When we began contacting composers about this project, we did not have an overarching theme in mind. Our primary goal at the time was simply to play some new music together, but the project quickly developed into something much more. Once we had all the works in front of us, we began to see the full scope of the album, and the concept became very clear to us.
Each of the pieces represents, in some way, the plethora of reasons we decided to pursue music. We experienced music’s ability to convey ideas that words cannot express. We have had music create vivid imagery in our minds. We have felt the inexplicable power of music and its ability to move us. And hey, all of us were at some point inspired by some sick, nasty grooves.
Though each of us have very different stories, our early roots are the same.
Our debut album, Roots, is an homage to the various aspects of music that caught our attention, shaped the way we viewed the world, and firmly planted a passion for music in each of us.
Fixtures in the Fold – Douglas Hertz
Fixtures in the Fold was composed in spring of 2017. Prior to composing the work, a memoir I had been reading by musician/artist/poet Patti Smith had me thinking a great deal about the relationship between objects and memory. In her memoir, Smith looks to objects she has collected throughout her life to lend meaning to the present moment. I find this material reverence at once fascinating and difficult to comprehend. I structured this piece according to the everchanging relationship between the objects, memory, and identity, as we grow older. The first hurdle is object permanence: a milestone in infant development that allows the mind to believe an object to exist when it is no longer present. An object catalyzing the ability to form memories foreshadows the type of relationship Smith discovers with her possessions. And yet, these material anchor points that connect our past and present must yield to an understanding of the ephemeral nature of such attachments. Any such significance we assign is immeasurably delicate for it is lost as soon as it is forgotten.
The Cruel Waters – Adam Silverman
“The Cruel Waters” is a work for three marimbas in which a turbulent environment emerges from constant overlapping and interlocking of instrumental lines. Initial ideas for the piece came from trying to create new textures for the marimbas that are both virtuosic and idiomatic, creating the sound of a “supermarimba” through combining the three identical instruments. The sound that results, formed from flowing arpeggiations and chordal rolls that swell and decay, made me think of roiling waters undulating in a storm at sea.
This work was commissioned by Troy University for premiere by their percussion ensemble at the 2015 Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The music is dedicated to T. Adam Blackstock and the Troy University Percussion Ensemble with gratitude and admiration, and to Brian Nozny, to whom special thanks is extended for his musical and editorial advice. In 2017, the original trio version was arranged as a quartet and premiered by the Furman Percussion Ensemble, directed by Omar Carmenates.
City of Fog – Brandon Dicks
Take a journey to an abandoned metropolis. There is not a human or living creature in sight. The atmosphere is thick and makes your body weighted. You trudge as though you are walking underwater. The city itself is made up of large skyscrapers of fog and smoke. The only sound echoes a haunting moan that almost sighs of pain. You cannot point to where the sound is coming from, but you feel the impact of the sound more as you walk deeper.
Eventually, this moan subsides for a light. The light shines faintly through the dark atmosphere. However, it adds definition to the fog and smoke. The structures are sharpened and the city becomes more recognizable as you go closer to the source. As you look around in a new light, you realize you’ve been in this city before.
As the light brightens, memories surface of past experiences. There were times of loving joy. These moments are the most heartfelt. It almost makes you forget about the gloom of the city. However, there is that one tragic memory originating at the light source. The memory is not foggy, but vivid and overwhelming. The haunting moan returns louder and screaming of pain. Turning away from the light brings enlightenment to all the memories. Everything leads to one person.
One person who has been forgotten not because of neglect, but out of the paralyzing reminder of the present situation. For this, the city is abandoned and not many people visit. However, the city of fog exists for those who need reminders of what is truly important.
Intact – Zach Albrecht
Program notes coming soon!
An Absolute Insufficiency of Electricity – Jacob Rogers
My piece takes its name from a particularly evocative chapter title in Haruki Murakami’s novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” In this chapter (no spoilers, I promise), the reader observes a married man an engaged woman share a single night together in a hotel room, never more than embracing, but forced in their embrace to confront the “absolute insufficiency of electricity” they both so distinctly feel in their lives. The material for the piece came from a series of improvisations performed this past February. While it doesn’t respond to the chapter’s events with any specificity, I feel their roots lay in the same ideas: how personal needs can sometimes be best understood through others, and how the spiritual cohesion of humanity can somehow only be expressed in our struggle to grasp such a cohesion.
Napalm Basket – Cy Miessler
I noticed that there weren’t really any pieces out there that are just ridiculous and loud throughout without being way too long and having a soft middle section that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the piece. So Napalm Basket aims to be just that, while also being tasteful, challenging, and creative. Napalm Basket should be explosive in volume and energy, and it is an enormous amount of fun to play.