Sometime in the late winter of 2014 I began experiencing a certain nagging artistic malaise. I felt like I was spending too much energy on live performances and not being as creatively vital as I’d like.
With that in mind, I resolved to cut some cords in the new year and get back to the aspects of the process I’d been missing – learning new things and creating and recording new work.
I also decided to challenge myself, without running roughshod, to not get bogged down in the “revising, editing and perfecting” of things – always a potential pitfall in this digital age – and make “honest”, unmediated tracks that would directly reflect what I’d discover. Choosing an instrument a month, through a regimen of daily practice, I would develop and record material that would result in an album by month’s end.
I started in January with my AM Radio Band project (photo above) – 1950s era signal generators, modulated by tube audio oscillators, and broadcast through transistor radios. I’d been playing around with this for years, but after only a few days of study I’d learned much more about each piece of equipment, the concept in general, and how to best record the results. It was extremely gratifying.
February was dedicated to my steel-string acoustic guitar. It’d been a while, and, initially, I found myself simply repeating older concepts of mine. But eventually a breakthrough occurred, and intriguing ways of playing emerged that resonated more fully with where I am at now. In the days that followed, I recorded an album’s worth of microtonal/minimalist guitar etudes that I’m very excited about.
For March, I’ve been exploring my analog-modular synthesizer. Going forward I plan on working through various electric guitars, laptop drones, sitar, harmonica, piano, voice, percussion, and video constructs. There will also be guest artists, at times, who have worked closely with me and are familiar with gestural improvisation – my core concepts for the hyper-minimalist isolation of musical elements traditionally considered ornamentation or aspects of expression and elevating them to the level of most significant extrapolative detail.
Project funding will go towards reproducing/releasing this body of work in a variety of formats, as well as artist’s fees for invited players. Recordings will be released bi-monthly over the course of a year and, following that, as a special limited-edition boxed set.
In sports, playing on your home field is considered an advantage of comfort. Field recordings involve capturing facets of the natural world “as is”. Hence, home field recordings capture me in my most natural, comfortable environment, with a minimum of pretense. Although the monthly tools & trappings (the Cages) may vary, the intention is to reveal an essence (the Animal) of specific uniformity. Many of the instruments listed above have had interesting, but largely ornamental roles in my music. My mandate here is to elevate their significance through developing a deeper, more personal relationship with them, and thus releasing that essence. I believe the resulting recordings will be a profound addition to my life’s work.