Glen Whitehead Trio: The Living Daylights (PFMCD125)
Glen Whitehead Trio
The Living Daylights
Britton Ciampa Drums • Scott Walton Bass • Glen Whitehead Trumpet
Improvisational structures inspired by natural phenomena that play with our perceptions of space, time, and place
The Living Daylights Suite (1-3)
1. Living Daylights Suite 1—at Time’s Place 05:02
2. Living Daylights Suite 2—Zenosyne 08:23
3. Living Daylights Suite 3—Apophenia 08:30
4. Heliopause 04:01
5. 42 Degrees 04:31
6. Bow Shock 05:49
7. Shedding Vortices 03:38
8. Involution Engine 06:22
9. Fissure Syndrome 03:54
10. Pearl of Swirl 05:50
11. Punktuation 07:44
Recorded at the Banquet Studios February 6, 2016
and July 21, 2016, Guerneville, CA
Engineered by Darryl Webb
Mixed and Mastered by Wayne Peet at Killzone,
Newzone Studio, Los Angeles, February, 2018
Photo Credit—Glen Whitehead
Graphic Design—Ted Killian
© 2018 Glen Whitehead (ASCAP)
The Living Daylights
The Living Daylights is based on natural phenomena that play with our perceptions of space, time and place and rendered with a loosely structured improvisational system that enables many possibilities within the natural restraints of a conscious system. These pieces explore similarities between immersive activities surrounding intensive environmental exploration and improvisational music composition. The more one invests energy, time and intention to immersive experiences in the world, the more phenomenal events appear – connections come alive with mysterious interactions.
This ensemble is an ecosystem where unique communities of sound are created within each piece. In this “conscious system” individuals are free to roam and explore while supporting the foundations of the emerging sonic environment, each individual being equally responsible for the whole. Empathy through sound, the sounding of self-reflection between the rewards of individuality and shared common goals create unique musical real estate; each piece then embodies unique energies internalized (and externalized) by the ensemble members.
I created the identity of these pieces after the recording process in long term listening, imagining and research sessions. Most ideas were initially encountered through immersive investigations in a variety of natural environments around the world the last several years (many under what I would call an apprenticeship with ecoacoustic composer Dr. Matthew Burtner and the EcoSono Institute) including many sites across Colorado and the great southwest, the Great Sand Dunes, San Luis Valley, headwaters of the Rio Grand, as well as Alaska, Cape Cod, Mexico, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Korea and more.
My long-term goal is to develop a stronger methodology between improvisational music creation, ecoacoustics, acoustic ecology, environmentalism and other related practices.
This work is part of a larger interdisciplinary leap on my part that includes several related projects including collaborations with dance, geography, theatre, and film. In essense, this study is a long-term attempt to build more pathways between creative music practices and partnering fields.
These pieces, and the two incredible musicians whom I have been so honored to work with on this project reflect such phenomenological experiences. Scott Walton (acoustic bass) has been a key collaborator in my musical life. He is equal a pianist as a bassist and simply one of the best musicians – that I have had the privilege to work with and learn from in my life. Britt represents a younger generation of insanely informed musicians. His skill as a drummer and knowledge as musician is well beyond his years. He possesses an uncanny ability to connect obscure subjects and histories within a deep understanding of the creative music world. The magic of his playing is his ability to wield musical and sonic information into its the fullest possible context. He is also an “ex-student” of mine from UCCS – one of our very best.
I view the wide world of sonic and musical languages in this work as idiomatic – a respectful departure of what is usually commonly understood in contexts of free improvisation as “non-idiomatic” (from Derek Bailey’s definition). To me, this is a resolvable contradiction. I believe it is time to reconcile all sound language as “idiomatic.” We are saturated within the idioms of our instrumental backgrounds – acquired ear, technical and historic knowledge along with both innate and environmental influences. This is the natural order of things, musically speaking. All sound is at play, why make distinctions? How we wield our musical instruments is a fundamental part of our humanistic “taskscapes,” a term used by Tim Ingold, originally “to bring the perspectives of archaeology and anthropology into unison” (The Temporality of the Landscape, 1993), “the constitutive tasks of the dwelling” in this case, “musicking,” applies perfectly to instrumental and vocal play. Such musicking, as has been hypothesized was a fundamental part of the task-scape that played so significantly in the adaptation and improvisation process that went into our early development as a species, so significant in fact it may have been a fundamental catalyst in the development of imagination and possibility.
Notes on the pieces
The first three tracks make up a suite. They were the first pieces recorded on this project, conceived and recorded as one unit, and in one take. At Time’s Place is a play on words in acknowledgment of the constant “present” in which we live. In this open-ended tradition of improvised music, the phenomenological act of real-time musical creation gives us a unique way to access the past and the future, if only in our minds eye of self-reflection and imagination.
Zenosyne, from the unique “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” by John Greene pinpoints a fundamental experience that had no clear term (in English, anyway) – the sense that time keeps going faster as you get older. In a different frame, such an example is at the very core of improvisational experience, and I like to imagine would be part of a future established aspect of music theory for improvisation. I am reminded of many times when an improvisation seemed to take ten minutes, and forty-five minutes had passed. While, to certain members of the audience, no doubt, it felt like two hours!
Apophenia, the perception of patterns, meanings, or connections where none exists, is also a relatively new word although the well explored phenomenon itself is not. Its first use is credited to the psychiatrist Klaus Conrad back in 1958 in his catchy-titled Die beginnende Schizophrenie: Versuch einer Gestaltanalyse des Wahns, which translates to the equally scintillating The origins of schizophrenia: A Gestalt analysis of paranoia. It is fascinating that this word should appear to be so recent when the actual phenomenon is so old and important enough to have been a lynch-pin for philosophical study through the ages. In Natural History of Religion (1757), philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) wrote the following:
There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object those qualities with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice and good will to everything that hurts or pleases us.
There is one major qualification and difference of how this idea is utilized in this work. This is a play on the imagination – the “random” discoveries that appear to have no connections, actually uncover true, previously unseen connections and relationships. I cannot think of a better context for the illusively connective experience of improvised music.
The Heliopause (with its syntactic musical resonance) is the boundary where the sun’s solar wind meets the faint radiation of interstellar space and is no longer strong enough to push back the stellar winds of the surrounding stars. This is the boundary where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures meet and balance, physics working on a grand scale, the great meeting point of astral forces locked in a dance. Imagine, even with this distance impossible for us to quantify in scale in our imagination, that this line is definitive and slender where the distant finger of our incubator solar cocoon touches the rest of the universe– what a musical thought.
42 degrees references the connection of people and light reflected in the observations of – well, rainbows. When we see a rainbow and its band of colors we are looking at light refracted and reflected from different raindrops at an angle of between 40 and 42 degrees at all points of view – whether one person is high on a hilltop and another hundreds of feet below. Light orients to our visual lenses, our lenses orient the angle of light.
Bow Shock, also called a detached shock or normal shock, is a curved, stationary shock wave that is found in a supersonic flow past a finite body. Similarly, Shedding vortices (vortex shedding) is an oscillating flow that takes place when a fluid such as air or water flows past a bluff (as opposed to streamlined) body at certain velocities, depending on the size and shape of the body. Both of these phenomena, for me, connect with the wind “shock” that occurs inside and across a fast material with wind and brass sound production, and illuminate the use of creating sound vortexes in so many different ways in improvised music.
Involution Engine is a function, transformation, or operator that is equal to its inverse, only applies to itself and is a function of its own inverse. for instance, in medicine, this applies to the shrinking of an organ (such as the uterus after pregnancy) or philosophy and psychology a “turning in” on one’s self. Musical phenomena in time also have similar phenomena but have been limited in concept, I believe, because of the hard-cast association with printed, scored notation – retrograde inversion, for example. The idea of a sonic involution works exquisitely in an aural, perceived identity, much like a physically created moveable object and is far more complex and four dimensional that can be adequately represented on a typical score (mostly).
I came up with Fissure Syndrome through pure free association upon listening to the results of this piece several times. As it turns out, it is a kind of an Apophenia in of itself, as this term lives in the medical world as, superior orbital fissure syndrome (also known as Rochen-Duvigneaud syndrome) is a collection of symptoms caused by compression of structures just anterior to the orbital apex. The eye is to the ear, except when closed.
For Pearl of Swirl, am fascinated by the perception of sound as physical moving substance or phenomena. To me, this conceptual mega-world is in its infancy and a signification of the music theory and creative methodologies of the future of music. Pearl of Swirl, here, references Pearl Swirl, a rheoscopic fluid created specifically to see the movement or currents in liquids. Its purpose is scientific in nature, yet, it carries commercial tendrils with trademark statuses and “secret ingredient” branding. It is at once a vital substance category for the science of fluid dynamics and other related fields in order to visualize currents, aerodynamics, turbulence, convection and other phenomena (a not so subtle nod to my father, an award winning physical oceanographer, fluid dynamicist and a very creative one, at that). On the other side of the coin, pearl swirl is also a novel commercial ingredient added to shampoos and other liquids for the purpose of a non-functional aesthetical “swirl” effect. This duality embodies the inescapable, almost satirical relationship between real science and over-saturated reality of commerce in our culture today.
Punktuation – ‘Nuff said and done