My work resides in music, sound and collaboration with artists in other fields. As I have a background in writing and visual art, I often start a project with an idea or word, or a snapshot from memory. It is common for me to collect ideas and material when I am half asleep. While experimenting in the early stages, I often research the topics and elaborate on the core elements.

By the time I make a decision on the instrumentation and the time structure, I can envision the music as "spatilized sonic textures in time." The instruments and textures vary, but I generally create layers with acoustic and electric instruments or electro-acoustic sounds. The forms of time structure I typically use are: linear, cyclic, determined random forms; and occasionally I perceive time as "depth of motion".

The musicians I work with have a broad range of musical styles and backgrounds. My role as a composer and producer is to trust them and allow them to use their own voices, while I execute my ideas. I have developed the skills for sculpting sound as an engineer, by building equipment, and by recording and mixing for myself and others. To me, composing, performing & producing music is all connected. Many of my projects take time to finalize. No matter how muchI try to determine what the music "should" be doing, music does whatever music does. It pushes the ideas back at me. Then I re-work it again, if necessarry. Understanding this dynamic has been a challenging yet rewarding process.

Descriptions of my previous and current work are available below. You can listen to selected examples HERE

 

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DEATH AMBIENT

I co-founded this trio with Ikue Mori and Fred Frith in 1995. Ikue and I started with an idea to make music using just textures. We released two CDs, Death Ambient and Syneasthesia on Tzadik and in 2000 toured Europe and the UK. For our third CD, Drunken Forest, I had the idea of taking the theme of climate change and making a soundtrack. The initial session was recorded as a trio by Myles Boisen in Oakland, California; I then composed tracks, over-dubbing parts with various instruments and objects, and mixing in the textures recorded by the trio. Fred Frith played electric guitar, Ikue Mori played laptop, and I played acoustic & electric bass, violin, banjo, mandolin, acoustic & electric &guitar, lapsteel, ukelele, acordion, analog synth, soprano & alto recorder, and water & ice. Jim Pugliese played percussion and trumpet. The CD Drunken Forest was released on Tzadik in 2007.

 

GREEN ZONE

In 2004, I formed this trio with Otomo Yoshihide on guitar, Uemura Masahiro on drums and myself on electric bass and other instruments. All the tracks have themes that are related to the Iraq war. Our self-titled CD Green Zone was recorded in Tokyo by James Fei, co-produced by Noda Shigenori of Callithump productions in Japan, and was released on DoubtMusic in October 2005. The trio toured Japan in 2006.

In 2008, the second CD "Bayt" was released on Disc Callithump. Bayt means "home" in Arabic. The torture of prisoners by the C.I.A. was the main topic of this album. The title track is 45-1/2 minutes long. The trio performed and recorded new material for our third CD, Black Dust, in Tokyo in 2008.

 

TREMOLO OF JOY

Tremolo of Joy is the vocal cry of Native Americans prior to a hunt or fight. This evocative term inspired me to write music that was based on magical realism: myths of love, life and death. My intention was not to adapt the stories but to reflect them. I wrote and recorded seven tunes with their variations that folded back into the main tunes. It took several years for me to complete and release this album, and by the end, the music started to sound like an ever-unfolding dream. Charlie Burnham played violin, Briggan Krauss played alto sax, Calvin Weston played drums & trumpet, Ed Tomney played analog synths & room tones and I played double bass.This project was recorded by Grey Gersten at Location One in NYC and mixed by me. The album was released on Bandcamp in 2014.

 

PLASTIC SPOON

Plastic Spoon is a rock-n-roll band. I write songs that are based on true stories. The topics are poverty, the decline of capitalism,the global aging crisis, the banking and food industries, the prison-industrial complex, etc. Karen Mantler is on vocals & harmonica, Douglas Wieselman plays guitar & horns, Shahzad Ismaily is on drums, and I play bass, 8-string bass, guitars, strings & percussion. Recordings are mixed in mono.

 

OMNI

This is another trio with Japanese musicians Nakamura Toshimaru on fedback electric guitar, Akiyama Tetuzi on prepared electric guitar and myself on prepared electric bass and bass synthesizer. We all have versatility for playing both electronics and musical instruments. This is an experimental project on which I wanted to use time as depth. Each musician determined the events and time structures individually, priror to the performance. We performed and recorded in Tokyo in 2006 and 2008. The self-tilted CD was released on Presquile Records.

 

SOLO

My interest in the use of non-natural harmonic content led me to develop the Prime Number Tuning System. I recorded my first solo bass CD, Turbulent Zone, in 1997 and released it on my own label, Music for Expanded Ears, in 1998. For this piece, I used a fretless bass with the prime numbers tuned to the intervals between strings: 6:7, 10:11, 13:12, plus 9:8 (although 9 is not a prime number, I like the way this interval sounded). Each tuning has different "beat".

Solo installation works: Su-Re ("rubbing" in Japanese) for prime number tone-generator (designed by James Fei), speakers and microphones. The piece premiered at Diapason Gallery in 2007. In 2010, during a residency at the Headlands Center For the Arts in California, I created a piece, "Sound Bridge."

I am currently working on another solo piece, "Bardo," for analogue synthesizer and bass.

 

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Collaborations:

 

Amorphous with John King

This is a duo project with composer/guitarist John King. We recorded acoustic and electric instruments with live sound processing.

ln 2014, we performed at Bates College with myself on analogue synthesizer and John on electronics and viola. We used a selectable matrix score with a fixed time structure, and combimations of events for each of us play. While the parameters were fixed, we took turns choosing the next command during the performance, allowing us to perform the piece differently each time. We also experimented with my idea of "active installation" (live installation).

 

Audio /Video performance with Ursula Scherrer

Ursula Scherrer is a visual artist who creates site-specific pieces. We first performed at the Issue Project Room in 2007. Since then we have created an installation in an elevator (Elevator 55) at the Dumbo Arts Festival in 2008; appeared at the Unity Gain Festival 2008 at Monkey Town NYC; performed Dream Within a Dream at Experimental Intermedia in NYC in 2009, and at Bates College in 2011. In 2014, Brian Chase joined on percusion and electronics.

 

Duo project with Charlie Burnham

Charlie and I began collaborating in 2014. Initially, we played piano innards as percussion. Then we overdubbed violin, acoustic bass, synthesizer, percussion and vocals. The process of this project is like a group painting. We work with the colors and shapes of the sound we are creating. Some of the tracks will be available online in the future.

 

Electro-acoustic duo with James Fei

This is a duo project with composer/musician James Fei. We use electronics and feedback (electro-acoustic and internal/direct). We released a CD, Sieves, from Improvised Music from Japan and toured Japan in 2004. We are currently editing and mixing live recordings and will be recording new material.

 

ANALOGOS

Composer Michael J. Schumacher organizes a collaborative group of analog synthesists called Analogos and runs a series of concerts. Members of this group are Kabir Carter: MoogerFooger and Moog pedals and synthesizers; David Galbraith: self-built electronics; Kato Hideki: Eurorack modular & Electroharmonix Micro Bass Synthesizer; Michael J Schumacher: Steiner-Parker Synthacon, Serge; James Fei: Buchla; Ed Tomney: EMS VCS 3 "Putney"

 

Inter-media projects with Nicolas Collins

Nicolas Collins and I have performed together since the mid-1990s. We have made a specialty of combining audio and visual material from diverse technologies: video signals heard as audio, audio signals seen as video, live digital signal processing of sound and image, and a variety of acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic instruments (including electric and acoustic bass, violin, lapsteel guitar and home-made circuitry). For this project the two of us have established an important ground rule: we never perform the same set twice. We endeavor to come up with fresh compositions, technologies and structures for improvisation for each concert. We appeared at the Sound in Motion Festival in Belgium, Sonic Circuits 2001 in Chicago, the Mixology Festival 2003 & 2005 in NYC, and New Sound New York 2004 with Ben Neill at the Kitchen. We also performed with Hugh Davies at International Gaudeamus Music Week 2000 in Amsterdam.