This recording focuses on ecosystem degradation and the inevitable environmental collapse. Long string quartets follow the arches of mass extinction cycles, surface temperature data is rendered as a droning, foreboding doomsday siren, and species variation becomes unsurvivable mutations. This full length takes the "green" position in The Rainbow Table. It is meditative, apocalyptic, and stoic with a strange resilient beauty.
Written during the quarantine months of the pandemic, “M.E.E.” (Mass Extinction Events) renders life’s rise and fall at the epoch level. My son was working on his seventh-grade science homework and while trying to help him memorize Ordvocian, Devonian, Triassic, Jurassic, Paleogene - a strange melody kept repeating in my head. First, I thought it was “Ring Around the Rosie” - not quite. Trying to get this melody down in my clumsy, drawn MIDI was my first attempt at composing for a quartet. I added my own harmonium and processing to the piece and then sent the sheet music to some “real” musicians for the recording. Essentially, “M.E.E.” is two epochs, with the traces of the first part being side-chained through the second. Each era terminates with exploring the science-homework melody.
While working M.E.E. I had a dream in which two tectonic plates were grinding against one another. The rock turned molten along the fault line, and from it arose a sort of consciousness, violent and cunning. I began “constructing” the piece with two deep bass lines. The parts were identical, except that one was flipped backward. This often created wobbling, dissonant intervals. I then used a contact microphone on stones to build the underworldly ambiance. The piece’s name comes from Alan Watts:
“Where there are rocks, watch out! Watch out because the rocks are going to eventually come alive, and they are going to have people crawling over them. It is only a matter of time, just in the same way the acorn is eventually going to turn into the oak because it has the potentiality of that within it.”
One of the first examples of recorded pollution came from a glacial ice-core sample from Peru. Some traces of bismuth burned in, presumably Incan, bronze smelting forges were captured in the ice. The piece takes its name from this type of forge, which is named for the god of wind.
This music comes directly from NOAA’s archive of monthly surface temperatures. The data per month, year, and decade are used to generate MIDI notes and then fed through analog and digital synthesizers. The source code can be found on Github for those looking to create their own temperature-based music.
This track is a meditation on our misguided responses, past, and future, to the Anthropocene.
Genetic mutation is the means life uses to ensure adaptation to the environment. It ends mostly in cancer. I imagined the mutation process as a general loss of audio fidelity and a randomly repeating sample in this recording. The strings from “M.E.E.” were copied and fed through a Morphagene eurorack module using off-synch L.F.O.s to create a chaotic governing of the sample size, playback rate, and range.
Small, repetitive percussion patterns, over forty in total, were overlaid to create a fluttering landscape. As with “Just Warming Up,” I imagined the percussive hits measuring the ecosystem. Each ping a species dying off forever. Slowed bird calls, fed through a rock-and-roll guitar set up adds some nihilistic flair.
The album concludes with a quartet piece. Hazy memories of pastoral, Jusid soundtracks fading and degrading into pizzicato death rattles. As if it wasn’t obvious already, this recording leaves you with a final, passing comment, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are quite fucked.”