennis courts from our honeymoon in St. Croix combined with a train coming into the train station in Bretslava and then combined with......what else is in there?... a rainstorm here in Brooklyn and combined with two or three other things to create what sounds like a scene from Bladerunner. You know, it's like a very cinematic, there's not a lot of music in that piece...there is some...but it's just this idea of like once I started working with environments I realized that music and sound for sound's sake were really not that different as long as the unifying thing, which I'm always going for in all of the pieces, is a theatrical event. And that's...

That's interesting....

That's one of the things that pulls all of the eclectic influences together, is that sense of this album as a piece of theater. And it's what I enjoy about reading novels, from Tolstoy to Doestoyevsky,. It's what I enjoy about film. You know, my favorite filmmakers had as much of klan influence on this as my favorite musicians.

I can hear it.

Yeah, so...and then the very last thing I would say, and then I'll feel I've covered all bases is that I had these influences and I'm a good mimic of people's work. So for example there's a guitarist I love named David Torn. And if I'm...I spent a lot of years kind of...How do I make that sound that David Torn gets? Or Bill Frisell's another guy. And so the opportunity to make your own record, you're faced with an issue...especially with your first record, of Who Am I? Compositionally? And I'm trying to assimilate all these influences that have had a profound effect. I'm also trying out some of their tricks, you know, How do I get that Messiaen sound? But it's important also to weed out the references that are too....crossover into pastishe. So that I get a really pure expression and I sort of discover who I am as a composer. So a big part of the record too is establishing my identity.

Your sound.

Yeah, my sound.

Absolutely.

And pulling these influences together, but in a way where they're filtered through the scrim of my own perception and experience. And then that record, finished, suggests a path forward.

So what do you think you've used as your filter? How did you know...how did you....what was the overall residual feeling when you were making this, that like...No, this is me. This is not pastische, this is not somebody else's. This is mine.

There were moments of pastische in it that I had to work through and then I would have to listen critically and say, even as great as that is, that's not mine to own that way. And I would cut things that felt like they hewed too close to those influences in a direct way. And what I was left with...I mean, I have my own...somewhat of my own personality musically developed at the point I started this, but a lot of it was rejecting those things as they came up, or even developing them and then rejecting them based on that they turned out to be too close to that.

So, but then did you feel like there was an internal criteria that you were making those decisions.

Good taste...(laughs)

Good taste...(laughs)

Yeah, sometimes you look at....

Good taste. Does that mean because...

I mean, I would look at an idea and I would say that's a really good...a really good. ..I mean you just have this internal sort of....I don't know what you call it....barometer for when you're crossing the line into pastische.

No, I know. I know it's a difficult question that I'm asking you. I'm wondering if there's....

Well, and....and the record will reflect the extent to which I was successfully able to develop that sense of when I was crossing that line. I mean there may be things that people hear and that's really...that's really this. And then maybe....maybe that's cool but maybe for me that would have been you know, for the next project I work a little harder on weeding out those influences. I think what you could walk away with in that is the idea that this record was a personal journey to discover who I am as a musician, given my history with recordings and influences throughout my life. And really trying to figure out what I'm comfortable with, what I'm uncomfortable with. Trying out different kinds of composition. Dealing with influences in a way where I can get...start to move beyond them a little bit in a way that's pure and defining who I am as a musician. So, you know, all these things go together and then you say...back to the original thing you know, What does the listener get from it. Well, who knows? I mean if I've done...if my music has integrity and my skill with it has integrity I would think someone who was in the right space, experiencing it with the right head-space, would just go on the journey and not question those things. But would be...would just experience it as a singular thing, without having to connect it to all those things, but they would sense there's something rich about it. But I don't think that any of the musical effects that I was going for were esoteric at all given that they're taken very broadly from stuff that's already out there, and kind of assimilated that way. I think a guy like me would listen to my record and totally be excited. Or a gal like you. You know....

Yeah, absolutely.

Someone who's like looking for that kind of rich, take-you-somewhere experience in a record would be excited by it. And that's it. I really just set out to please myself, but again my tastes aren't really that...I mean, I love stuff that everyone else loves...I still have Duran Duran in there somewhere....and Miles Davis...and, you know, stuff that the world's really embraced. Yeah, yeah,..I think that's...that's that.

(Laughter)

I think that's that. I think that's what the record was, you know?

So is it a record then about telling stories? Is it...is it you trying to tell stories through these sounds?

Yeah...

Because we have associations with different...with these different genres of music and you are creating, weaving like a brand new fabric that nobody's ever seen before using these like slight references. And I think...you know...and then you are trying to create some kind of narrative at the same time.

Hmm hmmm.

....you know, so...yeah...is there...were...I guess...um.

The narrative's deliberate.

I love albums in narrative...

...I mean it needs...

I'm asking you this question because I hear it but I guess that's why I'm asking you, I guess, about your listeners because it sounds like you are trying to take them on a journey somewhere. Like you are trying to pick them up and drop them off somewhere else. Between each piece and the overall arc of the album.

Well I'm trying to do that for myself first, and if I can go on that journey I think someone else will be able to go on that journey and the structure of the piece, the way that the opening piece is 10 minutes of pretty variegated sounds, you know...marching bands, drums rumbling in the night...uh...starts out very ambient, sort of setting a very mysterious tone with the low drum roll. But then you come out of that and then there's an 8 minute solo guitar piece called Brazilian. And the idea of having that contrast there is...uh...to put another field...another elaborate field recording based collage piece right after 10 minutes of it is not gonna flow for a listener who needs a break from that and needs to go somewhere else. So those juxtapositions are...I'm always thinking about points of tension and release in the way the record's arranged, and the length of the pieces as they follow each other. Because I...I'm putting myself in the listener's shoes, but I am inseparable from that listener. Does that make sense?

You're inseparable from the listener?

I AM listener one. And then everyone else is listener two through three, four, five, six. And I know if I've satisfied my sense of flow...of...I need a break here from the intensity of that piece, so I'm going to use another piece to ease off of that and give me, listener one, a break from the intensity of that so I can recharge and be ready for the next big piece. I'm thinking that way. And I could say, you know, when I say the listener, I'm referring to myself, but I'm referring to anyone else that would put the record on. So I am thinking narratively in terms of building tension through the record; where to release it. What is...I mean it's an hour long. Does it feel like it's two hours long? Does it feel like it's 30 minutes long? You know? Those things....it has to entertain. You know? I want to be entertained by the record I listen to, as well as challenged sometimes. So, in that sense you're thinking, well I've got to structure it in a way that accounts for how someone might listen to it. I'm not going to make all concessions because it doesn't have beats and it won't play well at the gym....but you know, my thinking is that if I can structure it in a way that feels like it has a shape, has a form, has a dramatic arc where tension and release is used to create a sense of going places, you know...a journey isn't just at one level, it isn't all peaks. You know, not everything has to be interesting on a journey. There has to be SPACE for interesting things to happen and places to rest.

Sure...

So, you know, I'm thinking about that as I'm putting it together and that was the hardest part of getting it. You know, that was...because I'd composed everything willy-nilly, not thinking of how it would fit together. Then I had to say, I have all these scenes. Which ones fit together? Which ones don't? You know, it had to be finely calibrated to create the effect. But when I was working on it I was reading Brothers Karamazov. A great narrative masterpiece. I was reading Halldor Laxness' Independent People and Knut Hamsen's Growth of the Soil. A lot of books, that...I was really getting into some interesting literature where form was like this kind of principle consideration....

Yeah...

And...and in a lot of cases...

It's not that fashionable to do that anymore. You realize that?

Yeah, but that's...

Like what you're doing with this piece of music is so...I mean it's so structured like every corner, every phrase, every note is highly, highly considered...

Yeah.

Whereas what is seemingly fashionable is not that kind of craft. Is more you know, emotional and maybe more sparse, and more, you know...I don't know I think it is more emotional. It's like you don't have to be able to sing anymore really, you just have to be able to like, mean it.

Right.

But you're doing the...kind of the opposite? Or maybe that's in there too?

Well, a lot of the pieces came out of improvisations. Or at least the basic DNA. About half of it's improvisation. When I brought another musician in. Like Owen Howard, the drummer, he spent two nights with me and I had him improvising to the pieces I'd written. And then I took his improvisations and I took his improvisations, and cut them and edited them heavily but the idea at the core of it there was a spontaneous element of music happening. And that's why I think, to me, it doesn't feel necessarily like it's really worked to a fine craft. You know, there's still places where there are rough edges that I left in. There are still places where that love of world music, where it's just happening in a space, - I didn't want to lose that feeling. So there are places that feel, y'know, like improvisations, where it's spontaneous. You know, it doesn't feel like its...

It goes with what you're saying about no borders with music.

Yeah, it's import....I think it's important...and in fact there were some places where I could have cleaned it up more and I decided not to as an artistic decision to like maintain the rough side of it because I didn't...I don't want to create an antisceptic experience for somebody. I want something that's kind of living...living, breathing. So even when I'm arranging those parts, you know...(pause, thinking) God you know, another big influence...I'm just going all meta on this....

Do it.

Phillip Guston?

Don't know.

The painter?

I read a book of his...ah...lectures, that's just....uh...

What's the name of that Beta Band record?

Which one?

The Beta Band record. What's the name of it?

It's just the self-titled...Beta Band by Beta Band. (pause) But you see why like a cover that's too tied to how covers are supposed to look these days would not really...I think would discredit the effort that went into the music by creating an unrealistic expectation for someone looking at that cover. I think it's gotta be a little out-of-fashion....but still look good. (laughs)

Out of fashion. Well, the fact that you've said that a couple of times makes me think that there is some....there is some intention to do that.

Yeah.

To make this piece not fashionable. But I mean, for sure this piece...this...it's, it's...for sure this is all about you beingable to....

His work... (pulls up Guston on Google Image)

Awesome...

Yeah.

To find and get a better understanding of your musical identity and you took five years to...

Six.

(laughs)...six years to make sure that would happen. So...but NOT fashionable, not...

The only thing fashionable about it is that it was made in Bushwick, Brooklyn (laughter) by a guy whose shirt collection largely lacks collars.

(laughs)

...And I've actually thought about that too. Like someone trying to figure out what it is...looks at this album, What is this? They pick it up from Other Music. Other Music wrote it up well. It got a good review in The Wire (sp?) (aside) It hasn't yet, but it will.

It will.

The Wire will love it....um, so someone's picking it up, is like oh, what is this? And then you look at the cover and you're like trying to get a handle on what it is in relation to other stuff you know and it's like....it's kinda dorky but cool. Like...(holds up disc and waves) Dorky but cool. I don't know.

Totally dorky....

Totally dorky.

These are all retro- psychedelic to me.

They are, and it's the same band. I'm just pulling from there.

This one actually probably looks more fashionable....

It does. Right.

...than the rest of them.

But...

Yeah, what year did you say these were?

Those are largely early 70's. 71' 72' 73'.

The one with the wrench is later.

So these were in vogue at the time I'm sure. But now...you mean now...like how these look now in 2012.

The quality....yeah...I like that they're out of fashion. And they're not retro in a wink-wink way. They're just what they are. Do you know what I mean. There's no ironic intent, which is something I'd really want to avoid. That's just such a hipster notion.

Like what? Give me an example.

Like making something look old as a way of being cheeky. Uh...I'll have to think on that to think of an example.

It's good to know what is not good as much as what is good, you know?

Yeah. Um...

One last question before you gonna show me through these CDs is um....What genre is this record? And if you can, give the genre why is it that genre?

Um.

Sorry...

I really don't...

...that's kind of an annoying question

...know. I've talked to people about it to try and get a handle on it. Because I really...

There is no genre, right?

Yeah, there's not. It would probably under...it would probably filed under, maybe, experimental? Although I don't think of it as experimental...

I think of it as a classical piece honestly. Personally.

Well I'd be interested to know what you think when you go on the trip and at the end of it what you thought...cos' it's...

Cannot wait. Cannot wait. I've got weed cookies in the freezer (inaudible). Waitin' for this album there....

I wish we were hanging out and doing that. That would be fun wouldn't it?

You have to do a showcase.

But it's probably good that I'm not staring at you waiting...to see what your reaction is...um.

No, it's good, it's true.

You have to, have to, have to have a showcase....just for us. Just for us...like we'll get crazy stoned and listen to the album from beginning to end. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would love that.

I will do that soon.

...sit around on cushions and....(pause)...you should.

I will do that soon, yeah.

Filmmakers do it. Artists do it.

I think that'd be the right experience it. Cos' it's a bad gym record.

It's a what?

Bad gym record.

Gym record?

Headphones on the treadmill?

Oh, gym record...(laughs)

Gym record, gym record.

(laughs) Who's Jim?

Hah, Jim didn't like it. Yeah.

Jim, says it's terrible.

Yeah.

Oh, what I was gonna say about Guston is I was reading a book of his lectures as I was working on a particularly tricky problem with the form, and just the way he talked about when he's doing a painting the way he moves the image around until it vibrates.

Like rotates it?

No, like he actually erases the paint. Goes and moves it. Moves an image. Where he places it in the frame has to do with when it locks in a vibrates for him. Says he starts to see the...see the line vibrate. And he did a whole series...he did a year's worth of paintings where it's just one line somewhere on the frame and it's incredible. They have this energy to them....it's just one line but he talking about form, you know? When you move things around and where do they come alive and where do they begin to vibrate? And I just thought, in terms of using my improvised music and arranging it, that's what I'd been looking for all along. He put it in words. That's what I was looking for...when that drum part sits in and starts to vibrate. Based on it being in its right spot. And that's the meticulousness of the construction of the individual pieces is, it still has that spontaneous DNA at the point of creation but what I did with it, and where I put it was about creating a form in which that element would vibrate. And once all the elements are vibrating the piece is done for me. And until they vibrate I can't abandon it. And the whole structure of the record was sort of like that too. But that's...he put it in words, but I mean, that was my litmus test. Like when does the thing vibrate, you know? When does the thing start to live? That's a big part of my process. That's what I found out about me as a composer. That's what I look for, you know, the buzz. You're always looking for the buzz in your work. So that's it.

I feel like I'm going to listen to the whole thing from beginning to end and have like a million more questions for you.

Well, I enjoy talking about it, so that would be great. Because I haven't been able to talk about it.

Yeah, you should.

You know what I mean?

I mean, again, from an outside perspective what is so intriguing to me as a listener, I think about this piece as like a piece of artwork, not as much of a piece of music. Even though it is an exploration of like your musicianship. Your relationship to music. And I think it's that...it's the approach, it's like the level of process, the education that you've had with the work...but it's like the...I don't know...it is like you're a classical composer, but from the 17th century when there wasn't so much distraction in the world and people did....composers did have a far more meditative approach to the way that they created music. They had the brain capacity for it to be more complex and more multilayered and more spacious and was more considerate of, you know, I don't know....like the journey element. The narrative element. That there is....that....that's how I hear the piece...the whole...the work is....the structure of it. And the other part of it being that you're a sane person (laughs).

I mean like...

I've wondered at times,...

....you're not like...

...that I'm still working on it.

...smoking like opium. You're not like a manic-depressive alcoholic. You're not like...you're like a wonderful dude...

I'll tell you what I am.

I just...

I'll tell you what I am.

I don't really know....

I'll tell you what I am.

...I don't really know...but you know what I'm saying thought, right?

I do. I'll tell you what I am.

You're not like a crazy person.

What I'll tell you is material.

So it's like where does that....

This is...this is material.

I'm more intrigued about like, who you are as a person now.

I have a material comment on that.

Okay.

Being an adopted person....

Okay.

...and I remember having this conversation with Jen a few years ago.

Hmm hmm.

You know, I don't,...I never had a desire to find birth parents.

Yeah?

Not for any reason other than just, I didn't need it. I didn't feel compelled to do it. No anger. No feeling attached to it, but I always felt like my history was a bit of a blank slate and that at some point if I could not be lazy I could write a history, although I'd spent many years not doing music. At one point I even had sold off my guitars. I wasn't doing anything. I was just like a guy living in Brooklyn and hanging out. So when I married Jen, as part of writing my history I'm with this person who builds things and I started thinking I want to be creative again...I'm with this creative person. So...and I thought I should really see what I can do. I should find out what I can do, before I regret that I didn't. And as I continued on this journey I found that my relationship to classical music was really about me feeling that those composers, especially Mahler and Debussy in particular, were my ancestors. Were my history...were...they were expressing things in their music, whether it was Debussy, just sheer beauty; complete disregard for rules up to that point, which I admire...I admire the rebel in him that also created great beauty - it wasn't rebellion without beauty - And I thought of Mahler who was just like an overwhelming personality for me. Once I started reading biographies and really took to his symphonies I realized there's much autobiography there, that was overwhelming. And comforting in the way that he...his music struggled with issues of mortality. Because I've always been aware of my mortality. When I was a kid I'd wondered when I was gonna die. So it's this strange...I don't know if that's connected to being adopted either, but there's the lack of an origin story and the need to create one was something that I'm proud to say was in most part achieved by this record in that it's a communion with my ancestors, whether they be Messaien or Debussy or Mahler, and also because I'm someone who's aware of mortality all the time, to have created something that has the potential to outlive me and that's the new part of the work, is also encapsulating and creating packaging for it. That the packaging would have some rebellion to it and not be...and might even express some of the same process of like...I'm showing you things that I like, um, but I also don't mind rejecting those things to get to...

Something new.

...a truth that's unique to the record. So these are jumping off points but I wouldn't want to come back and try and recreate one of these covers. They're a temple to jump off from and then possibly reject. But it's also about creating the history. And now that I'm giving it out...last night I met the keyboard player for this band at Poisson Rouge, and I got to give it to him, now I get to commune with my living ancestors, you know? Now, the contemporaries. But it's based...the confidence from it is based on communing from....with the ancestry that's not here....not my family, but classical composers that I love and jazz composers that I love. And even a pop rock composer or two that I love. So that's a good part of the project, you know? Is really writing a history. And that's why I can spend six years on the project and put the love and care that it would take to really try and get it right. And that's not to say it's perfect. I mean, I hear stuff in it...it's like...ah, I wish that had gone better. You can't make a perfect record. But the intent was to try and get close to badass for that reason. That I would want to stand on its shoulders. So...that's material I think.

You're awesome Michael.

Ahh...thank you.

I was just bullshittin' ya....(laughs)

It's all awesome.

So that's the...that's the project.





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Diego

Reflections on Mirabelle/Mirabella
This CD is unique, and unique in a good way. It isn’t a traditional sequence of songs, but more of a travelogue via music and landscape.

I confess that I have a bit of a musical education… I can name the chords and scales, determine the form, etc., but I prefer to, want to, and am looking for music that takes me out of the things I can quantify and onto a journey of imagination. So it is very nice not to be able to label what comes up in my listening - not in the sense of suffering through something random - but to be taken somewhere and to have a sense of new and positive experience. This recording does provide that quality.

If I were to describe listening to this disk, I would try the following. It creates a sense of other places and times, in that it extrapolates on the organic, earthly here and now, but transports you to places in the imagination, away from a sense of style or genre and the absolute present.

In that sense it kind of reminded me of an excellent cyber-punk novel or one of those movies that tweak your sense of reality, so that you feel your perceptions are a bit less solid and fixed than you thought… Cronenberg? Lynch? Del Toro? Where you have an expansive take on your surroundings afterwards and look around with more care. Not creepy per se, just that there is a greater sense of reality and possibility lurking around the edges of things than you noticed previously.

So it can take you out of the here and now, but how?

It features cycles of music and field recordings from around the world, which have been assembled with brilliant sequencing. Mr. Chambers definitely lived with this material for a long time. Some of the instrumental choices and applications, such as hand bells and a variety of hand percussion create a sense of simplicity, innocence and continuity, while fiddles, nylon-string guitar, clarinet, percussion, and harmonium ground the musical experience with their earthiness. The unusual stylistic elements create an expansive sense of geography, and the development of musical themes - interspersed with sounds of social life from around the world - creates both sense of continuity and heightened drama.

At one moment Mirabelle felt a bit like a train ride in a child’s dream. There are sections that seem one could easily be outdoors, as part of some sort of unforgettable journey. For example, unusual instrumental colors and choices pop up and themes and juxtapositions happen naturally that are not so… a bit of post-Crimson-esque electricity and menace emerges out of some sort of indescribable fiddle music, not a nightmare, but a bit of a dark dream ticking away, emerging from and returning to gentleness. I suppose such a generous expanse of style and feeling could have been the soundtrack to a world animation festival, but Mirabelle wasn’t so… and it doesn’t play at all like soundtrack music.

So this is not a pastiche of styles, but a very smart rendering of many things in a surprising format that works well. There is a wonderful sense of color and texture, and any danger of artiness is overcome by unifying and grounded storytelling. And I have to mention that there is also the rare use of silence as a positive effect.

Whether this will work for you or not, I don’t know, but I can say this… give it a listen, and be open to get something new out of an audio recording.
Read more...

Diego

Reflections on Mirabelle/Mirabella
This CD is unique, and unique in a good way. It isn’t a traditional sequence of songs, but more of a travelogue via music and landscape.

I confess that I have a bit of a musical education… I can name the chords and scales, determine the form, etc., but I prefer to, want to, and am looking for music that takes me out of the things I can quantify and onto a journey of imagination. So it is very nice not to be able to label what comes up in my listening - not in the sense of suffering through something random - but to be taken somewhere and to have a sense of new and positive experience. This recording does provide that quality.

If I were to describe listening to this disk, I would try the following. It creates a sense of other places and times, in that it extrapolates on the organic, earthly here and now, but transports you to places in the imagination, away from a sense of style or genre and the absolute present.

In that sense it kind of reminded me of an excellent cyber-punk novel or one of those movies that tweak your sense of reality, so that you feel your perceptions are a bit less solid and fixed than you thought… Cronenberg? Lynch? Del Toro? Where you have an expansive take on your surroundings afterwards and look around with more care. Not creepy per se, just that there is a greater sense of reality and possibility lurking around the edges of things than you noticed previously.

So it can take you out of the here and now, but how?

It features cycles of music and field recordings from around the world, which have been assembled with brilliant sequencing. Mr. Chambers definitely lived with this material for a long time. Some of the instrumental choices and applications, such as hand bells and a variety of hand percussion create a sense of simplicity, innocence and continuity, while fiddles, nylon-string guitar, clarinet, percussion, and harmonium ground the musical experience with their earthiness. The unusual stylistic elements create an expansive sense of geography, and the development of musical themes - interspersed with sounds of social life from around the world - creates both sense of continuity and heightened drama.

At one moment Mirabelle felt a bit like a train ride in a child’s dream. There are sections that seem one could easily be outdoors, as part of some sort of unforgettable journey. For example, unusual instrumental colors and choices pop up and themes and juxtapositions happen naturally that are not so… a bit of post-Crimson-esque electricity and menace emerges out of some sort of indescribable fiddle music, not a nightmare, but a bit of a dark dream ticking away, emerging from and returning to gentleness. I suppose such a generous expanse of style and feeling could have been the soundtrack to a world animation festival, but Mirabelle wasn’t so… and it doesn’t play at all like soundtrack music.

So this is not a pastiche of styles, but a very smart rendering of many things in a surprising format that works well. There is a wonderful sense of color and texture, and any danger of artiness is overcome by unifying and grounded storytelling. And I have to mention that there is also the rare use of silence as a positive effect.

Whether this will work for you or not, I don’t know, but I can say this… give it a listen, and be open to get something new out of an audio recording.
Read more...