A number of tracks on the 2019 release started out as live performances at various venues in Toronto, Canada, including underground shows like the sadly now-defunct Casual Drones, workshops like Frequency Freaks and of course the currently-in-hiatus Toronto Sound Festival. Taking up the torch in our post-lockdown world is Toronto Electronic Music Open Mic, TEMOM for short, which is part of a worldwide EMOM movement that started in the U.K. TEMOM takes place at Handlebar in Kensington Market on the second Monday of the month. I expect to be premiering a new piece on April 10 – hope to see you there!
Here’s one more preview track from the upcoming retrospective BandCamp release Play the Hits. This was recorded in 2005 under a pseudonym for a songwriting contest – which I didn’t win, due in part perhaps to the fact that it contains no actual singing.
Musically it owes a clear debt to Motown and Stevie Wonder in particular, its stereo interlocking clavinet parts and wandering bass line inspired by tracks like Higher Ground and Boogie On, Reggae Woman. The sample content speaks for itself. I think of it as a tiny musical documentary.
The 90-minute lecture “The Fate of the Earth,” by Sister Miriam MacGillis, was originally recorded in 1986 and distributed widely through a grassroots network of environmental activists. I recorded two versions of this piece in the late nineties, after having heard an excerpt of it on the radio.
The original recordings are lost to the sands of time. The first version was recorded on an Akai MG1214 recording console, a strange beast with a built-in proprietary (possibly Beta-compatible?) cassette tape drive. The backing sequence was composed on an Akai ME20a Sequence Arpeggiator, and consists of a 64-note pattern that is mapped onto a cycle of four chords. The ME20a, in turn, drove a stack of Yamaha DX7 voices in the form of a TX816 rackmount – a true eighties-style synth stack.
The current version is stripped down a bit compared to the earlier incarnations, but I did tip my hat a bit to its FM origins with the introduction of Native Instruments’ FM8.
Sister Miriam’s mission is ongoing. You can learn more about her eco-activism and philosophy in this short interview.