Azure Miles Records ~ The Music of Michael Robinson


Coming soon - Viridian Seas will be released in October 2017


Michael Robinson

Viridian Seas


Cover art is handmade paper from India






Coming soon - Viridian Seas will be released in October 2017



1. Viridian Seas (2017) 11.31

meruvina: piano, tabla, dholak, dhol, female voices, male voices, Indian bells, drums

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2. Azure Rivers (2017) 22.14

meruvina: kemanche, trumpet, clarinet, tabla, cuica, male voices, drums

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3. Snowy Mountain (2017) 11:16

meruvina: sitar, synthesizer, male voices, balafon, drums

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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.



Viridian Seas presents three new 2017 compositions. They are notably linked by male voices rising gradually by octaves for drones rather than tanpuras, and with prominent use of alternating dance music percussion ostinati, a relatively recent form deeply steeped in traditional African music. Viridian Seas is based on Khamaj Thaat, Snowy Mountain is based on Asavari Thaat, and Azure Rivers features an unusual raga I may have invented (discovered), never having heard of it before.

The title composition, Viridian Seas, features an orchestration similar to the title piece of my previous album, Lilac Dawn, but the rasa (mood) and tempo here is distinct, including use of a different raga or thaat. A piano timbre serves as the main melodic voice, and a combination of relatively high-pitched tabla, dholak and dhol bols form the main percussion voice. Abstracted female voices open Viridian Seas singing a rhythmic pattern and launching into the composition proper with the piano churning and glistening port and starboard of labyrinthine percussion tacks. (My title for this piece came after the composition was completed, so there was no intended programmatic intent.) Listening to Viridian Seas after the fact, I recalled the keyboards artists I have loved the most - Glenn Gould, Bill Evans, Arthur Rubenstein and Ray Manzarek. Closing my composition, an array of Asian gongs play the opening rhythmic phrase and the female voices reappear for a fleeting farewell.

Azure Rivers is a most welcome title due to the sharing of the same first word as Azure Miles Records. A kemanche alternating with trumpet and clarinet timbres presents the main melodic voice. Tabla bols form the main percussion voice, including being lower-toned compared to the bols used in Viridian Seas. Particularly noteworthy about Azure Rivers is how I invented (discovered) a new raga - one which eschews Panchama (fifth), and includes Tivra Madhyama (raised fourth), together with Shadja (tonic), Komal Gandhara (lowered third), Shuddha Madhyama (natural fourth), Komal Dhaivata (lowered sixth), Komal Nishada (lowered seventh) and Shuddha Nishada (natural seventh). My invention-discovery came about after browsing through a provocative book in Lahaina one evening last summer which produced a musical spark. Inspired, I ventured down to the grand piano in the living room and began playing the unusual scale instantaneously. (This was the same piano I used to compose the First Part of Lahaina Lanterns.) Excited by its expressive novelty, I was thrilled to actually deploy the raga for Azure Rivers some months later. After the fact, I realized that if Shadja (tonic) is moved a half-step down, the raga forms Puriya Kalyana, a raga Harihar Rao introduced to me, playing it on his sitar during a lesson. Harihar played Puriya Kalyana with much feeling, this obviously being a great favorite of his. The concluding phrases of Azure Rivers have the kemanche playfully formulating a boogie-woogie figure first played that night at the piano. A cuica appears in the opening of my composition exhibiting its charming colors by way of a playful rhythmic figure, and reemerges at the end with some musical surprises. 

Snowy Mountain features a sitar timbre for the main melodic voice. Two of my teachers, Harihar Rao and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, were sitarists, but it was the monumental playing of Ravi Shankar that made the deepest impression upon myself, not that I have in any way attempted to emulate his playing style here. Eschewing a through-composed percussion voice, Snowy Mountain (a few months after composing and naming this work, I would unexpectedly visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado) commences with a colorful stream of rhythmic tones from a synthesizer adopting tambura-like qualities while spinning improvisational variations on its stated theme. Throughout Snowy Mountain, the spare declarations of the sitar contrast boldly with the deep sonorities of the percussion ostinati. In conclusion, the synthesizer emerges alone once again, and the final tone of Snowy Mountain is sounded by an African wooden balafon.

- Michael Robinson, August 2017, Los Angeles


 © 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved