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Wildfire Suite

by John Calvin Abney

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Arrival 02:14
Treeline 02:58
Bay Laurel 01:50
Treeline II 02:00
Redwood 02:08
Retreat 01:38


This work does not contain songs, but rather experiments in found sound, tape manipulation, synthesis, and stereo panning techniques. Recorded over the course of the burgeoning spring and listless summer of the year 2020, Abney found himself recording the sounds of the trails of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed in Northern California, from below and above the treelines, before and during the wildfires that inundated the entire Bay Area in acrid smoke and a lurid orange glow. The winds of Marin blowing through eucalyptus, bay laurel, redwood, and fern, alongside the calls of native birds, create a separate space in which one can sense the safety and foreboding simultaneously. Abney's field recordings also took him into Fairfax and San Anselmo, where neighborhood wind chimes, children playing, and slight shifts in automobiles juxtapose the urban noise and natural sound.

Wildfire Suite, the composition and namesake of the work, was improvised in its entirety at Cardinal Song Studio in Oklahoma City, OK, with Abney manipulating tape while playing Rhodes electric piano through a rotating Leslie speaker. Accompanied by Kevin Foster on violin, the organic superposition of the magnetic tape glitching beside the breath of bowed strings calls forth the inexorable bond between the human form and technology, in both darkness and light. As the piece comes to it's terminus, our lungs are filled by both the cleansing ablution of the pacific marine air and the plume of dark smoke that descended upon the Northern California landscape at the year's divide.

John Calvin Abney - synthesizers, found sound, piano, mixing, Rhodes, tape manipulation, Tascam 424, music box, acoustic guitar
John Moreland - acoustic guitar on "Retreat", arpeggiated synth on "Redwood"
Kevin Foster - violin on "Wildfire Suite"
Michael Trepagnier - engineer for "Wildfire Suite" session

Mixed and engineered by John Calvin Abney

Recorded at the Allyn Treehouse studio in San Anselmo, CA, except
"Wildfire Suite" recorded at Cardinal Song Studio, OKC, OK

Art created by Jude Weaver of Birmingham, AL


released February 5, 2021


all rights reserved



John Calvin Abney Austin, Texas

songwriter. cloud of dust.

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