(Image: I, Cyberuly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

From the Archives: Still My Guitar

This program was originally broadcast on 9 November 2013.

As a continuation of the “git” theme we started some weeks ago, this edition of At Water’s Edge is dedicated to music built around the guitar and its big brother, the bass guitar.

This week we hear from Crows LabyrinthJack Hertz and Cousin SilasStephen BriggsHarDisturbed EarthJeff DukeDennis Moser, aka “usr/sbin, aka “AldoManutio Abruzzo” … Kuutana, and our featured artist this month, the recently departed and immensely talented Kevin Haller. Peace, brother. Your light will be missed here.

Crows LabyrinthTravels (2013)
– “Gibberish”
– “Reverie”
– “Stratagem”
– “Below”
– “Heliograph”

Crows Labyrinth is an ambient project conceived by Theo Tol from the Netherlands. The aim of the project is to create ambient soundscapes using solely bass guitars and effects processing. The soundscapes preferably have to be created in one take, one improvisation, one flow of sound.

Travels was created with only bass guitars and effects. Every composition was improvised in one take with exception of “Gibberish” (which has a few overdubs) and “Below”.

Listening tips:
– Turn down the lights
– Listen in a quiet room or use headphones
– Turn up the volume to experience all the detail

What started as an experiment in December 2011 turned out to become a real project that resulted in a full album. The experiment was simple but challenging: try to create ambient soundscapes by exclusively using bass guitars. As an extra challenge, every track should be recorded as one take, one flow of sound, one improvisation.

The result is six long tracks, six sonic adventures in which the listener can get lost and discover new details and nuances with every spin, and a solo bass piece called “Below”, which is an exception to the pattern. This track was written more than ten years ago. Somehow the vibe of this piece of music fits perfectly on this album and also functions as an interlude to the final track of the album, “Heliograph”, which is a bit brighter in sound color than the other tracks on the album.

“Ring of Trees” – Jack Hertz & Cousin Silas – The Quiet Forest (2013)

The 30th album on weareallghosts is an innovative collaboration between a couple of giants of ambient electronic music: Jack Hertz & Cousin Silas.

The Quiet Forest features six wonderfully emotive and aurally stimulating ambient soundscapes. Field recordings underpin dark, eerie synths to create the soundtrack for one or more Lovecraftian dystopias.

“Calming” – Stephen Briggs – Y2K Loopfest (2012)

This track was released in October of this year as part of the limited release CD Y2K Loopfest. Only 100 copies are being issued. It was recorded February 2012 using an old stereo mic (resulting in that lo-fi sound at the beginning), two wooly amplifiers and a selection of stomp boxes.

It’s designed to induce a relaxed calm demeanour in the listener.

“Blue Searchlight” – Har – Obscura (2010)

Obscura is the second solo release from Chester County, Pennsylvania-based ambient artist Har, guitarist/bassist/Chapman Stickist for Beta-Lactam Ring Records recording artists Christus & The Cosmonaughts.

Taking a decidedly darker and more mysterious turn from his 2007 debut solo release Dream Tower Blueprints, Har introduces a series of pieces drawing upon a wide spectrum of imagery for inspiration this time around: from sunsets viewed over childhood urban landscapes (“Obscura”), the loss of a dear friend (“The Forever Sleep”), and tragic historic events (“Amelia”) – to a “waking dream” experienced late one night as a young child while in throws of fever-induced delirium (“2AM Vision Within The Mirror”), and more.

Still working primarily with heavily processed guitars and Chapman Stick to weave his evolving soundscapes devoid of any synths or samplers as he did on “Dream Tower Blueprints”, Har introduces 8-string bass and tabla into the fold as well on the title track to further expand his sonic palette.

“Sandman” – Disturbed Earth – Ghosts of Carthage (2009)

Ghosts of Carthage is the third in a series of albums that were released on the AtmoWorks label between 2007 and 2010. All instruments were prepared, played and processed by Disturbed Earth except the cello on ‘shade’ by Richie McBride and guitar on ‘semblance’ by Devan McGaha.

Disturbed Earth is Dean Richards, a multiply talented artist who has also been fortunate enough to have worked in the music industry all his life. He moved back to Australia several years ago to look after his parents, after having lived and worked in the U.S. for 20 years.

“razor war” – Jeff Duke – between becoming and now (2013)

Jeff had been reading a sci fi novel series, and was inspired by thoughts of the future of hacking and machine interface.

It’s all fine and well to have super tech but whatever someone creates others can and will usurp. Razors are the super hackers of this future scenario. I just jammed guitar along with industrial noises to create the tune.

The Hunters: The Razor-Mech Combos “I want all our agents in the field. All of them. Pair the razors and mechs up, and get them out there. Now.” —Matthew Sinclair, CICom

“Rubber and Steel vs Snow and Ice” – usr/sbin – After the Road Closed (2010)

After the Road Closed was recorded live in Second Life on November 21st 2010, as part of the year-long series of completely improvised live performances, celebrating the Full Moon: The Full Moon Lunacy series. The title was inspired by a drive back from the Snowy Mountains in Wyoming, quite literally just before the road in closed for the year.

usr/sbin, aka Dennis Moser, is currently head of the Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In that life, his research includes the preservation of digital cultural heritage materials; as a performing musician, you may see him in Second Life (either as AldoManutio Abruzzo, usually performing live music, or as Maxwell Biddle, the quintessential digital archivist/librarian).

“A Flow” – Kevin Haller – statement 2002b (2003)

As passionate about music as he was accomplished in it, Kevin Haller (sometimes known by his project name of “Killer Haven”) passed away very suddenly in late September this year at the entirely-too-young-age of 51. Even two days before his passing, he was contributing music for the “Album in a Day” project and posting humor on Facebook.

One of the best tributes I read anywhere on his sudden passing was from Andrew Fedder, writing on Kevin‘s Facebook timeline.

When it rains it pours. Excuse me for a moment but I need to let this out. My friend for almost 20 years Kevin Haller passed away on Monday at the age of 51. I cannot express to you how important an artist he was, and how that’s eclipsed by the amazing soul that lived in him. Had he never written or played a note, or never painted or drew, or never created grand pieces of sculpture, or never compiled visually stunning video art, he still would be a singularly inspirational figure and a truly unique and accomplished person; he was blessed with childlike wonder without the silly naivete, and knew himself as well as anyone I know. His best friend Barbara Vesey Johnson and I just got off the phone and shared tears, laughter, and a few stories about Kevin all of which culminated with our inability to accept that this could be happening. Barb told me that even though she had seen his body, she still wonders if it’s a joke he’s playing on all of us. And yes, for those that know/knew him, Barb assures me that he still has that wonderful knowing, impish smirk on his face. Not that he thought he was better than anyone, but that he had a good idea of what was going on behind the facade at all times. He worked to support a life-long art habit and we were all the benefactors with The Burning Artist(s) Sale, Killer Haven, and the many other art/music projects he was a part of. Thank you Kevin. I’m in utter shock that you are gone, but I’m lucky, so very lucky to have gotten to know you, and even luckier to be your friend. My heart goes out to all those whom you’ve touched and left an indelible mark upon. Go to Kevin’s page, look him up online, and listen to his music tonight as you have a drink. He’s smirking at us all. I’m sure of it. And I can still smell those foul clove cigarettes you art-house puke! LOL. Man. I miss you so much already.

“November” – Kuutana – Second Horizon (2010)

In this second released album, Kuutana continues the journey into relaxing music dreamscapes. Using a large selection of virtual and natural instruments–including, in the title track, his Godin SA guitar–producing rich, evolving timbres, the listener can let go and embrace the calm serenity of the moment.

Canadian composer Kuutana composes and performs healing music in the New Age Ambient soundscapes genre.
Kuutana blends nature sounds with lush virtual and natural instruments to create dreamscapes intended to help you relax, meditate, and contemplate.

“A Cathedral of Trees” – Cousin Silas – Geographics (2006)

Cousin Silas was born and bred in the Colne Valley, a beautiful part of West Yorkshire. Born in 1959, inspiration tends to come from as far and wide as JG Ballard, Fortean events, memories and, of course, Brian Eno.

(Image: I, Cyberuly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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