"One of this era’s most fearlessly
New music fans will salivate over this…"
- Lucid Culture
The first section of Kline’s new Daze composition
is the mysterious, haunting “The Housatonic at Henry Street,” where
the initial ambient sounds were recorded by Kline hanging microphones
outside his windows overlooking a street corner in New York City’s
lower East Side. Back in the studio, Kline added more material.
He then replayed all this through multiple boomboxes spatially
deployed on that same intersection and recorded this new generation
of sounds. Finally, he mixed all this “to create an imaginary
landscape where past and present hang out together in asynchronous
Kline describes the lovely “Svarga Yatra” as
the “beginning of a long journey.” Performed by the
string quartet Ethel, this effortlessly flowing piece begins to
pull the listener into the full work’s overall arc. Kline
explains that “the members of the quartet were recorded as
an ensemble and overdubbed individually, with a surrounding halo
of boombox tape players echoing some of their parts.”
The weirdly pensive “The Maryland Sample” contains
the first vocals in the overall composition. performed by Kamala
Sankaram and Kline. The composer comments that this “madrigal
about love and science, bitterness and bees” is a “setting
of a poem by my best teacher, David Shapiro.”
Following this is the longest section of the
entire work. Interviewer John Schaefer comments that the “stunning” 18-minute “Pennies
from Heaven” is “in many ways is the centerpiece of Around
the World in a Daze.” Schaefer adds, “Here the
psychoacoustic possibilities of surround sound are most tellingly
explored… in the wider perspective of surround sound, the
ear is able to distinguish the individual threads in what turns
out to be a complex but elegant aural tapestry.” He comments
that the densely layered, but differentiated lines “reminded
me of Conlon Nancarrow and Trimpin.”
Based on a simple bell sound representing the
penny. the piece builds to an astonishing, otherworldly climax,
containing over 80 tracks comprising over 300 voices. Kline notes “I
actually tried to calculate how many pennies we were hearing at
once – it’s hundreds of thousands at one point.” “Pennies” probably
explores surround more extensively than any other section of Daze.
Kline says, “You’ve got to hear that one in surround.”
The massive “Pennies” is followed
by two shorter sections. “On the Waterfront” offers
a subtly manipulated realtime recording of couple sensually enjoying
themselves during a thunderstorm. Kline explains, “I folded
time over itself into an altered perspective…it is reality
and a little bit of origami.”
The next section, “Luv U 2 Death” alters
reality in a different way, via a telescoped, hyper-sampling of
Wagner's famed "Liebestod" from Tristan Und Isolde,
the familiar music swooping and swirling around the listener in
an unsettling whirlwind.
The seventh movement of Daze is the
mesmerizing “The Wailing Wall,” where layer upon layer
of multi-tracked vocal loops all lead to a richly mournful peak,
which then slowly subsides into a distant echo in the rear speakers.
Video: Phil Kline discusses "The Wailing Wall"
“The Grand Etude For The Elevation” features
violinist Todd Reynolds (originally with Ethel) in a work that
reinforces the arch-like structure of Daze, recalling
the earlier “Svarga Yatra” performed by Ethel. Commenting
on the music’s ethereal, floating climax, Kline notes in
the DVD’s Interview, “There’s definitely a sense
of building and soaring. It’s as if you’ve gotten to
the mountaintops, you’re in the clouds, you’re alone,
now it’s quiet, and you just see into the vast distance.”
As the listener moves towards the end of Daze,
Kline titles the penultimate section “Prelude.” He
begins with ancient recording a Bach prelude from The Well-Tempered
Clavier, which he processes and cross-fades through a broad array
of plug-ins, mixing in a background ambient recording from the
Zurich train station.
The final section of Daze is the densely
layered “The Housatonic at Dzanga.” The core of the
piece is a field recording (captured by Louis Sarno) at a famous
watering hole at Dzanga, where hundreds of elephants come to drink.
At dawn, a steadily increasing carpet of chattering from thousands
of African gray parrots surrounds and immerses the listener. Kline
was fascinated by sonic richness of this recording, which he estimates
documents around 15,000 parrots. By varying the playback speed
of this sampled material and compiling a thick layer of these,
Kline creates a constantly evolving surround environment which
beautifully echoes the opening section “The Housatonic at
Given the opportunity to write music for an entire
DVD, Kline early on developed an overall idea for the full recording.
He mentions his concept “started with the first piece that
I wrote for Tom and Starkland” for the Immersion DVD. “The
Housatonic at Henry Street” refers to New England’s
Housatonic river, which led Kline to think of the Ganges, transcendental
writers, and the spatially experimental composer Charles Ives (who
wrote The Housatonic at Stockbridge). He thought “Let’s
do a similar thing in other locations – let’s take
the river of life that begins at Henry Street and take it around
The Housatonic at Henry Street For Ives the river of life, running right by my window.
Electronica and tape orchestra. Field recording: Henry Street at Rutgers, evening
Svarga Yatra An uphill climb. It might mean Stairway to Heaven in Sanskrit.
Performed by Ethel (Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell, violins, Ralph Farris, viola,
Dorothy Lawson, cello) with tape choir.
The Maryland Sample A madrigal about love and science, bitterness and bees.
Performed by Kamala Sankaram (vocals) and Phil Kline (vocals, strings and percussion).
Field recording: bug zappers on Nicola Teslas porch
Pennies from Heaven The trickle down theory. Everything is falling. Every time it rains it rains.
On the Waterfront This is not a recording, but something happening right now in Istanbul.
Luv U 2 Death Death hastened by technology.
And our love become a funeral pyre.
The Wailing Wall The pull of the moon. A blind man tries to describe it.
Vocals by Phil Kline
Grand Etude for the Elevation The importance of height: I can see my house from here.
Violinistics by Todd Reynolds
Prelude Departing, the end begins.
Bach Prelude in B flat minor. Field recording: Tuesday
morning, Zurich station.
The Housatonic at Dzanga The mystery of red mercury, observed by a million gray parrots.
Electronica and tape choir. Field recording: the watering hole
at Dzanga, Central African Republic (Louis Sarno)
DVD One Total Time: 65:17 | Introduction:
as fast as you can)
by Phil Kline