With the exception of "Dreaming in the 9th", 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.
Yellow Star Mailing List (Recorded 4/1/00- IL1)
GS: "The title was taken off the old Dog Neutral title list; I think it was Hyam's. We chose this title because the music has a kind of tragic/gradually manic feel to it. This was the very first thing recorded for these sessions."
HS: "The sense of sadness and inevitablity in the first 5 minutes or so is what suggested using this title to me. After that point, the initial feel of the piece gives way and it metamorphoses several times (kind of like an old Max Fleischer cartoon), taking on the more manic quality Greg speaks of, yet never getting out of control. At about 7:30 listen for some great guitar sounds (dastardly pickwork) over some cookin' 5/4 time. Pretty soon after that things move to double-time and really take-off. "
Remembering Precognition (Recorded 4/3/00- IL2)
GS: "Hyam suggested we start off a piece from a guitar loop. This is the result. The title is mine; the guitar-loop idea suggested to me the time-loop idea of precognition."
HS: "This is one of those pieces that will certainly evolve over time. Even now, barely a month after we made this recording, I have already come-up with a different drum part for it, something more Elvin Jones-like. Listen for how Greg manipulates that opening loop at various points throughout the piece - at one point it becomes a low, drawn-out growl, seemingly bearing no relationship to the original, yet it's the same loop. Quite the knob-twiddler, that Greg (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). The abrupt cutoff at the end is on the master tape. I have no idea how it happened - probably sloppy button-pushing by yours truly during the recording session."
Dreaming in the 9th (Recorded 4/4/00- IL3)
GS: "This piece goes back to 1992 and was written on acoustic guitar in my back yard when I lived in Granada Hills. There is an arrangement for it featuring multi-tracked guitar parts but obviously we couldn't do that here, since we were going live to DAT (as usual). This is the first time we played the piece in its entirety and Hyam managed to do exactly what I've always had in mind for the drum part. Look for this piece to evolve in the future- I doubt this will be the only version we record."
HS: "I freely admit that Greg sat down at the drums and gave me some direction as to what he wanted for the drum part to this song. I especially like how it's based on a single rhythmic motif that starts out simply and gets processed by more and more of the drum kit during the piece until by the end the entire kit is involved."
Previously Disenchanted (Recorded 4/4/00- IL1)
GS: "It's about time I got some melodic slide playing in again."
HS: "The beginning has one of those half-time feels that I really enjoy playing. It creates a huge sense of space, providing Greg and I with an opportunity to fill it up, as well as an opportunity to leave it rather empty. At various points in this piece we do both. I can be found pulling-out my Ginger Baker cheat-sheet towards the end".
New note from GS, 8/25/01: Before this came out, I had intended to suggest a name change for this track: "The House On The Borderland", after the William Hope Hodgson book. I read it a few months after we recorded, during the process of getting things ready for release. To me, this works beautifully as a musical impression of the story. But every time I spoke with Hyam it slipped my mind, and not long after I thought to do this, the covers were already at the printers. The internet being an ever fluid medium, I can tell you now.
Valley Plaza (Recorded 4/2/00- IL3)
GS: "Named after another North Hollywood landmark which, like most things in North Hollywood, is no longer what it used to be. In a rare melodic venture, Hyam contributed to the chord structure. The Intention was to create a repeatable piece but as usual, beyond a few bars of basic theme we came up with shortly before rolling tape, the structure was improvised (we will surely handle it this way in the future too.) This and the next two pieces form a kind of suite."
HS: "Something fun and bouncy that's tailor-made for brushes."
Gidget Goes Canine (Recorded 4/2/00- IL1)
GS: "This came out at the end of multiple versions of 'Valley Plaza'. The only resemblance to that piece is the use of brushes on the drums, but that was enough to suggest a connection. As to the title, which came off the old Dog Neutral list- is it a reference to shape-shifting or to bestiality? You decide."
HS: "Although I do start out using Blasticks (a sort of plastic brush), that's where all resemblance to "Valley Plaza" ends. Rather than keeping traditional time, here I'm doing lots of unison figures with my hands and feet, as well as some trading of licks between them. For much of the piece I approached the kit as if it had no cymbals, while at other times I played only cymbals. I find that sometimes pretending that part of the kit that I've come to depend on doesn't exist is a good way of forcing myself to find new ways of expressing myself on the instrument."
Valley Plaza (reprise) (Recorded 4/2/00- IL3)
GS: "We weren't initially going to use two versions of this. Our criteria for choosing a composed (or semi-composed) piece is always based on how well the main themes are stated. In this case, the first version certainly did that better, but is a lot more formal and has no solo. This version is more relaxed, and while it doesn't state the themes as definitely as the first piece, it doesn't have to. I had ignored it, but when I was playing cassettes of the whole 4-day session for my significant other she remarked, during the solo on this piece, 'Wow, this is great. This one'll be on the CDs, of course. Won't it?' She was right, it was good; I got sucked into it right along with her. Suddenly I realized I needed to reconsider. I did some quick work with a pen and calculator and hashed out this VP/Gidget sandwich, hoping Hyam would agree when it was presented to him. We'd already used multiple 'Erwin Park' versions, so I thought by using that approach twice we could not only present more good music but also establish a useful trend: using sufficiently different multiple versions as recurring themes/variations. I'd already done this with 'Darkland Express' years before but for some reason it never occurred to me to apply it to any other project until we started compiling the Jugalbandi stuff.
return to Jugalbandi 2000