Recorded on March 20, 2019 by Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device
Mixed by Simon Barker
Mastered by Michael Lynch
Special thanks: Scott Tinkler, Richard Belkner, Michael Lynch
Thanks Carl Dewhurst for the introduction to barefoot running!
In mid-2018, I had an idea to create a malleable drumming language from scratch that somehow connected physical experiences associated with barefoot running with drumming areas I'd been working on for a while. At the time, I had a collection of rhythmic phrases that featured an effect I called ‘coiling’, the coiling being dense, entangled rhythms that are produced by crushing together different rhythm lines, and played using certain sticking techniques that I had been developing for a couple of years. Whilst I loved the feeling of playing this big pool of phrases featuring rhythmic coils, I was unsure how to proceed to turn it all into a malleable language that could be used for improvisation (you can hear these phrases on the recording "Drum Chants for Kiribati and the Marshall Islands")
In order to move ahead with the idea, I went on an intensive period of barefoot running in the mountains around Mino and Kameoka, Japan (10 x 40-45 km, 5 x 20-30km). During daily runs through this incredible landscape I became deeply focused on sensations from the soles of my feet that came with each step, which may be described as unique collections of (highly pleasurable) pressure sensations determined by the unique characteristics of the ground underfoot. I was also fascinated with the feeling of spring-like tendon recoil, and felt that I was gaining a deeper awareness of how each step produces a unique layered collection of underfoot sensations, coupled with densities associated with lots of muscles and tendons moving. Whilst running, I started to imagine that the rhythmic coils could be organised like dense individual bundles of information (like different handfuls of sand), just as each step features a unique collection of muscle movements and ground-to-foot sensations.
These intense physical experiences and new focus areas led to a clear aesthtic pathway for splitting apart and managing the rhythmic materials I had in place, as well as a clear way of notating, organising, making rhythmic gaps, and embodying individual coils.
So this recording features three through-composed drumming pieces (From Kameoka Roads, Mino Hills Chant, In Recoil), as well an improvised track (The Granular Path), that came directly from barefoot running in Mino and Kameoka (except for the first phrase of track 2, which came from thinking about a rhythm that Scott Tinkler showed me). The music is made up entirely of coiled sticking variations and rhythms, and is a first step in this ongoing project. On these tracks, I’m just using two drums, electric bass, and bass drum, as I love playing within a highly constrained space that involves high, low, and unison only. I’ve also released another recording that uses these materials in an improvised way on the drum set (Road and Coil), but its been really fun to gain an understanding of this material in a minimal high/low/unison space as well.
Cover pic: I took that whilst running up the road that runs parallel to Mino Falls, Japan. Such a great road for barefoot running!