music made of reactions


Murakami and the Solitude of Writing

[Murakami] likened the solitary act of writing to cooking one of his favourite foods, deep-fried oysters.

His wife can’t stand the dish, so he has no choice but to cook and eat them alone, he told the audience, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

“I am lonely, but they are delicious,” he added. “Like the relationship between solitude and freedom, it moves in an endless cycle. Picking out single words that are contained within me is also a solitary act so [writing novels] is similar to eating fried oysters by myself.”



Cool video art – CIVIC-TV x N.O.I.S.E.

Part of a very cool collaboration with CIVIC-TV. CIVIC requested tracks from 22 musicians, asking for a mixture of noise, ambient, and beats. He then made a visual mixtape linking all the tracks together using highly saturated footage that is simultaneously very abstract and very 80’s.

You can watch the whole video here:

My thing starts at about 28 minutes.

If you want the audio!
If you want a VHS tape!
If you want the YouTube!

Hear me on the new Simultaneous Aural Detriments compilation!

At long last, I am a member of the 1%!  I contributed 3 minutes of music (and 12 minutes of silence) among 13 other artists to this awesome experimental project, Simultaneous Aural Detriments.

The organizer of this piece asked 14 artists to contribute “a track of exactly 15 minutes with no more than 3 minutes of actual sound, distributed in any way throughout the total length of the track. This left each track with a total of 12 minutes of silence.”

The organizer of the compilation then layered all the tracks together, letting the structure emerge as it may. There’s a lot of hisses and bleeps and boops; I contributed some piano lines under my ROBOT MONSTOR moniker.

I think it’s a good listen – the structure emerges through the happenstance of repeated sound and repeated links between sounds.

The Analyst, Movement III – now up! Gnostic spoken word improv vocal 4tet!

“If you love something, set it free”?  Easier said than done!

With that maxim in mind, here is the third and final movement of my piece The Analyst, performed at Vermont College of Fine Arts in February 2015.

Movements I and II tell the story of the rise and fall of a hubristic Wall Street company man.  In this third movement, the analyst has died and finds himself at the pearly gates to Heaven, where four angels assess his worth.  Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for him.

This piece was influenced by my experience working in finance during the subprime mortgage boom and bust of 2008 and my attempts to reconcile that culture with my own desire to do good in the world (in whatever small way I can). I suppose I speak through the angels and assess the Analyst’s moral character from a number of lenses. I modeled the piece of medieval morality plays; people have heard echoes of Baptist, Methodist, and gnostic Christian teachings in the text (which wasn’t intentional but I’m sure it’s in there!).

The score is noteworthy because at no point does it give the singers a specific pitch (as you can see in the preview image). The singers are only given intervals in relation to the note they just heard. The piece makes much use of improvisation and small scale indeterminacy. I drew on works by Stockhausen, Alvin Lucier, and Robert Ashley while writing this piece.

A huge thanks to the performers, Aliana de la Guardia, Carrie Cheron, Alexander Nishibun, and Jonathan Nussman, for tackling this weird thing with gusto and all of their skill and bringing my very personal vision it to life!

Listen to me on Mouth 4 Rusty’s new album, “Must Take More Care”

My friend Matt and his musical partner Emma make beautifully exposed and heartfelt singer-songwriter music under the name Mouth 4 Rusty.

I’m lucky enough to perform on some of these releases, including their most recent album, “Must Take More Care.”

Check it out and if you like it buy it – they’re good people make making uncommonly sincere music!

Lou Harrison, Thrice Removed

I just got a copy of Soundings 9 via interlibrary loan to take another look at Gavin Bryars’ score for The Sinking of the Titanic.

Inside it I found this inscription:

A Happy Summer to Robert, from Lou and Bill

A Happy Summer to Robert, from Lou and Bill

On a hunch, I looked up Lou Harrison, and sure enough his partner’s name was William (Bill) Colvig.

The bookplate says it’s from the collection of Robert E. Brown, who is credited with, among other things, introducing Gamelan music to America.

Harrison was of course influenced and inspired by Gamelan music.




I’m touching a book Lou Harrison (probably) touched!

My daughter informed me I am “fangirl”ing.

Guilty as charged.

“Have a Vision and Cleave to It”

When I had just finished my schooling and was looking for a job, a friend put me in touch with an absurdly well-connected British biographer who, she assured me, would help me find the professional position of my dreams. I wrote and asked him whether we might meet, explaining that I would appreciate his advice on securing literary work and enclosing some of my early efforts. He duly invited me for tea. The advice I had in mind sounded like this: “You must call so-and-so at this number and say I suggested it and he will publish you and give you loads of money.” After giving me a cup of weak tea—no sandwiches, no pastry, not even sugar or milk—he said, “I have only one piece of advice for you. Have a vision and cleave to it.” We then discussed the weather for twenty minutes.

– Andrew Solomon