Mootor City (Being Emergent III)
Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Bazaar, Show #348, 2 February 2002. In the WGDR studio. Listen to the interview from the original broadcast [0:31:52–1:36:35].
Matt Borghi is a Michigan-based music composer and sound artist who uses subtlety, nuance, and texture to create dense sonic tone poems and contemplative microsymphonies.
[Kalvos] Matt Borghi’s here! Hey Matt, welcome!
[Matt Borghi] Hey, how’s it going guys?
[K] Here you are, and we’re going to listen to pretty much all of your CD today. You’ve got to introduce yourself and do your own bio, because your CD was so informative, basically all you did was thank Mom and Dad and give the names of the pieces.
[Matt Borghi] Abstract, that’s right, the abstract.
[K] So you’re kind of a long-distance, distance-learning student here at Goddard College.
[MB] Yeah, I’m from Detroit, I’m enrolled in the off-campus BA program, just a long way from Detroit. Not so much geographically, but as far as state of mind goes, uh… yeah, it’s pretty different here. So people ask me, “So you go to Vermont?” and I’m like, “Vermont? Yeah, I’m in rural Vermont, and all of Vermont’s rural, so…”
[K] You come from Motor City, and this is Moo-tor City.
[MB] Yeah, it’s kind of different here, but it’s cool, it’s nice, because I get a chance to really learn. This semester I’m working on a lot of composition and stuff, so I’m really excited about that. It’s a cool program to learn and do pretty much what you want, I guess.
[Damian] What do you do when you’re back in Detroit? How does the program work when you’re back there?
[MB] Well, we come up with a study plan when we’re here, then there’s five packets, there’s a packet every three weeks. We do these five packets, we structure the study plan, we correspond, lots of email over the next 17 weeks total. So that’s a semester. It’s really intense, you’ve got to be pretty organized to do it, but it’s well worth it if you’re into self-learning and stuff like that.
[K] How did you get involved in music as a creative musician, as a composer, and how did you find out about this place?
[MB] Gosh, well, that’s a multi-point question. How did I get involved… Well, you know, I’ll talk about that, but I want to talk about how I found this show, how I found you guys as well. I was doing some work as a music journalist or a music writer. That’s kind of how I make a living, albeit not much of one, at home, and I was researching an artist, I was actually looking for a bio on Tom Heasley, and I came across you guys, and was like, “Hey, wait a minute!” I was totally overwhelmed by how comprehensive a database you guys had. It was like, all this information, I was like, “Whoa!” Then I found out there was the show, and I found out the show was out of Goddard, and I’m like, “Yo, that’s really weird.”
[K] Wait a minute, you’re going here and you don’t know of that?
[MB] Yeah. Well, I knew Tom had played a show here in August, and you know, I think I even asked him via email, “Tom, where are you playing in Montpelier?” because he had contacted me about some Detroit venues, and there… aren’t any. So, unless he wants to play on a street corner, I was just like, “Well, there’s not much point in coming here,” because there’s not a whole lot of venues for, you know, a listening kind of music or contemplative kind of music. I’m only familiar with his… I don’t know if you want to call it contemplative, there’s one really loud part where he starts talking through his tuba, on the end of his record. I think it might be his only solo release?
[K] That’s right, it’s his only solo release. For the benefit of our listeners, Tom Heasley was at the Ought-One Festival, he plays tuba and does electronics with that in live, extended improvisations of 20 minutes to a half hours or more. We played his stuff on the air, and we’ll be hearing his concert as well when we get to it in our Ought-One broadcasts coming up in a month or so.
[MB] So I’d talked to him about the performance in Montpelier there, and I forget exactly what, but one thing led to another, and I found out the station was here, and there’s a such a time-warp when I’m here. It’s like I either eat, sleep or read, and I was like, to come and talk to you guys would be the ultimate chance to break that monotony that I’ve experienced so many times.
[D] Well, we can be monotonous too…
[MB] Well yeah, but not in the same way, because I’m a little…
[K] Because this time you get to be monotonous.
[MB] I got the beta waves going now, so I’m a little more awake, you know, but it’s just like I spend the rest of the time as a drone, just kind of, “School, eat, sleep,” and I’m super-motivated about my music, and the closest I come to it is a really badly out of tune piano in, if anyone knows the Manor House on campus, and kind of plunk away, feel like I’m John Cage doing some prepared piano on a really out of tune thing. Sounds more like Schoenberg, but whatever, it’s all good. So it’s a chance to, you know, play around, and yeah, so I’m kind of… long-winded, yeah.
[K] [Laughter] So how did you get into it, now we know how you found us.
[MB] How did I get into it, yeah, well it’s a strange story. I have, I think, a steady progression over the last two and a half or three years of discs. The first one was kind of crazy compositions… first off, I should say that most of my music thus far has been of an ambient or contemplative nature. I was really influenced by, what would be… I don’t know, academic electronic music, or early electronic music. In this day and age it’s really hard with electronic music, because a dude spinning records constitutes electronic music. Yeah, okay, that makes sense if you’re Pierre Schaeffer, but it’s a little different if you’re a DJ spinning in a club. To me, that’s not electronic, that’s a dude spinning records. So my music was really inspired in a contemplative way by musique concrète, Pierre Schaeffer…
[K] Pierre Schaeffer’s really one of the originators, the leaders, in the early field of electronics, particularly ambient electronics and acousmatics.
[MB] Yeah, and he was one of the few guys where it’s actually listenable, and it’s not based on a serial music, like, I don’t know, Milton Babbitt or somebody like that, where it’s a dodecaphonic or like a twelve-tone base like *eerroww-errowiii*, it’s really hard, and it’s… kind of a Varèse angle. Schaeffer recordings are really scratchy, and I really appreciated him. I appreciated the æsthetic of his recordings, and the warmth, and kind of the honesty of it too. But mind you, I wasn’t into these things really before I got into music. I had a really cheap four-track and a broken keyboard that my friend had in his garbage that I saw as I was pulling in his driveway, and I always wanted to experiment with drones and things of that nature. It was some late night in August, five years ago or something, and I had this keyboard and this four-track, and I started holding a D-minor triad, I just held it down for, like, 30 minutes. Then I overdubbed it about three times, ran it through tremolo, ran it through distortion, pretty much all the gimmicky guitar effects I had each time, and after a while I said, “You know, just holding it down just kinda sucks.” So I just started taping down the keys, and I just held it and I would tweak the volume, the reverb, and I’m like, “Oh, this is cool, like, the ultimate in Zen composition. I’m doing without doing right here,” you know? Yeah, so one thing led to another, and things have kind of come along. The sound quality, I mean, everyone was breaking on me, when I put out the record that eventually carried that track, because everything had hiss and noise, and it sounded like a Pierre Schaeffer record, I mean it was horrible.
[D] Not horrible, no!
[MB] Well, because in ambient music, or “space music” of whatever the genres like that, you have Hollywood sound designers, you have that…
[K] You have that “purity of sound” that everybody goes for.
[MB] Yeah, absolutely, it’s marked by people like Steve Roach, or Robert Rich, who was The Sound Guru Geek Himself. I’m probably not making too many friends by saying that, but whatever, the thing of it is…
[D] You are here…[K laughter]
[MB] Yeah, it’s almost too clean. The stereophonic-ness of it is cool and it’s wide, but at the same time it doesn’t have the warmth, it has that cold digital feeling. You know, I’m pretty sure he mastered Tom Heasley’s record as well, and I think he masters most of the stuff on the Hypnos label. So, there’s a real width to it, but it’s always pretty cold and clinical feeling, it’s not warm. Usually contemplative in a drone-y kind of sense, but… anyways, how did I get into it? So it kind of evolved from there. It started with that, and it’s gotten shorter, it’s gotten longer, it’s gotten more programmatic. I depends really on the record, I guess.
[K] Well let’s hear something from your CD! We have this CD right here, it’s a great title, The Intercepted Transmissions: Cyber Zen Sound Engine.
[MB] Yeah, and let me just say one thing about this recording. This was a long-distance collaboration. You’ll hear my part, it’s guitar, kind of a far-out, mid-range, sounds like it’s poorly mixed. These guys actually sketched the whole record out, put the whole idea together, named all the songs, and they pretty much did everything. I made a disc of about 12 tracks, and I sent it out to about 15 artists, because I wanted to see how each one of these artists would re-interpret my work, and I pretty much gave them what I had, and it was hands-off, like, “Do what you do.” Most people didn’t respond, a couple did.
This was really a fruit of that work, and that was a while ago. It’s… as someone who didn’t create most of the music, but got an equal billing for it, it’s really a fantastic record. And that sounds like a horrible plug, my part was so small, and actually they’re like, “Yeah Matt, we’re going to get the sketches to you any day now,” and I’m like, “Yeah, right.” They kept saying that for, like, a year. It seemed like almost a year and a half, and I’m like, “Man, I’m not going to see anything, whatever,” and then when it came in the mail in August I was just in total awe at what they had created. I was like, “Whoa,” it was very far beyond my compositional abilities.
[K] Matt Borghi’s our guest, and we’re going to hear a cut from this. Shall we start from the top? Alright, this is Mars Infers from “The Intercepted Transmissions.”
We listen to Mars Infers by Matt Borghi, with GraceNoteX and Smith6079 playing [0:42:36–0:49:29].
[K] You said you had an absolute passion for this kind of stuff. Give us a little rundown of that.
[D] Yeah, tell us how it evolved, where did it come from?
[MB] Well, like I was saying, I started working with that one composition, and it just sort of evolved from there. That recording you just heard falls a little more along the lines of an illbient/ambient/contemplative, most of my work has been in the area of ambient and alike. Ambient, you know, it needs a little bit of a definition. There’s a couple different schools of thought on ambient, one of them being that ambient music evolved from two places. There’s a holy trinity of ambient, and that is John Cage, Brian Eno, and Erik Satie — if you listen to, particularly, some of John Cage’s more abstract stuff like some of the Imaginary Landscapes, as well as Erik Satie’s furniture music, and Brian Eno’s Ambient series.
[K] I wonder if Erik Satie knew he was participating in that trio. [Laughter]
[MB] The way they talk about Satie, he wasn’t aware of a whole lot of anything. I mean, he wasn’t just an abstract, they usually schlepp him in with Dada and stuff. He went to the beat of his own drummer, that was pretty much it. I’m not totally sure what he was cognizant of, but he created a really beautiful, simplistic music, and a lot of times again, he schlepped in with Impressionism, like Ravel and Debussy and stuff of that period. They drank coffee in the same cafés, but their music was quite… I mean, he was probably pretty close to one of the first minimalists, especially if you get into his Vexations.
[K] Right, which goes on forever.
[K] How long can that be played?
[D] 48 days?
[K] Something like that.
[MB] It’s really long, like John Cage talks about in his book Silence, he talks about something to the effect of when something’s really hard to listen to a really long time, keep listening and it’ll become interesting. I mean, it’s kind of one of his philosophies. John Cage, in my opinion, created a whole lot of crummy music, but you could never get past the awesome ideas he had behind the music. His ideas were awesome, but at times, his music, from a pure listenability standpoint, you really needed a thesis to read in order to understand just what exactly it was he was trying to do. Now, that’s not the case with all of his music, or his organized sound as the case may be.
Anyways, how did I get into music? Well, like I say, I started doing it, I think I owned zero ambient records, I had no idea what ambient music was, I had no idea what a space music was, or a contemplative music, or could even say that word.
[D] But did you hear some Satie or some Cage or something?
[MB] I was familiar with all these guys, but I was familiar more with Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies and his Gnossiennes. I studied guitar in classical and jazz traditions, and I really always enjoyed the sonorous qualities of his work, on any instrument, whether it be for flute and guitar, whether it be on the original piano transcriptions. Not only I appreciated it, I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I still do. I was listening to Jacques Lucier’s Erik Satie record… fantastic record, it’s a jazz trio, and he redoes these Erik Satie pieces with little improv cadences and stuff, it’s cool.
Ambient music, like I said, generally speaking there’s two schools. One includes the holy trinity of an almost utilitarian music, when it’s used for altering the ambience of your space or something like that, you get all that mumbo-jumbo, and it crossed into this field of acoustic ecology with R. Murray Schafer and stuff, who is a Canadian composer-writer who’s pretty awesome, writes some pretty great stuff, as well as being a composer, but I’m not familiar with his compositional work. Anyway, you get into that kind of stuff, sort of a “changing the ambience of your space” kind of æsthetic, which is kind of neat. A lot of people may be happy with the ambience of their space, but in my case, I live in a rural area and a lot of times it’s really quiet, so I put the music on. Or a perfect example is when I used to stay in the dorms here. I would turn this ambient music up, and I would drown out the sounds of people getting drunk and stamping their feet, sounding like they were doing renditions of STOMP on the floor above me, you know? And it would drown it out and enable me to sleep.
There’s another school of ambient which is like, beats and stuff like that, like Orb and Aphex Twin, stuff that came out of the UK’s Summer of Love.
[K] Aphex Twin is making a reputation more and more, they actually won the Golden Nica last year, the big Austrian Prix Ars Electronica. Aphex Twin won that one last year, so they’re really making their reputation.
[MB] Yeah, well you know it’s weird. The guy behind it, Richard D. James I believe, he’s actually composed something like thousands and thousands of pieces under at least two dozen different names he releases under. He has five or six simultaneous releases at any given time under a different. The Aphex Twin stuff is actually getting a little better and better. While it was more experimental at the time, it was pretty derivative of that tradition 808 and 909 bass drum sound, that kind of electronica that was just club music and kind of… shlacky. It was alright, but it was real derivative. It is still to a lot of folks called ambient, and I guess to some degree it is. It takes, like space music might be, or new age, in a case where it takes the contemplative aspect of ambient music, and fuses it with this music. But does that make… Madonna ambient? You know? So, who can tell? It’s anyone’s guess.
We listen to Whispering Across Oceans by Matt Borghi [0:56:40–1:03:30].
[K] What… so how do you create your pieces?
[MB] [Exhales] God, I plug ’em into my computer and go, pretty much. It’s really weird, I’m always kind of inspired by abstract stuff. Like, this semester, and this is kind of far-out, maybe you guys will get a kick out of this or maybe you’ll just think it’s way pretentious and this is why I’m on the off-campus program…
[K] [Laughter] What, they won’t let you in? Because it’s so sophisticated here? Ha ha ha!
[MB] Yeah, right, something like that. So the thing is, I’m working on four pieces this semester. The first piece is going to be based on Jackson Pollock’s Lavender Mist, and my personal interpretation of it — not represented by anything physically — to create the inspiration sonically. Yikes. The second thing is going to be on, and this just happens to be this way because it’s off the top of my head this way, a Monet’s Winter Landscape from 1880, again I’m going to record based on the impression the piece gives me, based on Monet’s non-20/20 vision-having self and his impression, on a piece.
Next after this, this is where it starts getting really abstract and kind of scary. The next one is going to be based on an impression of a feeling of Albert Camus’ main character in The Stranger, Mr. Meursault I believe. The only time in the book he has any consciousness is when he realizes he’s going to in jail for the rest of his life [sic]. So I’m going to make a piece based on that feeling that I believe he has as he’s realizing consciousness really for the first time in the book. Yikes again. The last one, and this is a personal fave, is my feeling that Tom Joad had in John Huston’s 1939 adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, when he’s forced to leave his family and go on the run from the law at the end. The book is cool, but the movie, it’s just the blacks and whites, and it’s just so moving. I was left with impressions, and it’s totally abstract, and in fact the idea’s kind of like abstract composition. And it’s a similar way that I go and I create.
[K] I saw that movie, and it was the first movie I ever saw at a drive-in. I was there with older relatives, stuff in the back seat, while I don’t know what was going on in the front seat, but all I know was I was looking out the window at The Grapes of Wrath at a drive-in. That was the 1950s! Now this is a long time after it was released but [elderly old man voice] by God, I remember that movie!
[D] And what was your abstract reaction to it?
[K] My abstract reaction was that I still remember it to this day, it made a big stamp on my head.
[MB] Yeah, yeah. In my opinion, it’s one of the better movies… I’m not going to say “ever,” that’s so hard.
[K] So how do you make pieces based on these… Do you do multiple takes, do you work over and over and over, how do you actually go about the creation of the piece? When do you get satisfied?
[MB] The way things really work, and this is the strangest thing. For me, one of the things I do, is when I make a recording… I believe an artist needs to… each record, each offering needs to… I don’t know if necessarily “out-do” is the word, but probably “do better” than the previous recording, and not better from a production standpoint, but their process should evolve. I’m always focused on the process, and how can I take me and my voice and the idiom I create in, and make it new? Not necessarily new to the genre, not necessarily new to… anything other than what is new to me, but I have to push the envelope to see where I can take it. To see if in fact if I can go somewhere new, that’s the challenge.
So, I might do a record, and it might take me 3, 6, 9, 12 weeks of experimentation. Then once I get the process down, everything for me is formulaic. Once I get the process down, I usually record the whole thing straight. I’ve been practicing and I’ve been crafting it, shaping it, and you know, the mid-range part in this recording is guitar, it’s acoustic guitar. Anybody who’s familiar with ambient genre or other styles of music, there’s a guy — well, there’s Robert Fripp, who did a lot of work — but there’s another guy named Jeff Pearce. He has done some weird stuff with the guitar, he’s made the guitar do some things a guitar doesn’t normally do. The danger in this genre, because it’s kind of a small, close-knitted genre, is to come off sounding like him. He’s a cool guy and probably wouldn’t care if you sounded like him, but in my mind, it’s like, if I’m going to sound like him I want to arrive at it without him in mind. Because otherwise, to me, it’s just kind of ripping off his style. So he, in a lot of ways, is the benchmark for ambient guitar. Before him was Robert Fripp and some of his work with King Crimson and Brian Eno. That was the benchmark for the ambient guitar, and it’s evolved quite a bit with Jeff Pearce. So I don’t know, the guitar is a prominent thing.
One of the things I really hope to document at some point, and I still just don’t feel like I can do it well, is piano. I’m really interested in the sustain pedal and the overtones with that. I believe there’s actually a record out now with George Crumb. He actually miked… it’s an electroacoustic thing where he modifies the overtones, so… it’s just a process. I just kind of… go at it. I just kind of push the envelope a little further each time, and try to get somewhere.
[D] Do you find that the cuts on the CD that we’re playing are different, that there’s an evolution from the first to the last?
[MB] Yeah. Like I say, I didn’t compose most of… I composed the source material. These guys, I say, I did an interview with them for a Texas station, and that came up. That was really the first time we’d interacted. We exchanged a couple brief emails, exchanged mailing addresses, and we’ve done the bulk of this release with only a couple actual phone conversations. We did this phone interview, I said to them, “You know, you guys really beat this into shape.” I forget their stage names, I only know them as Dan and Clay. Dan is GraceNoteX and Clay is Smith6079 or something like that. Yeah, so Clay stepped in. Clay is very quiet, or at least he seems that way to me, because I mostly talked with Dan. Clay was like, “You know, man, we didn’t beat anything to shape, we just let it happen, and because of the stuff you provided, it happened and it happened well.” And I didn’t really know what to say. I was just kind of like, “I’m humbled, because if my stuff can give you guys the ideas to create that…” I mean I don’t even think about it a lot of times. That was one of the greatest things, is someone who doesn’t really understand about… okay, my name is on it, but they did all the work. I can step back from that recording, and it’s one of the things I always try to do as a composer, and I was lucky in this case, because I can step back from this recording and I can say, “It’s not mine.” It’s really theirs. I mean, they created it. I created some stuff they worked with, they give me equal billing and all that, but at the end of the day, I really believe it was their work that created that recording, and I believe there is a programmatic feel to it, or a bit of a beginning, middle and end.
What they might have had in mind as far as a program, or song titles… this is what I have the worst habit of, because I produce so much music, that song titles too often are a way for me to differentiate between what the tracks are and what record they belong on. I did a record last spring called December Impressions, and I was so tired of trying to come up with songs, that I just called them December Impressions, and 11 sequences and gave them Roman numerals. Because the music is the focal point. The songs, the mythos they might go with, the song titles, I just… I don’t know. I’m a writer, but it’s not the part I prefer to emphasize, I guess.
[D] Let’s go on to the next…
[K] Yeah, ambient pieces are usually a little bit longer than the ones that are in this particular CD, and we’ll get back to talking about that, but let’s listen to the longest cut on this.
We listen to He Called Me Butterfly by Matt Borghi [1:13:13–1:20:22].
[D] The amazing dichotomy between music and composer.
[K] Yeah, I mean, you’re like, you put the big key in your back and twist it a few times, and you are off, and this music, it just goes the other way.
[MB] I know, isn’t it weird?
[K] How is that? How come?
[MB] I think, you know, and that’s something nobody’s ever mentioned, but why do I make this contemplative music, but I’m like, totally wired? I don’t know, I think because when I suffer burn-out it’s the only music I can listen to, you know? Other music just kind of fills the ether and doesn’t really do anything for me. Certain musics express their certain things.
[D] Yeah, you were mentioning the opening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.
[MB] Yeah, oh God, yeah. I don’t know, there’s something about that. Forget about the fact that the first time I was heard it was on a really awesome Deutsche Grammophone recording that’s acoustically and sonically perfect. But there was something about that, and it may be 12 measures or something, it’s not very much, but the opening is so quiet, and it really illustrates — I think without Mahler even being aware of it — some of the ideas of silence and quiet in composition that would eventually come out of academia and then make their way into a secular music. I was reading this essay by somebody, some abstract writer, about silence in music, taken from a Susanne K. Langer book from 1958, I was reading it before I came in. She really talks about silence and stuff there, and I believe that essay I was reading actually pre-dates Cage’s Silence. It’s a really interesting essay.
So the thing is that Mahler really had his finger on a pulse. His music is usually pretty disjointed. It’s you know, it’s loud, it’s soft, it’s a whole array of things all simultaneously.
[K] It’s sort of a great degeneration of the Romantic era.
[MB] Absolutely, and what’s strange about it is that in a lot of ways it reminds me of sort of an orchestral Sun Ra with more timbres, because there’s so much more going on. It’s like you can listen to a Sun Ra piece, and you can listen to the focal point and it just kind of goes from there. That’s how Mahler’s music is, you listen to it and you can almost pick out an instrument, a piccolo, a flute, or a violin, and you can listen to its unique part all the way through. I often wondered if that doesn’t have something to do with the way he composed in his villa somewhere, in Lake Geneva or somewhere around there. He just sat, every summer when he was off taking a break from his work with whatever symphony he was working for during the season, and he would write out his symphonies on his terrace. I just wonder if after a while, the instruments not only had a singular melodic role, or multiple roles in a harmonic aspect, but I wonder if they almost took on a graphical representation as well. Which is kind of interesting, it’s cool. Something that a composer like me can’t have much grasp on because I just take an alchemical approach, go into my sonic laboratory, and mix up sounds to whatever comes out when I’m done.
[D] But you’re doing the same thing, you’re still creating.
[MB] But there’s no graphical representation.
[D] So what?
[K] Graphical representation is for replicability. Something’s happened to that now, because now that you can store your representation in a computer format, the point of having a representation for somebody else to reproduce it is lost.
[MB] Yeah, it’s true. I guess there is, in a way, a graphical representation, because you see the sound wave of the whole thing. Which is kind of cool, but to see the peaks of the wave, it’s not the same thing. You guys got the real composition hammered down, you know, with the notes. But I mean, seriously, that would be something I’d like to try, but I don’t know if I have an aptitude for it, I’m not so sure about it. I’d like to think so, but I’ve never done it yet. Maybe when I’m old or something, I’ll be like, “Alright, I’m gonna learn how to do music like Satie.” He went back to school when he was, like, 50 or 60, decided he needed to learn more about music.
[D] There’s a precedent, yeah.
[K] Yes. Let’s listen to another cut, then we’ll be back with some additional comments. Well gosh, we’ve got a short one coming up. This one is called The Hill Over Nagasaki Harbor. Is the title just a title, as you said before?
[MB] It’s just a title.
[K] Just to identify that this is the piece that’s two minutes long, or something.
[MB] The title makes up for the length, I guess.
We listen to The Hill Over Nagasaki Harbor by Matt Borghi [1:25:50–1:28:15].
[K] We had a caller during that piece, and he said he… I always have to paraphrase and I sometimes mess it up, and I’ll do my best. He said “I don’t understand why we need that notation anymore anyway, because we have ways of doing it with computers, for reproducing what we want.” So we have a caller who, kind of, is encouraging you to stay away from that, I guess, I’m not sure.
[MB] Well, caller, you know what? It’s looking like I’m going to stay away from it anyway, by default. [K laughter] I’m just kinda sticking with my computer and holding down keys, so… thank you.
[K] I still love it, that’s one of the best stories I’ve ever heard, just taping down the keys.
[MB] Thank you. Everyone’s kind of amazed when they hear that story. It just seemed like, I was able to make some coffee and some breakfast and the music kept recording.
[D] Then, in your later life, as you mentioned Erik Satie did, went back to school when he was about 50, so he learned how to do other things.
[MB] Yeah, that’d be nice. I could do some crazy composition stuff like Erik Satie, like Erik Satie did some crazy compositional stuff, from the illuminated, what was it? Key signatures, and time signatures? And then John Cage, and his composition, which was…
[D] So that’s where you think you’ll be going? You’re not going techno, you’ll continue to do this, and each piece will be an evolution of the previous piece, and you’ll just keep going and bettering yourself, making longer pieces. Do you envision your own studio?
[MB] Yeah, absolutely, I think the direction right now is probably in live performance. Now it’s really hard to get people where they want to go to a performance and listen. I mean, classical music seems to do it well, but then there’s also that sort of society thing attached to it. With this, it doesn’t have that. I guess it could, so what happens is that live performance ends up sounding a lot like space rock, which is kind of like imagining those, you know, 20–30 minute sets in between Grateful Dead songs, where they’re doing the melody and chorus, you know, and it just kind of goes off wherever. They just used traditional instruments, guitars, basses, drums, things of that nature.
Especially I would really like to go, and I do to some degree, into an improvised angle, where I improvise the music. Like I believe you were talking about the caller and how he — I don’t know if I can say it — had done some stuff with loops at one of the performances. To me, that’s really cool, because you can do stuff with the loops and the collages that those create. What I would really like is to have one or two or three instruments where I can build on top of those loops, and the loops sort of become organic and create themselves, yet at the same time without it sounding like a disjointed collage, I’d rather it sound like a really profound 60-, 70-, 80-, 90-, 120-minute ambient piece that people can do whatever to, you know? We could record, we could enjoy the performance.
[K] But let’s hear one more before we go. This is the final cut on the album, the 12 pieces on this CD called The Intercepted Transmissions, I just do like that title. Who’s that on the cover? Is that a friend of yours?
[MB] You know, I have no idea… [K laughter] I don’t even know what those guys look like, actually, it could be one of them. Who knows? I think there was a friend of the graphic designer who did the layout and everything for the CD. I know we had the picture lying around… you know, usually with my releases I opt for more of like a Windham Hill kind of angle, or ECM, with the border and then some picture centred in the middle, kind of like a… I don’t know…
[D] Just like you, centred in the middle.
[K] Centred in the middle!
[MB] You know, so yeah, I don’t know if I should say it now, but thanks for having me on here.
[K] Well thanks for joining us!
[D] It’s been swell.
[K] It’s been a lot of fun.
We listen to And Yet I Float by Matt Borghi [1:33:44–1:36:35].