Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Album Notes for "All-Acoustic Contemplative Sound Spaces"

A new digital album of ambient/space music, for evening listening, intended to establish a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere.  

It was woven from all natural-world instruments, "organic" – with no synth or any electronic sounds.

Hear it streaming free here, on Rosswriting.com/music
Several live performances, but mostly layered recordings, introspections of bells, gongs, bowls, percussion, different strings, and serene voices of Nature.  Singing insects, frogs  and birds; rain, a brook, a waterfall, the ocean...

Soundtracks meant to help the listener slow down a little, so the wave that rises in the heart can more easily be found. For putting on in the background late in the day, to set the tone for time and space to stretch out.

There are no synthesizers or electric instruments on this album, no words sung or spoken — it's a percussionist's approach to meditative ambient space music. (But we did not hold back on the tasteful use of "studio magic,' of course, wherever that was right.)
Evocative, intriguing, hypnotic...
Mellow, exotic, harmonic...
An elves' workshop at play; extraterrestrial tambouras; 
Bells reverberating in the air; the thousand-stringed roar of the mighty Monochord.
As the river moves on here, the notes get longer and deeper, slower and wider…
Hopefully this is all about sitting back and settling into in a deep and soothing sound, breathing a little deeper, feeling a little closer to the peace inside.

These Are Soundtracks of Restful Dreams

You won't find the usual type of "music" on this album, with lots of ideas and lines and chords. Instead, these are flowing, abstract atmospheres of organized sound.

You could equally say that of course it's music, only, played, very, slo-o-ow-ly... 

There may be only as many individually sounded notes in this whole collection of pieces as in one or maybe two pop songs. (The notes-per-minute make a radical contrast.)

This is all about how the strongest, most riveting note in any piece of music is a rest, a note of Silence.
Then next to that would be Reverberation, the after-effect when a note is struck, how long it lasts hanging in the air...

Putting this together came from a longtime approach of being observant for the natural possibilities, as much as possible just present, listening and responding. Letting the sound suggest where it wants to go, and your deeper brain do all the heavy lifting.

The goal, the hope, is for when the musicians can become the instrument, the highest and deepest experience you can have of playing.

Some Notes On The Tracks

We've always been utterly fascinated by being immersed in a deep, rich, flowing tone that just hangs there and hypnotizes. As percussionists, we prize the raw, living sound of instruments made directly from the earth, transformed and refined by human hands. (All praise to the instrument makers!)

There's a lot of favorite electronic music that we listen to frequently, even big fans of some. But there's no way a synthesized sound can compare to the depth and all the dimensions of a natural object resonating. That's what we've got here.

We've long been collecting especially "slow-burning" instruments, the kind that make long, sustained tones. You'll hear all kinds of strange sounds pop up in the background, but it's the bells and gongs of all sorts that carry much of the load, and a favorite is using singing bowls as gongs, striking their outer walls with mallets for the deep BOOOM-M-M-M...

They just keep ringing, and ringing... And of course they do some singing, too.

Starring Nature

The other elements to these collages are from recordings made mostly around Woodstock, New York: the frogs in the rain, peepers, crickets, katydids, the stream and waterfall.  (There must have been a few add-in's, since the ocean turns up — that was from the southeast coast of Florida.)

Featuring Peter Blum, David Budd, and Lea Garnier

Much of this album was played by Bill borrowing and buying from the impressive singing bowl collection of Peter Blum, who keeps around 30 on hand. Peter is heard on tracks 5, 6 and 11. 

Our great thanks and appreciations to him, and to David Budd (tracks 5, 8 and 11,) and Lea Garnier (8) for contributing their wonderfully sensitive playing, too.

More thanks

Three tracks, #'s 2, 6, & 10, were begun with tracks recorded by Robert Bard in his studio, Skytop Sound, in New Paltz, NY.  These were outtakes from some recording sessions Bill did with Peter that formed the basis for his "Penumbra" album.  That's how we got the recordings of Bill playing the Monochord harp (2 & 10,) which was loaned to Peter for the sessions, and of Mr. Blum on his tamboura with his beginning intonation (6).

Photo: Sky Away From The Lights, (c)2010 by Tunc Tezel

Used with permission. (Thank you, Tunc!)
From 'The World At Night' (TWAN), twanight.org

Mastered by Tom Desisto, Desisto Music, Woodstock, NY

Our thanks, too, to Garry Kvistad of Woodstock Chimes, not only for his permission to record there during one of their annual sales, but for his saying, "But don't just record – perform!" So “I Know That Girl” is Bill playing their giant, awesome Windsinger chimes in the foreground and an enormous gong behind, accompanied by the random sounds of customers trying out all the chimes, bells, rattles, flutes and whistles in the chime sale.

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