Ancient Future – Caged Lion Escapes

Matthew Montfort coined the term “world fusion music” to describe the music that he and the rest of the group Ancient Future sought to create. I found this album and had to grab it because I had never heard of the label Narada but it reminded me of Windham Hill so I figured I’d give it a shot only to find that Narada was actually started in nearby Milwaukee.

This track is enough to make you want to drop everything, put on a peasant shirt, and start learning about crystal healing (or maybe that’s just me). Montfort provides the guitar solo in the middle section that made me want to share this song, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I like it considering Montfort’s interest in Indian music stems from a friend introducing him to a record from the Diga Rhythm Band, which was a collaboration between a number of Indian musicians and Americans, including Mickey Hart and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The relationship was more than just one of influence, as the Ancient Future website lays out:

In the summer of 1977 [Benjy] Wertheimer and Montfort came to San Rafael to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. There they met the members of the Diga Rhythm Band, moved into the house that the group rehearsed in, and formed an offshoot called Greenhouse Intergalactic, which included Diga Rhythm Band members Tor Dietrichson (who later signed with Global Pacific Records), Jim Loveless, Ray Spiegel, and Arshad Syed (who joined Ancient Future’s touring lineup in 1993). Greenhouse Intergalactic rehearsed at the Grateful Dead studio and performed a number of concerts before splitting up into two groups: a Latin band called Sun Orchestra, and the world fusion music group Ancient Future.

So, Ancient Future can be thought of as an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of the Grateful Dead

As a side note, I highly recommend poking around the group’s website, as it is a relic of a kind of web design that is all-to-rare now that every website wants to slip and slide you all over to various embedded videos instead of just using text and hyperlinks as God intended.

This song also features guitarist Alex De Grassi, whose son William Ackerman founded Windham Hill Records. Fans of this kind of music should check out this excellent piece by William Tyler on Windham Hill and its lasting influence on contemporary artists.

There’s another overlap with music covered elsewhere on this blog: Mindy Klein. Though she had left the group by the time this album was released, she appears on previous Ancient Future releases and has gone on to become a Fullbright Scholar of Balinese and Gamelan music (discussed in this post).

At a previous job I would usually ride the bus with a guy who was always wearing peasant shirts and reading about crystals and pyramid power. Other people would ridicule him and I’ll admit I thought he was goofy, but thinking back he looked a thousand times more serene than any of the other people listening to podcasts or staring into their phones. I’ll close this post by sharing a music video for an excerpt of one of my albums (full version here) that fans of this kind of New Age-y stuff might also enjoy:

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Hermes Trismegistus

This material was recorded around the end of 2015 and 2016. I had been playing a lot in open D tuning and found some simple, pleasant finger picking patterns. If there is any real-world inspiration for this it is a trip I took to Alaska in July of 2015. The sheer scale of the terrain, along with the tremendous resilience and oddity of the people who live in the more remote areas is remarkable. I felt compelled to work towards expanding my musical vocabulary from playing around with synths and Ableton effects to live recording using more traditional instruments. Somehow it made me feel like less of a hipster dickhead, though I think most would still rightly label me as such. I don’t pretend to be a gifted guitar player, but it has grown to be one of my favorite pastimes and going forward I anticipate making even greater use of the instrument.

Recording Notes:

Though I had certainly played these guitar parts before, all of these recordings are mostly improvisational in that I started with a repetitive hook and went from there. They were recorded on a single mic built into a Fostex MR-8 multi-tracker with some reverb added upon recording and some effects added in Ableton, though the only substantial edits to the audio itself was to remove some pops and clicks resulting from the primitive recording setup. I mention this setup only because I’m timidly proud of how the guitar fades out in the final two tracks since this effect was achieved only through playing and not through fading a guitar track out in post-production. I recognize that despite this feat, there is much I have to learn in the way of recording methods, but as I’ve been preparing the final release I just thought I’d mention it since it still sounds pretty good to my ear despite all the creaks of my chair while recording.

Empty of Shadows

 

I stumbled into some deep, dark drones yesterday and before I mucked it up by trying to tweaking it I thought I’d share. I’ve been pushing myself to do more improvisation and less painstaking messing around on the computer, which sort of seems like a rationalization for laziness in retrospect but it’s pushed me in a lot of good directions and made me better understand the tools at my disposal. It’s free (as are all my other releases) and I’d encourage you to download it in as high quality a format as you’re willing because it’s an improvement over the stream and grab the best pair of headphones you’ve got. Enjoy!

Ancient Beyond Knowledge

I’ve been wanting to put something like this together since I started recording music and it is through the inestimable patience and talent of Miranda Langevin that I am able to bring this to you. There’s more information about the full length release here. Because the whole thing is about 40 minutes long and Miranda had gotten an amazing job on a feature set we had to film an excerpt.

At the risk of over-explaining, this video attempts to capture an experience with hypothetical extraterrestrials. It has been postulated that encounters with extraterrestrials are so bizarre because the visitors are coming from other dimensions and our means of perceiving them are too rooted in our own dimension to make sense of them. In part influenced by the computer animation team at Ancient Aliens and by the wild imagery of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series, this is my attempt to create visually what I hope the full piece accomplishes aurally.