Trippers & Askers Release Stunning New Video for “Pulsing Place” Ahead of New Album Out This July

“Pulsing Place” is the brand new single and video, which you can watch here for the first time, from Trippers & Askers ahead of their new full length album, “Acorn” . The song begins with distant acoustic guitar and voice which tells a complicated tale with deep underpinnings. The track, much like the video feels very very close; morose and present, laying it all on the line, earnestly connecting with the listener in a very up front and personal style lyrically and recording wise which really serves to draw us in to this soon to be modern folk/jazz classic. I often felt like I was in the room with Trippers & Askers, being sung directly to, almost as if in question form, and the video is a beautiful, cinematic representation of this closeness and humanness that seems to be such an important part of the music of “Acorn” and this track specifically. Pulling equally from Modern Americana Folk traditions as well as modern jazz and literary worlds, “Pulsing Place” is a complex and meaningful investigation through song.

The video itself is a visually arresting story of a fluttering gold being navigating uncertainly throughout the world as the band plays on. The churning of a tide, the gentle flutter of a gust of wind from an undefined direction, the gentle crinkling of dried leaves as we search for meaning and a way out, a way forward all paint a picture of the hope of discovery of something better, of something to take us forward.

“Inspired by the world building, Afrofuturist radicalism of the novel “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, the latest Trippers & Askers LP “Acorn” blends spiritual jazz and traditional styles in ways that pose fundamental questions about the nature of “American” music…..

“Parable of the Sower was written in the 1990’s and set in 2020’s U.S. when society has collapsed for everyone but the super wealthy due to climate change, wealth inequality, religious fundamentalism, and corporate greed. The protagonist – a woman named Lauren Olamina – embodies a kind of radical hope that has nothing to do with denial. In fact, it’s a kind of hope that can only spring from the fact that she understands the severity of her and her community’s situation better than anyone else.”

Make sure to pre oder “Acorn” from Sleepy Cat Records ahead of it’s July 16th release date! And we leave you with these parting lyrics from the single/video here:

“Grab the car and pull around the side

We’ll peel and steal away

All the time we’ve been afraid to take” – Trippers & Askers

DECAYCAST Reviews: Pay Dirt – “Error Theft Disco”

Pay Dirt “Error Theft Disco” is a collaboration between Victoria Shen and Bryan Day released on Shanghai based imprint Bluescreen. The sounds on “Error Theft Disco” escape rigid classification by all traditional methods. These are new and futuristic sounds stemming from what has obviously manifested as a highly effective collaborative process between these two prolific and renowned solo artists exploring a wide range within harsh / noise and experimental compositions. The pieces on “Error Theft Disco” hold a unique tension and create plenty of space for the listener to enter, but enter at their own risk, as their. sounds move and shake like a gauntlet made of swords the listener must navigate to a safe completion. Pregnant pauses of 60hz hum give way to explosions of feedback and chaos, but there’s also smaller and more delicate sounds to boot as well.

DECAYCAST Reviews: B L A C K I E “Face The Darkness” (2020)

B L A C K I E: Face the Darkness reviewed by mynameisblueskye

“What is freedom to the average person?”

How ever you answer that question, the one thing you should know is that it probably doesn’t mean the same thing as does to art-punk auteur Michael LaCoeur aka B L A C K I E. To those who have ever listened to B L A C K I E, you will release that his album represents a natural freedom. The freedom to just be the man he was made to be without the world seeking to destroy him or cage him in. Nomadic by nature, nonconformist by choice and perhaps even by nature and unafraid to encourage it for others in his position. The opening lines of “While They Try to Kill Each Other” outlines one of his overall thesis of being B L A C K I E over electric drums better than any of us could ever try.

“Children laugh while they try to kill each other/at least the blood returns to the earth where it belongs, and out of the hands of in power”, bellows Michael in his dry and world-weary town crier scream. With danger everywhere in his wake, it would make sense that he finds silver linings here…if that is what you want to call it. On “There Is No Light”, he reports the history of laid waste in front of and committed towards the people. “There was no food, there were fists/there were no light, there were fists” all to come back to the devastating line. “We use to eat each other!” Entrails wrapped in crimson blood line the periphery of wherever B L A C K I E looks, even amongst those who towards those who call themselves allies and heroes. His second overall thesis “I am not you’r nigger!” is delivered in an angry tone only punctuated by a deep sense of pain and sorrow.

B L A C K I E’s mind may be a mass of continuously spinning wheels, but he will be damned if it ever spins for you. Even as he tackles topics such as suffering from a crippling addiction (“How to Let It Control You”), toxic “patriotism” (“Wave Your Flag”) and fascism/fake empathy (“Uncounted”), Michael knows that even HE is not above occupying the hot seat. Painting a picture of anxiety through a descriptive lens, “Meet the Demons” is claustrophobic in its description of not being able to think and feel freely.

Not being able to just be without judgment. So, after all of this, hearing him emerge free and ready to escape on “It Can’t Define Me” feels not only heartening, but like an anthem written to those looking for their own escape. B L A C K I E’s Face the Darkness may start off as B L A C K I E in the slaughter line witnessing victims meeting their end in HD and plotting his escape from such slaughter, but it sees to it that he isn’t his own cause of danger to himself. In the midst of this, B L A C K I E emerges with one last message (clue, rather) that overall defines not only the entire album, but the world and the philosophy of B L A C K I E: “Look around/Don’t look down”.

– Mynameisblueskye

Mynameisblueskye is a singer, songwriter, poet, and occasional blogger. An American-born Renaissance man who loves music so much, he has too many videos in his Watch Look after list. His bandcamp can be found here:

DECAYCAST Reviews: Woven In “”Profess” (Grimalkin Records, 2020)

Decaycast is back from the catacombs just before halloween to share this special release day review of the newest release from one of our favorite labels, Grimalkin Records who are always bringing important, under-represented artists into the forefront. One of their newest releases is “Profess” from GR-artist Woven In, which continues the strong presence of GR releases that bridge genres in really interesting and innovative ways in 2020, and since they have started really, and Woven In is no exception.

Woven In “Profess” is the 9th album from Woven In, the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Mariah Fortune-Johnson (she/her). Twenty-nine year old Mariah has been releasing music under the name Woven In since 2013.

On her newest offering, Woven In builds a sonic bridge across multiple styles to create a cloak of warmth, discovery, humanity and information through minimal electronics, voice, and movement. Fortune’s voice glides across the honest, minimal , rhythmic glassy synthesizers which create a perfect back bone for her to enrich the meaning of these relatable, warm compositions through the speakers and into our waiting consciousness. Pulling from early Kraftwerk with the intimacy of Wizard Apprentice or Arca, Fortune has created both a sound a a space all her own, while referencing a relatable and inviting composition style.

Tracks such as “Spoken From The Heart” offer an honest and intimate look into the album’s mantra perhaps “No it’s not very nice, but it’s spoken from the heart”. The phrase repeats as a dark heavy buzzing synth backed with looping synth arpeggios create a beautiful and heartfelt nod to 90’s Euro dance and late 80’s minimal electronics, all while accented through her lush, in the pocket, hauntingly elegant vocals; absolutely my favorite track on the record.

This record isn’t just for feeling good at the club or inside you perfect personal space however, this is a record connecting her own struggle as a Black Women in America as a central theme throughout the record;

“It’s social commentary on being a Black woman in America,” says Fortune. There are other themes within the album, including love, kink, and a couple of contemplative instrumentals. Digital only proceeds will be split evenly between Black Land Ownership and the Black Creatives Redistribution Fund founded by Mariah Fortune. The Black Creatives Redistribution Fund’s website is here

Through a powerful combination of voice electronics and percussion, Fortune has created a minimal pop masterpiece which will grow on the listener as it did me, beginning as a minimal pop record and blossoming into a contemporary minimalist electronic masterpiece. This record is honest in that it keeps on giving, it keeps letting you in with each listen, opening up new portals of meaning and new orientations to sound and meaning, and that is not an easy thing to do. “Profess” is out today and you can buy it here

DECAYCAST Reviews : Graham Dunning “Panopticon” (Every Contact Leaves A Trace, 2020)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experimental music stalwart Graham Dunning‘s newest release via the  Every Contact Leaves a Trace imprint   Panopticon  is conceptually interesting as it is sonically, and this is a tough crosshairs to hit, but once again, Dunning does this effortlessly. Dunning reverse engineered and then replaced video game sounds with his own sounds and used the gameplay triggers as a compositional tool as we understand it, with some really interesting and rhythmic results. Panopticon starts off with mid to mid-fast tempo jarring, hammering beats, ala Pan Sonic reel to reel demos 300% sped up and progresses into more delightful sonic madness from there. Dunning’s beats and rhythmic structures are complex; alienating, cold, and yet delicate and nuanced. Oscillating between glitched out, hammering beats, to more distorted, churning,  slower-moving sections, the sound and structure of Panopticon is always changing, and always refreshing and building upon it’s previous iterations.

“The research consists of four main phases: The first phase involves extraction of the silhouette of an individual. Calculating the gait period or gait cycle of the individual follows this. Finding the sum of silhouettes is the next step. Finally, similarity score computation and matching process is performed for recognition. Any two images when compared using root mean square value are said to be similar if the value falls under the given threshold.”

Like the eye in the sky it can see you but it can also control you from all sides, slowly reeling you into a violent, repetitive system that slowly encapsulates you and rapidly shoots your flailing body down the robotic assembly line into the center of sound itself. Complicated and dense, Panopticon is one for the sonic adventurer delving into the sonics of cybernetics cast across a futuristic, barren, wasteland.

Recommended listening!

Purchase HERE

 

DECAYCAST Reviews: Tristan Welch “Asset / Defect” (Self Released, 2020)

 

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On his newest EP, “Asset / Defect”  Tristan Welch explores a timeless dichotomy  of positive and negative expansions and contractions through space, silence, time and sound. Through glassy, shifting drones and tone poem movements ringing present, like a warm blanket after a cold night adrift on the nights moon last beam.  The album opens up with beautifully articulated  mid tempo oscillating synth pulses,  a faint buzzing underscored with a warm bath of tones; a calm yet slightly unnerving  respite; a rest for the restless, for the anxious, and for the forgotten.  This is slow patient, music, for one in a process of uncertainty, as well as one of discovery knows  that things can change, and every once in a great while, for the better, and maybe this time they will, that is the question this music asks, what is  change,  and when will it be cast upon us?

‘Given the inherently political nature of most of his music, “Asset / Defect” is a rare turn inward for Welch. As a person in recovery, “Asset / Defect” is an audio/visual accounting of sorts, a result from tallying up the ledger of negative character defects and positive assets. An accounting feat that is musically reflected in the clear balance between beautiful, ebullient tones and grainy distortion held at tension within the work.”

The A side  “Asset / Defect” seems a bit brighter in sound presentation overall but across the twenty minute EP, Welsh offers two movements which compliment each other in a dichotomy of undulation.  Wet delays and thick intertwined braids of reverberated strings cast doubt to those casting doubt, give hope to those giving hope, and push us all to look inward to a change of fresh air and relief.  The B side offers a similar, more contemplative, introspective place where the listener can identify with these living breathing wave manipulations, like a warm bath, tingling the skin, but never fully encapsulating the full dynamic of touch and pressure. Beautiful music for complicated times.

 

Highly recommended.

 

-Dr. Decaycast

 

 

Decaycast Essential Listening : Grimalkin Records Statement Of Solidarity + Resources + Micro Reviews

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Grimalkin Records or GR has released a collective statement of solidarity with the global uprising in support of All Black Lives and ways folks can contribute to fighting anti Black racism, transphobia, and xenophobia and all forms of oppression through music, art, poetry, fundraising projects, transparency, compilations and performance. GR boasts an impressive roster of artists working at the forefront of everything from rap to bedroom folk, with social justice projects and grassroots fundraising campaigns rooted in anti oppression at the core of their beliefs and conceptual underpinnings. Check out a few releases we’ve selected below from their Bandcamp page  as well as some infographics provided by the label’s collective members.
A few of our favorite releases:
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ABSOLUTE LEGEND IN THE MAKING. Backxwash is one of the most forefront artists of our time, do not sleep on her, this album goes into so many different places, a true tour de force of modern Rap, industrial,  and experimental.
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Fantastic sampler spanning all of the unique genre bending hits of the GR family, another essential release in the catalog which you should not miss, a little something for everyone on here, plus many exclusives as well.  From the somber, blissful  acoustics of Elizabeth Owens , to the funky, Prince inspired, experimental R&B from Quinton Barnes, this is a beautifully curated eclectic mix and showing of the sonic diversity of the collective.
Here’s a few infographics provided by the collective to elaborate on ways folks can practice anti racism in music and art communities and grassroots organizing efforts, something that is much needed, and long overdue,
Gr Statement 1Gr Statement 2Gr Statement 3Gr Statement 4Gr Statement 5
“Grimalkin  is music & zine collective & record label comprised of artists from all over the world to raise money and support social justice & civil rights organizations locally in Richmond, Virginia, USA & worldwide”

Preview YouTube video Cardinality – At the Dinner Table

DECAYCAST: Essential Listening : Bandcamp Recommendations Part 1

Today is Bandcamp Day and that means Bandcamp is waiving all of it’s artist fees. Not only are we in the middle of a. global pandemic but long overdue protests against the racist police state and. government have erupted across the country and thus. many artists are donating their. profits to Black led initiatives so we wanted to highlight a few releases to buy on Bandcamp today AND every day.  remember it’s important to support Black and other marginalized artists every day, not just in times of unrest. White people,  I recommend the “Me and White Supremacy” workbook.  Ok, now on to the music- this list was guest curated by @Gremlins2Official

 

confirmed  Artists donating for bail funds/orgs
DREAMCRUSHER

(portion of current tapes sales go to bail funds)

 

Backxwash

 

elevation flp 

Artist I Think People Should Support/Iisten to

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Labels artists donating to funds:
DeathBomb Arc donating 50% of label profits on friday as well as 25% of profits from the week: https://twitter.com/deathbombarc/status/1268238574417096704?s=20

ORANGE MILK : donating everything they make for the month to columbus and dayton bail funds

 

Psychic Eye: donating sales to Anti Repression Committee Oakland

PTP: donating profits to nationalbailout.org

SIGE Records: donating profits to nationalbailout.org and Black Visions Collective

1000+ Black Producers And Artists: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OIUBp4kFxmpWJihhq6WLwJQR1Am4DsD59bEYlJZxeGY/htmlview?pru=AAABcqn4HL4*PstV1BYutrI4SRhADGmflg#

 

Other important funds:

Help for Beverly & Elizabeth Glenn-Copeland
https://gf.me/u/x58t69
National Bailout:
Help for Gianna Floyd:

It Was Always Here: An Interview With Musician and Sound Designer David R. Molina

Ahead of his new album, we spoke with artist, musician, and sound designer David R. Molina about his personal process and background and theater and sound design.

Molina at Jazz Jamboree by Jan Bebel
Molina at Jazz Jamboree, Warsaw, Poland, Photo by Jan Bebel

I first saw David Molina perform at LCM years ago and had been entranced by his music ever since. Everything about the sound itself, the presentation of his works, the way his sounds tend to occupy the forgotten and nuanced  corners of the room every time I’ve seen him perform is a sort of transcendental experimental in sound and lineage. Through his upbringing, dedication, and research, Molina is conceptually draped in this web of timeless and historical sound and narrative, a sonic archaeology of time, memory, loss, culture, and change. Molina’s careful and articulate approach seems to radiate sounds  embedded with the DNA of multiple histories, both fact and fictional, futuristic and timeless. Molina’s music is an antithesis to a fast-paced, unfocused, sloppy and rushed world that we live in. It’s a pause for contemplation, a space for exploration, and although often times abstract or instrumental, politically poignant and culturally charged; akin to the kinetic power of a lightning bolt conjured from his ancestors radiating  through skin to string to speaker.

If you’re unfamiliar with the vast scope of Molina’s work, we sat him down and asked some  questions about the  totality of his creative endeavors. Like many, Molina has lost all of his work because of the lock down, be sure to pre order his new record “It Was Always Here” on bandcamp, which comes out June 5.

Like many of my peers you have surrounded yourself with music and art. How did you  find  yourself dedicated into a life of music?

 

 I am a composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound artist, sound designer, music producer, studio/live sound engineer, and every now and then an instrument inventor. I have created music and sound design for theater and dance companies, film, radio, and multimedia installations, played or collaborated with bands locally, nationally and internationally, for the past 24 years. Most of my work and collaborations address social justice issues, especially the Latino/a/x and immigrant experience.

Most of the shows {…} involved community members; such as formerly incarcerated men, folks transitioning from homelessness, former sex workers, survivors of domestic violence, and undocumented immigrants. I continue doing this kind of work with various companies including the amazing NAKA Dance Theater. This kind of work keeps me going.

I’ve loved music since I was a little kid, as it was a big part of my family’s household. My dad had a huge record, tape, and 8 track collection that was very diverse. It ranged from traditional Central American and Salvadoran music, such as cumbia, merengue and salsa; to classical and opera music, 50’s and 60’s rock n roll, 70’s funk, disco, and rock. My dad loved messing with the piano, or the organ. So at an early age my brother and I got into playing them too. I don’t know how we fit one of those in our 2 bedroom apartment, which was always shared with other relatives who were immigrating from El Salvador during the civil war. This could be an entire extra family of 4 or 5 members.

I started learning guitar around age 11, when I was into various forms of rock, and metal. My dad sent me to an after school program for guitar classes, to supposedly keep me out of trouble. There I fell in love with classical guitar. I knew from that moment I wanted to do music for the rest of my life, and it has saved my life countless times.

I studied music and some recording at Sonoma State University in the early 90’s. There I discovered international music, Jazz, experimental, free-Jazz, and electronic music. I had some great teachers who opened my ears and mind, including Will Johnson, Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, and the late Marco Eneidi and Mel Graves. DJing at the campus radio station, KSUN, got me deeper into experimental, free-jazz, ambient, electronic music, shoegaze, old school dub, and noise rock music.

Around the mid 90’s I met one of my long time collaborators, theater director Roberto Gutierrez Varea. He was teaching theater at SSU and needed a composer for his senior class play. He didn’t want a student composer. One of my ex’s said  “listen to David’s music you’ll love it”. I gave him a demo tape, and he hired me instantly and the rest was history. Word spread and I started getting hired by local Bay Area theaters as a composer and sound designer. Many of those scores were done with my dear friend the late Chris Webb, a fantastic composer and guitarist.  We never planned to be in theater, but

realized it was a way to get paid and make music. It’s funny because at SSU there was a division between the theater and music departments. The musicians always thought the theater students were pretentious, annoying nerds!

Most of the shows with Roberto involved community members such as formerly incarcerated men, folks transitioning from homelessness, former sex workers, survivors of domestic violence, and undocumented immigrants. I continue doing this kind of work with various companies including the amazing NAKA Dance Theater. This kind of work keeps me going.

Me Tau, Ravenna Italy
Molina in Ravenna, Italy

What were some of the most recent projects you were working on before  the pandemic?

I recently did Octavio Solis “Retablos” at Z Below in SF. It was a staged adaptation of his autobiographical collection of short stories. The book documents pivotal moments in his childhood and teenage years growing up along the El Paso and Mexico border, during the 1960s and 70s.

Prior to this I was on a 5 month east coast/midwest tour with another production written by Octavio called Quixote Nuevo. It is loosely based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, but set in modern times along the Texas/Mexico border. It is one of the most beautiful, funniest, and heartbreaking shows I’ve worked on in my life. In our version Quixote is a retired literature professor suffering from Alzheimer’s, who believes he is Quixote. He goes on crazy adventures, just like in the book, but battles border patrol, and liberates immigrants. Throughout his journey, underworld skeleton demons called “Calacas” follow him, in an attempt to get him killed and claim his soul. The show is very dreamy and fantastical.

Quixote Nuevo 2
“Quixote Nuevo” by Octavio Solis, at Huntington Theater

During the tour, I also did music for two other productions. Mojada by Louis Alfaro at the Repertory Theater of St Louis, and Fade by Tanya Saracho at Trinity Rep in Providence, RI. Mojada was an adaptation of the Greek tragedy Medea, but set in the present day, in Los Angeles. Medea and her family are Mexican indigenous immigrants, fleeing violence in their homeland, only to encounter the harsh cruel reality of the USA. Fade, was also set in present day Los Angeles. It takes place in a Hollywood studio lot office, and is about the class division, racism in the workplace, and the stereotypes Latinos can place upon each other. It is about the differences between an upper class Mexican writer, and a Mexican-American janitor from the hood.

On top of it all, I booked solo shows with my experimental project Transient at every tour stop. People think I’m nuts to pack this many shows in, but I have to take advantage of the paid flights and housing the Theaters provide. It’s the best way to tour as a musician. I shared the stage with many wonderful nice musicians at each show, including: Sandy Ewen, Aaron Russell, Going in with Li, Joann McNeil, Negative Spaces, Retribution Body, Claude and Ola, and Dog Adrift. I also made a pit stop in NYC, to record with former Bay Area trumpet player Darren Johnston, and saxophonist Alex Weiss. I plan on releasing the recordings of both in a month or 2.

My dad loved messing with the piano, or the organ. So at an early age my brother and I got into playing them too. I don’t know how we fit one of those in our 2 bedroom apartment, which was always shared with other relatives who were immigrating from El Salvador during the civil war. This could be an entire extra family of 4 or 5 members.

Can you talk a bit about the process of composing for theater and how that differs from composing and arranging for your own work?

Composing for theater is very different from just music making, or playing in bands. It’s a multiple step process involving lots of people in different departments. It is collaboration in the maximum form. It requires a very open mind, ability to receive constructive criticism, detachment of ego, habits, your preconceived notions of what is right or wrong idea. You have to be willing to take risks and not be butt hurt if they don’t work. You have to work on the show as a whole big picture, and not get stuck on your own individual ideas and department.

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Work with performance artist Violeta Luna: “Virgins and Goddesses”

Step 1. Read the script many times, analyze it and mark the areas you think music, soundscapes, our sound design could go. Throw away any influences of the music you always listen to, or play, and all cliche obvious choices. I start with a blank slate, and instead think about the emotional, and the mental spiritual state of the whole play. I study the characters and what is ticking inside of them. I break down the scenes and think about what is the core mood in the each. What are they feeling about themselves and the other characters? Colleagues, and audience members say that my scores and sound design are the invisible character of the play. The spiritual and psychological layer of the show.

Step 2. Meet with the director and hear what their vision is. Then share what your ideas might be. We go back and forth with ideas and the meeting can often change our initial ideas of the play.

Step 3: Research! Every story is different. Each one takes place in a different time period, country, state, city, culture, race, religion, socio-economic class, and struggle etc. Therefore each show requires different music. If you don’t do your research you are doing a disservice to the people’s story presented on stage. Many of the the shows I do are about social justice and oppressed people. It’s disrespectful to not dive deep into the history, culture and music for each play. The score will be a billion time better and authentic if one does this. A design will feel half baked, disjointed, and be obviously shitty if you don’t do research.

In my 24 years of doing theater I’ve explored nearly every style of music, including genres I never was exposed to, or would think of playing, such as: bluegrass, Tex Mex, Mayan, south East Asian, Eastern European, Taiko, Native African, Cuban, medieval music. Of course I do it all with my own experimental cinematic twist.

4. Gather your notes from your meeting with the director. Read the script again, and this time think about music moods. What is the over all genre style, or core instruments? Then break down the areas you marked into
music characteristics. Is it Major or Minor, fast or slow, dense or sparse, melodic or abstract and atonal, chordal or percusive, or is it a drone or experimental sound scape? Sometimes doing the opposite musically of what happens in scene makes an interesting mood, or effect.

5. I try to find appropriate music examples from my own catalog to share with the director and cast. If I can’t find something, then I’ll share relevant music from other artists as inspiration.

6. Check out the Preliminary design sketches of the other designers! What the set, costumes, and lighting designers do will greatly influence my music, and vice versa. The best pieces of theater have a cohesive design team that flows. It creates magic if done properly.

7. The non fun stuff: Sound plots, theater blue prints, gear inventory, budgets, and lots of administrative paper work. People who don’t know about theater think all I do for work is grab an instrument , a mic, and noodle around all day. As Composer for theater, you are contracted to do the sound design too. This means a lots of un-artistic duties requiring  math, the science of sound, knowledge of complex sound systems and software, good organizational skills and communication, lots of spreadsheets, calendars, and reading and creating complex blue prints, studying and creating complex speaker plots and audio signal chains. All this is required to install massive sound systems.

On a normal day I’ll get about 5 long email chains that are up to 15 people deep, just for one show! I usually juggle 3 different productions a month. You can imagine the hours spent answering emails.

8. My favorite part: Time to write and record basic Ideas. I used to over think this part in the past. But now, my first gut instinct is often correct.

9. Go to rehearsals and see how the actors and director are interpreting the script. This is a game changer. Because seeing a play is very different from reading it and imagining it in your head

10. After seeing the rehearsals, I dive deeper in the music creation. Adding more instruments and arranging, or coming up with new themes. When it feels right I make rough mixes for the cast and crew.

11. Begin experimenting with music in rehearsals. This is my other favorite part of the process. All the hard work starts coming together and the actors start vibing off the music and sound. The work gets deeper.

12. As it gets closer to tech week, I lose lots of sleep, do final mixes and export every single instrument or sound stem, and then program the file in QLAB for multichannel play back. I always try do surround sound. This can be up to 24 channels of speakers, because I like to envelop the audience in the sound world. At the theater I over see the sound system set up and calibration. Then we begin the painstaking process of setting levels for each sound cue. But it’s also fun to explore the capabilities of a great massive sound system. It’s beyond THX when a theater has a dope system.

13. Tech Week: We all shift to the theater to test and synchronize the lights, music, sound, set, costumes, with the actors. It’s a long week of 12 to 14 hours days, with little sleep. There is always work to be done and ready for the next morning. We usually go from 11am to 11pm, with a production meeting and notes until midnight.

14. Preview week. We test out everything with an audience to see what works or doesn’t. An audience can affect a play big time. Things you thought were funny, or instance in rehearsals, might not jive with the audience. Sometimes the audience will find humor, or  be moved in moments that you didn’t notice in rehearsals. An actor or tech mistake may cause magical moments that may end being part of the show. How audience reacts vocally can affect the pace of a show. Laughter is something actors must be aware of, so they have to make sure to pause before the next line, so that line isn’t lost in the laughter. Deep sighs and vocal reactions for heavy moments can make a scene even more intense.

15, open the show and party hard!

 

Molina’s post rock act Impuritan.

Can you talk a little bit about your composition work for the renowned Two Trains  Running, how that came about and about the piece in general?

Two Trains Running, written by the legendary August Wilson, was directed by my long time friend and collaborator Juliette A. Carrillo. I have worked with her since 1997. She has a magical, spiritual, and dreamy way of directing. She also used to be a dancer, so her staging is very choreographic.

Two Trains Running_C. Stanley Photography
“Two Trains Running” Photo: C. Stanley

We really trust each other, and she allows me to do what I want musically. Two Trains was co-produced by Seattle Rep and the Arena Stage in DC, and was performed in each city. From the Seattle Rep synopsis: “There’s a new president in the White House, and racial tensions are on the rise. No, it’s not 2018, it’s 1969. At a critical moment in the Civil Rights movement Memphis is forced to consider selling his restaurant to the city of Pittsburgh as urban planning eats away at his beloved neighborhood. Featuring a captivating slice-of-life cast of characters, Two Trains Running is celebrated playwright August Wilson’s portrait of a defining moment in American history.” As you can see history repeats itself. The play is also about gentrification, the murders of black leaders, and abandonment of black folks in the inner city.

What was the most surreal moment you’ve ever experienced on stage, be it a live performance of your own or  theater work.

There have been so many trippy moments throughout my stage life. One was performing music for the Soap Stone Theater Company at Grace Cathedral. This company was made of formerly incarcerated men, directed by my other dear friend and longest collaborator Roberto G. Varea. There was this intense moment where one cast member was talking about a loved one who died, and he screamed NOOOOOOOO! His scream echoed, for what seemed like an eternity, in the Cathedrals natural 7 to 8 second reverb decay. The other surreal moment was my first large theater gig at The Mark Taper Forum. This was Octavio Solis’ Lydia, also directed by Juliette, which won a 2009 LA Ovation Award in Music and Sound Design. It was intense is because my old friend and collaborator the late Chris Webb, passed away from cancer in Dec 2008. His last wish was that I finish his music and sound design for Lydia. He was in the middle of it. Both Chris and I worked for many years as a music and sound design duo in the bay area. We built our careers together, and played in bands. Working on Lydia was probably the hardest gig in my life because I had to drop my entire life within 2 weeks, and move to the east coast to complete it. His family lived in NYC. I had to go through all his files, sheet music, and even his journals to figure out what the ideas were for his music.

What was the experience like dropping everything and having to finish his work so quickly? Did you even have time to mourn his passing? how were  you able to  complete it under such trying times?

It was really hard. Chris told me he had cancer a few months before he passed away. We chatted a few times, but it was hard for him to talk due to the Chemo and his degrading health. In our conversations I was gonna be his assistant at the Yale Rep version of Lydia. He thought he had 9 month more to live. He loved the play and was committed to it, despite his health situation. It was our friend and the play’s director Juliette Carillo who told me he passed.

While I was out there, Chris’ family and all his music friends put together a concert celebration of his life. We learned a bunch of his sound track music, and performed it for an attendance of more than 100 people at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful. While I was in NYC I stood alone in his apartment. Completing his work was very emotional and hard, but I got it done in time. Chris’s family also lent me many of his instruments to record the music with. So his spirit was with me guiding me.

Molina at KPFA

What was the most frustrating piece of art you’ve ever created and why?

I love theater when it’s professional and respectful, but I also find it very frustrating when working with people or companies that don’t understand, or respect music or sound design. When I started my career, theater was about 10 to 15 years behind all other collaborative art forms in terms of music, sound, and video art. Things have gotten better, but it is still catching up. Some theater people don’t understand music or sound, and what it takes to make it great. They don’t understand basic music terminology, yet they know the basics of sets, lights and costumes. Some have bad, limited, or outdated taste in music, often listening to old mainstream, or new pop music. Another issue is sound design education programs didn’t get established in most university theater programs until about 15 years ago! Music composition for theater programs have been around even less (I’m not talking about musical theater). Sound departments in theaters often have the smallest crew, budget, and the oldest gear. The hierarchy in theater design is always set first, then lights, costumes, and last sound. This applies to meetings and tech time too. There is no mention of music, which is the problem itself. There is a vast difference between sound and creating music. Long ago I worked at some theaters where there wasn’t even a staff sound person. I had to do everything by myself. There have been times where there is only a 1 or 2 person crew, and they are not qualified to install sound systems, and everything gets fucked up. Many composers, and sound designers will agree they have experienced disrespect, or neglect by a few directors, or theater companies in their career. But things have been changing over the past few years. During the last tour I worked at theaters which had some of the best sound crews, and sound systems I’ve worked with in my entire career. I think theater folks are waking up, and understanding the value of a good score and sound design.

What upcoming projects do you have that  you’re excited about, and or  future plans for your solo work as  Transient?

I just finished mixing a new live recording I did with trumpet player Darren Johnston last year. I plan to release it on Bandcamp soon to help me get some funds through his pandemic. I also plan on releasing as many albums as possible for my soundtracks, Ghosts and Strings, as well as Transient, during this lock down. I have about 25 years of unreleased music on hard drives, DATS, ADATs, and cassettes. I’ll be going backwards through my catalogue as I release them

What was the most intense sound or sonic experience you ever had?

In 2006 I went on tour in Peru. I ended up at an amazing, intense, week long ceremony called the Festival of Virgen del Carmen. It takes place in a deep in the remote small village of Paucartambo, high up in the Andes mountains. It honors the Catholic saint of Carmen, but it’s really an indigenous tradition honoring Mother Earth. It was disguised in Catholicism in the 17th century, to avoid persecution by the Spaniards, just like most old ceremonies in Latin America. I would say the Indigenous presence over powers the Catholic shadow. During the week many different troupes of dancers, and musicians attend from all over the mountain region. They represent all the different native tribes of Peru, with colorful outfits, and insane paper mâché, wire, and wooden masks. Each tribe has there own instrumentation. Some use brass and drums. Others use flutes and drums, or strange portable harps and violins. All instruments and costumes are hand made and rustic. Most of the musicians are not trained, so the music has a raw primal feel.

Adding to the soundscape are constant huge fireworks, which would be illegal in the USA. They create massive beautiful spinning firework sculptures, with no regard for fire safety. They make their own unique fizzing sound. My hair and clothes got burned a couple times by flying embers, and sparks, but it was amazing! The week is loud and surreal, and no one sleeps as the festivities go for 23 hours a day, with one hour of rest around 5 am. You go into a trance with the sound, colors. and lack of sleep. The white event of Burning Man can’t compare to this ceremony, which appropriated and bastardized ancient indigenous traditions. I would hear a troupe’s music coming down one street, and another cross behind me would phase in and out, creating the most experimental soundscape I’ve experienced. My body would rumble with the deep bass drums, and explosions. Most of the language spoken is native Quechua which added to the sound experience. Sometimes I would take a break from the intense cacophony and go up into the hills. From there I heard a swirling soundscape of the action happening below. I made many hours of field recordings, documenting the whole week. I’ve only heard about half of the recordings to this day. I hope to do a surround sound performance with those one day. One day.

Info about the upcoming Transient release “It Was Always Here” at https://davidrmolina.bandcamp.com, which comes out  June  5th and you can PREORDER NOW

DECAYCAST #027 Guest Mix: Diego Aguilar-Canabal “Farm To Tape 9”

 
decaycast27-DIEGO

Last Friday, Bandcamp dropped their fees and let artists keep 100% of revenues, generating $4.3 million for artists in a single day. Having just cashed my last unemployment check, I joined in the celebration and went on a bit of a shopping spree. Here are some highlights from the occasion, sprinkled with some favorite earworms that have accompanied me on long bike rides through empty Berkeley streets. Enjoy!

Sheik of Araby – Hillboggle


I’m Gonna Stand Still – Rev. Mack McCollum with Combined Choirs


Set That Baggage Down – David Crosby
I Dream Of Sodomy ONO


Play For Today – Frankie Rose


Bouli – Alkibar Junior


Fuck Here – Exit Hippies


All The Way Down  – Couch Slut


Only Climate Change Is Real – Seas Of Winter


Labyrinthine – S H R I E K I N G


2.04052018 (1) – Obozdur


I Love You So Much – Ragk


Triste Pt.1 remake – Oren Ambarchi


I – Monochromacy


Wind/Plastic – Andrew Weathers


Lefebixar – Alejandro Palacios


A Pool Deeply Gouged out by Water – Dylan Henner