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Aaron Otheim Woodland Score

Recording for “Woodland”

By | Books

We’ve been over at Jack Straw doing the base recordings for Woodland— a project that becomes our eleventh book, out in March of 2019.

I’d like to tell you most about the incredible Seattle pianist Aaron Otheim, because the writer is the publisher here at Entre Ríos Books, me (and so that just feels a bit awkward). For folks on the experimental jazz side of music in Seattle, you might know Aaron from his years organizing the Cafe Racer Sessions (RIP, CAFE RACER). He’s phenominal, has interest in all kinds of genre-bending music, and so we highly recommend you take a listen to his work on SoundCloud.

Last summer, a batch of quite broken writing started happening for me during the weeks of hazy dreadful smoke-filled days we had due to fires in British Columbia and then Oregon. As it became very clear that I was writing about fire, I thought it might be interesting to base the center section of the book around the music of Edward McDowell (1860-1908), and in particular, “Woodland Sketches”— popular, beautiful parlor music. It’s racist, it’s sexist, it’s completely of it’s era of industrialization and the beginnings of mass-markets. I asked Aaron to think about updating it for the era of climate change and endless fires. Riffing on an idea of mine, he took the score and burnt it, altered it with the goal of making it “sound like ash”.

So here’s a short video showing some of the process as the end music won’t be like this— but the process to me is so intriguing. Jack Straw has a great piano and set up the mics around the room to allow Aaron great control in mixing the soundfield. With plenty of takes, improvisations, and experiments with the instrument, he’ll take these recordings to add electronic sounds and alterations.

Like all our books, this one comes with an audio download— so when you buy the book, you’ll have the password to download his new music. That download will also come with my reading of the book— and I am planning on some version that will also include some experiments in sound design.

 

Here’s an early experiment on my side with sound. I can’t say this is the final— it’s a process!