Let’s see if I can make sense out of this.
This is one of those projects (I’m sure you know the type) that started as a spark of inspiration sometime in the early ‘00s, fell by the wayside, languished on obscure disc drives, was resurrected, changed identities, then repeated the process. And now, due to public demand and label pressure (lies), here at last is Islands Shouting Lies by the Gentleman Echo Chamber Soloists. (Follow the link to listen and download for free.)
What is the project all about and who are the Chamber Soloists? Glad you asked. Islands Shouting Lies is pure aleatoric music, which is to say that aspects of the pieces are left to chance. The gist of the venture is the pitting against each of other of guitar improvisations governed only by an approximate length. Each “Iteration” features two or more solos which are simply superimposed. The interplay that results is entirely synthetic—what Zappa called “xenochrony.” If you’re into this type of thing, the outcome is frequently fascinating.
About the Soloists and their contributions:
“One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose” is a bizarre improvisation by Omaha, Nebraska’s Dave Benscoter. Listening to the piece by itself might make you itch.
“Remember, To a Tick You are Food” by Mike Stover of Kansas City, Missouri is the oldest component of the Islands—older than the project itself, in fact. This fretless guitar improvisation was inspired by a book on Lyme disease, in title if not performance.
(Mike plays steel guitar among other things for KC’s outstanding The Grisly Hand. Give them a listen.)
“On Fire Tonight” comes from Chicago’s Matt Silcock. At some point in the years between this project’s conception and execution, Matt’s original file was corrupted, so what’s here is a mutated, chopped & screwed version of the authentic item. Even then it had to be rescued from a flattened mix owing to (wait for it) a hard drive failure, hence its unfortunately sparse appearances here.
“Choir in Bondage” comes courtesy of Ben Levin from Boston. From the sparing amount of time I’ve been able to spend with Ben, I’d say that “Choir” is an absolute manifestation of his personality—intelligent, adventurous, and humorous.
(You must check out Bent Knee and the Ben Levin Group.)
“Whatever You Say, Man” is by Jorge Arana, also of Kansas City, and was the final improv to arrive. I have wondered aloud if the title was Jorge’s reaction when I explained this project and asked him to contribute. I was certain he had the appropriate acumen for Islands and “Whatever” does not disappoint.
(Be sure to check out the dazzling Jorge Arana Trio.)
“Bewildered” is by Troy Van Horn … that’s me. This track, like “On Fire Tonight,” was lost in the Great Data Failure of 20xx. Oh well.
“Lab Rat 2” is also by me. It’s a recent improvisation to replace the above. I used my ca. 2006 Les Paul studio through an Akai Headrush for added graininess.
Here is how the tracks meet up. Unless my spreadsheet has gone afoul (a distinct possibility), the first piece listed is in the left channel.
‣Iteration 001: Lab Rat 2 vs. One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose
‣Iteration 002: One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose vs. Remember, To a Tick You are Food
‣Iteration 003: Remember, To a Tick You are Food vs. Choir in Bondage
‣Iteration 004: Choir in Bondage vs. Whatever You Say, Man
‣Iteration 005: Whatever You Say, Man vs. Lab Rat 2
‣Iteration 006: On Fire Tonight vs. Remember, To a Tick You are Food
‣Iteration 007: Choir in Bondage vs. One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose
‣Iteration 008: Whatever You Say, Man vs. Remember, To a Tick You are Food
‣Iteration 009: Remember, To a Tick You are Food vs. Bewildered
‣Iteration 010: Whatever You Say, Man vs. One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose
‣Iteration 011: Choir in Bondage vs. Lab Rat 2
‣Iteration 012: Lab Rat 2 vs. One Continuous Length of Rubber Hose vs. Remember, To a Tick You are Food
‣Iterattion 013: On Fire Tonight vs. Remember, To a Tick You are Food vs. Choir in Bondage
‣Iteration 014: All hands. Every track at once. (It’s really far too much. You probably shouldn’t listen to it.)
Some of these gents know each other; others have never heard of one another. This is part of what I consider to be the magic of the project.
Regarding the title: In The Light That Failed, Rudyard Kipling said, “We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.” That seems appropriate to the proceedings. Quoting Kipling? What is this lofty bullshit? Well the whole damn thing is pretty lofty, isn’t it?
Many thanks to my co-conspirators, Dave, Mike, Matt, Ben, and Jorge for humoring me in this preposterousness. Thanks to Mason Fann for Headrush and Yeti visitations. Acknowledgement to Rex Woodwind.
Realized at The Prussian Film Commission.