"This album hasn't a leg to stand on."
—Rolling Stone


The Berlin Sessions

because everything sounds more edgy-artsy
with something European in the title


music, or something like it,
produced in Apple's Logic Pro

"Please don't blame us. Really.
We didn't even want to sell him the software.
We tried to pay him to go away.
We simply can't control what people do
with our products."
—Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

produced in MODERN 20th-Century HI-FI TWO-CHANNEL STEREO!
headphones make listening more fun,
but any good stereo separation will do

If you don't have the CD, or your player has the good taste to refuse playing it,
you can click on each song's link here to listen to or download the mp3.

(Looking for concert photos instead? click here)


1. The Call by Ralph Vaughan Williams (from "Five Mystical Songs")
Melodymaster Big Ray V might have liked what I've done with the first verse. Verses 2-4, mmmmaybe less so.


2, 11, 17. Trois Gymnopédies by Erik Satie (links: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3)
Elegant little pieces. Love 'em.


3. Mission: Impossible by Lalo Schifrin
The opening beat (after the theme), which I play live on my djembe, is a Haitian groove I learned when Jan and I took Sean Dibble’s drumming classes at the UU in spring 2006. I wanted to use this particular beat somewhere. Remembering a 6/4 dance mix I'd heard of “Mission: Impossible” a few years ago, I decided to use the beat for that sort of feel here (please, Lalo, no lawsuits). The resulting arrangement gave me the opportunity to throw in a few more licks and effects as well (I especially like that X-Files-style pitchbend).


4. Winter Night by Shelley Jackson Denham
My instrumental arrangement based on the hymnal version at Jan’s Unitarian congregation.
Ms. Denham’s lyrics:

      Winter night, clear and bright:
      a weary world is sleeping.
      And then a cry fills earth and sky:
      a newborn child is weeping.
            Hush-a-bye, lullabye, blessed little baby.

      Drops of pain flow like rain:
      tell why your tears are falling:
      for humankind, so frail, unkind,
      or for your own life’s calling?
            Hush-a-bye, lullabye, blessed little baby.

      Holy Child, Every Child,
      your life will have its season.
      And each new day your heart may pray
      for grace, for peace, for reason.
            Hush-a-bye, lullabye, blessed little baby.


5. Bowm Bowm
A highly intellectual and musically austere piece, simultaneously rigorous in its adherence to Schoenberg's twelve-tone method yet still influenced by Cage and other champions of the aleatoric revolution. Listen carefully for the subtle interweaving of proper voice-leading of renaissance polyphony with postmodern dissonance expressed in subtle shifts of harmonic color and delicate phrasing. From the cerebral to the visceral, the fervently passionate to the intricately calculated, this piece concisely embodies the sturm und drang of all human experience, echoing back well beyond its modal roots clearly deep in the middle ages, to our most primitive state of emerging human consciousness on the African Savannah, when we looked into a pool of rainwater and saw in our reflection something deeper, something no other mammal could begin to apprehend.
      Oh, wait. Oops, that's a totally different piece that I'll include in the next collection.
      THIS little ditty, on the other hand, was the first actual piece I created in fall 2005, then with GarageBand, just learning the basic techniques.


6. 04 13 29
Mostly a loop arrangement, with live keyboard input for a glass harmonica synth countermelody. The title is the date that Asteroid 2004 MN4 will come closest to earth.


7. Firewalk
As a synthesizer fanatic since middle school, I was heavily imprinted with 1970ish sample-and-hold (the constantly-changing rush of short notes). Find a melody somewhere and sing along!


8. Heavy Surf Ballet Music
I took a loop of Dick Dale-style guitar, slowed it to about half the original speed, and I liked the effect. Everything else (mostly loops) grew around that.


9. I Will (Wedding Mix) by Lennon & McCartney
Fall 2006: As I’d been learning how to use Apple’s GarageBand, and then ProTools in a Digital Recording class at MDC, I’d hoped to do something musical for the wedding. Jan said she wanted this in the ceremony; I decided I'd surprise her by singing it to her in the ceremony, with my own instrumental and vocal backing.
      Originally I found and bought sheet music for a six-part a capella arrangement. Several hours of early efforts in November/December 2006 made it clear that after too many years out of practice I just didn’t have the pipes for that. But then I grabbed a MIDI file of the song, built it up with a fairly routine instrumental combo, and figured I could sing the lead live, adding just maybe two or three voices as backup.
      But then, maybe a couple of weeks or so before the wedding, I listened to it with just the lead vocal and the string bass. Realizing that it could work as a cool swingy thing, I streamlined the arrangement. This mix has the lead vocal pre-recorded; for the ceremony I prepared a karaoke mix and sang the lead live. (Click here for photos, toward the middle of the page.)


10. International and 12. Orlando Chill
Early pieces of mostly loops, effects, simple (VERY simple) solos.


13. Cloths of Heaven
This evolved as a project for my MDC recording class. Yes, that's Jan reciting the Yeats poem that Michael would read in our wedding; I arranged a few loops to float in and out and around. Me gusta mucho, but I figured it was too darkish to play during the ceremony.


14. r e d s h i f t
Space music, ambient, floaty-woaty fru-fru, call it whatever you want. I just LIKE it. This was inspired by an astronomy exhibit I saw at New York's Museum of Natural History.
      The audio is significantly enhanced by the spacing of the letters in the title, ja? Oooh. Ahhh.


15. Squeaky Clean
A little riff that grew, accompanied by my fondness for assorted effects.


16. Troy Cadence
Playing around with a drum sequencer, I realized I could reconstruct a high school marching band cadence I heard during junior or senior year at a football game. Troy’s band had this great entry cadence, much more jazzy than the more conventional and quasi-military style ours and most bands used. (I don't know the band director's name to give due credit.)
      The first eight bars reflect the actual cadence as best I recall it. Then I expand it over a few more cycles.


18. Well Into Sunday Afternoon
I hear some of you: "OK, exactly how is this a composition?" Yeah, it takes a little explaining. I wanted some more earthy vocal ooohs and aaahs, beyond the stock samples and synthesized voices. I bought a CD of samples from a black church for just those elements. I found that it included also a bunch of preacher quotes, shouts, people testifying, etc. — all in digital samples I could arrange and modify.
      Separately, playing around with another collection of effects samples, I found a few that naturally created a funky percussion thing. As I layered a few combinations, it occurred to me: how would it sound to have the preacher jump in on this? Inserting a few of his remarks almost at random, I found it felt very much like the energy in some black churches I’ve visited; the electronic beats give it a high-tech counterpoint. I worked probably 12-15 hours sequencing the samples just so and tweaking stereo separations, reverbs, stutter beats, bringing in several variations of the electro-percussive samples, blah blah blah. Tedious in a way, but still lots of fun.
      Finding some of the females sampling "yeah," I used those harmonically to quote a correspondingly famous chord progression. C'mon, boomers, find it in the mix and name that tune.
      After a few more rounds of sampled and structured testimonials, the "service" wraps up with a danceable doxology and a Count Basie riff, but no — the preacher starts back up again. The piece fades out as the service continues, well into Sunday afternoon.


19. Jax Groove (Bogota Mix)
The opening chords I found in a tutorial. I came up with the bass and lead riffs, and it grew from there. Get on down with your bad self. Now is ze time on Shprockets ven ve dänce.


Danke for listening. Be sure to tip your server.