Seattle based guitarist Bill Horist and Jakob Riis embarked together on a short tour of the Northwest US in the summer of 2009. We interviewed Bill in 2012. Composer, laptop musician, improviser Jakob Riis is active in the fields of electronic music, sound art, sonic web art, improvisation and contemporary composition.
They convened after the tour to capture on record some of the musical magic they felt playing together. The Cessation Elegy is the culmination of this brief encounter. A limited edition of 100 copies is available on CD; the packaging is handmade, with gold ink screen printed onto black card. Digital versions will continue to be available. They agreed to answer some questions about the process of recording this serendipitous meeting.
Jakob Riis, Liudas Mockunas and Anders Lindsjo 1
Was the record made live during the tour, or later in a studio?
JR: In a studio right after the tour.
BH: I had met Jakob years earlier at Spring Reverb, an excellent festival of new music that used to happen in Sand Diego/Tijuana. We actually played together for the first time in Tijuana in an ad hoc ensemble that involved Eugene Chadbourne and Haco among others—a very interesting group. We kept in touch and when Jakob was invited to perform at the nearby Vancouver Jazz Festival in British Columbia, we seized the opportunity to do a short tour of the Northwest. We also booked some recording time in Seattle at the Bunker, a project studio helmed by Jason Schimmel (Secret Chiefs 3, Estradasphere—an incredible guitarist in his own right). I’m really glad we did too; after our first gig there seemed to be some deep sonic simpatico between us.
What was your gear setup for the tour/recording?
JR: A 2007 MacBook Pro 15″, a MOTU UltraLite (1st generation)interface and an M-Audio Key station MIDI controller/keyboard.
BH: My old Teisco 3-pickup guitar and the following stompboxes: a Tech 21 bass compactor (compressor), Digitech Whammy reissue, Fulltone Fulldrive, Rat I, Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Jr, Moogerfooger Ring Modulator, Electro-Harmonix 16 Second Delay, Line 6 DL-4 into a100 watt Fender Vibrosonic amp. Plus the sundry objects that I use for preparations: hemostats, nails, threadwire, drum cymbals, violin bows, e-bow, electric toothbrush, and glass slide. For some conceptual variety, I used a Taylor 812c acoustic guitar. They all had additional output lines running into Jakob’s rig.
Bill Horist Paul Hoskin Gallery 1412 Seattle a
How was the guitar sampled and played back?
JR: A highly personal software developed using MaxMSP for live sampling and processing.
How was it processed?
JR: Various electronic techniques were used for processing the guitar sound. Granular synthesis, manipulation of the sound using the Fast Fourier Transformation algorithm in combination with straightforward delays, bit reduction, distortion and equalization.
Was there any recording or much editing done post performance?
JR: Everything was played live in the studio, no post performance. A little editing was done, cutting out small parts of some tunes—nothing much really!
BH: After having such a solid connection in so short a time, we really didn’t need to tinker much in post as we had really honed our statements in the live iterations.