Robert Scott Thompson: Blue Day Interview

rst.jpg (11k) A busy, busy man... multi-genre composer, professor, publisher, etc., etc. Robert Scott Thompson has recently shared his Blue Day with the rest of us...

This new disc rivals his notable earlier works such as The Silent Shore, Frontier and Cloud Cover (as Fountainhead).

Many thanks to Robert for making time for this inteview!

AmbiEntrance: Why the title Blue Day? What are your general impressions of your work here?

Thompson: 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?

Thompson: 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 of sound?

Thompson: 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 complexity.

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 Blue Day?

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?

Thompson: 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 new projects.

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 have changed?

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 mood hits!

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" remains key.

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?

Thompson: 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 regarding categories.

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 decade.

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 artists.

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 way.

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?

Thompson: 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?

Thompson: 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 www.aucourantrecords.com ).

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?

Thompson: 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?

Thompson: 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?

Thompson: 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 to Yes.

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 said?

Thompson: 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 of CARA?

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?

Thompson: 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 sharper focus.

AmbiEntrance: You're engaging in a bit of travel currently; is it business, pleasure or both, or none of my business?

Thompson: 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...

This interview posted August 30, 2000 | Interview Index

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