It’s incredible how much has changed in the world in only a couple of months. And what will change for the rest of this year, and subsequent years is anyone’s guess. What I do know is that the surge of art, music and creativity as a result of everyone’s isolation should not be underestimated. It should be applauded and allowed to flourish. Artists around the globe have been stepping up and using inventive ways to share their craft with others, largely through online technology, so we can all be entertained and support each other. Because you know the majority of artists could always use the financial support, in times such as these, especially. Utilizing the internet has never been more important, and not primarily for meme postings or trash talk. It’s now a collected culture and worldwide togetherness at a grassroots level that’s never truly happened until this time, and from here on we should all think about what’s next for our planet and how we’re going to achieve it.
I make music, not as frequently as I’d like. It isn’t my day-job (secure at the moment), and career shifts and setbacks are affecting many, so other musicians have it much worse than I. The purchase of ANY artist’s music will undoubtedly make a difference, so I suggest you explore and dig deep to find and support whatever you love and appreciate, locally or globally, and spend what you feel you’re able to. I just completed another album that was added as another RPM Challenge for the month of April, and it’s pay-what-you-like at the moment because I’ve often issued them that way. Over the years, I’ve mostly thought of my musical contributions to the world as just something to share, as money can’t really buy happiness, however, even small cash influxes mean something today. If anything, just to know some people enjoy it, and I’m doing something right. Either way, it’s there for listening to, and if you want to contribute, you can.
I’ll end with this: the arts are here for good, and although not as inherently essential as health workers these days, they have been vital in humanity’s well-being for centuries and certainly for our immediate future. Whether you’re a creator or a supporter, just keep doing it. It’s what’s needed right now, and through whatever connection you’re making, feeling better is the goal. Let’s start with that.
So it’s been almost a year since the last post. Why? Life moves, y’all. And you move with it. Sometimes online social posturing takes a back seat while you manage other tasks or ignore them altogether. And lots has happened, inevitable as death itself. So let’s not recap, and I’ll instead tell you I planned to try my iPad app to let me post here after taking some choice shots of the last two nights of homemade burgers I made and devoured. Thing was, it was on my fancy camera, so I dropped the files to my Google Drive in the hopes of accessing the pics. To my dismay, no. So instead I put on display some earlier art I made from a beauty screenshot of Abe Vigoda, who’s been in the news as deceased. For real! On that note, I wish everyone a joyous National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, a thank you to February for all time, and I made another RPM record, suckas! More to follow!
Every two years in St. John’s, there’s a week-long summer event that sounds like bliss to my ears and gives meaning to the music I craft — Sound Symposium. If I’m not participating as an official artist on the program, I usually make a point of attending some featured performances and ASSUREDLY get to The Ship Pub for the featured Night Music events. This was the case for my immersion into Sound Symposium XVII, and it began with a scorching free show at Harbourside Park by fusion trio Big Space, with a repeat engagement for the evening’s Night Music. Anyone unfamiliar with the later bar show should know it opens with a set by the featured act, then follows with improvised jams including other musicians in attendance. This is where I like to include myself, and where I switch up my choice of instrument I select to bring each night. Circuit-bent Sound Machine, Spider-Man Voice Changer, Mattel Calliope, Roland sampler and Thingamagoop 2 were the choice standouts for certain! The Symposium is the only way for me to hear anything — sound poetry mulcher Chris Tonelli and Leatherback, jazz versions of Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” (and nods to Barney Miller) by Curtis Andrews and Friends Like These, the exotic sounds of Boujou Badialy Cissoko‘s kora or Bart Hopkin‘s fascinatingly-built experimental instruments — and still get to freely chat and share company with those taking part in it. The Friday, July 11th Night Music was the tops with local sax quartet Ouroboros with special guest Jessica Lurie, and fuelled a frenzy of jamming afterwards, mostly with prepared guitar mangler Bill Horist. What a spirited (hic!) time had by all, and some friendly music-making made!
Fun with toys and lights…Jesse Stewart’s Reactable.
Big Space blazing hot at Harbourside Park.
Curtis Andrews and Friends Like These play a solid improv jazz set.
Sax groovin’ with Ouroboros and Jessica Lurie at Night Music.
RPM Challenge 2014 has got to be some of the most prolific work I’ve crafted thus far, but has it been challenging? I did get an early start in February working with Ableton Live and the Launchpad Mini/LaunchControl in set preparation for Prototype 5, which I deemed productive idea creation for the album. There was, however, plenty of downtime for birthdays, family visits, nights out to party, watching the tube, etc. Instead of being stressed about being behind in the recording process, I took time out on a couple of weekdays (mostly in the last week) to finish up some working projects and polish the mixes. I also managed to record a Robot Scout session for RPM submission, too. Does it mean I like to procrastinate until the final possible minute? No, but it does seem to end up close to the wire most of the time. It’s always challenging to create under a deadline, but these days I’ve streamlined the process to make it easier to operate quickly and efficiently. Hence, I can afford to take my time with some things or choose to break from it with the knowledge that it’s simple to come back to. I’ve done the RPM Challenge for a number of years now, and likely would have made yearly records anyway, even if no challenge existed. We make our own challenges, and I consider this one to be more of a necessity. I make art, and that doesn’t change. The challenge is making art you’re happy with. And even though I endorse a certain amount of improvisation in much of my work, it’s satisfying when it sounds composed.
Recently I decided to take an opportunity to join some local artists at Eastern Edge Gallery, and perform a sound art piece for their Annual Members Exhibition. I wanted to revisit the cassette tape’s role in history and in memories by using a couple of Sony Walkman players (Sport and classic 80’s Stereo models) routed through partially functioning outdated electronic equipment. The setup consisted of a busted Tascam Portastudio 246 with effects sends from a Digitech Delay rack into a small, crackly Realistic amp, which was output to a working Sony stereo able to record (to tape) the resulting performance. Playback of delay-warbled sections of early-1980’s cassettes (mostly recorded from vinyl by my uncle) in oddly familiar cacophony made for an interesting background for those gathered to see the other artworks featured in the gallery. Thanks to Michael Waterman and Kevin Hehir of Noice for their assistance. I returned Tuesday to listen back to the cassette of the night’s show (available as an installation for the week), and it sounds much clearer in headphones. This brings me to my closing message: somebody else’s trash is another’s art. I felt the need to get better utilization from my stack of archaic equipment and underused (yet “retro”) tapes, so I decided to fashion some new memories by destroying the old ones. And maybe a little more destruction or deconstruction is needed in these times of excess, instead of hoarding countless piles of vintage ‘stuff’ that you’ve outgrown. Some of these historical fragments of society have real value — at least in shaping who we are (or what we do) as people. Others are just sentimental junk we should throw away, or in my case, recycle one last time. Included are a few pics of the setup at Eastern Edge, and I may revisit the mangled tape theme for a future idea. I’ll keep you posted.