R17 – Daniel Schmidt – “In My Arms, Many Flowers” LP

R17small

  1. And the Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn – 12:29
  2. In My Arms, Many Flowers – 7:06
  3. Ghosts- 13:56
  4. Faint Impressions – 10:17

Recital is proud to publish the first album of American Gamelan composer Daniel Schmidt (b. 1942). Schmidt, who emerged in the Bay Area music scene in the 1970s, wove the threads of traditional Eastern Gamelan music together with American Minimalism (repetitive music). Schmidt was (and is still) a prime figure in the development of American Gamelan music –  studying and collaborating with Lou Harrison, Jody Diamond, and Paul Dresher. He currently is a teacher at Mills College, teaching instrument building.

The recordings on Flowers date from 1978 – 1982, selected directly from Schmidt’s personal cassette archive. It holds two studio tracks, along with two live performances.   The first track, Dawn (commissioned by composer John Adams), employs an early digital sampler provided by Pauline Oliveros. It holds the sound of a string quartet. The nature of this piece is breathtaking, an ocean of strings pulsing beneath the gliding bells of the gamelan – such a lovely interplay.   Furthermore, the title track, Flowers, features the addition of a rebab, a traditional bowed instrument, which reels through the piece, netted and taught.

The final two works are strictly gamelan compositions. Ghosts is a a dynamic piece; rife with dexterous euphoria- it well displays the skillset of the percussionists heard on the LP. The closing work, Faint Impressions, is a somber elegy. Demonstrating the fragility and grace possible with the gamelan; sounding almost as an evening piano sonata.

This is album is unique document from an under-represented movement of American New Music. An account of the curious beauty and woven emotions hidden within resonating pieces of metal.


Edition of 325 LPs on black wax
Includes a 9″x9″  12-page pamphlet of program notes & score excerpts.

First Edition is SOLD OUT

*SECOND EDITION – is now available

Price: $17.95


Press

The Wire:

Daniel Schmidt In My Arms, Many Flowers Recital DL/LP While deeply learned and eminently serious, the American gamelan music documented on In My Arms, Many Flowers is somehow quintessentially Californian. A student of Javanese gamelan at California Institute of the Arts, Daniel Schmidt and some of his fellow travellers wanted to begin composing for the instrument in the early 1970s. As there was no authentic gamelan accessible, Schmidt determined to make his own, forging from aluminium instead of bronze, and putting together a group of players who had to be trained to play the new instruments as they were being developed. It was an experimental process, and the result was the Berkeley gamelan – the name referring to both the instrument and its attendant players – with which the four tracks presented here were recorded between 1978–92. Of building the first instruments, Schmidt simply said that they sought not perfection but “the general sound of gamelan”. “Our instrument designs and our compositions evolved hand in hand, and our products became increasingly idiosyncratic,” he writes in the sleevenotes. “I suppose American Gamelan was much like the rest of our country. Everyone did things their own way.” He did not compose in the traditional Javanese style, looking instead to the contemporary music that excited him, especially minimalism; and although he says that the music he created “is outside our Western experience for the most part”, it certainly seems of a piece not only with much 20th century avant garde composition, but perhaps even more so with the new age sounds that formed a background hum in the Golden State at the time. “And The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn” opens with a cycling string samples, before the gamelan enters with a slow melody at first, then with phosphorescent bursts of ornamentation; on the percussive title track, the ringing of the gamelan is joined by the plaintive sound of a rebab, intended by Schmidt to signify a bird that “calls from far away”. “Ghosts” employs traditional gamelan techniques to produce rapid passages of interplay, too fast for a single player to execute; the final track “Faint Impressions” is a hypnotic study in layered overtones and decay. All four compositions are annotated extensively and rather esoterically by Schmidt, and unusual looking sheet music is also available: wayward scholarly trappings for a beautifully pure-spun product of the West Coast dreamtime. – Francis Gooding

Textura:
http://www.textura.org/archives/s/schmidt_inmyarms.htm

Norman Records:

You put a Recital edition onto your slipmat and you’re home at last. The ambient label too weird for ambient continue their successful run of beautiful pieces with a first ever pressing for the music of Daniel Schmidt, a musician and theorist noted for his study of gamelan, a percussive ensemble music originating from Indonesia. Schmidt’s early interpretation of the music might sooner be compared to Western minimalism of Glass and Reich, but its origins lie in Java and Bali — ‘In My Arms, Many Flowers’ serves as a retrospective in the music’s Western interpretation, in both its influences and anachronisms.

This record collects pieces Schmidt performed both in the studio and live with the Berkeley Gamelan, whose use of metallic percussion and ringing melodicism (through choice chords in different ranges) creates a gently rhythmic and subtly emotive patter. The music sounds supremely light and gorgeous in its simplicity, but reading the liner notes will reveal a complex numerical score, suggesting an integral design to a setup in which artists play in a sort of isolated ensemble — everyone focused on the rhythmic contributions of their own station.

Noting an essential difference between Western and Indonesian gamelan,  Schmidt writes that “the musical traditions there have been adhered to, admitting very little Western influence” — the tunings, tone and overall sound differs immensely, keeping the traditions separate from their American interpretation. That said, this record offers stretched and often ambient approaches to the set-up, with the record’s title track offering a groaning xylophonic sustain that makes itself open to certain melodic supplements — Schmidt himself argues this record is further away from your typical American approach, but all I can really say, without his informed music-man mind to hand, is that this is a totally gorgeous record, standing with a dignified poise as it paces forward.