Someplace I run across an essay called 'Dream Theory in Malaya' by an adventurer-ethnologist named Kilton Stewart describing a "dream tribe"—the Senoi—in Malaya (before it become "Malaysia"). Soon I'm having an affair with the cinematic sound of the word "Malaya" and all that it evokes: exotically-tuned melodies, gongs, birdcalls in the jungle. (Later I'll have a little romance with an exotically-tuned woman from Kuala Lumpur that fills in the rest of the fantasy.) I'm in a different loft in the same building on Park Avenue South, practicing an invented exotic scale on top of a tambura-like drone consisting of a set of sine tones that I've tuned as a guide to keep me on the Indonesian-type tuning that nobody ever tried to play on a trumpet before.
A book called Primitive Peoples had a record inside with little snippets of music recorded around the world by a BBC team accompanying the Queen on her tour of the Commonwealth and one of them is this beautiful watersplash rhythm with giggling children and birds from a tribe—the Semelai—which, on my map, doesn't look too far away from the Senoi so l built a rather elaborate musical form by cutting and pasting a few selected bars of this, and that became the basis for Malay, the centerpiece of the record.
I had heard from Brian about a couple of enterprising and talented brothers, Bob and Daniel Lanois who had set up a nice studio in a house on Grant Ave., in Hamilton, not far from Toronto, who were offering exceptional rates and I decided to make this record there, commuting from Michael Brook's house in Toronto with my dog, Beeper. Michael was helping to coordinate the recording and I'd do sketches in his basement studio then drive to Hamilton where Brian was hanging out chez Lanois and start to put things down on multitrack.
The opening track—'Chor Moiré'—is a fanfare of trumpets, looped and live, which suggest a kind of musical "moiré" patterning. Walter DeMaria (who was not only a groundbreaking artist but also the first drummer with the Velvet Underground ) came up to Canada for the studio fun and I swear he's there doing "distant drums" someplace within Brian's quasi-Polynesian drumming marking the ceremonial gait of the mass trumpets of 'Courage' (named not only for the obvious but also a reference to the name of the lowest string on the tambura) which then reprise in the next track, transformed into the magical, dub-like atmosphere of 'Dream Theory'.
Brian is probably undercredited on this record—maybe a reactionary move on my part to reaffirm an independent identity after the experience of finding Possible Musics—my music—in the "Eno" bin in record stores. Anyway, I gave him the trumpet solo on 'These Times...' which he worked into the texture of his record, On Land. An effervescent Chinese girl and a hot, undercover summer in New York lead to the multileveled title, 'Gift of Fire': I'm thinking of her, I'm thinking of the fire pit in the cover painting, I'm thinking of that moment in the history of Homo Sapiens. •
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Thank god I kept agendas all these years. Jumbled together on a page are the mundane (daily notes to pick up things, career pitches, concerts, departure dates, deadlines) and the rhapsodic (ususally the rising and falling flares of love and sex and music). jh
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All paintings by Mati Klarwein © 2017 Klarwein-Archives. Used by permission of the Klarwein family.