AmbiEntrance: Why the title Blue
Day? What are your general impressions of your work here?
This is a "classical" ambient recording. The title
refers to the concept of introspection common to
"blue days" - to my mind the title also connotes
optimism as seen through the veil of ennui - as
in "wild blue yonder" and "blue sky".
AmbiEntrance: Some of the tracks are very long and some
are very short... why the
disparity in length?
The longer tracks are important anchors for the
recording; one is about 19 minutes and the other
nearly 25 minutes. These are highly immersive and
give the listener an opportunity to delve deeply
into his or her own reverie while listening. The
shorter pieces are interludes and were created to
give the total recording an interesting flow. Once
again, I am working with flow and pacing of the
recording here. Contrasting the short works with
the longer ones helps to achieve a temporal texture
which is unique. We tend to understand the wider
differences in temporal dimension as unique and
distinct. It is, in fact, difficult to discern the
differences between works that are three, four and
five minutes long.
Also, there is an opportunity for the broadcaster
to use the shorter works as segues and transitions.
This was an attractive notion. Finally, this recording,
in a way similar to The Silent Shore,
invites the listener to make alternative orderings
of the tracks to come up with other ways to experience
the temporal flow of the disc.
AmbiEntrance: How do you manage so many different layers
My idea of musical structure is related to the notion
of polychronicity, many time "chronos" occurring
simultaneously but not necessarily at the same speed.
This provides a theoretical foundation for conceiving
of musical texture as a set of inter-related chronometric
grids. This is one way in which I "manage" layered
Many composers in the ambient and spacemusic genres are working with deeply
layered materials. Often, however, there is little attention paid to the
careful control of these layers in order to allow them to be heard
distinctly within the overall context. It is very easy when working with
dense materials and drones to have things disappear through the effects of
masking. Controlling masking is a production issue. I have elaborate tools
for multitracking and these help considerably.
AmbiEntrance: What can you tell us about self-releasing
Thompson: There is not
really much to tell about this. I am committed to getting my
music out there for fans and I am also a prolific composer. Therefore, it
is a natural culmination of my effort to eventually publish my recordings
once I consider them finished. At present I license my work. It is not
very likely that I will sign a multi-project contract with anyone. I have
had offers, but they are typical recording industry offers that do not give
much in return and take quite a bit from the artist. I prefer to release
projects such as this myself. Firstly, more of the earned money from such
projects returns to me and secondly I remain in control of the copyrights
and distribution. Eventually, if someone wished to license my work for a
release this would be acceptable.
What is unique about the way I am tending to work now is that I am trying to
emphasize publication on demand. This will probably lead to the downloading
of my work directly from the Aucourant Records site. As
for now Blue Day is
only available from Aucourant Records in
the USA via the Internet, and
through Groove in
the Netherlands via mail order. Of course, if Backroads
(and similar groups) became interested in it in the future they would be
offering it as well.
AmbiEntrance: You've also recently re-issued 1981's
In Ruins; what can you tell us
about this, your first ambient release?
In Ruins is an early project
- the first project that I identified as an ambient
recording was earlier, created in 1979-80 and originally
called Cloud Cover. Recently,
I recycled this title for my first release as Fountainhead.
As it happens, I have been recording in this style
since 1976, the first project being l'objects
d' Art (this is a large-form electronic
music work which I intend to release in the coming
few years). Of course, all of this early music was
done with analog systems. In my case, the fist instrument
I used extensively was the large Moog Modular Series
III (this instrument has 12 oscillators, two keyboards,
several filter sets and a large sequencer and myriad
other modules). A great instrument to be sure! Other
instruments used on In Ruins
include the ARP 2600 and Synthi AKS, tools I still
use today and which will be appearing on upcoming
I felt that In Ruins was in some ways similar to
the longer form recordings I have created recently. There is also a clear
connection, at least to my ear, to my general "style" of ambient
composition - as it has evolved over the years. I was most interested to
release this project (basically on a "publishing on demand" basis) for
those fans who want to hear my early music and for the collectors. The
In Ruins project when originally released was
only available on cassette. In starting the process of archiving my early
work (something that will take quite a number of years it seems) it
occurred to me that this project would sound great if remixed to CD. So, I
restored the original open reel masters and created the two CD set. I am
pleased with the way it has turned out.
At the time of the original composing and recording
of In Ruins I was aware
of specified classifications of musical materials.
Foreground, background, continuous, melodic, harmonic,
propulsive and event-based. These elements continued
to be codified and considered in all of my work
since then. In this sense, In Ruins
was a beginning of my foray into ambient music,
a journey I am still making.
AmbiEntrance: Compared with Blue
Day, how would you say your own ambient composition methods
Thompson: This is a huge question,
and I think a very relevant one. Technology has
changed everything, my thinking, my hearing, my
methods and my aesthetic base for artistic creation.
In the days of In Ruins,
my method was to record materials on tape in multitrack
formats, typically 4, 8 and 16 track formats, and
then mix elements (usually sections or beds) to
stereo. These premixed elements then were treated
in the typical "musique concrete style", using tape
slicing and assembly techniques. A very arduous
process indeed, but using the typical tape music
techniques we have inherited from the late 50's
and 60's. I still sometimes work this way, I have
not totally avoided the analog dimension, I still
record to analog and splice tape on occasion, usually
for the nostalgia it provides and only when the
The major change is that in 1981 I became a computer
musician. I worked at the Center for Music
Experiment Computer Audio Research Laboratory
for about 10 years beginning in 1980. This was a
real catalyst for my creative development. As some
fans of my music realize, I also work in the field
of avant-garde computer music. I write for instruments
and the orchestra. This does not mean to imply that
ambient music is a sideline for me, it is simply
one aspect of my creative life and expression. Much
of the most interesting ambient or electronica music
being produced today may have been considered "experimental"
or avant-garde in the 60's and 70's. Whether this
suggests specific changes in the orientation of
the audience or the artist is not really very important.
In the past, I felt that these areas of creative
expression (instrumental/electronic - orchestral/ambient)
were, or should be, separated in my life, now it
is less clear that such distinctions have a purpose.
Furthermore, even my orchestral music is influenced,
as is the work of many modern composers of the experimental
school, by the tape music experience. This could
be referred to as the "reflection of tape music
on instrumental music designs." My ambient composition
methods now encompass all of the tools of computer
music such as granular synthesis, acoustic modeling
and Fourier synthesis. Yet, the fundamental concept
of Satie's "musique d'ameublement"
Ambient music invites sonic exploration of course,
and we see this outworked in various ways among
the significant artists of the day. Now I tend to
work almost exclusively with random access recording
methods, using the computer. This is so well streamlined
these days, with ProTools for example, that I am
able to work in an extremely organic and facilitating
manner with my materials and my ideas. Being able
to respond to intuitive impulses in a direct manner
is key to capturing the unbidden gifts of the muse.
In a way, the general method of recording in random
access is somewhat similar, and also conducive,
to working directly with sound. Sound is a plastic
element and the methods that I use most prominently
now provide tools for shaping and sculpting the
native plasticity of sound materials.
AmbiEntrance: You've been involved with ambient music
since 1976... what are the major changes you've seen, and more
specifically, heard in this broad range of
sound from then until now?
I became involved in ambient music at the very beginning.
In fact, my electronic music embraced "classical
ambient" aesthetics prior to Eno's
release of Music for Airports.
At that time there was a very minimal market for
ambient music in the United States. Therefore, there
was little opportunity for publishing this work
at the time. Regardless, I continued to record on
a constant basis. In the early days, ambient music
was directly connected to Satie and the notion of
"furniture music". An interesting lineage
to be sure and not necessary one without circuitous
switchbacks and tangents. In any case, we are all
aware of how the "ambient" concept has become shaped
and redefined by succeeding generations of composers.
There are many examples of "ambient music" which
are distinctly different from the "classical" foundational
expressions such as Eno's.
One obvious change is the manner in which this
music is contextualized and deconstructed by the
press, listeners and the industry in general. There
is a kind of background arrogance within the genre
and a stubborn belief that this is all very new,
fresh and innovative. Without a good and solid understanding
of the literature of electronic music and the history
of its innovation, it will be difficult for people
to see the folly of this way of thinking. This is
after all, one expression of "sound as music"
which owes as much of its potential to John
Cage and Edgard Varese
as it does to Steve Roach.
Currently, in some very tired circles, there are
ongoing discussions of terms, and genres that are
really not very illuminating or necessary. Like
John Cage, I eschew the tendency to pontificate
Originally, the impulse to create ambient music stemmed from the
realization that traditionally non-musical sounds and sonic structures were
potentially as compelling as any musical material from the traditional
sphere. This was combined with a renewed reverence for the sonic event as
existing outside of a composer's intentionality. A reaction to serialism
perhaps, but surely a new aesthetic was born from many different quarters
and by combining and morphing memes.
Now electronica embraces ambient as a sub-genre. The "rave" has placed ambient
music into a new, narrowly confining niche. Classical
ambient music is not viewed the way it was in the
70's and beat-laden chill music is as apt to be
termed ambient as anything else is. It is a term,
now probably bereft of deeper resonance and ready
for retirement. It is music that we do, "sounds
organized in time" which attempt to provide opportunities
for engagement in evocation of mood, feeling, time
and place. Is it chill music, thinking music or
innerspacemusic? This matters little.
My sense is that the cultural landscape changes more rapidly than my ideas
and goals as an artist do. I am interested in my trajectory though ambient
music more than I am with the trends which surround it.
AmbiEntrance: I'm immersing myself again in The Silent Shore... would
you share some behind-the-scenes info on it?
Thompson: This was a
breakthrough recording for me. In the mid-nineties it became clear to me
that the division between my avant-garde work and my ambient work was
becoming less important to maintain. It was also a work that freely engaged
the computer music techniques I had been developing over the previous
The music on the The Silent Shore
is not much influenced by the musical expressions
of others or the prevailing styles in ambient music
(although the label's spin on this is contrary to
my view - I was initially influenced by Eno and
Satie in my youth, but not by Roach, for example).
So, because of this, it is, in my view, an honest
and pure expression of my own musical tendencies
in atmospheric electronica. One reason this is true
is that the entire recording project took about
two years. I had created the main aspects of the
recording prior to becoming involved with Oasis/Mirage
(this is the first Mirage release). Working with
Grant McKay (Associate Producer)
provided an opportunity to revisit the project,
record new material and work on the overall structure
of the recording.
I am constantly working on music in one form or another. So, when I come
to make a new recording in the ambient field, it is likely that I will have
recently completed a new computer music work or orchestral score, for
example. This may mean that sounds from my archive, or elements of
structure from another work, will find their way into my recordings as
elements of color, orchestration or sonic events. This provides a kind of
richness that other ambient recordings tend to lack in my experience. My
work on The Silent Shore is not entirely keyboard
or synthesizer based, but also includes textural elements derived from
myriad computer music techniques.
In 1995, my wife Debra and I had recently moved into our new house and this
was the first recording created in my newly constructed studio. All of the
tracking was done using the MTU MicroSound DAW, and editing and further
enhancements were done with ProTools, and other recording/mixing systems.
Largely, the CD was created entirely on hard disc and mastered directly to
CD. This process was greatly refined in my own studio by the time the
follow-up CD Frontier
was recorded. Frontier has garnered some
accolades for engineering and production - quite unexpected but fulfilling.
It seems that at this time The Silent
Shore is out of print. This may change
shortly, but for the present, I believe that this
disc will be difficult to find! If readers are interested
in getting a copy, I would recommend contacting
Oasis/Mirage directly or their distributor
Allegro. Allegro has copies available for mail order.
AmbiEntrance: The "alternate playback orders" are
interesting; where did this idea come from?
Thompson: This was my
original idea. I perceived that an aspect of the richness of
The Silent Shore comes out of the connection and
the ordering of the tracks, the flow of the total recording. Flow, in
terms of arrangement of tracks, is a concept that does not always find its
expression in modern popular music (I do consider ambient, spacemusic and
new-age aspects of popular music). There seems rather to be one or two
strongly conceived works arbitrarily connected with less compelling
material. Sadly, this attribute is also found in modern ambient and
spacemusic from some of the most experienced and commercially successful
The playback orders work for this disc. Frontier,
by contrast, has one vector of development, it segues
from one "track" or composition to the next, and
the recording is constantly evolving. I conceived
it as one long evolutionary work. This idea is very
close to the concept of my earlier CD The
Strong Eye. This is a computer music
work but very close to my current ambient music
style. It is quite avant-garde, but also has spacemusic
and ambient music attributes. It is about 69 minutes
in duration, and while conceived as a multi-movement
work, it is largely continuous in sound and has
one vector of developmental flow. A collection of
distinct tracks, which is what "The
Silent Shore is, allows for a different
way of participating with ordering and flow. Therefore,
the two manners - Translucent and
Opaque, both ideas referring to
qualities of light, one path is darker, the other
brighter. This allows the listener to interact with
the recording in a different and perhaps more profound
Some of my long form ambient works have only one track
(Sapphire (1998), Siren
(Ambient) (1997/8) and Music for a Summer
Evening (1997), for example) and therefore there is only one
vector of musical development. I want the listener to only follow this one
path, therefore there are no other track IDs on the disc.
AmbiEntrance: What about Fountainhead?
Why the "name change"? Will you record under that pseudonym again?
Some years ago, my colleague Dorian Maras
(composer, architect and artist) gave me Ayn
Rand's book. I was immediately struck by
it. It has had a kind of iconic significance to
me. I took the title as a "project name" for a number
of reasons, some of which are connected to my resonance
with the protagonist of the novel. Also, I like
the general notion of the "fountainhead" as a wellspring
of ideation, creativity and so on. I wanted to try
to distance my work and affiliation with a "personality."
Music to me is an abstraction, more important in
its sonic reality than in the cult of personality
which surrounds it.
AmbiEntrance: Personally, I thought Cloud Cover was a rather "dark"
release... was it
intended to be so dangerous-sounding?
This is within the purview of the listener to decide.
For me, it is not so much a dark record as it is
introspective and deep. As for the danger element,
I cannot comment on this as I do not feel this myself.
Listeners bring their own experiences to perceiving
and understanding music as a language, music does
not deliver this necessarily. As a result, the various
reviewers of this disc have said different things
(collected reviews of this disc can be found at
One thread among the reviews of Cloud
Cover focuses on the abstract notion
of "beauty." All sound is potential musical material
- all sound has beauty in it. For me, there is little
direct connotation between abstract musical structures
and feeling states. Of course, my creative work
and research is connected with ideas and concepts
but not, typically, with emotions. I think that
various perspectives are possible with music. It
remains crucial to distinguish between the objective
and subjective listening modes.
I intended Cloud Cover
to be a "serious" ambient work - classical ambient
music. Perhaps it will be more fully understood
in time, as people begin to connect with my work
more directly. I grew up with progressive rock music
as a primary focus, Yes, Genesis,
King Crimson, Gentle Giant
and so on. Usually, in my apprehension of these
recordings, it took time to become familiar with
the sounds and structures of new projects. For me,
this is an important aspect of listening as a "process."
If one listens to a great deal of "spacemusic",
for example, it may obtain that certain types of
sounds and structures are preferred. This may make
apprehending, in a comprehensive and informed manner,
the "new and different" a bit of a challenge to
one's personal ability to engage in objective detachment.
AmbiEntrance: When, how and why did you begin Aucourant?
Would you say it's more work
or more fun?
Aucourant Records was established
in 1986. It is my second label; the first was Zero
Gravity, which was established ten years
earlier. I may re-establish Zero Gravity in the
future. Aucourant has two imprints
- "Ambience" and the "Computer
Music Series" (CMS). There
are many examples of composers who have established
their own publishing entities. From Zappa
to Stockhausen! My reasons are
probably not too dissimilar to theirs. Creative
freedom from slavery and theft! All labels, whether
large or small engage in various degrees of theft
from artists. Yes, even "independent" labels! Perhaps
these are the worst, they "act" like large labels
in terms of contract points and so on but they are
so poorly capitalized that they cannot deliver the
service that their contracts indicate. There are
a handful of label owners (myself among them) who
have a different view, but these are rare individuals.
My goal initially was to get my music out there.
When my negotiations with Virgin,
Private Music, MCA
and many, many others fell through over the years,
I became convinced that I could do this myself.
In the 90's a lot has happened to change the landscape
of the record industry. I need not go into that
here. It is well documented elsewhere. It is interesting
to note however that the "Big Five" are now being
sued in a class action for price fixing - all I
can say is "I told you so!"
A record label is equal amounts of work and fun. If you find work fun,
which I do, then it is a great undertaking. I enjoy the creative aspects
of making tangible things and publishing as a field of endeavor intrigues
me. As the Internet matures and as technology develops, publishing on
demand is becoming more viable. This is the direction I am going. In the
early days of CDR both the media itself (the CDR) and the CDROM drives to
read it (the Firmware and components) were not fully reliable. This has
changed dramatically in the past year or so. Now CDR recordings are
playable everywhere, in the car, on the computer and in the CD changer.
Therefore, the idea of the CDR as a delivery medium is more attractive.
Some people are still living in the past on this. But for obscure and
abstract music this is a viable option for publishing.
Some people who have appeared on the planet after
the demise of the long-playing record do not fully
realize that all vinyl is not created equal. There
are "cheap" pressings and "expensive" pressings
of records as well! This is true of CDR I suppose.
But as technology continues to develop the error
rates and other problems associated with CDR technology
will continue to diminish. I should also note that
no CDR recording sold from the Aucourant Records
catalog has been returned for defects - not a single
one. Still people are wary of the CDR as a medium
for publishing. I am not and will push forward with
publishing on demand for certain projects.
The truth is that this field of ambient music, and contemporary
experimental music in general is a very small field. Very few recordings
are sold. It is also true that many, many records are made every year in
the various genres and including ambient music. Not all of this work is
equally interesting of course. There is not enough of an audience to
support the music. We are moving to a position in time when people firmly
believe that software - music, films, computer programs - are free! This
makes for great difficulty for the independent artist and independent
label. Combine this idea with the background problem that there is a small
audience of educated listeners to begin with and you see what complex
issues are posed for the independent label and artist.
Another area of interest for me with Aucourant
Records, beyond publishing of new music,
is distribution online of independent projects.
Various labels are also doing this and are really
helping out a great deal. I hand pick projects which
I think have some viability and am currently developing
means and methods for getting this music noticed
as well. It is a bit of a "labor of love" to quote
Todd Rundgren: "A man would simply have to be
as mad as a hatter to try to make a living off a
plastic platter - trying to make a living off a
LP's worth of tunes!"
AmbiEntrance: Can you describe some of your computer
music, classical and New Age albums for us?
Well to begin with, my "new-age" music was never
really very "new-age"! It has always been a little
off-kilter and on the edge. There are a few CDs
that I would consider "new-ageish" such as Deeper
in the Dreamtime and Ginnungagap
- but perhaps this is more appropriately termed
"contemporary instrumental music" or "electronica".
I tend to use these terms in an interchangeable
manner. Deeper in the Dreamtime
was a disc that grew out of a contract with Erdenklang
of Germany in 1989. They never released it, but
it was created for them. I published it in 1991
prior to going to Europe for an extended period
to record my project The Strong Eye.
While there I was able to promote the disc and garner
a bit of interest. I might point out that the "American"
concept of electronic music and the "Euro" concept
are rather dissimilar. In fact, in my opinion, Europe
excels in electronic music beyond what is produced
in the United States. American-style ambient music,
beatless, droney, spacey music, does not do as well
in Euroculture as does beat-driven ambient chill
music. However, Deeper in the Dreamtime
has rhythmic, melodic and harmonic elements that
tend to focus the music more closely on historical
models in both pop music and classical music. There
are some very atmospheric tracks on the disc as
well. There are beats and progressive musical structures.
There is a sense of formal design that is akin to
popular music, and so on. Certain recordings remain
as icons for me when creating projects such as Ginnungagap
and Deeper in the Dreamtime
- one of which is Another Green World
by Eno. I also go back to my interests in King Crimson,
Gentle Giant and early electronica.
I continue to create in the genre of contemporary
instrumental music as well. I am not content to
limit my recording activities to ambient music or
avant-garde music alone. Another style of my electronic
work that is on the Aucourant label
is clearly connected to a more pop-oriented concept
of electronica - the CD Cytizen,
for example. This is a recent publication of music
from the mid-1980s that was a bit forward thinking
for its time and now has potentially renewed relevance
given current cultural trends. Like all of the projects
at the Aucourant Records web site this CD has track
excerpts so people can judge for themselves concerning
it. The CD Air Friction
is a blend of ambient music and contemporary instrumental
music. It has some of my favorite tracks on it -
Antrim and Atmosphere
both of which feature beats.
AmbiEntrance: Your site also has a category for
"experimental popular music"... isn't that an oxymoron?
Here "popular" is used in a very specific sense,
to suggest a polar opposition from "classical music."
And, in this sense, no, it is not an oxymoron. In
fact, popular music is one of the important areas
wherein experimentation has existed ever since the
Futurists of the 1930's! There is ample evidence
for this: Stockhausen on the cover of the Beatles'
Sergeant Pepper's, the
album Satanic Majesty's Request
by the Rolling Stones, and on and
on. Of the albums created in the 70s, several have
stuck me as being iconic and extremely relevant.
Low, Heroes, Another
Green World, Before and After Science,
Palace of Lights, Bill
Nelson's work, are examples of a long list
of interesting projects. Each of these and many
others combined elements of current popular music
aesthetics with new concepts borrowed from the contemporary
avant-garde. No, experimental pop music is not an
oxymoron; rather it is one of the most compelling
genres of contemporary musical culture. All of progressive
rock is a tribute to this, from Roxy Music
For me, the music in the popular genres which
is the most intriguing is that which evidences aspects
of experimentalism combined with elegant technique,
musical vitality and meaning and exquisite production
attributes. When the musical materials are fresh
and innovative it is quite an interesting melding.
Some of the best-loved popular music has experimental
attributes, such as Good Vibrations. The
cookie-cutter music that dominates today will not
leave a lasting impression as we know.
AmbiEntrance: So how many (RST) CDs have you released all
At the moment there are at least 21 CDs of my work
available. There are on average 4 or 5 projects
being produced annually in recent years. I have
been working rather a lot and I do not see this
trend diminishing in any way.
AmbiEntrance: You've certainly got the formal education to
back up your art. Tell us about your position as Associate Professor at
Georgia State University's
School of Music.
Thompson: At Georgia State
I am a professor of music technology and computer
music as well as a member of the composition faculty.
So, I teach a wide variety of courses from audio
engineering and MIDI, to seminars in Csound, musical
notation, psychoacoustics and so on. I also teach
a number of composition students. I have been at
Georgia State for about 11 years.
I have three degrees in music, including a Ph.D. in composition and
computer music. I do have the formal education as you suggest. I think
this is important. Moreover, I have the musical education that I think is
essential to continued growth in the art-science of music. I have studied
quite a few instruments including voice, guitar, cello, horn, piano and
flute - not to mention the computer as a musical instrument, electronic
instruments and synthesizers and so on. A recording artist should be able
to make music with instruments - even if they are working in an electronic
styles or language. This is essential in my opinion.
Formal education for music is a requirement for
a professional career, which will have duration
and depth. I am able to participate in many musical
worlds because of it. These range from avant-garde
electroacoustic and instrumental music on the international
level to pop electronica. I write music for instrumentalists
to perform, for orchestra and also create ambient
music in my private studio. All of this is possible
because of my education and exposure to music from
a young age. My parents were key to this and the
most important contributors to my artistic development.
AmbiEntrance: What duties do you perform as the director
Thompson: I do it all.
Teach the courses, fix the equipment, create the wiring and schedule and
direct the center. It is a huge job to be sure! We have two 24-track
studios, a 16-track studio and a MIDI/Computer Music Studio. All studios
have digital audio workstations and there is quite a bit to maintain.
Grant writing and program development are also key areas of my involvement.
I collaborate with other professors on projects all the time and also
provide guidance for the School of Music as it develops the technological
foundations for the next century.
Our school is quickly becoming one of the premiere centers for musical
excellence in the region of the Southeast. I am delighted to be a part of
this program and enjoy adding what elements I can.
AmbiEntrance: How much does ambient figure into your
courses? What do students think
about Professor Thompson's CDs?
One of the more interesting new courses that I teach
is an introduction to the history and literature
of electronic music. The course covers quite a long
and complex development of the various genres beginning
in 1910 and going to the present day - with the
explosion of new music styles of recent years. Ambient
music does work into the discussion of course, but
I view it as a small sub-genre of a larger context.
There is a great deal of fine ambient music available
for discussion, but within the context of this course
there is not enough time to focus on it at the exclusion
of other, potentially more important, areas.
As for my student's perception of my work. Not
really sure. Younger musicians have a tendency,
I find, to believe that what they are doing is most
important - and of course it is, for them!. Therefore,
there is not much immediate response to the work
of another person. Another factor is that young
students simply do not know what they are listening
to, why composers work the way they do, or enough
of the recent history of art-music, and the various
techniques and trends, to make informed judgments
about the work of an advanced professional composer.
We teach them how to do this in our various courses
but it is a lifelong process of learning, discovery
and hard work that brings things eventually into
AmbiEntrance: You're engaging in a bit of travel
currently; is it business, pleasure
or both, or none of my business?
I have a connection to Ireland that has nothing
to do with business. But I do travel quite a bit,
increasingly, as an aspect of my professional life
as a composer. At some stage this becomes inevitable
- festivals, conferences and invited performances
make up the bulk of this kind of travel. With the
Internet I do not travel much in relation to the
record label, thankfully.
AmbiEntrance: What sorts of projects do you have scheduled
for the near future?
There are a number of projects that are ongoing.
One is the archiving and selective publication of
my early work in avant-garde music, electronica
and ambient music. This is a large job. In the short
term, I always have one or two commissions for instrumental
music going - at present I have three. A work for
guitar and ensemble with computer generated tape
and two other similar works for viola and cello
respectively. In addition, I am soon to release
a new CD of chamber music in collaboration with
my colleague, Dr. Nick Demos (also
a professor at GSU), a CD of the piano music of
my teacher Joji Yuasa, and a new
Fountainhead project entitled "Neutopia."
In the area of ambient music I am working on a collaboration with James Johnson. This is a
very exciting project for me. Not only is the music we are doing stunning
in its beauty but also there is a kind of "aura" that surrounds the
collaboration that I find very intriguing. We have never talked up to this
point. We simply exchange materials and work in our own studios on the
tracks. We are about 1/3 done with the project, and so far it is quite
nice indeed. We hope to have this CD finished by year's end.
I am also working on a solo project for Mike Griffin. This has been quite
some time in the making. I am slowly refining tracks
and look forward to creating a new ambient CD. This
is not an artistic collaboration but rather a proposed
publishing one and in the future there may be a
solo release on Hypnos.
Another project in the works at the moment is with Dino Pacifici. We are
at the early stages, presently getting a sound together. However, I am
very excited to be working with him. This will likely become a
beat-oriented electronica project of some type. Too early to tell exactly
what direction it will take.
I am also working on a project as a member of
Esch Marie, a post-goth, post-industrial
and etc. collective of Robert Hyman
and Atalee Judy myself and various
other musicians. This music is extremely modern
and very difficult to describe. It has great atmosphere
and also huge beats, angst-ridden guitars and the
kitchen sink! In my opinion, it is pretty awesome
and may be quite a commercial success.
So... this keeps me busy...