Azure Miles Records ~ The Music of Michael Robinson
Cover art is hand silkscreened paper from Japan
1. The Forest of Brinda (Durga) (1998) 12.33
meruvina: sitar, tabla, kalimba, finger cymbal, kawala, piri, french horn, rainstick, Javanese, African, and North and South American percussion, tanpura
2. Luminous Realms (Marwa) (1998) 60.27
meruvina: trumpet, tabla, Indian, African, Near Eastern and Japanese percussion, tanpura
All music composed and programmed by Michael Robinson for performance and recording in real time without any overdubbing or added parts.
Recorded and Mastered by Catharine Wood at the Planetwood Productions studio in Eagle Rock (Los Angeles), California.
Musicians are welcome to perform these compositions with acoustic and/or electronic instruments.
The Forest of Brinda is the third and highest level of heaven where Krishna resides along with the Gopis. Shortly after the music begins, an electronic percussion ostinato enters, which was inspired by the electronic music of Joel Chadabe and David Behrman. This is followed by a melodic figure which is repeated throughout the piece by a wide range of instrumental colors, from finger cymbal to french horn. The swiftly moving tabla was inspired by Alla Rakha's son, Zakir Hussain.
Luminous Realms is based on Marwa, one of India's hauntingly beautiful sunset ragas. While listening to a recording of this raga, I had the sensation of feeling the tones sliding downward. When I interviewed santoor genius Shivkumar Sharma, he confirmed my feeling that this was an actual musical depiction of the setting sun!
I felt that a trumpet timbre was perfect for the rasa of Marwa. The legato capabilities of this instrument enhance the melodic instability of the music which reflects the transition from day to night.
Luminous Realms also features a rich family of percussion voices, including tabla, and various Indian, African, Near Eastern and Japanese drums. These instruments make their initial entrance at 20.13, with an extended solo. There is a second extended percussion family solo when the tempo is doubled at 40.13.
Both of these compositions were written in 1998.
- Michael Robinson, July 1999, Los Angeles
© 1999 by Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a jazz-influenced composer who bases (at least in part) his compositions on the ancient Indian (long) musical form of raga, but the two pieces on this CD do not consciously attempt to sound like ragas in particular or Indian music in general.
Robinson is no mere copycat or cultural/colonial imperialist hes studied and absorbed the essence and approach of musics of not only India but other Asian cultures as well.
Im not certain if all the sounds on this disc are created via computer, overdubbed live instrumentation or both and Im not sure it matters at all.
The music on Luminous Realms may seem free-form on the first few listens, but I dont think form as most folks know it is what MR is aiming for.
Not to get all metaphysical/cosmic on yall, but the aim of some music/sound is to allow the mind/spirit to achieve an altered state, and get to places it might not get to with the usual (though hardly outmoded) verse/chorus/verse/solos/verse format and that is what MR is shooting for, I think music/sound to get you to a Different But (slightly, at least) Enlightened Place.
This is spacious, gentle music to get lost in, without succumbing to New Age-type/ambient bland-out.
For one thing, there is the ebb & flow of Rhythm but be warned, its sometimes more implicit than explicit, and its never used as any sort of anchor or placebo.
Realms has shades of light or dark coursing
through it - its a truly cerebral, challenging listen though
never self-consciously or defiantly difficult.