What is "Discreet Harmonica"? First of all, it's my latest album, available now in a preview release.
It's music that's been in my head for a long time, perhaps for decades, that is finally finding its way out.
It's an exploration of what I like and don't like in music. It's nice music to fall asleep to. It's nice music to play while driving.
It's all harmonica. It's all me.
It is, of course, a very deep bow in the direction of Brian Eno, whose Discreet Music was the first "ambient" album. It may still be the best of them all. But while he brought them to my (and many others') attention, Eno didn't invent these ideas. I love him for the depth and breadth of his influences and his willingness to mash them up any which way.
Shortly after I first started recording this music last year, Benoît Mandelbrot died. Another electic man who didn't so much discover new things as synthesize existing mathematical work into something startling and beautiful. I wrote a piece about him, in which I talked about the way beautiful complexities often arise from very simple things, and how that apples to generative music.
Almost all the pieces on "Discreet Harmonica" are constructed from very small parts that are allowed to interact in interesting ways. It's not completely random, because if the interaction isn't interesting, I stop it, or cut it out of the final product. Instead, it's randomness within structure. The structure might be a scale, or a set of harmonies I want to hear, or a time length, or a mood.
I recorded about half this album in the week following that post. Someone replied to it, asking how I could say Discreet Music isn't boring. After all, Eno specifically intended it as background music. Jumping off from Robert Fripp's characterization of ambient music as both ignoreable and listenable, I wrote about the difference between the two, or in another sense, why "Discreet Harmonica" is most certainly not "Harmonica Muzak." About a year before that I wrote a long piece about "ambience", when I first started listening again to this kind of music.
Read more about the album here. Downloads and online sales will be coming soon, but for the moment, you can only get this album from me in person. So I hope to see you soon.