Same Animal, Different Cages
The Latest Update
A couple of early reviews for SA, DC vol.3
“As rewarding as the releases that preceded it, and perhaps the most conceptually rich as well. From the album and song titles, the instrument used, and the blood red cover art that envelops the record, the sense of conflict captured throughout Civil War Songs is a very distinct one.” – Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed.com
“I’ll be honest here, I’d never heard a harmonica played in this way before. Decades slip by as First composes, within their matrices you can hear and even at times feel what he’s documenting…But when all is said and done, the dead cleared and the wounded safely muzzled by cotton bandages this sort of work may well have been what was played around the campfires.” – Peter Marks, Santa Sangre Magazine
Vol. 3 is out!
The third volume of Same Animal, Different Cages is now available. You can stream some tracks here:
Please check it out—I’m as proud of this as anything I’ve ever done! Might be the craziest thing I’ve ever done as well…
Vol.2 Is Out!
Same Animal, Different Cages Vol.2 —Solomonos for Analog Synthesizer is now available from Fabrica Records!
More info here:
Some Reviews are in for SA, DC Vol.1: Études for Acoustic Guitar
Teaser for Vol.1: Etudes for Acoustic Guitar
Teaser track with excerpts of selections from David First’s “Same Animal Different Cages Vol. 1” LP coming soon on Fabrica Records. Microtonal acoustic guitar improvisations.
Here’s the front and back cover. Just try to imagine it without all the dotted cut lines!
Test pressing for the first release in the Same Animal, Different Cages series, Etudes for Acoustic Guitar has been approved and heading for mass production. Looks like early May for copies..
Couple months of one thing after another, but finally got back to where I was before ALL THAT MESS.
1) Sent pre-mastered files of the first album In the series – a set of acoustic guitar études – to Fabrica records (scheduled for January release)
2) Made final decisions on the pieces for the following album – a set of analog synth works (spring 2016 release)
3) Began doing some scheduling for Oct/Nov recording sessions with the project collaborators
4) MOST importantly: after a few tentative stabs at the third album in the series – solo harmonica (and thinking it may not have been the best idea I’ve ever had), I just had three days of recording that I’m very excited about. I finally hit on at least a couple of fertile directions, and probably even 3 or 4 keeper tracks. Note to self: try to remember that when taking on something new, doubtful starts are often part of the process..
Initial Production Meeting
Very excited/appreciative that NewMusic USA is funding this project..
Had a meeting with Joao Da Silva of Fabrica Records – the label that will be releasing the results of this project. We decided that the initial release will be from my February 2015 recording sessions – Same Animal, Different Cages Vol. 1: Etudes for Acoustic Guitar . You can preview a track from the album and read a little about my process on this page. A friend recently called the album “Folk music from a place that doesn’t exist”. Which feels about right to me..
The schedule that we agreed upon for now is to release this album in January 2016, with subsequent releases to follow every two to three months. We also discussed all other important aspects of the projects, including mastering, national/international distribution, promotion, etc.
The goal is to release as many of these albums as possible on vinyl, with some of the longer droneworks being released on CD and the video pieces on DVD. All releases will also be available via downloads and the usual streaming services.
All for now…more updates as things heat up in the coming months.
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.
Opening movement of one of the monthly instrumental situations in which I will be inviting various players to join me during the proposed recording project. In the section heard here, a laptop outputs an extended Lydian drone chord in just intonation (1/1, 5/4, 3/2, 15/8, 9/8, 45/32, 27/16) while players (viola/trombone/ebow guitar/tuned percussion) explore precise just & overtone tunings and their subversions to create beating and resolution energy games – a cornerstone strategy of my musical/aesthetic philosophy of gestural improvisation.
From February’s set of acoustic guitar pieces. Microtonal intervals are created through precision string bending techniques in an example of what I call Spot Formalization: a unique mantric seed-sound is repeated until the path to more plastic developmental levels is revealed. This may include exploring the shape the player’s fingers take, a facet of sound (frequency range/dynamics/tempo/specific idiomatic techniques/etc), and, especially, the nature/foibles of the instrument itself. Often this means things the instrument wasn’t designed to do.
My AM Radio Band techniques and gestural improv concepts transferred to the video realm. Ebow guitar & an audio oscillator are fed to a function generator. The mixed signal is then fed to a video projector and broadcast to an open radio channel on a boombox patched into a sound system. An information loop is created as solid vertical bars are modulated through string bending and dial turns, while the resultant sounds are equally considered. Frozen moments occur through lighting on harmonics of 60Hz in what might be called just intonation video.
Start and End Dates
01/01/2015 — 12/31/2016
Brooklyn, New York