Hanne K represents a certain aspect of my being, one too occluded to really explain in any reasonable way, but she likes to collaborate, and tends to work on the shadowier side of things. This album was conceived on a visit to EMS Stockholm, while visiting my old friend Scott Cazan - I realized that, as wonderful as those electronic instruments are, the Buchlas and Serges, they no longer contained the same sense of romance and alienness they once did. I found myself more intrigued by the idea of making a kind of abstract & textural music entirely outside of my comfort zone: with acoustic instruments, and no synths, pedals or electronic devices.

This was not an ideological decision, and I’ve never “renounced” electronics, or anything so teenage - I really just wasn’t feeling it anymore, and wanted to try something different, to see what would happen. I knew that, in all likelihood, I would follow this project up with some acid house or tape collage - the point was not to draw a line in the sand, or make a statement, really just to visit somewhere new.

When I got home from Sweden, I organized three recording sessions, all engineered by Sam Jones. The first took place at his studio, where Sam and I were joined at sunset by Vikram Devasthali, Stephanie Smith, James Lake and Tim Clark. I played my alto sax, Sam got on piano, James had his bass clarinet, Stephanie her violin, Vikram played acoustic guitar and trombone, while Tim played electric bass (technically breaking the “all acoustic” rule, but: acoustic bass guitars sound goofy, no one had an upright, and it’s just an amp, no effects at all, so lighten up, sticklers).  We played by listening and feeling, all together in the same room, and did a second take with some different instruments: Stephanie switched to bowed glockenspiel, Vik and James played a selection of ocarinas, and also vocalized, while Sam played cello.

The second session took place the following week, at night, in a warehouse by the LA river. Sam, James and I were once more present, being joined this time by Ethan Braun and Patrick Shiroishi. I played bass this time, while Ethan set himself up behind the grand piano this particular space was equipped with. Patrick brought his alto and soprano saxes, and Sam his violin; James played bass clarinet, as before. We once more played all together at once, with mics set up around the space, going purely by feeling - this being a completely different space, and a different group of players, the results were quite different than the first session, but no less powerful or rewarding.

The third and final session commenced in the morning, at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, in Pasadena, California - my father-in-law, Randy Baer, had managed to get us the use of the sanctuary, along with their pipe organ. Sam, Tim and Stephanie returned, playing organ, bass and violin, respectively, and our crew was augmented by Pauline Lay on violin, Casey Anderson on alto sax, and Ang Wilson on flute and singing bowls; I played alto sax, as I had at the first session. Being in a church, with Sam playing the massive pipe organ, sent things right over the top and into the exact space I’d been hoping to explore when this idea first came to me. Trevor Blake was also there, creeping around taking photos and video of us (which I now realize I still haven’t seen).

I took all the recordings Sam had compiled, and edited them together into the three tracks on the album. The first track is summary of that first session at Sam’s house, the second track the result of the night in the warehouse, and the third track the recordings from the church. I allowed myself freedom in the layering, fading and other time-based operations, but still refrained from any use of effects, so any reverb/delay-type sounds you’re hearing are either natural artifacts of the spaces, the overlapping of the players, or the result of my editing (though it’s mostly the first two - my editing was ultimately pretty minimal). 

 Raphael Arar made the cover art, incorporating I Ching hexagrams. Sure enough, I did go right back to making beats on my laptop after finishing this, so I’m quite glad I didn’t write a whole “manifesto” or something about how electronics are the devil and I was on the path of light...looking at you, Keith Jarrett...
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