Summer Project

About a week ago, Sean Carroll and I got together in his studio to make a
little music. As it was the first time in six years we’d both been in the
same town long enough to do this, to say we were excited wouldn’t be an
overstatement. And with nothing in particular in mind, it was simply set up
and start improvising.

It was a good one – lots of interesting bits and ideas to nurse into songs.

We’d like to have some kind of “whole thing” completed before early September,
which is when I’m projecting to be on the road again. At this point, not sure
if the songs will have lyrical continuity, or if the stories will be more
individualistic, but working with Sean again is outstanding. Some of the most
interesting music I’ve been involved with making has been with him.


There is a charming satisfaction in successfully collaborating with someone over the Internet. Two people in different countries sharing ideas, critiquing in constructive ways, producing sounds brought out from hearing what the other has done – those are a few of the joys that come from working with someone who listens. Long distance improvisation in non-real time.

Kecap Tuyul and I spent a good amount of time working on, ultimately, four audio tracks. We were patient. We were willing to work until they were the best we could do.

We hope you are able to get some pleasure from listening to what we did together.

Shravaka in Babel (6:25)
Repercussion (9:41)
Sailing with Ghosts (3:17)
In the Curse Lies the Blessing (33:21)


There I was – frustrated to the point of exasperation. Trying to put the finishing touches on a particular piece of music was only proving to be an exercise in beating my head on the table top. Well, figuratively anyway.

I finally regained enough emotional stability to step back. And take several deep breaths. And let go. Felt better but I still wanted to accomplish Something. It almost doesn’t matter what that something might be when I reach that state. I just need to feel like I haven’t “wasted” several hours.

Without really knowing why, I dug around in some old rehearsal recordings of the Often Coiled trio. (Heh – they have to be old. Much as I wish the group was still together it’s been more than three years since we last occupied a room in unison.) After several cringe-inducing “well, I don’t need to save that any longer” listens, I found something I had managed to play without major screw ups. Yeah, it was usually me fat-fingering keys that rendered the other tracks useless.

We always recorded rehearsals with a Zoom H2 sitting in the middle of the room. Front and back stereo channels gave me something to “mix” after the fact. The live feel is still there – you’ll get a pretty good idea of the impact we could have in a club setting. We never settled on a name for this one – although we tried. So it’s here in its working title Matt used when he presented the original idea. An aggressive rocker with more than a little hint of Zeuhl.

Neurotica Hysterica

This piece began with a prompt at a writer’s improv group last August.
The prompt: white night – light bulb.

In the allotted few minutes for stream of consciousness, I came up with this.

ice abounds – ice surrounds
white ice hangs from the nexus
the rain falls soft then hard upon
the white ice-covered exit

green with envy, white face of terror
a slouching time bomb of dualistic surprise
an accidental tourist looking for her train to nowhere
shoving it off to the side

the light, tho’ small will lead
the path
cornered by white lengths of wooded anxieties
where stools and grass abound

Yeah, full of holes – very sketchy. But I kept twitching about it over the next weeks, finally getting it sorted out around the beginning of December. Here’s the final text:

ice abounds – ice surrounds -
white ice hangs from the nexus.
rain falls soft , then hard upon
the white ice-covered exit.

green with envy – white-faced from terror -
a slouching time-bomb of dualistic surprise;
an accidental tourist looking for her train to nowhere,
shoving him off to the side as she spins
in the wake of the icy blast
and cowers behind the mattress
while those mocking taunts through lips tightly curled
curse her through 1000 hours.

the influx of wayfaring participles
was a necessary consideration
within the context of never ending pleasure.
the joy of sleeping on a blue corduroy futon
was lost amidst the sheer effusive cheers
of the participating lost and lonelies.

the traveling carnival could have merged
with the waiting, wanting, wondering masses
of silly putty-faced gremlins and ghouls.
it chose not to.

grey walls and stucco weren’t much use
when the lips of staunch ivy
peaked with curiosity
through every cracked crevice.

the light
tho’ small
will lead.

thoughts in the margins leave no clue for a heading -
none left here can provide that.
shedding what decision claims extraneous
leaves her empty,
without definable cause.

I was struck with understanding just putting the words on paper was incomplete. Then the real work began. :)

The background/accompaniment/music bed has a little bit of voice in there, but it’s mostly field recordings. Some I’d collected over the years, some I recorded for this piece. Mangled, manipulated, massaged, and mauled. Lot of work – LOT of work. At the same time, so much fun.

The result isn’t a song. Isn’t spoken word. Isn’t an atmosphere or soundscape. But it is all of them. Hope you like it.

The devolution of copyright protection

Three weeks ago, SoundCloud sent me two “we took it down” notices for the song “Enchanted” on the Sampson – Carroll page. One message claimed SoundCloud’s Automatic Content Protection System detected content copyrighted to… Embracing the Glass. The other message noted the same copyright infringement, but stated someone “notified” them. In effect, they stated that I notified them.

Well, duh. As noted in the songs description – on that page – “Enchanted” was originally released by Embracing the Glass because that’s the name we were going by for the first few years. It wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of effort to figure out that the problem really wasn’t one. Instead, the “service’s” knee-jerk reaction made sure I had to jump through a couple of hoops, list every collaborating piece of evidence I could come up with, check off on several legal statements, and give them everything but my SSN in order to prove the two music duos are one and the same.

The next day, SoundCloud sent one message saying, “thank you for providing feedback – your upload has been released to your account”.

I was more than a trifle annoyed. The whole escapade of being put in front of a legal firing squad with itchy trigger fingers should never have happened – and could have been easily settled by SoundCloud with 46 seconds of investigation on its part. And this was all over a song that has been sitting on SC’s site for the past year in full view of the listening public.

Two weeks later, the same two messages arrived – this time regarding the Sampson – Carroll song “Great Lakes Chain Gang” originally released, as you’ve likely surmised, when we were called Embracing the Glass. A little quicker on the reactionary trigger this time, were the legal snoop hounds, as this song had only been sitting there for 11 months. I went through the same lengthy explanation, with a medium-heavy coating of sarcastic “WTF? you’re repeating the same mistake!” in my defensive argument. The next day, the same “thank you” arrived – with the conspicuous absence of any further remarks – and the song was restored to public view.

I chalked it up to a knee-jerk paranoia laziness that I usually only see in an American industry enforcer, instead of a company launched in Sweden and currently headquartered in Germany. “Guess that means you’re really part of the digital age now, Jeff”. Further evidence of the controlling spread of U.S. style capitalism.

Four days later, YouTube declared there was a dispute involving the music in the Sampson – Carroll video for “Point on Slope”, naming a specific song title and stating the problem occurs at the 1:19 mark. The only song I could find with that title is a hip-hop/rap number (and not a very good one, btw). VERY annoyed by this, as “Point on Slope” was played in its entirety by Sean, and I know he didn’t use any samples – never mind something from a song that has no sonic comparison. But I calmed down and politely explained all that to YouTube.

Within seconds – seconds! – of clicking the submit button, I received an email from YouTube. “One or more music publishing rights collecting societies has reviewed your dispute and released its copyright claim on your video”.

I freely admit my reaction was a mouth-wide-open slow shaking of my head.

Is this what copyright protection has devolved to; poorly written robot algorithms running content checks that are incapable of peering past the obvious? I’m well aware that copyright infringement happens on an hourly basis and that protecting copyright ownership is made more difficult by the variety of rights and legalese that exist through out this planet. I know too – because it didn’t take much research, and it’s impossible to ignore if one does any kind of reading about the entertainment industries – that SoundCloud and YouTube have registered a significant number of legitimate complaints against content uploaded to their respective servers. And that SoundCloud does a better job of preventing it from happening in the first place than YouTube does. But has the human involvement in the policing process completely disappeared?

I’m very interested in knowing if anyone else has experienced takedown notices for music that was obviously owned by you.