Michael Robinson

North Africa

Cover art is hand silkscreened paper from Japan








1. North Africa (1994) 12:21

meruvina: clavichord, harpsichord, harp, synthesizers

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2. First Instrument (1993) 12:16 (three movements)

meruvina: trumpet, strings, piano, organ, electric piano, wind bells, guitar, clarinet, percussion

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3. Rainbow Sprinkles (1994) 3:53

meruvina: harpsichord, synthesizer, vibraphone, trumpet, flute, percussion

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4. China Gem (1994) 4:01

meruvina: electric piano, violin, organ, synthesizer, timpani, percussion

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5. African Plains (1994) 4:29

Meruvina: guitar, xylophone, marimba, percussion

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6. Yucca Tree (1994) 14:06

meruvina: acoustic bass, cello, recorder, violin, celesta, marimba, electric piano, synthesizers, xylophone,
trumpet, bells, clavichord, french horn,strings, shakuhachi, electric bass, ocean waves, water bells, timpani, percussion

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Composed, Programmed, Mixed, Designed and Produced by Michael Robinson

Recorded and Mastered by Catharine Wood at Planetwood Studios

North Africa opens with an unusual cicada-like ostinato. The melodic voice, colored with an exotic tuning, moves from clavichord to harpsichord, and ends with harp. Ali Jihad Racy is the person who introduced me to different tunings, the Arabic tunings he taught me reflected in a number of 1994 compositions including North Africa. Lee Konitz and I once enjoyed listening to North Africa together in his Manhattan apartment. It was premiered on WKCR FM close to Lee's home on West 86 Street in Manhattan.

First Instrument was named for the featured trumpet timbre, which was the first instrument I ever played, beginning at the age of nine. The trumpet is surrounded by a rich array of tone colors throughout the three contrasting movements of the piece.

Rainbow Sprinkles, inspired by a famous Brazilian melody, takes unexpected melodic and timbral turns, led by an incisive harpsichord voice.

China Gem is the last piece composed for the second Meruvina incarnation. (Purple Clouds, from The Forest album, was the first piece composed for this Meruvina in 1989. China Gem was followed by Giant Leaves on the Hamoa album in compositional sequence, featuring the third Meruvina incarnation.) Named for a jewelry store sign I noticed while visiting San Francisco, China Gem incorporates some Indian tabla rhythms, making this the first of my compositions to demonstrate the influence of studies with Harihar Rao. The music begins and ends with mysterious chords, building to a poly-rhythmic climax in-between.

African Plains combines various rhythmic ostinatos with a through-composed melodic voice.

Yucca Tree, in four movements, is a wild conflagration of diverse timbres and textures. Ray Manzarek and I once enjoyed listening to the composition at his Beverly Hills home.

The music on this recording was composed in 1993 and 1994.

- Michael Robinson, December 1999, Lahaina

© 1999 Michael Robinson All rights reserved