With the exception of "Erwin Park", all of the music on this disc was improvised live ("pulled out of thin air", so to speak). None of what we played was worked-out in advance. You are hearing it exactly as it was played, with no overdubs, editing or re-mixing whatsoever. (Refer to the Improvisation Level Classification System for more details about the method and the madness.)
Before you listen to this music for the first time, you can use the following notes as sort of a road map through the disc, or you can save this section for later and in the spirit in which it was played, jump into the music head-first without a net.
The View is Better From the Top of the Food Chain (Recorded 4/1/00- IL1)
GS: "This was the only Jugalbandi piece I used the Korg toneworks multi-effects unit on. Prior to recording I had fallen in love with its "Gallagher '69" pre-set (reference to Rory, not the watermelon smasher) and had to use it on something, since every time I played through it I felt almost possessed, like it was supercharging me. It certainly helped fuel and inspire the music here. As for the title, I'm not sure who suggested it, but it was on the list for years awaiting a music donor. To me it implies hierarchy, dominance and aggression; and the music has a certain tiered and aggressive structure as well. I'm not sure of Hyam's reasons, but with almost no discussion we both found the title very apt for the piece."
HS: "When I began playing music with Greg in 1988 and discovered that many of his composed songs were in 12/8 time, I decided to find atypical ways of playing in that old war-horse of a time signature. What I came up with includes using a very 'angular' rock feel instead of the traditional bouncy 'rounded' feel most drummers use when they play 12/8, shifting the different rhythmic elements around to different parts of the drum kit, cutting the time in half to give a more majestic spread to the music, and using latin rhythmic figures on the ride cymbal. You can find them all in this piece, along with some extraordinarily tight, shredding interplay between Greg and I."
Moving Towards Kyoto (Recorded 4/1/00- IL2)
GS: "One of probably only 2 pieces from these sessions where the title directly inspired or influenced the music. I believe Hyam was responsible for the title. This and "View" were actually recorded in sequence."
HS: "I used mallets on the drums, trying for a gamelan-like feel. (The gamelan is an indonesian instrument consisting of a number of tuned gongs that are played with mallets.) Instead of the interplay between Greg and I being directly in sync like it is in "The View Is Better From The Top Of The Food Chain", "Moving Towards Kyoto" has a distinctly contrapuntal feel to it, with our melodic lines overlapping, going in and out of phase with each other. The master tape has a glitch at the beginning of this song that cuts-off the first note-there's nothing wrong with the CD or with your player."
Erwin Park (Recorded 4/3/00- IL3)
GS: "The guitar part came out during the 3/28 rehearsal for the Paper Bag session recorded 3/31/00. I told the other guys- 'Since we can't ever do this again, expect it to turn up as a Jugalbandi song.' This is named after a park in North Hollywood that Hyam and I both went to in our childhoods."
Rest Stop (Recorded 4/1/00- IL1)
GS: "The title came to me while listening back to the tape the first time. I wanted something that reflected the mood of the piece and I'd certainly been at enough of these on the road trip down to L.A."
HS: "Playing with brushes is like speaking a different language through the drums. Although I can't speak brushes as fluently as I speak sticks, I have so much fun using them that I wanted to do something very delicate and ethereal."
Erwin Park Jam (Recorded 4/2/00- IL3)
GS: "We went through quite a few takes of Erwin Park and true to form we improvised on them all, taking it anywhere we felt like going at the moment. No two are alike. The section used here is an unexpected jam initiated by Hyam at the end of one version. We felt it was too good not to use and thought it would work well as a mid-way point for the album."
HS: "I simply didn't feel finished at that point, so instead of ending the piece like a good little boy, I changed the groove and we charged ahead into the unknown."
Reciprocal Demonology (Recorded 4/3/00- IL3)
GS: "The title is taken from a phrase Hyam heard on NPR. The guitar part was inspired by the T-shirt I was wearing, which had the poster for "The Black Sleep", an old horror film, on it. I wanted to go for a horror soundtrack feel. This and the following two pieces have been arranged together to form a sort of Thermonuclear Suite."
HS: "The NPR report was about two opposing political factions somewhere in the world that were demonizing each other in their rhetoric. The reporter called this "reciprocal demonology", a phrase that I think, sadly applies all over the world. Reciprocal Demonology has been and continues to be responsible for much of humanity's pain and suffering throughout history. Truly a fitting opening for the impromptu 'Thermonuclear Suite'."
The Toast Beckons (Recorded 4/3/00- IL2)
GS: "It calls. It calls again."
HS: "There's something about toast that feels like home, no matter where in the world you happen to be. It's far more than nostalgia; it's something deep inside the race that draws us to the singular wonder of two pieces of bread that have been heated just this side of combustion and covered in churned bovine milkfat."
GS (Rebuttal): "Bovine milkfat aside, the title also suggested to me something exposed to heat, i.e. toasted; that and Hyam's piccolo snare drum work made me think that this piece fit right in with the other two members of the 'thermonuclear suite'."
Castle Bravo (Recorded 4/2/00- IL1)
HS: "On March 1st, 1954, the United States conducted a thermonuclear test (code-named Castle Bravo) that was projected to have an explosive force equal to 6 million tons (megatons) of TNT. However, when the device was detonated it in fact exploded with the force of 15 megatons of TNT. In addition to completely vaporizing the South Pacific island where the bomb was detonated, this unexpectedly high yield (aided by a 90° shift in the wind) caused an enormous cloud of nuclear radiation to dust a Japanese fishing boat that had accidentally traveled to the edge of the test area. All of the fishermen on that boat soon died of radiation-related illnesses. (This incident was one of the primary inspirations for the film "Godzilla".) If exploded over a large city, a 15 megaton thermonuclear weapon would instantly kill millions of people, create a firestorm that would burn the entire city to cinders killing millions more, and produce radiation that would render the area uninhabitable to practically all forms of life for thousands of years."
Erwin Park (reprise) (Recorded 4/2/00- IL3)
GS: "This version again goes in places the other two don't. The first states the themes well; the second expands them; and this last one assumes you already know them and grinds and shreds its way to conclusion, tying the album together and ending with a bang."
HS: "I've always loved a good grinding rock'n'roll ending. After I realized that this version of this piece contained the only grind ending we played during the whole 4-day session, I knew we had to include it on this disc."
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