- Release date: October 12, 2018
- Label: Ravello Records
- Recorded September 25–27, 2017 at Sertso Studios in Woodstock, NY
- Session Producer: Levi Brown
- Session Engineer: Ted Orr
- Cover and package artwork: Interface Black, 4 of 4, oil on plexiglass, 2018, April Zanne Johnson
- Executive Producer: Bob Lord
- Executive A&R: Sam Renshaw
- A&R: Brandon MacNeil
- Vice President, Audio Production: Jeff LeRoy
- Engineering Manager: Lucas Paquette
- Design & Marketing Director: Brett Picknell
- Design: Ryan Harrison
Most of the tracks were composed as lead sheets to guide the improvisations, accompanied by interactive software Morris designed to capture and proces the sounds live. These led sheets include a combination of graphic notations, text instructions, and msuical symbols created with Adobe Illustrator and LaTeX. In addition to the interactive software frameworks for some tracks, Morris also performs on his live sampling instrument called WaveDrag, controlled by Nintendo Wii Remotes (Wiimotes) on most tracks. The group recorded three completely free improvisations, which became tracks "Rondo," "In Which," and "Clocksays."
Track "A Solo is the Nth Melody" calls for the performers to play in a twelve-bar blues form, but improvising freely without a pre-composed tune or "head." Morris's software captures one of these improvised choruses and repeats it, elevating it to become the head, through the rest of the piece. With each iteration, the head is gradually degraded until it disintegrates by the end. This creates contrast between the live and mediated sounds and manipulates the void between them for musical expression. This track and "Three at One" include a synthesized interactive walking bass sound that makes pitch decisions based on Berger's playing and builds up its sound by sampling and processing the sounds played by the musicians at the time.
Track "Into" includes a rigid algorithmic drum machine whose sounds are culled from the timbres played by the musicians, so it evolves as they play differently over time. It begins extremely slow and sparse and gradually accelerates beyond the point of tempo or rhythm, to create a noisy wash of sound that masks the sounds of the others. Even though the other instruments are still playing loudly and left at full volume in the mix, they are drowned out through the psychoacoustic effect of masking.
Track "Unwind" is an abridged version of an alternate take of "Into," minus the software framework, played backward and time-compressed. In "Into," Morris only played vibraphone samples backwards, so that in "Unwind," the sampled voices would be the only ones heard playing forward, again contrasting the live instruments and his sampler instrument.
Track "Three at One" follows a traditional bebop head and chorus form, including trading chorus-length solos and also "trading fours" near the end before recapitulating the feel of a "head" tune returning, although there is no pre-composed head. The musicians use musical textures and gestures to evoke a sense of this traditional bebop structure without playing and repeating an explicit head or counting bars in a pre-set chorus length.
Although tracks "Into" and "Clocksays" include speech sounds, these are not prerecorded samples. These were performed live by Hertenstein using a toy megaphone. At other times, Hertenstein uses the megaphone to artificially amplify and distort his acoustic instruments including cymbals and snare drum.
Track "Inderneath" was conceived and the software for it was programmed two days before the recording session, as Morris had the notion to experiment with ring (amplitude) modulation with a pitch-shifted version of the same signal, done upon the vibraphone's relatively pure tone. When recording, Berger only heard the electronics as he played; not his unaltered vibraphone, so that he could respond to the sound and focus on playing this new hybrid physical-digital instrument, rather than relying on established habits. Bamboo chimes appear faintly on this track as well (processed through the same software as the vibraphone), as they were hanging close behind Berger as he played. Berger first bumped into them by accident, then embraced it as an expansion of his playing.
Morris has been performing live sampling improvisations since 2003 and used Nintendo Wiimotes to control his custom software since they came out in the early 2000s.
Karl Berger is a multiple DownBeat Critic's Poll award winner.
Joe Hertenstein performs with a tabletop percussion approach he calls stone percussion.
The cover art was painted by visual artist April Zanne Johnson as synaesthetic visual responses to hearing the album.
Morris, Berger, Hertenstein, and Zanne all met during a 2015 artist residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
The key aesthetic inquiry explored by the project concerns live sampling: an instrument whose voice is created from the sounds of other instruments improvising at the same time. Live sampling improvisation scenarios allow listeners to feel the exchanges of authenticity ("Is it live or is it Memorex?") or aura (after Walter Benjamin). Improvisation intensifies these effects, as the listener has witnessed the original and the copy and has witnessed that copy take on a new life of its own and influence the acoustic instruments in turn. In this project, Morris's live sampling improvisation environments will interface with idioms of free jazz improvisation. The inquiry of this project takes the form of exploratory research, entering a given situation in order to see what realizations about music, performance, media, and creativity only become apparent when seen from that perspective. In this way, the project will not present a specific question and then its answer, but like most challenging art, it could be thought of presenting an "answer"—a real artistic artifact, leaving us to reflect on what question it answers—what its existence and nature illuminates about the human experience.
Influences for the production of this album include:
- Brian Eno's synthesizer work with Roxy Music and on his first solo album, Here Come the Warm Jets
- The mostly dry sound with subtle, barely detectable reverb on parts of Carole King's Tapestry
- The warm, close-miked dry feel of Creed Taylor's productions on the CTI label, including Chet Baker's She Was too Good to Me
- The free and wild moments in Medeski, Martin and Wood's Church of Logic, Hypnotized, and We Are Rolling
- Frank Zappa's xenochronous recording techniques as with the guitar solos on Joe's Garage
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