Wayward in Limbo Series July 2021 - Liner Notes

08 July 2021

Originally posted here Wayward Music

Wayward Music Series · Wayward in Limbo #130 – Ben McAllister

1. Call (0:00)

Everytime I pick up this E-bow-ish tool called the Wond (made by Paul Vo), something comes out like this. I start to channel Hans Reichel. It's kind of an overtone machine and makes some beautiful noise.

2. Index Study - Pulses (2:05)

These index studies are on a line of thinking that's been with me since college. Picture 12 records (one per note, A-G#) each fitted with a computer-controlled needle, and imagine being able to precisely drop the needle in somewhat random places, all within as strict or loose a rhythmic plan as you can think of. That's the place I'm working in in these pieces, and every 'study' is an exploration of this space. Once I'm in the space, I improvise a small form and keep it tight. I like the resulting sounds and the feeling like I've gone somewhere in a very short time.
If you are a nerd like me and want to know more - ask me, or know that Github has my composition library Thuja and some of the code for these pieces here. You'll have to hit me up for the 12 audio files (the 'records') :) They're written in Python and Csound.

3. Bach BMV 358 (2:34)

A piece for Wond choir - if only I had 8 of them. I dig what the overtones do in these very tonal pieces.

4. Index Study - Respiration (5:05)

5. Carmina Chromatico (Orlando DiLasso, from Prophetiae Sibyllarum) (7:06)

This piece from the 16th Century has always mystified me. There is so much movement within the lines, and the harmony weaves like an ecstatic monk through so many tonal shifts. I love how off-center I feel listening to it. This is done w/E-bows - I'm working on keeping them quiet, I'm workin on it.

6. Index Study

What happens when the beat drops (9:38)

7. Land Bridge Approach (11:08)

Drawn from a Tuktu song which opened most of our sets. I began working on this for the Guitar Cult (usually 6 guitars, a sextet) - it became a Trio through my collaboration w/John Stropes and his students at UWM. My guiding principles here is a democracy of lines - lines that are individually interesting, but crafted to support each other to make a unified whole.

8. Piano Smells Okay (18:27)

This software instrument I've made - I'll call it the Circular 4-track - is meant to combine a few of my favorite things: the simplicity of overdubbing on a 4 track cassette machine (my Yamaha MT410), moving tape across a tape head without the motor running and looping - looping w/device that let me change settings without a bunch of clicks and crap. The spontaneous compositions that result work in a way that feels more pre-composed than improvised on the spot to ME, but sound more planned than I'd think in retrospect. During Covid, I brought the piano home from my stinky practice space under the Red Door in Fremont (RIP). After airing it out for 2 months and applying all sorts of deodorizing methodologies, my wife Lees insisted it still smelled, but I disagreed. This is my last recording of that piano, as it has since been relocated.

9. The Rock (22:05)

Another Guitar Cult piece boiled down to a Trio. Really fun to play. My coworkers call it the 'Octopus Dance.'

10. Ascending Injected (26:27)

Circular 4-Track again

11. Mandala Drafts (35:29)

I've been collecting these pieces of shifting harmonies in my notebooks over the years, naming them Mandalas for the clear centers and symmetry I hear as they unfold. I initially got the Guitar Cult together as an 11-piece, to play one of the more elaborate of these pieces. I present to you here several other members of the family.