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Storm Variations

by John Calvin Abney

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Empty Winter 01:24
Spillway 01:33
Partnership 01:42


Storm Variations.

This ephemeral, fleeting work came into form as a compositional experiment in piano, tape manipulation, stochastic improvisation, and field recording. In February 2021, a catastrophic winter system enveloped Texas and all but disabled the electrical grid and infrastructure for weeks, sparking the initial inspiration and leading Abney to record weather patterns across northern hill country. Silence and isolation are juxtaposed with the busy nature of human travel and gathering, as desolate gales fade in and out of the places and structures where people move. In “The Places They Gather And Speak” parts I and II, Abney recorded the atmosphere of the departure and arrival areas of the Austin International Airport, as well as a calm day at Barton Springs recreational area before a storm, as an ambient canvas for his soft-pedal piano, a manipulated music box, and steel guitar played by ZDAN. Processing incoming signals of stereo-recorded piano, Abney destroyed and degraded the waveforms in slowed loops of tape and manual speed controls of the tape machine motor. The coming and going of the modern person, intimately tied to the temperamental shifts of weather patterns, vice versa, are also captured by the field recordings of Rebecca Sarkar, spanning from the rain-inundated hills of Shropshire, England to the tropic coastal showers of Jamaica. Without voice, without lyric, the tracks held herein are temporary, shifting in nature, and a reason to rest and hold fast at the port until the storm and stress passes.

The album visuals were conceived and skillfully executed by environmental architect, musician, and painter Drew Carman in his Austin, TX studio.


released February 3, 2023

John Calvin Abney - synthesizers, found sound, music box, piano, Rhodes, tape loops and manipulation, Tascam 424, acoustic guitar, SP404 SX
ZDAN - lap steel on “Where They Gather and Speak” (parts I and II)
Rebecca Sarkar - field recordings

Mixed and engineered by John Calvin Abney
“Country of Singing Hills” and “Juniper and Frost” engineered by John Moreland
Additional mixing on “Distance Becomes White River” by John Moreland
Additional mixing by Michael Trepagnier at Cardinal Song in Oklahoma City, OK

Recorded at:
Tin Canyon mobile studio in Austin, TX and Tulsa, OK
Beige Lamborghini in Tulsa, OK

Management: Rebecca Sarkar


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John Calvin Abney Austin, Texas

songwriter. cloud of dust.

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