Released June 21, 2021: 




We are each of us islands in this world, but our shores are washed by a common sea.


It ought to be obvious that music opens onto private spaces, even if that music is open to all.


Often we enter because others have entered. We look around to make sure others are willing to go where we’re going.


How often do we proceed without a recommendation, an explanation, a map or a description? Only when we’re hungry -- for we know not what, perhaps.


This music is modest enough -- no great adventures here -- but is dedicated to those whose ears are set wide to find the spaces they must enter.


Each of us must come one day to a space we enter alone. 






There’s a sustained (non-vocal) howl about halfway through this short piece that one or two sensitive souls have found objectionable.


Can’t hear it myself. It wasn’t intended to be offensive; nor do I hear it as a howl of pain, so much as of agonized but necessary relief. Something is released that was held in confinement.


More interesting, for me, is the preceding quiet passage -- a few, hesitant words of invocation? 



I think of this piece as essentially therapeutic. The analogy is imprecise, but it might be considered an aural (and psychic) equivalent of colonic irrigation. Probably best to relax and try not to think about anything while listening to it.


Video here.





Not for the first time, I took my cue from Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” (which this can hardly be said to resemble). The piano that begins by inviting a spotlight to fall on a mysterious curtain goes on to encourage its perturbation.


Is anything revealed? Is there indeed a gap in the curtain, or anything behind? Or does the material curtain exist merely to provoke the temporal audience to an act of imagination?




I was in Europe. It was 1989. I had a radio with a twin-deck cassette recorder. It was late at night. I flipped the switch to shortwave. Turning the dial slowly, I tried to find interpenetrations and overlappings of the sort that attracted me, an exercise I always found fascinating. But transient moments of delight and surprise were in the end (as always) wearied by the effort of hopeful attention amid stretches of ear-grinding tedium. I filled two or three hours of tape, then spent the next several days using the twin-deck to isolate and build up my favorite moments into crudely poetic statements. They were very rough -- every cut was a click or a bump -- but I listened to them for years afterward, and always thought something might be done with them. Finally I gave in, this was the result.







It’s not in any sense dramatic, rather a documentary collage that indicates the impossible variety of disparate voices and sounds that might be excavated from Earth’s radio envelope -- a small examination of a core sample taken at one particular moment.


It also serves as a reflection (if not strictly a record) of a particular act of listening, and asks of its listeners, in turn, a corresponding effort, an act of deliberate attention.



ile de vin   (5:07)





About this I have nothing to say, so here’s a short passage from an engaging book by David Toop, called Into the Maelstrom:



Percy Grainger... devised the clearest articulation of this convergence of weightlessness, ecstasy and free lines... ‘Grainger thought that music was unique among the arts by its woeful dependence on the type of segmentation inherent in temperament,’ wrote Douglas Kahn. Grainger had been thinking about ‘... nonharmony, gliding tones, total independence of voices, and what he called “beatless music” as early as 1899, when he was seventeen years old,’ says Kahn.

     Despite enjoying the ‘lovely and touching “free” (non-harmonic) combinations of tones in nature,’ Grainger marvelled, ‘we are unable to take up these beauties and expressiveness into the art of music because of our archaic notions of harmony.’ ... Grainger described his vision of the new freedom: ‘In this music [Free Music], a melody is as free to roam through space as a painter is free to draw and paint free lines, free curves, create free shapes...’ Unfortunately for Grainger, his Beatless Music for six theremins and Free Music No. 1 for four theremins have lost their purity, now attractively reminiscent of altered states and otherness conjured up by theremins in films such as Lost Weekend, Spellbound and The Day the Earth Stood Still... They aim for total abstraction yet conjure up images of alien creatures, spectral forms, ghosts. 



arc d’etoile   (7:59)


This was done in a gallery space at the invitation of Ellery Braxton. Buddy had worked out a pattern of delay for Emilio to play into, then we mixed down the music he was playing out of, before feeding the loops back through the system. Nothing here but some playfulness on a summer evening.









In the past I’d take pains to ensure listeners didn’t have a prescription. I tried to avoid telling them how to listen, or what they were listening to. It was done with the best of intentions, but I see now I deprived them of a basic pleasure — that of disregarding an instruction or discounting someone else’s opinion. To remedy this error, I’ll provide a clear statement of what this piece is about: 


On my seventh birthday, I was taken to a museum by my uncle. I wasn’t thrilled by the opportunity to look at things in glass cases, yet I remember it as a special day. I was conducted through the rooms too slowly, it seemed, but our stately progress was suited to the proportions of the building. Columns of light leaned against the dusty air, there were broad marble steps, I was aware of small groups of people, quiet conversations, echoes. It made a deep and lasting impression.


Also, I liked my uncle. He was tall, erect, had thick silver hair and a mustache. He seemed both confident and kindly as he looked me in the eye and explained, in a precise and ponderous fashion, things I didn’t understand.


I never got to know him well, and I’ve wondered, since, if he wasn’t simply rather pleased at having someone to put on a performance for; but I remember him fondly. He made me feel I was somehow worthy of his patient and kindly address. This piece of music embodies and expresses my memories of that day.


Of course, if it reminds you of the dripping of water in the shadowy recesses of a disused barn, or if you find it forms a suitable background for peeling potatoes, then you have the advantage of me, and my words here shall have served their purpose.



The shallow pool reflects the sky   (19:10)


This is another piece designed for attentive listening. It’s essentially quiet, and composed of small changes, but a persistent tension makes it good music to worry by.


And, after all, isn’t there a good deal we ought to be worrying about?



Happy to be of assistance.