nedjelja, 3. ožujka 2013.

orchestramaxfieldparrish / Mike Fazio - Crossing of Shadows (2011)


Muzika za horror filmove razrijeđene do homeopatskih količina kada postaju sjećanja na doživljaje drugih, nepoznatih ljudi koji zapinju za klavirske žice razapete po ulicama ili lamentiraju zbog uranjanja u skupocjenu vodu.

You can hear samples of this work and purchase a copy at

dark collection of lamentations originally recorded in 2006 and only released in a small private pressing in 2007 and has now undergone a remix and remastering. This new edition of six improvised electronic compositions is based on field recordings both left unprocessed and severely reprocessed, with added guitar, piano, voices and electronics, creating a musical path beginning from a place of extreme darkness and culminating in a point of light and hope. Recorded and mastered in 96K 24 bit audiophile audio. Included is a reconstructed version of 'Thirst' which first appeared on the Caligari - An Exquisite Corpse dvd release through the Chain Tape Collective.

Improvised and recorded “at the Luna County Observatory and outdoors within the shadows of Hell Gate,” orchestramaxfieldparrish's Crossing Of Shadows was recorded during the summer of 2006 and subsequently released in a private pressing in summer of 2007, and now appears in a fully remastered form for public consumption. It wouldn't be stretching things too much to say that the respective characters of the recording locales are manifested by the music, given that its six dark lamentations are both ethereal and earthy. It also wouldn't be reading too much into the album's elegiac tone in noting that the album is dedicated to Jeff Ladd, a dear friend of Fazio's who co-founded Faith Strange, played with him in Life With The Lions (among many group ventures), and passed away on May 21st, 2010. As such, one could quite legitimately hear Crossing Of Shadows as a memento mori, though one whose journey might begin in darkness and despair but is finally imbued with hope. As the saying goes, from tragedy great art is born, and the principle applies here too, as Fazio transmutes the great personal pain he endured into a moving fifty-two-minute statement that could be the most personalized work he's ever produced.
There's much to admire about the new release. On presentation grounds alone, it's striking, as Fazio prepared two limited editions of the release, the deluxe version a hardcover book-bound edition (75 copies) and the other a Japanese-style mini-LP sleeve (225 copies). Part of the recording's appeal is that it sounds almost nothing like Fazio's previous orchestramaxfieldparrish recording The Silent Breath of Emptiness, Fazio's thinking being that repeating a previous release's sound is pointless. It's a more sonically expansive recording than its predecessor, for one. Whereas the earlier recording focused on a purer distillation of guitar-generated textures and tones, the new album brings into its orbit field recordings (untreated and heavily treated) and piano while it at the same time downplays the guitar's presence, at least in so far as it appears in recognizable manner. It's an album that's also best served by a surround sound playback so that the multi-dimensional distribution of its elements can be experienced. Spatial positioning in this case transcends simple foreground-background determinations; instead, entire geographical expanses are suggested by the album's material.
The album begins with the magnificently realized rumination “Thirst (Revisitation),” so named because it originally appeared as part of the soundtrack to the Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse DVD project. After first rising out of the gloom like a softly moaning spectre, the piece builds gradually in intensity, its elements filling in and spreading into the space, until a lethal metallic drone detonates with a violent clang and thereby opens the gates to a flood of spectral noises. Ethereal creaking sounds whistle until they're supplanted by a low-level rumble and crackle, with the volume level and intensity continually shifting. “On Nine Mile Marsh” then unfolds like a patient scanning of a lunar surface alien territory, after which the brooding nocturnal ambiance of “Mystery by Moonlight” appears, enhanced by the inclusion of cricket thrum and an overall sense of dreamlike calm that nevertheless contains an undercurrent of turbulence and threat. Near the end of the piece, the musical elements fade away altogether, leaving in their wake the cricket drone accompanied by the sound of footsteps trudging through the undergrowth at three in the morning.
An intentional moment of silence separates parts one and two, the gesture signalling a subtle shift in tone towards a second half that plays like a requiem of sorts, even while flickers of light seep into its material as if to posit the possibility of rebirth and hope. “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” unfurls peacefully with the flutter of spindly textures gently prodded by a whisper-soft shuffling rhythm, and then takes a meditative turn in its second half when a speaking voice recites text in a foreign tongue and acoustic piano playing appears. Only once does the album recall the sound-world of The Silent Breath of Emptiness, and that's in the closing piece “Lament (“The end is where we start from, a new beginning always begins with an end.” “…Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is…”),” which pairs celestial streams of guitar-generated material with piano chords—the ethereal and earthy united a final time.
There's a certifiably enigmatic quality to the album that enhances its appeal, and one of the mysteries, naturally enough, concerns the identity of the speaker in “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” and an account of what he says (though one presumes that the speaker is Fazio, there's nothing to confirm unequivocally that it is so). This is a recording that is not only a superb addition to the orchestramaxfieldparrish discography but also a beautiful tribute that honours Ladd's memory in dignified manner.-

from Musique Machine (May 2012):
'orchestramaxfieldparrish' is one of the primary projects of the under-recognized Mike Fazio, a New York musician dealing mostly in sophisticated soundscapery. I am lucky enough to have heard the previous release, the masterful double album "To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming" (technically released as ÆRA, 'presented' by orchestramaxfieldparrish), as well as his concise 3" CD release under the "A Guide for Reason" name "VII - VIII".
At first glance, the new album "Crossing Of Shadows" contains many of the same ingredients as Mike Fazio's other work. This is not at all a bad thing as his formula is a robust one: this is a colorful, melodious ambient music, 'ambient' in the classic sense, and also classically infused, with real, audible notes! The natural timbres of stringed instruments are shrouded in a glowing digital cloak, delicately treated to enhance their reverent qualities, divine overtones extracted and amplified.
This album in particular relies on heavy use of silence. It has patient elegance, and a hushed, haunting, fragile beauty, like icesicles dripping. It is slower and more dynamic than his previous works, and each gesture feels more intentional. There is no excess.
First of six pieces, "Thirst (Revisitation)" is quite the imposing entrance. First, a hollow howl of wind, soon dramatically joined by a string chord resonated and echoed into vast, unstoppable drone. At peak moment, an orchestral hit slices through the sound like a knife: eerily, it ceases; a few seconds later, swells anew, now encircled by whispering rushes, rattles.. The track explores many shadows and crevices, but always drone returns to lift us up.
The second track "On Nine Mile Marsh" begins in a kind of slow, crackling pulsation I associate with tape loops, and then disperses into deep emptiness weathered by thick, slow swells of filtered synth and noise. It's a beautiful and classic sound. "Lost Star" borrows a few of the strange bubbling, consonant resonances found on the "A Guide For Reason" release, and compliments them with expansive synthesizer textures and rushing reverberation. Its abrupt ending is food for thought.
Elsewhere "Mystery By Moonlight" and "A Walk Amongst The Raindrops" represent Fazio's romantic yearning. These are watery soundtracks for solitary pondering and meandering in the Fall and Winter months. In "Mystery By Moonlight", there is a notably perfect blending of field recordings and synthesizers, and a hazy naturescape becomes perfectly imagineable. Anyone who has experienced it first hand will also be reminded of the peculiar way crickets can be nearly deafening when found in abundance. "A Walk Amongst The Raindrops" was instantly my favorite track upon first hearing the album, an intensely emotional soliloquy for rippling synth and the delayed, percussive pinging of droplets.
"Lament" is a duet for a pure, shimmering synth and piano that closes the album is perfect 'lunar ambient' fashion and recalls Coil songs like "Tiny Golden Books", which is never a bad thing.
Overall, orchestramaxfieldparrish's "Crossing Of Shadows" is an entrancing, emotional and unique work of soundscape music, too melodious and pleasant to be referred to as 'avant garde', but far too sophisticated and experimental to lumped in with most of what passes for 'ambient' these days. I highly recommend Fazio's vibrant and intelligent music to any listener with a little patience, and this is one of the best examples yet of his style. - Josh Landry
December 2011 - "One of the top 20 of 2011" - textura

from Bad Alchemy :
Mike Fazio war zuletzt in der Band von Copernicus zu hören. Crossing Of Shadows (fs12) zeigt den New Yorker Gitarristen wieder in seinem eigenen Reich. Als orchestra maxfieldparrish wandelt er in elegischen Gedanken, die das Andenken an Jeff Ladd, seinem verstorbenen Partner in Life With The Lions, noch intensiviert. Die Schatten dröhnender Wolkenbänke sind durchsetzt mit den Schritten eines Spaziergängers, von Vogelstimmen und von Grillengezirp. Etwas Helleres als Dämmerung oder Mondlicht ist zu der düsteren Stimmung schwer vorstellbar. Fazio suggeriert gleich mehrmals das Bild eines einsamen Wanderers ('On Nine Mile Marsh', 'A Walk Amongst The Raindrops'), eines Melmoth oder Heathcliff, der eine gothische Aura als Mantel um sich geschlagen hat. Durch 'Lost Star' geistern gitarristische Klangfetzen, das Brüten weicht einer neuen Unruhe, sogar einer pulsierenden Bewegtheit von kaskadierend verhallenden Echos. Ganz unerwartet kommt jedoch eine Männerstimme, die, von Pianonoten umsäumt, etwas auf Japanisch raunt. Die In memoriam-Stimmung hellt auf zu 'Lament', das mit Pianoschlägen und hellen Drones Ende und Anfang in eins setzt, zugleich Feuer und Rose, gestärkt durch den Trost, den T.S. Eliot mit 'Little Gidding' spendet, dem buddhistisch angehauchten vierten seiner 4 Quartets (wenn es denn ein Trost ist, sich das Verbrennen im Nessus-Gewand vorzustellen als Liebkosung durch die Hand, die es webte).

from Norman Records UK:...according to our Business Lady:
This is a repressing of orchestramaxfieldparrish's 'Crossing Of Shadows' album. Originally released in 2007 it's been treated to a makeover (remaster) and reissued with a bonus reconstructed version of 'Thirst' (originally in the soundtrack for the film 'Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse') added as a cheeky bonus. orchestramaxfieldparrish's music is the height of ambient bleakness. Constructed from treated and non-treated field recordings with occasional appearances from guitar, piano and voice, 'Crossing Of Shadows' invites you to a dark musical place. It shifts from an almost industrial coldness to a spiritual light in slow and steady waves that engulf the senses and makes for a harsh yet potentially hopeful music listening experience. Serious business.
from furthernoise:
Previously orchestramaxfieldparrish has navigated interstices between experimental ambient and a neo-classical distillate, dealing in ritual tone-whorls over dark drone and post-Gothic colourings to wispy atmospherics laced with orchestral infusions. Mike Fazio’s questing sensibility manifests here in a turning away from repetition of gestures. Where the previous was restless in its experiment, Crossing of Shadows is more restrained, self-contained - immediately more timbrally open than To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming, and before that The Silent Breath of Emptiness, whose narrow focus on abstracted guitar-tones is expanded, integrated into a wider architecture. The album was released privately in 2007, but only now gets a full public issue. Comprising 'six dark lamentations,' perhaps of a general existential nature, though likely with a specific personal ceremonial note – this at the passing of a friend, to whom the album is dedicated.
Its 'lamentations' are formed of aether and earth, oneiromantic and spatial. The ancients had it that ‘through suffering comes wisdom’ and this may be at work here, especially in Part One, as Fazio transmutes mourning to enlightened musical movement. It sets out contemplative but unsettled with “Thirst (Revisitation)”; originally part of the soundtrack to the Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse DVD project, it hosts an initial lamenting cadence rising and extending through the soundfield, before a caustic drone sounds a signal to an irruption of spectral sound, a seepage of low-end crackle and hum, fluctuating between remote decay and more visceral attack. “On Nine Mile Marsh” comes with ominous sonorities before Part One’s brooding conclusion, “Mystery by Moonlight.” This is pervaded with a sense of eerie-serene reverie, communing with Coil. Fazio has an inveterate predilection for other iconic ambient / space / drone artists, and the lately resanitized ’70s Kosmische of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, and these are no less present here - a hint of Cluster maybe, even a passing glimpse of Sky.
A paradigm shift in tenor comes with Part Two - less grim, more elegiac, with flickers of light more insistent, and darkness diminished. The light-seeking tendency is notable on “Lost Star,” (see above), with its spatial guitar leitmotifs and discreet treatments. “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” is propelled by a sublimated echo-laden hypno-pulse before taking a meditative turn to spoken word (Japanese) and piano interludes. “Lament (“The end is where we start from, a new beginning always begins with an end.” “…Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is…”)” (gulp!) grounds celestial guitar-streams with a ballast of piano chords in closing. Throughout the album the use of spatial emplacement techniques transcends simple foreground-background determinations, allowing a vast expansiveness of soundfield to be suggested.- Alan Lockett 

from Wonderful Wooden Reasons:
orchestramaxfieldparrish's Mike Fazio is a perennial favourite around these here parts whose melancholic and symphonic sounds are a deliciously seductive tincture.
On this exquisitely presented new album Mike we see two distinct sides to his musical nature. Part One of the album is a sumptuous set of low key, bewitching and seductive droneworks (with occasional flashes of exuberance). It’s very much in the vein of the previous work I’ve discussed in these pages and it’s lovely.
Part two is a much more fragile affair. It’s music is more ephemeral. A series of ghostly images and vaporous effusions that flicker, glimmer, writhe and cavort. It’s utterly wonderful and I am drowning in it. Always recommended.- Ian Holloway

from Cyclic Defrost:
According to the orchestramaxfieldparrish myspace page, this shadowy outfit reside on Green Dolphin St, US of A. Somewhere in the psychic and musical neighbourhood of Dutch outfit Dolphins Into The Future, its a glowering neighbourhood of broken street lights and steaming ventilation ducts, neglected and mournful in contrast to Lieven Martens dayglo Cetacean odyssey. orchestramaxfieldparrish main man Mike Fazio initially released Crossing Of Shadows as a limited private pressing in 2007. A New York native, Guitarist Fazio has a long and varied history of improvisation and band-driven outings reaching back until the early 1980s.
Opening track ‘Thirst (Revisitation)’ was previously available as part of the soundtrack to the DVD Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse, released by the Chain Tape Collective, of which Fazio is a member. If Crossing Of Shadows had continued in this dark ambient / isolationist vein throughout, it would be a harrowing listen, but the atmosphere gradually allows more light in over the duration of proceedings. The orchestral WHOOMPH! around three minutes in might make you jump out of your skin, as befits a movie including Caligari in the title. ‘On Nine Mile Marsh’ dynamic panning and deep sonorous ambience tell a tale of a foggy place of foreboding and dread, straight out of some Victorian potboiler. Concluding Part one, ‘Mystery by Moonlight’ summons up the spectre of late 90s Coil, more creeping bent than creeping dread. It’s also reminiscent of Cluster and the Germanic Sky axis from the late 70s; a contemplative ambience draws the listener into the sultry night.
Part two swims further towards the light with ‘Lone Star’, as subtle repeated guitar motifs and low-key manipulation allow the ambience to shine through. Gradually, pointillist washes and space-age guitar echoes overtake the piece. This is a very interesting approach to guitar driven dark ambience, reminding me of Per Henrik Svalastog’s release for the Rune Grammofon label. The following track ‘A Walk Amongst the Raindrops’ has hypnotic Chain Reaction style pulsed rhythms and enough echoic delay to maintain that ‘minimal tech’ feel. The piano interludes and Japanese spoken word interludes feel somewhat clunky when contrasted to this beguiling rhythmic base. With the whole album serving as a lament to the memory of Life With the Lions band mate Jeff Ladd, orchstramaxfieldparrish has created a worthy shrine for the remembrance of a multi-faceted life. - Oliver Laing

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA,  To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming (2009)

Though To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming was reviewed previously, this latest iteration expands upon the original's two discs with a third that's equally deserving of mention and justifies revisiting the release. In its entirety, the work registers as a remarkable accomplishment by astral traveler Mike Fazio—aka ÆRA (pronounced “ash-ra”), orchestramaxfieldparrish, and Gods Of Electricity member—and one that can't help but seem like a definitive artistic statement. The recordings present heavily synthetic landscapes that more naturally reside in the upper spheres than on earth. Infinitely long trails of electrical tones—largely guitar-generated—stretch over immense expanses like shooting stars captured in slow-motion, and notes shift and bend as they arc across the heavens.
It's hard not to think of “A screaming comes across the sky, ” the infamous opening phrase of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, the moment To The Last Man's “Elegæa” appears. Dark storm clouds seem to roll across the horizon when the composition's deep, steely tones flare like a synthetic swarm. The sixteen-minute “To Touch The Sky” follows, with micro-noise sputter, suggestive of the rapid chatter of insects or squirrels, punctuating the piece's flowing tendrils of simmering sound. “Ennoæ” introduces a pronounced physical dimension by layering panning percussive patterns prominently atop the synthetic base, with hand drums and anvil-like punctuations lending the piece a naturalistic character. During the ten-minute meditation “Out Of Many, One,” grandiose washes woozily rise and fall, and the droning tones burn fiercely, at one time increasing in volume to an ear-shattering degree before exploding into a cluster of stars. A peaceful synthesizer sonority dominates during the final minutes, strengthening the music's connection to the space-rock tradition associated with outfits such as Tangerine Dream.
Index Of Dreaming eschews conventional track titles for numbers (e.g., “1/1,” “2/2”) but sonically the ÆRA style carries over from one disc to the other, with “1/1” even seeming to pick up from where To The Last Man's epic closer “Ecquænam” leaves off. If anything Index Of Dreaming may be the “purer” of the two halves, as Fazio reduces the second disc's meditations and drones to their essence by largely banishing natural sounds (exceptions being “1/2” and “2/2” where celestial choir exhalations accompany the tracks' sweeping tones). The recording's subterranean drones and sparkling prisms reach an epic culmination in “1/3,” a super-terrestrial exploration where slow-burning waves billow, ripple, rise, and fall for twenty-eight hypnotic minutes.
The third disc, Pæn No. 1-The Paradise Syndrome (a limited-edition included with the first fifty copies of To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming), was recorded in one take on Dec. 27th, 2008. In keeping with the title (completed by the accompanying “…I have found paradise / Surely no man has ever attained such happiness / Here there is much time for everything / Each time your arms hold me it's as joyous as the first / Each kiss is as the first…”), the thirty-two-minute, two-part piece is in its opening moments even more ethereal than the material on the companion discs. Fazio revisits earlier guitar-generated themes and elaborates on them by adding organ and field recordings (a rain storm and bird collage recorded in New Mexico and Nevada about fifteen years ago). If the first discs suggest travels through the upper galaxies, the third depicts a heavenly garden of glistening tones and choral voices. Thunder cracks, bird chirps, and rainfall gradually emerge too, lending the material an earthy vitality that's unique to the third disc (the disc's second track is a four-minute coda that features field sounds only.)
To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming exemplifies Fazio's long-standing and uncompromising commitment to the progressive music tradition, electronic or otherwise, and is an essential release for admirers of the orchestramaxfieldparrish set The Silent Breath Of Emptiness which is sonically kin to the new material, regardless of moniker difference. It also will be interesting to see what Fazio does next to follow up such a definitive statement. -

Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome ...I have found paradise, Surely no man has ever attained such happiness. Here, there is much time for everything. Each time your arms hold me it's as joyous as the first. Each kiss is as the first...
(fs10) Second Edition. Professionally duplicated cdr in 6 page extra heavy cardboard sleeve with archival rice paper inner sleeve to last forever. Originally released as a limited edition 3rd disc with To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming.

Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome is now out of print. Sincere thanks for the support that was shown by the forward thinkers out there. A reprint is now in the works.


orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness

"One of the best of 2008" - Musique Machine
"One of the top 10 of 2008" - textura

August 2008, textura's premiere label release Kubla Khan is now available from textura - the number one authority on new experimental music on the web.
Kubla Khan is comprised of interpretive musical responses to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment', written in 1797 and first published in 1816.
Featuring original music from orchestramaxfieldparrish titled "Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea' an extended 19 minute improvisation on pedal steel guitar, there are also beautiful, powerful and sublime works from Ryan Francesconi and Lili De La Mora, Alexander Turnquist as well as The Retail Sectors. You can hear an edit of 'Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea' here.
All compositions are exclusive to this release. There are only 500 units printed and undoubtedly will go fast.
Mastered by Mike Fazio.
Available exclusively through textura

REVIEWS (Kubla Khan):
Tokafi (Tobias Fischer), October 16, 2008:
"Most people think of music journalism as merely passing judgement. Canadian print magazine textura, however, has taken a completely different route. Far more interested in providing information than doling out meaningless ratings and focusing on essential lines of artistic development instead of short-lived phenomena, the Ontario-based publication has established itself as a source of inspiration for anyone with an inclination for sound art and experimental electronica—and as a serious threat to purses incapable of handling all the compulsive CD orders resulting from regular reading.
If the editorial team has now decided to enter the supposedly saturated label market, this neither comes as a big surprise nor as a random act dictated by a fleeting fancy. The impulse of finding out about interesting new artists on paper and the desire to listen to their music are closely connected, after all. And since well-reasoned subjectivity has thankfully replaced cool, market-oriented pseudo-objectivity in deciding on cover stories and review coverage, the case for a magazine to feature the same acts both through stories and physical releases is clear: artists and media have turned into partners, mutually supporting each other and shaping overlapping scenes and communities based on shared aesthetics and a need for uncompromising sounds.
As Kubla Khan proves, predominantly personal preferences need not contradict coherent creative concepts either. Admittedly, the artist roster for this four-way split draws a decidedly diverse line-up from textura's editorial innards: typographically nightmarishly-titled orchestramaxfieldparrish, Japanese one-man Post-Rock project The Retail Sectors, ambitious folk duo Ryan Francesconi and Lili De La Mora as well as New York'ean sound scuptor Alexander Turnquist have all been featured on their pages before. But two distinct selection criteria prevent the album from falling into arbitrariness.
On the one hand, there's the obvious outward leitmotif of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's eponymous, drug-induced hallucinatory poem. Its lines represent a point of departure for the participating composers, whose stylistic differences are suddenly carefully aligned by the joint goal of approximating the lyrical mystery of these verses through sound. In fact, the musical distinctions serve to sharpen one's perception of the words more than a more smoothly-styled sampler ever could: The Retail Sectors' plaintive minimalism and elated ecstasy and the shimmering, beautifully brittle love letters of Francesconi / De La Mora detect constant change in Coleridge's verbal magic, while Turnquists's epic spatial ruminations and the orchestramaxfieldparris's darkly peaceful and amorphously floating 18-minute wonder-world underline its enigmatic, ambivalently anthemic nature.
Less pronounced and yet equally essential is the fact that all of the artists involved use the Guitar as their main compositional tool. In the textural sections of the album, this factor sometimes dies down to a mere echo of its original timbre or to short, fragmented figments of strummed strings or melodic picking—but it always remains a clearly audible, distinctly recognizable element. Kubla Khan therefore not only allows readers an enlightening juxtaposition of some of their favorite projects, but also offers a glimpse of the very plurality of a scene all too often lazily summarized under the tag of “experimental Guitar.”
Already, the poles of this simplified term have started moving towards each other, driven by their inherently similar approaches and fruitfully pollinated by their idiosyncrasies. It is the task of the media to uncover these trends and to establish links between seemingly unconnected camps. By boldly following the latter ideal and ignoring the traditional allocation of tasks for magazines, labels and artists, textura has taken another step in establishing music journalism as a positive rather than a judgmental force—and in presenting themselves as a fully-fledged crossbreed of record company and print mag."
The Milk Factory (Bruno Lasier), September 30, 2008:
"Already a successful music magazine, textura is now launching a new imprint, and releasing its first album. Kubla Khan takes its name from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's classic nineteenth-century poem Kubla Khan, Or A Vision In A Dream, A Fragment, which was, according to Coleridge, inspired by an opium-induced dream. The poem also serves as a thread to the seven tracks featured on the album, as each song takes a particular aspect of the poem and is built as a response to it, or an interpretation of it, by the respective artists.
Four very different acts have taken on the challenge and brought their own musical vision to the project, from the expensive guitar-laden dense rock of The Retail Sectors and the vast sonic stretches of orchestramaxfieldparrish to the delicate folk flourishes of Seattle-based Ryan Francesconi, who contributes two solo tracks here plus one with vocalist Lili De La Mora, and the exquisite sound assemblages of New York's Alexander Turnquist. The focus of the album is therefore very much centred on experimental guitar work in one form or another, and while the scopes of the artists involved vary greatly, there is a surprising impression of consistency throughout Kubla Khan.
The album is bookended by compositions from Japanese artist and Symbolic Interaction label head Kentaro Togawa, who single-handedly spearheads The Retail Sectors. "Precarious Awakening," which opens, and "The Ever-Changing Scene," which concludes, are in many ways sister tracks, each building up momentum from originally spacious and crystalline formations, where shimmering guitars draw gentle shapes over an increasingly potent drum section, especially on the former. Little by little, the compositions gain in riches and depth until Togawa pushes into more distorted and altogether less clearly defined territories. On "Precarious Awakening," the distortions are abrasive and acidic, but it is a much more mysterious and haunting cloud of noise that temporarily erupts on the latter part of "The Ever-Changing Scene" and puts a very final touch to the album.
In between these two electric discharges are much more delicate, complex and ethereal pieces, first with Alexander Turnquist's complex sonic architectures on the epic "Fragments Vaulted Like Rebounding Hail" which, in the space of just over seventeen minutes, shatters acoustic instrumentation, interferences and processed electronics and found sounds into textured wallpapers which morph and change appearance throughout while remaining almost static. At first, Turnquist applies a finely detailed mechanical setting, but as layer upon layer of sound is added, and the reverb grows considerably, the piece becomes much more monolithic and rigid in appearance. Yet, there is a constant flow of activity just below the drone glaze of the surface which maintains the momentum throughout the piece. orchestramaxfieldparrish proposes the equally epic and dense "Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea" which shows a much more electric reading of quite similar ambiences. Yet, Mike Fazio creates here a wonderfully oneiric piece which takes shape very progressively into vast swathes of processed guitars. Unlike Turnquist, Fazio never drastically changes sonic setting here, and while strips of darker matter rise occasionally in the latter part of the track, the overall progression is almost imperceptible, yet it is very much real and tints the piece with rich undertones.
The three shorter middle tracks come courtesy of Seattle's Ryan Francesconi. His delicate acoustic pieces contrast greatly with the rest of the album. "Parables" is wonderfully light and airy. The feather-light melody is surprisingly complex and detailed, and actually seems to develop on a multitude of levels at once. This is also a characteristic of "Deep River Run Quiet," but the piece is more introspective and emotional. On "Green To Red," Francesconi teams up with Lili De La Mora, with whom he released the rather lovely Eleven Continents album earlier this year. Once again, the piece is somewhat reflective, but Lili's voice gives a much warmer and impressionist relief to Francesconi's delicate wanderings.
With its first release, textura has certainly created an impressive collection which reaches far beyond the realm of usual compilations to actually create a true narrative throughout. While the musicians featured come from somewhat diverse horizons, they meet here on common grounds and, while retaining their own identity, manage to contribute to the overall mood. Only 500 copies of Kubla Khan have been made available, and it would be a shame to miss it!

from cyclic defrost:
Ears aware of the quiet precision of sound in a blatantly loud world may have passed their eyes across the reviews in Textura. Akin to Cyclic Defrost, discrete sonic adventurers abound in this Canadian music blog/magazine. It’s first CD release is in a sense a contemplation on Coleridge’s Kubla Khan (or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment), poetic vision on history, all too resounding in modern times where the promises of ‘the pleasure dome’ lull to sleep its entrants. But the representatives are no slouches, The Retail Sectors (Kentaro Togawa) bookend the compilation with a build to drone and distort intensity and warmth. Alexander Turnquist’s ‘Fragments Vaulted Like Rebounding Hail’ is epic textural melding of his skill with 12 string guitar, toy zylophone, fused with samplers electronic manipulation. Ryan Francesconi 3 tracks standout somehow their direct crisp guitar play convey more; simple bright, deceptively naïve minimal guitar scapes reveal a depth of knowledge alluded. His ‘Green to Red’ with Lili De La Mora vocals holds a delightful whimsy in the center of the compilation. Mike Fazio under the guise orchestramaxfieldparrish presents a pedal steel guitar shimmer of light akin to ambient cathedral works of overly sacred organists. It takes skill and active imagination to stay awake in Kubla Khan’s dream, the players are aware of it being a dream and the entrants asleep, aware of their complicity in the dream state, close examination of technique, awareness and mind activity allows you entrance and exit to this beautific dream palace. With clarity of mind Textura’s debut awakens the mind to the beauty beyond the soporific poetry of Coleridge.
- Innerversitysound



The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (2008)

 Faith Strange Recordings is pleased to present the first new full length orchestramaxfieldparrish work since 2002's highly revered 'Tears', titled The Silent Breath Of Emptiness. This new recording consists of an improvised solo electric guitar soundscape originally intended for an exhibition of local area visual artists that never came to be. This piece was totally improvised and freeform, recorded live and captured in one take and then divided into 4 parts. No overdubs were done so as to not augment the original intention of the piece. A hauntingly beautiful reconstruction of the entire work is included as the fifth track. Recorded and mastered in 96K 24 bit audiophile audio. Beautifully presented in a full color limited edition digipak with matte varnish. First edition includes a handmade obi strip of vellum.
This work is a refreshing return to the art of true improvisation in the age where music is now recorded mainly as computer edits. Fazio has gone back to his roots of abstract guitar playing on a very personal level with a symphonic approach first explored in past outfits Æ, Copernicus and Chill Faction throughout the 1980's and early 90's and further explored on 2002's 'Tears'.
One minute excerpts can be heard on the soundpage.

One of "The Best of 2008" - textura

from tokafi:
CD Feature / orchestramaxfieldparrish “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness”

Heartbreaking charme: Interrelated tones conglomerating into thick tonal tufts.
What is it about the stars? Poets are comparing them to the eyes of their lover, scientists are breaking apart at the weight of their mysteries and uncountable generations of musicians have used them as a metaphor for the final frontier and the finity of all human knowledge. To Mike Fazio, however, the sky is the canvas and his guitar the brush for a musical work full of little galaxies.
On the scale usually applied by music industry executives, time between two subsequent orchestramaxfieldparrish releases should indeed be measured in lightyears. Previous album “Tears”, now available again in a completely remastered edition, was published in 2002 and in between, Fazio has been active in various parallel universes as a collaborator and band member. The thought that “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” was essentially recorded on a single night makes these stretches seem even more romantic. It is almost, as if Fazio has been waiting for that one inspired moment to arrive and to follow it wherever it might lead him.

His second album is a fully improvisational effort bemused by the panoramically plaintive view of the Luna County Observatory. Recorded on Christmas Day, however, it not only captures the yearning sensation of sensing one’s own irrelevance underneath the sky’s umbrella, but also conveys the doleful emotion of a year drawing towards its close: “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is about things ending, about horizons we’ll never see, places we’ll never reach. On top of that, though, it is also about the inspiration one can get from feeling one’s fragility and about the need to make the best from the little time we are given.
Fazio’s sound is wide and epic, his themes composed of intricate interrelated tones which initially combine into longing melodies before conglomerating into thick tonal tufts, their decay in turn constituting dreamy drones in their own right. After introducing his material in full in the beginning, he often merely quotes poignant passages, sometimes only a single note, to create cohesion, familiarity and alienation at the same time. On other occasions, things are allowed to drift and develop in a floating kind of way, with sheets of sound overlapping to create harmonic tension.
The most radical piece on the record is the third part of this aural quadrilogy, a sixteen minute series of inhaling and exhaling, each breath appearing different from its predecessor and revealing tiny new details. Growing from a noisy opening with percussive patters, a swelling deep bass pad leads into an icecold Dark Ambient meditation, which at first puts the listener in a vulnerable and insecure position, but then intangibly transforms into a comforting rhythm of sound and silence.
In the thirteen-minute “Reconstruction – Afterthought”, the album receives an unexpected recap, its motives reoccuring as if filtered through a sieve of melancholic memory. Entire passages are played backwards, tracks are combined into new compositions, melodies are twisted and deformed, others allowed to shine even more then previously. On paper a seemingly unnecessary addendum to an otherwhise agreably concise album, this final chapter in practise proves to be vital in adding a consiliatory and calming finale to a work which otherwhise profits from its irridescent intensity.
With its heartbreaking charme, “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is of course no food for gloomy characters or rationally-minded analysts. It is an album, which can only be understood by intuition and by piecing wordless metaphors together. They may not make sense from an objective perspective, but translate into something far bigger and more important than us. Just like the stars above us. - Tobias Fischer

from Incubator / Petri Supply:
Quietly drifting dunes of electronic sand blowing under a subtle breeze, describes the sound of this release. Although guitar is the primary instrument Mike Fazio uses to generate these sounds, they seem in the range of an orchestral string section. At any time the music thinly migrates in a soft voice that says more by remaining distant. Three quarters of the CD is taken from a series of improvisations at the Luna County Observatory, and the final track is a subsequent mix. It's a slowly evocative work packaged in an attractively atmospheric digipak.

from Aural Innovations 39 (May 2008):
Cultivating sonic terrain first explored by Fripp, Eno and other ambient anarchists, Mike Fazio (who, for all intents and purposes, is orchestramaxfieldparrish) ventures into the hinterlands of tonal expressionism, creating strange un-guitarisms that congeal and mass into virtual icebergs of sound. On each of the five distinct parts of “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness,” Fazio conceives and utilizes his guitar as an orchestral instrument, his sweeping chords achieving an almost symphonic grandeur while the drone of endless delays and the slow glacial drift of key changes imply a studied minimalism absorbed from Glass and Reich but filtered through Branca and other 80’s New York guitar terrorists. Among the infinitely-sustained, ringing tones of Fazio’s guitar, one is at times assaulted by abrasive dissonances and harsh metallic clusters of sound that evoke the clatter of machinery and the kling-klang of heavy industry. But there are also moments of stark beauty in several movements of this 50-minute composition. At times, Fazio’s uncanny guitar symphony approaches the soaring ecstasy of a Gregorian choir, creating a mood of temporary detachment from the terrestrial world. Ultimately, what Fazio demonstrates on The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is that he’s equally at home in both the secular and the ecclesiastical and in both the lyrical and the mechanical, as well. Like Fripp, he’s a man at work with his machine.
Charles Van de Kree

from cyclic defrost:
The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is like encountering a static photograph that, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be a timelapse film. The slow building, reflective guitar drones absorb as though a dark starry field. These pieces stand without any foreground or background. Rather, they exist as a network of needling threads, crosshatched and manipulated, sketching a welter of variations on a single theme.
Pieces are played with a gentle spirit and an attention to the occult and elemental. At first, the work is a treacle of strums, which unfurl and circle in the shifting light of successive sound washes. With the momentum being slow, an intense concentration on the interlocking lines is made possible, better still, it is encouraged or even requested, though always in a hushed manner. Indeed, the piece lays itself open while at the same time making its emotions felt subliminally, as though transmitting or sharing a secret, rather than making it known explicitly.
The remaining segments continue to coil into themselves with stronger and more malicious thrusts. “Part 3″ sinks into a morose, melodic continuum and almost epiphanic chimes, before oozing into a distantly undulating crescent of atmospheric noise. “Part 4″ continues to seep into dark, tunneling visions, using what sounds like several guitars to produce a dense, almost symphonic feedback drone. Even here, though, shards of light filter through the darkness, giving the piece a movement and vibrancy that is knotty and wholly inflaming.
Max Schaefer

from textura:
orchestramaxfieldparrish: The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
Faith Strange

The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, a fifty-minute set of guitar-generated soundscapes issued by Mike Fazio under the name orchestramaxfieldparrish, is rather similar in sonic spirit and perhaps equal in quality to Robert Fripp’s superb At the End of Time: Churchscapes, Live in England & Estonia, 2006. Like his better-known kin, Fazio uses various effects to expand his solo guitar playing into an hypnotic polyphony of rolling waves, supplicant peals, and hazy drones; conventional guitar sounds are all but absent as Fazio generates industrial sheets and metallic washes throughout the five explorations, the first four of which are in fact a single live improvisation he recorded (sans overdubs) on December 25th, 2006 at the Luna County Observatory (indexed into four sections for the recording), while the final piece is a reconstruction of the preceding material that may be more deliberately conceived but sounds no less spontaneous. The sixteen-minute third section is the release’s most aggressive though Fazio never intensifies its industrial character to an unmusical or unpleasant degree. Part four exudes a devotional character reminiscent of the Fripp release, and Fazio’s guitar shimmers celestially too. Though devotees of experimental guitar playing will find much to admire about this follow-up to 2002’s Tears, The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is so captivating in terms of execution and its material so arresting that it deserves a listening audience far greater than that associated with a singular fanatical group. To Fazio’s credit, the recording manages to be avant-garde in spirit yet also thoroughly accessible, in large part due to the material’s “symphonic” character. Put simply, a beautiful recording.
March 2008

from Musique Machine:
orchestramaxfieldparrish is Mike Fazio, a composer, as well as a (studio) member of New York City’s Black 47. The Silent Breath Of Emptiness seems miles away from the Celtic inspired rock of Black 47. It’s important to note then, that Fazio, and a couple other members of Black 47 originally backed up Avant-Garde musician and poet Copernicus (Joseph Smalkowski). Maxfield Parrish was a Philadelphian painter and illustrator, who lived from 1870-1966. Though he was a commercially successful illustrator, his paintings were quite often fantastical. I’m not sure how his work ties into Mike Fazio’s project, but Parrish’s art is well worth exploring.
The Silent Breath Of Emptiness consists chiefly of four segments of live improvisations recorded in one take at the Luna County Observatory, with no overdubs. The music was created solely on electric guitar, but the sounds presented here rarely conform to the traditional sound associated with the instrument. Instead, Fazio treads ground which runs the gamut from pleasant ambience ala Eno or Bill Nelson to sheets of drone, which could be more closely tied to Andrew Chalk and his work with Mirror.
Fazio’s technical ability certainly shows through, as these pieces rarely sound like music created by one individual. The improvisations are distinctly different from one another, yet they run together nicely. The music runs from quiet, neo-orchestral ambience to fairly noisy drones. Apart from the previous comparison to Andrew Chalk, the latter passages remind me quite a bit of John Duncan’s seemingly straight-lined drones (though Duncan doesn’t use guitars), which upon closer inspection are anything but.

The feeling of event is paramount to the success of any spontaneous performance, and The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is steeped in that spark of inspiration. Perhaps that inspiration was the result of the observatory setting, but judging from the mastery of the different approaches on display here, it’s more likely that Mike Fazio’s enthusiasm and technical ability are responsible. It’s rare for a performer to pull something together which is subtle and genuine, while displaying obvious skill. More often than not, those with technical ability are more interested in showing how well than can play, rather than investing their music with soul and depth. The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, thankfully, is honest, unpretentious and, in it’s own odd way, soulful.

Erwin Michelfelder

from All Music:
Besides his various group and collaborative efforts, Mike Fazio has pursued irregular solo ventures under the orchestramaxfieldparrish name, an interesting choice of nom de plume but one with an admittedly evocative edge given the reputation of that painter and graphic designer. The Silent Breath Of Emptiness surfaced after a six-year-gap from the previous effort, showing that Fazio’s ear for atmospheric textures via electric guitar remains strong; if there are now any number of releases exploring this form worldwide, Fazio’s approach remains one of the better ones. The core of the album consists of four untitled pieces recorded on a single day, ranging from artful reflectiveness to a sculpted, understatedly angry grind, the latter most prevalent on the third track. The fifth song recaps and reworks all the other pieces into a “Reconstruction” as titled, a sort of summary of the entire album that becomes its own distinct piece. Functioning both as meditative background and direct sonic captivation, The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is a gentle treat.
Ned Raggett

from Chain D.L.K.:
Despite the name of the band, this is the solo work of Mike Fazio. I had not heard of this project, but I am familiar with his work in Copernicus, which is a wonderful blend of poetry and music. The label describes the disc thus: “This new recording consists of an improvised solo electric guitar soundscape originally intended for an exhibition of local area visual artists that never came to be. This piece was totally improvised and freeform, recorded live and captured in one take and then divided into 4 parts.” Guitar drone is often polarized in terms of quality—when it’s good it’s really good and when it’s bad it’s really bad and there is little in between. Fortunately, this falls on the good side of the spectrum, probably because it doesn’t really sound like just guitar drone. I’m assuming that there are a lot of effects being used to create the variety of sounds in these tracks. The album opens with what sounds like an orchestra warming up for performance. As the disc progresses, the layers become more and more intertwined to the point where, in Part 3, it becomes almost like a wall of noise that continually crescendos and decrescendos. But this wall of noise is not to be confused with the Merzbow style of wall of noise. It never becomes oppressive, just intense. Overall, this is a nice disc to relax to but still engaging. I suppose it would work for your next gallery installation as well…. The main comparison that comes to mind is Vidna Obmana. This disc weighs in at 49 minutes and is nicely packaged in a digipak. You can check out some of it at his myspace page at

from Wonderful Wooden Reasons:
Contrary to the suggestion made in the name this is the work of one man, Mike Fazio. ‘The Silent Breath Of Emptiness’ consists of a single solo guitar improvisation, subsequently edited into four discrete and cohesive parts and accompanied by a fifth reconstruction. It’s a stunningly melancholic and hallucinogenic experience with Fazio’s guitar often sounding more like a bank of synthesizers than a guitar. The use of ‘Orchestra’ in the project name is readily apparent in Mike’s playing style which is described in the press notes as ’symphonic’ and I can find no more apt word to replace it with. In style OMP is reminiscent of people such as Andrew Chalk but in sound is very much related to the ambient recordings of Eno, or Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream with lush electronic chords layered to create a sumptuous bath of sound into which you can submerge. I think I would have liked to hear more variety in the effects with which the guitar has been treated but equally I am quibbling over small things as this is a fine and recommended release.

from Foxy Digitalis:
orchestramaxfieldparrish is nom de plume of the underground New York musician Mike Fazio. “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness” is a solo electric guitar piece that was originally created as a soundtrack for an art exhibition that never actually got off the ground. The piece itself was recorded in a single take and is presented here without overdubs, divided into four tracks. A fifth track, which is an abbreviated reworking of the entire piece is also included on the disc. The entire album contains a variety of ambient guitar loops and sounds that traverse many moods. In fact, the guitar effects often cause it to sound like other instruments, namely keyboards and various orchestral strings.
Really, much of the work could be labeled as ambient music. For example, the first track, called “Part 1″ has an ethereal feeling as guitar echoes over a low background drone. “Part 2″ has a similar feeling, but gives way to more powerful sounds, to the point that it almost sounds heavy. Layered distortion and effects come into the latter part of the song and produce a droning, almost mechanical, eerie feeling. In many ways, “Part 3″ continues what was begun on the previous track, rising and falling into cacophony several times before slowly fading out. The fourth track, “Part 4″ returns to the ethereal beauty of “Part 1″ to bookend the original long piece. Finally, comes the album recap, which is entitled “Reconstruction | Afterthought.” Amazingly enough, this track does call on many of the sounds and themes present in the previous tracks. Still, it does not come off as a rehash of the other music. In fact, it combines well with the rest to nicely close out the disc.
“The Silent Breath Of Emptiness” is ultimately a great disc to settle back with and take in. It’s very easy to get lost in its complex tones and textures and I have a feeling that this will prove itself to be a favorite in those quieter times in life. Definitely, a recommended disc.
Matt Blackall

orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
Med den mycket lämpliga titeln “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness” återvänder amerikanska orchestramaxfieldparrish med sin första platta på över fem år. Upprepade slingor av improviserade, maskerade gitarrdroner gör att musiken får en klart minimalistisk prägel trots en tät struktur. Man skyndar långsamt framåt och de ljudvågor som sköljer över lyssnaren är så pastorala att det är svårt att tänka sig något som fungerar bättre en grådassig morgon.
Tydligen var musiken ursprungligen tänkt att ackompanjera en konstutställning som aldrig blev av och att döma av den nerv som finns närvarande rakt igenom skivans fem utdragna spår kan man inte låta bli att låta fantasin måla egna bilder. Varma melodifragment tittar förbi ett kort tag för att sedan försvinna in i ett muller av mörk gitarrabstraktion. Fjäderlätta moln hotas ständigt av en annalkande storm över öppet hav. Skivan illustrerar på ett förnämligt sätt litenhet i något väldigt mycket större. Skrämmande? Ibland, men allt som oftast är känslan av att släppa taget, det fria fallet, att tidlöst stirra ut i det tomma intet, något befriande och själsligt rengörande. Knappast ett banbrytande album men så imponerande genomfört att det är omöjligt att inte förföras.
Mats Gustafsson

from Earlabs (3-2-2008):
orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
Although involved in the underground/experimental music scene since the 1980‘s, Mike Fazio is a another new name to me. Using the alias of orchestramaxfieldparrish since 1999, this diverse purveyor of experimental guitar music has been composing and improvising atmospheric drone and drift since before these terms were widely used or even recognized. The Silent Breath of Emptiness is the seventh release on Faith Strange Recordings of which Mike is a co-founder.
The press release says that followers of such established avant-garde music artists as Arvo Pärt, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Andrew Chalk, Thomas Köner, and trombonist Stewart Dempster among others “will find much to savor here.” The common denominator being beautiful experimental/ambient music that comes from the heart. I’ll add to this list of icons Canadian multi-instrumentalist Aidan Baker another like-minded improviser of spacious experimental guitar drones.
Initially a single improvised, free-form performance for an exhibition that was never realized, The Silent Breath of Emptiness was recorded in one take (with no additional sounds added) and for this album has been split into four segments of varying lengths. The fifth track is an almost thirteen-minute beautifully opulent reinterpretation of the original performance. All of the segments are guitar-based cinematic drones having a symphonic quality. The first and fourth segments are vibrant, harmonious and translucent. In contrast, the second segment begins a descent into darker, denser, more atonal drones. The third segment continues the dark, droning atmosphere initiated by its predecessor but takes the listener even deeper into thick, murky, distorted, inharmonious ambiances.
For the dedicated drone enthusiast, you might not hear a whole new here, however, the symphonic touch is a nice twist on an old theme, and it’s clear that Fazio’s sounds originate deep within his psyche. On the other hand, the novice or occasional drone listener will find much to enjoy and appreciate on The Silent Breath Of Emptiness.
Larry Johnson

from Bad Alchemy (BA 57):
orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (Faith Strange Recordings, Faith Strange 07):
Wenn man in der Vergangenheit des Gitarristen Mike Fazio stöbert, stößt man auf Life With The Lions, auf Chill Faction mit ihrem FunkNoFunk und auf die irischen AgitPop-Stews von Black 47, zwei New Yorker Projekte mit dem Green-Suede-Shoes-Crooner Larry Kirwan. Zusammen mit Thomas Hamlin, einem alten Weggefährten bereits seit den 80ern, bildet er auch die Gods Of Electricity, die Dark-Ambient-Welten jenseits von Eno erschaffen. Hier jedoch lässt er allein seine Gitarrenwellen aufrauschen und durch den Raum branden. Ältere dürfen an aufgeraute Robert-Fripp-Soundscapes denken, Jüngere an Fear Falls Burning. Nennt es Dröhnminimalismus oder psychedelisches Tripping ins Parrish-Blaue, Fazio ist lange genug dabei, um dafür als einer der Blueprints zu gelten, nicht als Kopie. Er erzeugt seinen nahezu symphonischen ‚Orgel‘-Klang ohne Overdubs, im intuitiven Freispiel, Welle für Welle für Welle. Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) war übrigens ein stilbildender Märchenillustrator und Maler von androgynen Träumern und phantastischen, anfänglich goldschimmernden und später mondlichtblauen Landschaften. Seine präraffaelitischen Wesen sind zu ätherisch für Fazios Klang. Der gehört zu den Monument Valleys und erhabenen Plateaus ihrer Traum-Monde. [BA 57 rbd]
Rigobert Dittmann

Mike Fazio has been recording avant-garde, electronic and indie rock music since the early 1980's and has contributed guitar and electronic input to releases by dark folk outfit Life with Lions, New York City's Black 47 and toured with post-punk psych rockers Chill Faction and performance poet Copernicus. Orchestramaxfieldparrish is Fazio's solo ambient project based around improvised electric guitar soundscapes.
"The Silent Breath of Emptiness" follows 2002's "Tears" - also o
n Faith Strange - and was performed and recorded in a single take on Christmas Day 2006 at Luna County Observatory. The recording consists of the single improvised piece that is split into four parts with a fifth track consisting of a remix of the full performance. The music was originally intended for an exhibition of local area artists that never came to fruition.
Musically, "The Silent Breath of Emptiness" consists of huge undulating waves of guitar texture that tumble and flow over each other in cascades of fluid sound. Sometimes resembling layers of gently droning electronic texture ("Part 3") and at others taking on an entirely more orchestral quality ("Part 1"), it is hard to believe that this music was created and documented as it happened, such is the intensity of feeling it creates. Often deep and enveloping with thick encapsulating swathes of droning texture, Fazio's music sounds as though it has been meticulously crafted in a studio by carefully layering electric guitar and electronically generated sounds. "The Silent Breath of Emptiness" is essentially a journey in four suites that takes us from the warmth of "Part 1"'s electronic tones through the grand church organ like emotive drones of "Part 2" on to huge demonic mechanical grind of "Part 3" to conclude with bright organ-like optimism of "Part 4". It is almost as though we follow a train of thought that slips deeper into the dark depths of despair before emerging renewed and invigorated on the other side. As a bonus, the almost 13 minute final track is a remix of the entire musical piece entitled "Reconstruction | Afterthought" which draws recognisable elements of the preceding four tracks and gives it an edgier mood by adding undulating drones and deep vibrating undertones that result in an entirely more anxious atmosphere throughout.
Listening to "The Silent Breath of Emptiness" it is amazing to think that it was recorded live as it was performed and in a single take as music of this type is often carefully orchestrated in a studio using layering techniques and all manner of electronic effects and gadgets. Considering the core of this recording consists of electric guitar textures that are manipulated and produced live, this album could be described as ambient, drone, experimental or avant-garde but also as absorbing, intense, dark or hypnotic.- Paul Lloyd

Tears (2002 / 2008) streaming ulomaka

Due to demand, 2002's 'Tears' has been reissued in a second edition and has now been remastered in 24 bit 128k audiophile fidelity.
This new design is professionally printed & duplicated and comes in a 4 color fold out gatefold cardboard sleeve with archival rice paper cd sleeve. Very cool indeed...
This remastered reissued edition can only be purchased through the faith strange shop.

From Aural Innovations #31 June 2005:

Deeply influenced by the 80's academy of ambient guitarists (Bill Nelson, Robert Fripp, Michael Rother, Durutti Column), Mike Fazio's orchestramaxfieldparrish project is a splendid concatenation of soaring e-bow guitars, heavenly synthesizers, crystalline percussion and an assortment of other instruments finely tuned to the frequencies of the heart and soul. Fazio's closest spiritual antecedents, however, serve as mere ghostly projections that infuse his compositions with a kind of invisible aura and rarely a heavy-handed presence. At their best, Fazio's songs are channels to other times and places that resonate in the pools of memory, anthems of transcendence for fallen angels and romantic warriors. The lovely "Bow" is a case in point. Chiming electric guitars create a lush dreamscape over which an orchestra of tuned percussion, wood, glass and assorted metals flicker like fireflies on a summer evening. Both intoxicating and entrancing, "Waiting for Twilight" builds swelling guitars into a symphonic architecture of longing ascension, where rich chordal clusters rise and fall like the shadows of velvet birds cast against a kaleidoscopic horizon. These and the other shorter pieces ("…and then a crowd, impossible to number…" and "Where the Angels Crash and Die," for instance) all share a consistency and fluidity of vision that the extended suites ("The Tears of Christ" and "Music from the Empty Corner") occasionally lack. This isn't to say that the longer compositions are too repetitive or directionless, only that within the less consciously circumscribed, more open-minded framework, Fazio tends to drift far afield to esoteric circles that only true initiates can fully appreciate. "The Tears of Christ" effectively utilizes musical space for the creation of sounding structures through time - a kind of kyrie eleison for solo guitar processed with a multitude of effects. "Music from the Empty Corner" is perhaps Fazio's clearest and most heartfelt expression of his connection to the Orphic myth he alludes to in the album's liner notes. Using little more than bells, gongs and synth, Fazio sculpts a mesmerizing tone poem of luminescent beauty. Here, timbre and pitch are constructed in the same way that a painter might use light and shadow on a canvas. Shimmering and radiant, "Music from the Empty Corner" sunders the darkness like veils of light from another sun - truly splendid music for the deep silences of the night. Tears is a rare oasis in what is increasingly becoming a barren world of sound. - Charles Van de Kree

From FUNPROX - July, 2005:
...‘Tears’ by the formation orchestramaxfieldparrish is a record one mustn’t skip.
‘Tears’ is an evocative and dynamic blend of all sorts of instruments (listed separately beneath each track in the cd-booklet) as electric guitars, drums, piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitars. Keywords to describe the music would be: atmospheric, soundtrackish and dreamy. The overall audial impression of the record is not dark at all, more soothing then menacing, sometimes even more poppy than ambient.
The rich variation of styles is clear in ‘A lot like you’. After the initial drones, orchestramaxfieldparrish suddenly breaks the ambient structure and starts a moody and catchy song. In the next track, besides droning electronics, also drums and a bass-line are present, but this time more to support atmosphere than to create a songstructure. ‘Bow’ is definitely my favourite track, which sounds like a mixture of Raison d’être and Alio Die. The echoing, reverbing guitarsounds create a very powerful lush feeling of desolation and sadness. Like Orpheus’ lyre twanging sad strains, emitting nice vibrating sounds. These chilling, distant guitarstrains are present in most of the tracks; resulting in an album that sounds as a whole. Everyone sensitive to soundscapes will absolutely be touched by the efforts of this band from the big apple.
Orchestramaxfieldparrish combines the best ingredients of ambient-electronic music on the one hand, and post-rock-alike guitar drones on the other. A definite recommendation.JS
from EXPOSE - issue 27, JULY, 2003:

I chose this CD for review based solely on the name. What a welcome change to see a project that absorbs influences from other art forms, not a common enough trait. And the serenity in the paintings of Parrish - once the whipping boy of hip mid-century moderns, for whom all but splashes and blobs of ugliness was bourgeois and out-of-fashion - is the perfect afflatus for the beautiful ambient sound paintings of OMP. And it is all the work of one man, Mike Fazio. Striking is Fazio's grasp of the production savvy needed to achieve a professionalism that exceeds the grasp of most other ambient music projects. Surely the emphasis is on mood and atmosphere - each track explores a different side of the craft, delivered by a distinct orchestration. Electric guitars here, Mellotron, piano and acoustic guitars there; synths and samples on another; and so on. Cues are taken from various ends of the genre: Fripp & Eno, Harold Budd, Bill Nelson, David Sylvian, etc. But he reveals his instruments more prominently, adding bass, even a touch of drums and symphonic elements as well, something that most ambient composers run scared from. It all coalesces into a wonderfully coherent statement, not a hodge podge. Ambient music is easy to fool around and dabble with, but deceptively difficult to get right. OMP hits the mark splendidly, and I recommend it.
Michael Ezzo

Mike Ezzo's Best of 2002:
New Releases:
1. Univers Zero - Rhythmix
2. Jonas Hellborg - Icon
3. Pat Metheny - Speaking of Now
4. Lars Hollmer's Global Project - Sola
5. Peter Hammill - Clutch
6. Manring/McGill/Stevens - Controlled By Radar
7. orchestramaxfieldparrish - Tears
8. Tangerine Dream - Inferno
9. Wayne Shorter - Footprints Live
10. Softworks - Softworks

Mike Fazio is the Orchestra, and has been around since 1987 – the sleeve includes a useful bio: Black 47 prominent for over a decade amongst other gigs, various production. Among the enthusiasm of a pr insert, the references to Bill Nelson and David Sylvian strike a chord at first listening (celebrated by the cheeky sampling of samples from the Orchestra Arcana for one track).
'Beauty and wonder' is that, echoed and delightful backwards and forwards guitar tones, reminiscent of Bill Nelson, which is furthered by the choppy Chinese chimes and sweeping guitar in the first half of 'Dorothea gets her wish' but then a big percussion enters with voice tones and piano and OMP is finding its own voice, perhaps symbolised by the squeezed guitar at the end. But the Nelson sampled samples of '…and then a crowd, impossible to number…' surrounded by long tones and washes, sounds swirling around the slightly echoed voices.
I have often wondered about track lengths – and there does seem to be a pointed nature to 'A lot like you' being 8:01 long (we are the 801, we are the central shaft). But it opens in an un-Eno way with a couple of minutes of tidal crackle rumbles before a very nice guitar solo with piano accompaniment that fades back into the rumble that is extended to fill the time. Some echoes of Windham Hill, but there seems to be a little more edge. Unstable and phasing surging and pinging tones (including some high guitar) grounded by drum and rubbery bass are 'Where the angels crash and die'.

The lush echoed and reverbed guitar provides a varied density melody surrounded by restrained chimes and soft scraping noises in 'Bow' after which long tones in 'Waiting for twilight' form embracing and warm clouds of sound, with room for a bass solo and then some edgy guitar. The Fripp-ish nature of that sound is echoed in 'The tears of christ' a 17 minute soundscape that is a spacious work with phasey looped and delayed guitar, lyric chromatic clusters that nod towards Fripp's soundscapes but develops OMP's own sound. Finally 'Music from the empty quarter' is a contemplative piece for gongs and deep rumble, chimes and tones drifting and surging, some larger echoed sounds, but generally relaxed. Or almost finally, as there is a brief extra piece of backward and ringing guitar to balance the opening track.
This is one of those albums which is going to get replayed because it is full of timeless pleasure – from the more dramatic guitar pieces to the extended spacious contemplations - a musical suite to savour (especially if you like Bill Nelson). - Jeremy Keens

from WIND AND WIRE - November 2003Volume 1, Number 7

I have mixed feelings about this ambient music CD, the work of Mike Fazio recording here under the pseudonym orchestramaxfieldparrish. Those songs that I do like on Tears I like a lot. Then there are two to which I have a negative reaction. On balance, though, I would give the CD a solid recommendation because of the brave nature of what Fazio is doing as well as the music contained on the tracks I do enjoy. And, while I had to hit the "skip" a few times when playing the album, you may not have to.
Instrumentation on the nine tracks (which range from one and half to over seventeen minutes in length) varies from electric and acoustic guitars, drums, piano and bass to more traditionally ambient tools of the trade (samplers, synths). This variety also extends to the music, as I hinted at above. The album opens with a short (the minute and a half piece mentioned earlier) abstract electric guitar song, "Beauty and Wonder," and segues into the full-bodied (guitars, drums, piano and synths) upbeat "Dorothea Gets Her Wish," full of sparkling electronic notes, rolling piano chords and soaring electric guitars (placed back of the mix). From there, we are treated to a very nice pure ambient cut, "...and then a crowd, impossible to number," featuring layers of billowing serene but minor key synths helped along by some dialogue snippets (one sounds like Spock, one sounds like Lousie Fletcher from Brainstorm and the other one I'm unsure of).
As I mentioned above, some of the tracks on Tears are misses for me, including the disjointed "A Lot Like You," which tries to evolve an opening stretch of noise and static into an acoustic guitar and piano number resembling an instrumental folk music piece. For me, it didn't gel and neither of the disparate parts hit me much either. Likewise, the next song, "Where The Angels Crash And Die," while deserving of its pessimistic title, plays like a goth rock band (electric guitars, drums, bass) jamming to no real purpose except to craft a lot of dark textures. If that turns your crank, you'll love this.
Things take a sharp turn upwards (meaning, for the better) starting with "Bow," a drifting but melancholy Jeff Pearce-like electric guitar song that also features assorted percussive effects on metal, glass, and wood which are, remarkably enough, cohesive and non-pretentious. Guitars on this track are both strummed and also used as drone-like ambience. From here on out, the album is on a roll, with one solid number after another. "Waiting For Twilight" is a serene ambient cut, on which Fazio's electric guitars sound more like synths as they weave a darkish, but not too, pattern in the night sky. At more than seventeen minutes, "The Tears Of Christ" is far and away the most ambitious track on the CD. Using nothing but electric guitars, Fazio explores abstract minimalism, experimenting with the silence between notes as well as a variety of tones, shadings, and more overt "guitar-like" musical stylings. The only other artist doing anything at all like this that I'm familiar with is Jon Durant, and Fazio stands toe-to-toe with him on this piece. It's possible that the track could have been shortened, yet with minimalistic music like this, how much is enough or not enough?

For me, the closing track is also far and away my favorite. "Music From the Empty Corner" (an alarmingly appropriate title) also journeys down minimal pathways, but this time does so with assorted bells and gongs, most of them reverberating and sustaining for long periods of time. The various tones, each of them pleasant in their own right, coalesce to form fascinating patterns yet in a completely random fashion. While the music is not "dark," there is a brilliant juxtaposition of contemplation tinted with profound sadness (or at least that's my reaction) which transfixed me every time I played this cut. While twelve minutes long, I never tired of the wind-chime like allure of this selection.
The upside of Tears far outweighs my complaints and since it's easy enough to program out the two cuts I don't care for, I can recommend it to ambient and minimalist fans with breezy confidence, assuming the listener is not opposed to non-traditional (i.e. not synthesizers) sources for his/her ambient bliss. Because, the majority of this album contains more than a few blissful moments, as well as stretches of artistic creativity and virtuosity that bode well for Mike Fazio's future releases.
Bill Binkelman

Tears first issue - OUT OF PRINT
To hear streaming MP3's of 'Bow' & 'Music From The Empty Corner' from the album 'Tears', as well as preliminary mixes of "On Nine Mile Marsh' & ' A Walk Amongst The Raindrops' from 'Crossing Of Shadows', please visit the orchestramaxfieldparrish page.

To hear 'Dorothea Gets Her Wish' in its entirety, please tune into Dave Mandl's, The World Of Echo 7.11.03 show on WFMU, 91.1FM from NYC.
To hear 'Beauty And Wonder' in its entirety, please tune into Dave Mandl's, The World Of Echo 11.26.03 show on WFMU, 91.1FM from NYC.

This first edition is now out of print but the remastered second edition is exclusively available from the Faith Strange Shop and also available as a digital download from:
CD Baby
Great Indie Music

Several Famous Orchestras:

Mark Rushton, founder and former webmaster of Bill Nelson's Permanent Flame has put a super-human effort into gathering together and co-ordinating some marvellous contributions for a series of "like-minded" compilations. The track 'Bow" has been graciously included into Volume 1.

BACKTRACKING WITH orchestramaxfieldparrish

Experimental guitarist, synthesist, and improvisor extraordinaire Mike Fazio was born and raised in New York City and began issuing commercially available recordings as early as 1987. Since then, the man has built up an amazing catalogue of material under the orchestramaxfieldparrish and now ÆRA guises as well as in working partnerships with fellow kindred spirits (such as Thomas Hamlin in Gods Of Electricity and Jeffrey Ladd in Life With The Lions). With an epic double-disc set To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming about to be issued under the ÆRA name, Fazio kindly shed light on a number of releases, including: Tears (2002, re-issued 2008); The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (2008); “Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea,” his contribution to Kubla Khan (2008); Sundiving, the 2007 Gods of Electricity release; and the upcoming ÆRA opus.

1. As sometimes happens, we familiarize ourselves with the work of a certain artist in non-chronological order, and that's exactly what happened to me in your case. My first exposure to your music came about through the most recent orchestramaxfieldparrish full-length The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (on your Faith Strange label) and hearing that remarkable work prompted me to approach you about creating a piece for the Kubla Khan release. I mention these details simply because the experience of hearing the earlier Tears (originally issued in 2002, re-mastered and re-issued in 2008) subsequent to the later material was initially jarring, simply because the instrumentation (voice samples, percussion, etc.) and styles used on Tears are so wide-ranging by comparison. With its stately timpani, snare drum, cymbal, and piano flourishes, “Dorothea Gets Her Wish,” for example, sounds startlingly different when heard alongside the purely synthetic guitar-based sound of The Silent Breath Of Emptiness. Was there anything in particular that prompted Tears' wide-ranging approach, or was that simply the style you happened to be working in at that time?
My initial concept behind orchestramaxfieldparrish was to have a very introspective solo vehicle that merged my own take on symphonic music with the art and the literary worlds, particularly mythology and not necessarily with the art of Maxfield Parrish per se but its suggestion of the serene and the sublime, where all of these concepts combine to make an impressionistic experience or a moment in time for me and hopefully for the listener too—a return to a memory, so to speak. Tears was actually the second series of pieces that I did for the orchestramaxfieldparrish project. The first album surfaced in parts, spread out over several obscure compilations that are long out of print back in the mid- to late-1990s. The initial recordings were all very much out of an ethereal Dead Can Dance point of view, orchestrated with an array of real and synthesized instruments, percussion sections, and voices. Some of that attitude is portrayed a bit on the first half of Tears. The remainder of those early recordings has never been released.
2. If I'm not mistaken, Tears was, to some degree at least, recorded during the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, a period that represented somewhat of a crisis point in your life in terms of music recording. How much was the album's material affected by that event, if at all? (It's hard not to hear the opening and closing minutes of “A Lot Like You,” for instance, as the noise produced by overhead planes.) In some ways, the track sequencing could be read as an analogue to the event, with the rather hymnal “Bow” and prayerful “Waiting for Twilight” meditations coming after the tragedy alluded to in “A Lot Like You.”
Tears was actually started before the attacks, particularly the first half of the album, I would say during late 1999. Up until that time in my life, I was doing a lot of live playing with various outfits, mostly with my 1990s dream pop band Life With The Lions with vocalist / flautist Jeff Ladd. We got to a point where financially it was not feasible to keep a working live band together and constantly go through the ups and downs of dealing with the music business at that time and the nonsense that labels would put alternative bands through. I had had enough of dealing with the men in suits that were interested in us but never substantially invested in us. The problem with the '90s for many artists was the undying quest by others to make money off of the artists' endeavors. It was a time of turmoil for a lot of labels and it eventually caused many of them to go under—too many A&R types looking for the next U2 and not having enough insight into what the underground really was all about.
I actually put the orchestramaxfieldparrish project on hold and wanted to turn my back on the whole industry as much as possible until 9/11 happened. Later on, reflecting on the day in the safety of my home made me realize I was indeed mortal and that if I was going to do something again musically, then I should just do it and get on with it and to hell with all the obstacles. The latter half of the album is definitely more somber in tone and that was done in the next few months directly afterwards. I found myself listening to people like Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt and Krystof Penderecki and Giya Kancheli again and I think that Eastern European approach shows through.
3. You're not afraid to incorporate sounds associated from past eras into your music, as evidenced by the Mellotron that surfaces in “A Lot Like You.” Why did you choose to use the older instrument when a newer and less unwieldy instrument could have been used in its place? Is it a matter of nostalgic affection, or perhaps that you wanted to sonically evoke that earlier era, or do you just simply love its sound and all of the associations it brings with it?
The Mellotron is a magical instrument. I have a great affinity for Mike Pinder's work on the old Moody Blues' records and consider him the master of the instrument. If a musician has the chance to actually record with one these days he/she should jump at the opportunity to do so. Most of the time, Mellotrons are not readily available, especially here in the States, so I would suggest Mike Pinder's sample CD. There's also software called M-tron which includes the entire library of tapes which is pretty vast and has all of the Roxy Music and Beatles effects that were done strictly for them. You're right; when you hear the Mellotron you think of early-'70s music.
4. “Waiting for Twilight” and “The Tears of Christ” exude a meditative character in their guitar writing that's reminiscent of Robert Fripp's recent soundscapes recordings (e.g., A Blessing Of Tears, The Gates of Paradise, At the End of Time). Unlike some artists, you're quite open about acknowledging your influences so I'm wondering whether Fripp has been an influence and if tracks like the two mentioned reflect that? I'm assuming that it's next-to-impossible to be a “progressive” guitar player without Fripp having figured into your development in one way or another. Who are some of the other artists, guitarists or otherwise, who've influenced you the most?
I love a lot of Fripp's work—Exposure, Red with Crimson, his playing on Eno's Before And After Science and Another Green World, and the duo projects Evening Star & No Pussyfooting with Eno being my favourites—but I wouldn't consider his exact fingering style a main influence. I think it might be a mutual love of certain classical and jazz composers and a desire to fill sound that might be what you are hearing. I will say though I feel he kept some of his best playing for other artists' albums like for Bowie, Eno, Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian, Daryl Hall. All of those records are brilliant and timeless. I can see the Fripp analogy on "Waiting For Twilight" for the fact of the lead guitar going through a Big Muff (although I don't think Robert Fripp uses Big Muffs or Foxy Lady fuzz boxes anymore). I love them. The Fripp soundscapes albums are all done with midi guitar that is triggering synthesizers and digital delay lines whereas my approach is strictly through digital and analog effects chained in unconventional ways using a regular electric guitar in order for me to paint with sound; having said that, the soundscapes albums are truly sublime works of art, a totally different approach with totally different goals and results in mind. I don't use loops.
My roots are firmly in the post-punk movement of the late '70s which was a total backlash to the pomp and circumstance of early '70s prog, with Wire, Magazine, Bill Nelson's Red Noise, and The Flying Lizards being four of the most important proponents of that experimental change. But I do love some of the prog movement of the '70s, particularly Henry Cow, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jade Warrior, Gentle Giant, Universe Zero, and Art Zoyd, the more cult-oriented, left-of-center bands. I don't agree with some artists and “critics” these days who are quick to belittle our rich musical past and deny any connection to '60s, '70s, and '80s music to what may be happening now and are clearly contradicting what they propose, especially those who are in the so-called mainstream right now. The truth is, everything has been done before; there is nothing new under the sun. It's what you make of it all that ultimately matters. I prefer to be in tune with anything that is left-of-center in the underground that has the intrinsic spirit of a DIY process and is created with skill, heart, and care of sound and not with trying to sell out as a goal to be something it is not. This is a fascinating time for experimentation and self-expression.
Influences: Coltrane, Miles, Joy Division, Hector Zazou, The Anti-Group, Bill Nelson, David Sylvian, Bowie, Eno, Organum, Eberhard Weber, Krystof Penderecki, Dominic Frontiere, Joseph Schwantner, Stuart Dempster, Arvo Pärt.
Guitarists: John McGeoch, Martin Moscrop, Steve Tibbetts, Fred Frith, Phil Manzanera, Mick Ronson, John McLaughlin, Hendrix.
Producers: Martin Hannett, Ivo Watts-Russell, Adrian Sherwood, George Martin.
Other miscellaneous faves: a certain ratio, The Stranglers, Nico, John Cale, Peter Murphy, Peter Hammill, Wire, Russell Mills, Gavin Friday, Joni Mitchell, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, Ferial Confine, Ora, Mirror, Andrew Chalk, Christoph Heemann, no-man, Beatles.
All around one hell of a guy: John Winston Ono Lennon.
5. Broached on its own terms, “The Tears of Christ” is a remarkable seventeen-minute piece arranged for electric guitar only. To what degree is it an improvisation and what gear did you use to generate the multiple layers of guitars that coil around one another during the piece?
Again, that was just an array of effects, with use of panning to simulate a pseudo-binaural effect brought out in the mixing process. It's just two mono guitar takes using totally different sets of effects. One was improvised first and the second on top of the first afterwards. There are no other overdubs. The gaps of silence were all intentional. I've always approached the guitar in a non-traditional way and have always tried my best to expand its sonics into the symphonic using effects, different tunings, and generally producing as much of a wall of sound and presence and atmosphere as I possibly can with what is at hand. As time wore on, I eventually learned that the silence between notes is equally or if not more important than the notes themselves and an important realization for any musician is to eventually come to this conclusion. I think "The Tears Of Christ" sums up this attitude for me in its totality.
Most if not all of the parts I commit to tape are stream-of-consciousness improvisations and first takes with very little if any editing to the actual notes unless I hit a really bad note. Most of my time spent on a recording is in the mixing and mastering stages, to accentuate what has already been recorded. I don't believe in making a record by doing parts over and over until they are "just right." If they aren't right from the start for me, then they never culminate into finished pieces. I forget about them. I've thrown away entire albums' worth of nonsense. The challenge of capturing an inspired performance either live or in the studio is one that I wholeheartedly believe in. I don't believe in producing a record with endless takes of the same thing. It never works.
6. “Music From the Empty Corner,” by contrast, sounds more like an ethereal, Eastern-inspired gamelan meditation. Is that at all close to what you were aiming for in the piece? And why did you include a gongs interlude towards the end of it?
I would agree it turned out like that but I don't believe that was my original intention. I just viewed it as a somber, isolationist piece of driftwork meditation. The gongs made for a deeper area of reflection within the piece itself.
B. orchestramaxfieldparrish: The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (Faith Strange, 2008)
7. Though Sundiving, your debut Gods Of Electricity collaboration with drummer Thomas Hamlin, came out before The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, I'd like to stay with orchestramaxfieldparrish before shifting the focus elsewhere. As already mentioned, The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is radically stripped down compared to some parts of Tears (though The Silent Breath Of Emptiness could also be read as the natural continuation of the style explored in “The Tears of Christ”). What prompted the move to purify the orchestramaxfieldparrish sound?
There's quite a bit of time that passed between Tears and The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, almost six years and in between I produced and / or was involved with several other albums and / or projects and then Sundiving was a such a huge production for us that I felt that I had wanted to get back to my roots of purely abstract atmospheric guitar playing and leave all the rest of the instruments alone and just do a solo guitar album. I was asked to participate in a gallery event in Brooklyn where I would supply a piece of music that would play quietly in the background and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to do some guitar work again but the project was constantly being put on hold due to lack of funding and so I didn't give it much thought, until around December of 2006 when I finally got the go-ahead, thus the recording. Unfortunately, the whole art project was scrapped due to lack of corporate funding in the end. I felt the music was too good to let rot so I released it myself.
8. Secondly, what prompted you to record the four-part piece in a single take?
It simply was an instance where I set up and pressed play. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. I simply stopped when I felt it was over. You can tell in the beginning of it that I am feeling my way around, so to speak, and then as time progresses I get into the whole spirit of it. I love the fact that it's warts n' all. It's human. I wasn't about to go into the recording itself and start editing bits and pieces because things might not be right on the money, especially with the non-traditional tunings I use and on the spot detuning and scraping and feedback and all the chaos I love to bring to my guitar, it would never work, but who's to say what's right and what's wrong with an experimental improvisation? I don't set out to create music that copies with premeditation a previous work and therefore works things out ahead of time; quite the contrary, I draw from my experiences and influences within the moment and really never know what is about to transpire. I'm constantly listening to a vast array of music and have been all of my life. I come from a long history of improvisation interacting with many, many different types of other musicians in live settings and involve myself with many varied types of music, not just my own.
9. Can you talk a bit how about the gear you used to generated sounds such as the steely washes and rolling waves of lulling industrial rhythms that appear throughout?
An old Gibson guitar into an old Fender amp. Tubes. Feedback. Control. One track of electric guitar–no overdubs. Mono. Reprocessed for stereo in the mix. Simple. Old-fashioned. No synthesizers. Nothing like that. But don't tell anyone. Sometimes you can achieve the most unorthodox results from looking at simple things in an unorthodox way like delay lines and reverbs. People have occasionally e-mailed me insisting they knew for a fact that it was either a bank of synthesizers or many overdubs of guitars. Oh well…
10. The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is certainly compelling on sonic grounds alone (the metallic waves swell to almost violent proportions during part three) and can be appreciated on those terms only, but I'm also wondering what you were aiming at conceptually in the recording?
I have been quietly trudging along, playing this style of heavily-effected, atmospheric, droning, wall-of-sound guitar since the ‘80s but I was never satisfied how it eventually wound up on various recordings with other instruments sitting around it and felt the private recordings I was doing that were all done live to tape and independently distributing on cassette at the time were much more reflective of my intentions. I finally felt that it was time to do a very minimal solo guitar album that was both very familiar to me and to others who knew me personally and reflective of what I was doing in downtown New York City for many years and at the same time new to others that were eventually becoming familiar with my work in other parts of the world through the orchestramaxfieldparrish project. A lot of my recorded contributions in the past have never been released due to circumstances mostly out of my control. Still other contributions to other artists' records were released in small amounts and have now scattered to the four winds.
Conceptually, I think when I was in the midst of recording The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, I knew I had started from a very quiet and serene place but as time went on I was drawn into a more confrontational direction, into more of the shadows. You cannot have light without shadow and instinctively I've learned that a good recording will not work conceptually without these two elements coexisting with one another. At the end of what turned out to be "Part Three," I knew it was time to approach a state of reflection since "Part Three" was like going through the gates of hell for me and "Part Four" surfaced as this acknowledgement of the divine. Therefore the ecclesiastical temperament, but I think maybe I was thinking of Bach in the abstract sense, to be totally honest. After all, it was done on Christmas Day so it was only natural for me to resolve the piece into this direction.
11. Given the spontaneous nature of the four-part piece, it's rather surprising that you chose to accompany it with a much more methodically-created “Reconstruction-Afterthought” (not that the two pieces sound radically unlike one another). Why did you decide to include the second track?
An artist off the radar like me named Brendan Walls had put out a wonderful album called Cassia Fistula a few years back. I decided to do that remix after hearing the Cassia Fistula remixes that Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann had done of that initial recording and put out by Idea records. They were extremely inspiring to me on first hearing and felt they brought the original work to another dimension with their exceptional and skillful approaches to his music, all the while keeping the original spirit of the work in mind. Hopefully, I have done the same.
(The textura review of The Silent Breath Of Emptiness can be read here.)
C. orchestramaxfieldparrish: “Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea,” Kubla Khan (textura, 2008)
12. Needless to say, I love the beautiful nineteen-minute work you created for the textura release. What made you decide to create it using pedal steel guitar, and what effects did you use to alter the instrument's sound?
I became interested in playing pedal steel guitar by first hearing Bruce Kaphan on the California album by American Music Club back in 1988 and the next few AMC records like Rise, etc., which are all incredibly brilliant since I thought that what he was doing with the instrument was very much in line with what I was doing with guitar so it was fascinating to me to try and learn it and cross-reference my approach. I quickly found out how difficult the instrument really is and that it did not translate to any other instrument I already knew. So I never bothered to learn it in the conventional Nashville way and just let it reflect my attitude I had towards electric guitar playing. The instrument I used on "Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea" is a twelve-string pedal steel with four pedals and four knee levers going through a series of Lexicons to an old amp and recorded in mono. The piece was improvised in one pass and then two more very minimal improvised passes were done afterwards for texture and counterpoint and then mixed in. The lights were definitely kept very dim in the room for that one.
13. How specifically did Coleridge's poem inspire the composition? Was it the text fragment (used for the track title) that directed you in a particular way, or was it the poem in its entirety?
The whole poem has a very psychedelic quality to it, something Pink Floyd might have thought up and put to music back around Dark Side Of The Moon if you didn't know better. If you close your eyes after reading that poem, it could be very trippy—and inspiring. It definitely sets an atmosphere and that's something I very much wanted to musically translate.
D. Gods Of Electricity: Sundiving (Faith Strange, 2007)
14. Naturally, working with percussionist Thomas Hamlin (of Black 47 renown) under the Gods Of Electricity name pushes your sound into a different direction. At the same time, certain trademarks remain in place, the most obvious being the penchant for long-form works, with “Clouds of Granite in a Clearing Sky” the obvious example in Sundiving's case (though it's formally a three-part piece, it carries on uninterruptedly for thirty-eight minutes). Anchored by a repeating, near-tribal electronic pulse, “Clouds of Granite in a Clearing Sky” is an all-encompassing, at-times collage-like opus that somehow manages to accommodate and reconcile multiple binaries: acoustic and electronic obviously, but also tints and shades, ancient and futuristic, natural and synthetic, earthy and galaxial, clear-headed and disoriented, and so on. First of all, how did the two of you produce the piece (I read somewhere that it's actually composed of three hundred audio tracks)? Did you stitch it together from separately-created sections, or did you create it live by improvising over the pulse?
We set out to produce a work that was very much as challenging to the ear and out of vogue as can be. I had been listening to a lot of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew-era recordings and thinking how out of vogue they were for that time around 1970 and not to say Sundiving is at all analogous to the magnificence of Miles Davis but those are rather difficult to the untrained ear and that was the effect we wanted as well. Something not commercial at all for now and something that unleashed our Industrial and Noise roots and leanings as well towards bands like 23 Skidoo, T.A.G.C., ClockDVA, Einstürzende Neubauten, Organum, and S.P.K. in that either someone loved it or it totally went over their heads and it simply was not for them.
I think the real genius of Miles Davis was that he always challenged himself and moved forward and tried new things and really didn't give a damn what others thought of him at all, especially that whole Bitches Brew era which most of his previous fans absolutely hated and a lot of people still do. But they were brilliant and a monumental part of our musical heritage in that they showcased a whole new group of talented musicians to the world and consequently created a new form of beauty. The first long piece on Sundiving was approached as a collage in that all of the tedious work to come up with the exploding electric noise parts were previously done and recorded and then flew in on many, many tracks, hundreds, sporadically over the rhythm without any real forethought as to where they would sit thus creating a natural conflict. Other parts were created and recorded and done later such as the quiet interludes and all of the synthetic bird and nature sounds (something I learned from listening to Brian Eno's On Land a million and a half times) and then pieced in to create as much of a discontinuation of any semblance of time or meter. We wanted to erase any concept of preconceived timing in the process. Anti-timing. I think the reason why "Clouds Of Granite In A Clearing Sky" ultimately works for us is that both consonance and dissonance live side by side for an extended period of time and that alone forces the listener to pay attention to what's going on in the mix. The rest of the cuts on Sundiving are jams.
15. Thirteen minutes into movement one, fragments of a choir enter, which in turn suggests a connection to a work like Ligeti's Lux Aeterna. Did you have any particular artist references in mind during the creation of the piece, or did you try to keep it as free from that as possible?
It's mostly free-form, but I can see the György Ligeti cross reference now that you mention that Mellotron and piano section. Some of the melodies seem to be fragments of memories of old ‘60s TV show soundtracks like Naked City and Ben Casey.
16. The first movement is titled “Dreamland,” suggesting that you were aiming to create a sonic analogue to the electrical activity that occurs in the brain during dream states while the second's “Starstreams” title implies that you were attempting to aurally map stars' movements across the night sky. How literally should the listener approach your music with respect to aligning track titles to the music itself?
I love the imagery that track titles can give to a piece of music and I think titles as well as artwork are paramount for any recording to ultimately succeed for me. I would agree with your analogies here although my track titles are just one approach that someone can take to the music inside.
17. After “Clouds of Granite in a Clearing Sky,” the album moves Hamlin's natural-sounding drum playing to the forefront. In what resembles an aggressive, ten-minute jam, “Slick-O-Phonic” surprises by marrying a Roni Size-styled drum'n'bass groove (replete with acoustic bass playing) with guitar synthesizer playing that calls to mind Pat Metheny in frenzied solo mode. Though the track's unusual in its combination of elements, it surprises most of all in its direct referencing of the drum'n'bass genre and for being so earthy in comparison to much of your other material.
One of the concepts we have toward the Gods Of Electricity project is to make the music appealing to either others remixing it or us being called in to remix other's works as was the case when 17 Pygmies asked us to work on their first album in many years, 13 Blackbirds. There were three remixes done for that record, the abrasive Gods remix, the ethereal Jo Gabriel remix and an eerie orchestramaxfieldparrish remix using just Louise Bialik's voice alone in a rather Hafler Trio sort of way, but the third didn't make the final list. I think it might have spooked them too much.
"Slick-O-Phonic" was geared for the dance floor and for remixing. It's amazing that you picked up on my only attempt at midi guitar in the reference you cited, since everything else on Sundiving is keyboard-based synthesizer, v-drums, or real instruments like upright bass, tambura, trap drums, African percussion, electric guitar, cymbals, etc. I ultimately found the midi guitar as too inorganic for me, being a guitarist first and synthesist second, and will never use it again. I didn't know Pat Metheny played one; I'm only familiar with his first couple of ECM recordings like Bright Size Life and Watercolors, etc. I believe John McLaughlin's guitar synth playing on Inner Worlds came to mind while I was recording that track as far as that part goes, but he pulls it off so much better than I ever could.
18. Is it true that another Gods Of Electricity album is already in the can? Can you tell us about it, how it sounds compared to Sundiving, and when it might be released?
We did three complete albums at the time of Sundiving, but I don't feel the need to release everything I record. There is another one that has just been done but is not mastered that is totally high energy and there is yet another one that's being worked on that is more tribal and ambient that needs a ways to go yet. There are no release dates set yet for either one.
E. orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA: To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming
(Faith Strange, 2009)
19. First things first: what inspired the ÆRA name? Given that Æ can be read “ash” are we to read the “ash-ra” name as a subtle reference to the ‘70s German Krautrock group Ash Ra Tempel (formed in 1971 by Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, and Hartmut Enke)? Certainly the ÆRA exudes a cosmic quality that one could associate with the band.
ÆRA follows from Æ, which was the first band that Thomas Hamlin and I had back in the 1980s. It was an experimental post punk / noise / art / out / dissonant / polyrhythmical project which was active in the performance galleries circuit of the time. There are only private cassette pressings of our work. Nothing at all mainstream. It was at the time of Fred Frith's Massacre and Percy Jones' Stone Tiger here and we played the same club circuit as them. This was before either Black 47 or even Chill Faction. We were just out of high school. I would agree with you about the cosmic references and its correlation to Krautrock, but I wasn't at all thinking of any other band when the name struck, only my own musical past. Afterwards I found a reference to an obscure Krautrock band called Aera from the early ‘70s, but I don't know their work. I guess there are indeed synergistic aspects in many disparate things in this world.
20. I'm curious as to why you chose to release the companion volumes, To The Last Man and Index Of Dreaming , under the ÆRA name when they could legitimately been issued as orchestramaxfieldparrish recordings. What is it about the new material that demanded it be released under the new name?
I felt that this was a new direction for me in that it didn't quite fit within the orchestramaxfieldparrish framework or Gods Of Electricity for that matter. I'm positioning this project as orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA, which is how Coil would release albums under their Coil presents Black Light District and Coil presents Time Machines projects in that the members of the band felt that those recordings spoke to them in another way all the while keeping the spirit of Coil inherent within the music. I feel ÆRA represents another time, another place, not here and not of now, but it keeps within my concepts of invoking forgotten memories and juxtaposing the past with the future. Also, with ÆRA, I will be looking into translating these new ideas to orchestra in the future. To The Last Man is apocalyptic, hallucinatory, and futuristic as well as primitive and ritualistic at times whereas Index Of Dreaming is ideal to, well, dream to. I feel taken together as a two-disc set, they make a coherent aural experience and statement. It might have made the perfect soundtrack for the 1939 New York World's Fair.
21. Index Of Dreaming's twenty-eight-minute closer “1/3” obviously represents a zenith of sorts in terms of these latest recordings. Was it created in real-time as a single take? How transporting an experience is it when you're in the middle of a half-hour track and you're at the center of such an immense sound?
“1/3” was an immediate reconstruction of the original session so I felt it should sit at the end of Index Of Dreaming which is disc two. There was some editing involved as I wanted to have an enormous sound that ebbed and flowed into whispers and streams and ghosts and that's always challenging to do in the studio but I think the piece ultimately works since it is transporting and immersing. At low levels, it's blissful. Played back at a high volume on the right stereo, it might peel the paint. It is what it is and that's all it is. It works for me.

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