Funny that it's taken me this long to get my act together and finally make a distribution-quality recording of my work.
I suppose having a band or otherwise working in a more direct performance-oriented capacity pushes a greater sense of urgency upon you to cut your first album. The ancient quest of getting the proverbial record deal and then kicking back as the royalty checks ticker-tape out of the stratosphere has a certain allure, albeit one steeped in myth and legend. There is a certain warm security in wielding a pencil and paper, rather than brandishing a slick guitar or hitting the stage in a pair of zebra-print leggings. It's like a cocoon to which one can retreat, sealed away from the passage of time and the imperfections and inconveniences of the physical world. A perfect little nest in which to cultivate ones perfect ideas and see them gestate and metamorphose into perfect possibilities — the possibility that others will comprehend what you've come up with, the possibility of a good performance, the possibility of capturing that performance on tape.
A recording is the documentation of an instance. The apprehension and preservation of a particular moment in time and the special way the air moved in that moment and that moment alone. From groove to needle to pre-amp to power-amp to loudspeaker, we are, remarkably, able to replicate that moment by moving the air the same exact way. Well, almost; it's not the same air, after all, and if we consider that detail on an astrological scale, nothing about it will be the same for another 25,920 years.
In this over-produced, computer assisted era, it seems like the general attitude toward what a recording can be has pushed our ears to accept it as what a given piece of music must be; subsequent live performances being only imperfect imitations, infused with the danger of stressing one's attention span to allow for varying tempos, new interpretations or too many guitar solos. Studying recordings certainly is a great way to see what music has been, particularly classical music to this point, and the intense philology in which students of music engage to come up with the perfect interpretation, inspire new ideas and otherwise aspire to understand how they fit into the ever-widening tapestry of the vocation of live performance is admirable. We can't be present for every performance of every piece of live music ever, right? Wouldn't it be great if we could?
I guess that's where my failure to act until now has been rooted. It is in my lack of interest in seeing my work be only what it was that one time someone made a recording of it. Of course, I have recordings of my work from performances and rehearsals—over five hours worth—but I've never really thought of them as serving any greater function than to help you get the idea.
To a composer, of course, publication is a much more appealing path toward immortality as it gives the work a chance to live and evolve at the hands of countless performers, rather than just in their ears.
The good news is that I've gotten over most of these sentiments and recently finished my first two studio recordings-to-be-recordings, which I am very excited to reveal to the world. But not quite yet.
The first is the first half of a piano cycle I am writing for pianist Eric Clark, whose ability at the keyboard is nothing short of extraordinary. You can hear Eric playing four of the planned twenty-two movements on my SOUNDS page. The work is called "Le Mat: XXII Arcana." I will be updating the page with the new recordings as soon as they are ready.
The second has played perfectly into my aforementioned philosophy on recordings, having captured a singularly profound performance-in-the-studio event, which brought together a group of guys who had mostly never met around a book of music I had composed especially for them. I'm calling the project "WHEEL," for reasons I will disclose when the EP is ready. The band consists of Ryan Neitznick (guitar; Dylan Reynolds, Mac Miller, etc.), Adam Ravitz (bass; Ape School, Glenn Miller Orchestra, etc.), Eric Slick (drums; Dr. Dog, Ape School, etc.) and a young graduate student composer at Carnegie Mellon named Davis Good (keys). It was recorded by Jesse Soracco. Davis was the biggest curve-ball, as he had essentially no experience playing or hearing the music that inspired the project, nor had anyone involved ever met him until we converged on Pittsburgh to record. In the end, he was perfect — the project could not have happened without him.
This project was intensely transformational for me, and represents an entirely new direction I will be taking with my work. More to come soon. I can't wait for you to hear it!