2022 and Beyond the Infinite Pandemic

I have found myself saying, too often in the past three years: “There’s no new normal.” And here we are.

My life somehow continues in the wake of many personal losses over the last few years, most significant being my mother’s passing last January. This summer I spent six weeks on the road through the American West, seeing to my mother’s wish to have her remains scattered in the Columbia and Rio Grande rivers, rivers where she had spent significant time in her life, from 1972 until her death this past January 2022. Fifty years of rivers…

Along the way I made some music-adjacent noises in places like Santa Fe, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Portland. Made new friends and reaffirmed some choice vintage friendships, stretching back nearly (WOW) years. (see photo gallery at the bottom of this post)

The SF Bay Area [new, weird, experimental, whatever] music scene seems to be waking up this fall, for reals this time, as the damned plague waves go out with the tide. My schedule is filling up as it hasn’t in two and a half years. Feels nice. Life returns.

Tender Buttons dropped a new CD since the last time I checked in. It’s called an established color and cunning. The jacket features some artwork by my mother Mary Dill, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, you should get one for your collection. “As a texturally-driven communication, its palette is broad. An electronic library as rigorous as Skywalker Sound of swells, throbs, chugs, and bubbling, of bleeps, bloops, and clicks, of groans, oms, and roars from activated surfaces, something like fretless electric bass, the wet clapping valve of a heartbeat, and some radio transmission as if it was picked up through a feedback system rather than played in-house. Inside-piano strummed, plucked, and played on with ping pong balls and lonesome notes and ominous chords whose decay fades into that of the percussion.” — Keith Prosk, harmonicseries.org

Euphotic drops a new cassette this week: Conjugate Regions, on the IKUISUUS label, out of Finland.

Beyond the obvious fact that we each bring a distinct instrumental palette to the job at hand, I’ve never been able to put into words what makes Euphotic unique and so gosh-darned listenable (unlike Brand X ‘experimental music’). Each of the instruments Cheryl, Bryan and I deploy demands a distinct approach to playing and listening. The aggregate result — or more to the point, process — isn’t like anything else I can put my finger on. We’re listening but not reacting; we’re building something together but not with parts that are ready-made to fit; we’re walking together in this co-created soundscape but each taking note of different features within it. And, despite the differences in approach, often we can’t tell who’s doing what at any given moment. (This odd but by no means unheard-of problem comes up at rehearsal, again and again. Is it a feature rather than a bug?)

Last November (2021) Euphotic played the High Desert Soundings Festival, part of the burgeoning Inland Empire revival, if that’s a reasonable thing to call it. Maybe call it “Was Cheap Real Estate Before the Pandemic.” Anyway, we had a great time at the festival and also taking some high desert hikes with field-recording gear in tow, and managed to do some outback jamming on an abandoned box spring frame suspended over an abandoned well (and the expected abandoned cars, as shown). Cheryl even crawled into an old mine, which gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Coming up fast is the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, in its twenty-first iteration, and for the closing set on closing night, I join Gino Robair and the Rova Saxophone Quartet in what is to be a freely improvised set of electroacoustic ear-stretching called the Rova Sonic Six, or Popular Tectonics, I’m not sure. What is sure is that we were kind of a hit at the 2019 Garden of Memory event (shown below) in the California Columbarium room at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, and we’ve been plotting a reunion ever since. Because it was a blast.

Right now my builder genius Sam Cooper in Los Angeles is putting the finishing touches on a new Serge-format panel for me, which should get delivered in time to spice up the Rova/SFEMF gig:

Mostly “Loudest Warning” Serge format modules here, very hard to get stuff (hence the custom build and standalone skiff.) Kind of nuts to preview brand new gear at a high profile gig but sometimes ya gotta.

I’m in the midst of planning a European jaunt for next spring, so there will likely be an update about that! … in about a year’s time. Berlin, Prague, Köln, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Goteborg…

A gallery of shots from this summer’s tour:

Oregon, Highway 78
Somewhere on the Nevada-Utah border, Highway 21
Behind my mother’s house. The Columbia River at Richland WA.
The road I used to take to get to high school, between Pilar and Taos
Great Sand Dunes National Monument
Sand Dunes
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park backroads
Starring in my own John Ford western in Monument Valley
Heavenly New Mexican food in Santa Fe that’s also hellishly hot
David Forlano, my gracious and patient host in Santa Fe. Also playing partner at the Sandbox Series festival gig on June 19!
Bob Marsh, buddha of Pueblo CO. I have known Bob since the early 1990s.
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