Monday, June 14, 2010

The Improvisational Ensemble....


I know how much fun it would be if I could find 5-10 musicians who would agree to play every month and a half or so in an improvisational context.  The problem, however, is that I may be the only one who does know.

My goal is to form an improvisational ensemble, I call it M.I.M.E. -- the Midwest Improvisational Music Ensemble -- I like the idea of a LOUD mime.  The music I am posting on this blog is not so much examples of what it would sound like, bit examples of what it could sound like. 

In 1997 on a sunny Sunday afternoon, a dozen or so musicians gathered at a small studio at the edge of a forest out near the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  We played, without any planning or rehearsal, for about five hours. At then end the engineer did a quick mix of the second piece we played and, when we stood there in a small control room and listened, we were amazed.

Eventually I mixed a series of excerpts from that session, everything live to tape, no overdubs, and assembled a record we called In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey.  That first thing we heard, later titled "I Am Aware of My Heart," is streaming below, and I use it just as an example of what is possible. 

We play, we record it, we search the performance for sections that are interesting, we edit these into final pieces, we assemble an album, press a small number of vinyl copies and a small number of CDs and watch as it slowly works it's way into the world. 

In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey was released in a LP pressing of 450 copies and sold out very quickly. A CD pressing of 1000 copies also sold out eventually.  While these are minuscule numbers, the record was heard around the world by people who like that kid of adventurous music and reviewed in all sorts of places, including the All Music Guide where it's listed as an "album pick":

Essentially, In the Summer of the Mushroom Honey is the result of an in-the-studio jam session between members of Faraday Cage, Tombstone Valentine, Many Bright Things and Twin Planet, all psychedelic rock bands from the U.S. Midwest. These improvisations are dominated by Richelle Toombs' bewitching voice. On "I Am Aware of My Heart," her voice has been multiplied, beautifully clouding the meaning of what she says. This is mostly guitar (acoustic or electric) and percussion-driven music; keyboards are few and discreet. "Clouds on Sunday" is a nice trio of acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and violin. Two feedbacking guitars are the essence of "Thank You, Mr. Bishop!"  "Sweet Water" brings back Toombs' vocals. This CD release includes a longer version of "Deep Beneath the Water" and extra material such as the 20-minute warm-up number "Opening Impressions of the Middle East." This album should be considered by any serious or casual psychedelic rock/space rock fan: the improvising is inspired, rich, and sustained. Strongly recommended. - Fran├žois Couture (AMG)

Any interested musicians are welcome to contact me at any time.

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