Satellite – 001

Satellite - 001

Satellite – 001

VFI017

Tracklist

  1. 001
  2. 002

Notes

Once upon a time in a small liberal arts college in Oakland, California, three musicians found themselves enrolled in a masters program, studying some of the finer points of contemporary music. Hailing from three equally unique locales and bringing their own approaches to extended-techniques, free improvisation and lowercase electronics, they met one rainy Sunday to perform together in a dreary classroom, in hopes that their discrepancies in languages, variations in vocabularies and fascinations with the unknown and would combine and intertwine into a unique acoustic environment. Lines were drawn, spells were cast and sounds were made, combining mechanical pulses with arthropod dance steps, lulling trances into dirges into whispers in the wind. They played for hours, pausing only to reflect, recollect and continue with even more fury and direction – and never once playing a conventional note on their instruments. And with that, Satellite, otherwise known as the unique combinations of Liz Meredith (violia), Gudmundur Steini Gunnarsson (guitar) and Travis Johns (bass) was formed – with this disc, previously only released in extremely limited batches, serving as a documentation of that instance. On behalf of the ensemble, as well as the collective as a whole, we invite you to come sing along with our past whilst looking towards the future, once contained in hand-assembled envelopes embossed with our handprints as a souvenir to our collective temporal bridges – and now available digitally for the technologically progressive masses!

Updated Notes

Here we are at round three – as in the third incarnation that I’ve personally released this particular recording – that is discounting Myspace pages, social media and other web-based dispersions in and about the usual spheres. And as of writing this, it’s been 11 years since the three of us met up to record this disc in the first place – making me wonder, exactly why am I so into keeping this particular recording current. I mean, other than the usual though that being an experimental music release that maybe had 20 or so physical copied pressed a decade ago, the chances of widespread listening is still negligible, but yeah, why? At least on my end, this recording represents a bit of a musical revelation where I began to embrace a bit of an identity within my music and truly began exploring my voice, as it were, albeit instrumentally. Prior to this recording, I was nearly terrified of performing on bass in a live setting, having never really taken lessons until college – and even then, only doing so to satisfy an instrumental studies requirement. Similarly, from a compositional perspective, I’d like to think I didm;t have much going on – a couple graphic scores, annotated improvisations and the usual computer music explorations, but truth be told, I was in my early 20’s – possibly reeling from an extreme indoctrination into the world of academic music by way of conservatory training, but prior to that I was some farm kid from the sticks – culture lived in a city 100 miles away and in the pre-internet era, it was largely inaccessible to those not in the know – which was most people. I later discovered that my small farm town played host to a legion of artists and future mentors that added a deal of respect to my roots, but a.) no one played out and b.) if they did, I wouldn’t have known. Every once in a while I was dragged to a Chopin concerto at the local college and discovered Bitches Brew by way of an R.A. at a summer intensive study camp, but yeah, generally speaking, I was still green, quite aware of it and suffering from a bit of an inferiority complex because of it.

Case in point, I was generally in a state of speechless awe of my NYC-derived classmates that I encountered at Oberlin, thinking they were cooler, smarter, taller, more sophisticated, etc to the pint that I honestly questioned how I ended up at the same school as them – especially since I arrived with at least two pairs of JNCO’s and a Batman tshirt from Target. The same went for grad school. I’d since adapted to more progressive streetwear, but I awoke every day for at least the first few months wondering how I got to where I was and at what point someone was going to call me out for good. I’m sure in the end I would have been fine, but if it wasn’t for Liz and Steini, as well as the encouragement of Noah, Ava, Aram and Zach (i.e., the Pink Canoes), I’m not sure if my graduate experiences would have been as meaningful as it ended up being.

Back to this recording. Liz and Steini had already been performing together on various ad hoc concerts at Mills performing some pretty heavy prepared instrument improvisations that were in all honesty, fairly intimidating. I was playing in the Pink Canoes, which was by all admission kind of a free improv party band with a direct connection to LA, but a general deficiency in organization – not to knock it, of course. We started sharing bills in the beginning of 2006, most notably at Mama Buzz Cafe, an independent coffee shop on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland that hosted shows far a good while before succumbing to another wave of gentrification – and it seems that’s just how the lines of my generation of Mills students was being drawn. Not to say that things are written in stone, but did that music program ever have its cliques. Probably still does. I try to keep a low profile. So how or why did I jump ship? I actually don’t remember – I don’t think it was for a class. Steini and I eventually hit the road for a few days to play a few shows in the midwest, but I don’t think we had recored these tracks yet. Maybe we just did. But regardless, one thing I do remember is that while recording these sessions, I actually did feel like there was some sort of personal musical epiphany going on for me – as if I was finally capable of taking myself seriously, playing with a degree of restraint, listening and exploring a sonic vocabulary outside of any shred of familiarity. I’m not sure if I can speak for my collaborators to this degree, but considering that it’s over a decade later and this disc still resonates, I figured I’d at least mention it. Thanks again to Liz and Steini for the adventure. May we find the time for our collective paths to converge once more for another round.

Media

Personnel

Gudmundur Steinn Gunnarsson – prepared guitar

Liz Meredith – prepared viola

Travis Johns – prepared bass

 

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