atmospherics

​1977 | vernal equinox

A childhood in Memphis, a classical conservatory education, composition and electronic music study with Stockhausen in Cologne; a passage through the New York minimalist sphere with Terry Riley, Reich, Glass; having a window opened onto the world's music and a new approach to the trumpet via vocal master Pandit Pran Nath; a questioning and deconstruction of the European dichotomy between classical and popular, sacred and sensual; a pioneer of digital transformation and sampling—all of this led to Fourth World—the unique blend which Jon has described as "worldly music" to underline a more subtle equation at work and discourage the simplistic labeling of "world," "jazz," "classical," "minimal," or "ambient."

I DID ​THIS, my first record, in Toronto
in a basement studio at York University where my friend,

Not crazy about this CD art. Had no say in it.

David Rosenboom who was head of the electronic studio, had invited me to do a workshop.

Micha​​​​​el Brook was the engineer and a rock 'n' roll guitar player who had a girlfriend I kinda fell in love with.

​​I had left New York a year or two before after a buncha trouble—long marriage sputtering to a close in the wake of a new young "fourth world girlfriend", fallout from the lingering coca-haze following a wild trip to Venezuela and Colombia...

​...(island-hopping in Morocoy, full moon, LSD, and in Bogota, ...

​...falling in love with the great-great-grand-daughter of Ponce de Leon to the unforgettable melodies...

​...and a demonstration of how long I could hang onto the 9th floor window ledge of my apartment at Westbeth when she tried to leave (earning me a 2 week stay in lovely St. Vincents—not the island—with the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).

​So with a band-aid on the hurt, we packed up the Renault 16 and the two dogs and headed to Malibu,...

​​...found a little glass-front loft in Otto Preminger's old beach house where—in the few hours left over from creating tableaux vivantes from imaginary books with the words "Malibu" and "Sex" in the titles—

I'd play over the ocean sound, drive up Tuna Canyon in the afternoon, sit in the car and practice raga moves on the trumpet with wild deer foraging nearby and hang gliders launching over my head,

...wearing out the pause button while listening phrase-by-phrase to the one lesson that Pran Nath had allowed me to record:

​Pran Nath

Pran Nath

​The raga "Tilang" is all I played for 2 or 3 years, trying to get those vocal curves first on the mouthpiece then sticking it into the horn while blowing so I could trick myself into singing with my lips and try not to lapse into bugle mode.

​I thought about the sound of the conch shell that was blown every night in the temple in Dehra Dun to call the neighborhood kids to the evening ceremony called Arti and about how it was like the sound of The First Trumpet...

and I eventually started to hold the horn differently so I could get that feel. In Malibu I was playing over electronic drones (tuned to Pran Nath's fundamental tone, Sa = 256Hz) that played the tambura role and the invitation to Toronto was a chance to workshop some of the music ideas which were beginning to form and to take advantage of the University studio.

​While I was there, my beloved old dog, lil' pup, died nearing 20 and while I was on mushrooms during the recording I remember so clearly that I was talking to him and saying goodbye during the piece called 'Blues Nile' which I named for him because he looked so much like an Egyptian dog. And because I was so blue.

​During a snowfall in deep NY Winter after the sunshine of Malibu. The sound of dispair (but also reminds of the harmonized trumpet... here a perfect 5th).

​I left LA behind and moved back to New York—sleeping on a friends floor for a while and feeling pretty lost in the middle of winter.

​I had met Philippa DeMenil (benefactress of the DIA Art Foundation) while playing with La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Dreams before, and she helped me to finish the record...

​...with overdubs by Nana Vasconçelos who Don Cherry had pointed me to one day down in Soho, as a great new Brazilian percussionist who had just come into town from Paris.

​I hadn't thought of it before but I suppose a line could be drawn from the voodoo experience in Bogota to the track called 'Hex'.

The last track, 'Caracas Night, September 11, 1975' is me playing alone up on the hill in Altamira with distant barking from Perrasita, a wandering dog I had taken in and, heartbreakingly, had to leave behind.


All text, images and sound not otherwise attributed are protected by copyright © 2017 Nyen Music.
All paintings by Mati Klarwein © 2017 Klarwein-Archives. Used by permission of the Klarwein family.

A childhood in Memphis, a classical conservatory education, composition and electronic music study with Stockhausen in Cologne; a passage through the New York minimalist sphere with Terry Riley, Reich, Glass; having a window opened onto the world's music and a new approach to the trumpet via vocal master Pandit Pran Nath; a questioning and deconstruction of the European dichotomy between classical and popular, sacred and sensual; a pioneer of digital transformation and sampling—all of this led to Fourth World—the unique blend which Jon has described as "worldly music" to underline a more subtle equation at work and discourage the simplistic labeling of "world," "jazz," "classical," "minimal," or "ambient."