Benghazi is a digital concrete piece by Peter Grenader and one of the three original concepts presented when zZyzx began it's first rehearsals in May of 2016. All sound originates from a single two minute sample of a conservative radio commentator guesstimating the cause and motive of the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012.
The piece incorporates both analog and digital sound processing techniques arranged as ABA with a Coda. The A variants consist of a series of atonal stems of the text while the B Development section establishes a tonal hierarchy and key structure to the same technique.
Benghazi is equal parts digital processing from Jill Fraser using Abelton and a Push II and Peter Grenader on a digital/analog hybrid modular system with The EAR Model 27 After Effects Delay and Harmonizer, EAR Octal Waves, Q-bit Nebulea, 2HP Freez, Audio Damage Grainshift and Mutable Instruments Rings being the distinguishing instruments used - along with a Limaflo Motormouth Formant Filter which created the didgeridoo drone timbres fundamental in establishing the b section tonality.
Jill Fraser’s composition, Teapot Rock is named for a large teapot-shaped boulder standing sentinel on her desert property in Joshua Tree, CA. Originally purchased in 1990, it's a sanctuary of pristine gneiss rock formations among the yuccas. There are four movements in Teapot Rock, each named for dreams had while drifting asleep in a tiny 1953 canned ham trailer: Water, Stars, Coyote (a tribute to Jill’s late husband, Gregg Arreguin) and Rats (an ode to desert rats of all kinds). Teapot Rock was first performed by the zZyzx Society as an ensemble in fall of 2016 at Bobby Furst's FURSTWURLD, fittingly in Joshua Tree, CA with Chas Smith on his guitarzilla steel guitar.
Teapot Rock was realized by Jill Fraser using her 1977 eight panel Serge Modular, Ableton Live, Push II and incorporating samples from the analog world, samples from the digital world and modified presets. Additional parts include Chas Smith playing pedal steal and bass pedal steal guitars on Coyote and Peter Grenader adding to Water (the tonic bass line via an Intelligel Shapeshifter's vocal output), Stars (the coda) and Rats (the sweeping sampled/processed mellotron descending phrases and synth solo in the last section via Battery and Equator softsynths with a ROLI keyboard controller).
Linear A is a electro-acoustic compositon by Peter Grenader featuring Katherine Redlus on harp and Jennifer Irvine on cello. Originally slated as a soundmass piece and as such marketably different from the balance of the zZyzx material, in time it turned into something else, something more developed and exists in its final form in three parts in standard ABA form. It was part of the second phase of zZyzx pieces originally rehearsed in April of 2017 and premiered at Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts in Los Angeles that May with Katherine Redlus as the sole instrumentalist. It received it's second performance at Bobby Furst's FURSTWURLD in 2017 with Jennifer Irvine as the solo instrumentalist. It exists on this recording with both Katherine and Jennifer.
Linear A was the first Minoan script of Crete and among the world's first symbolic languages - dated from 2500 to 1400 B.C. A later dialect Linear B has been decoded and includes the first known fragments of Ancient Greek. Linear A however is built upon the Minoan language which remains undeciphered. The literal representation of the title can be found in programatic context through the use of an electronic timbre in part 2 derivative of a Lyra (ancient Greek Harp) and within the first two gestures of the piece by a watery/fluid timbre which pans first L to R, then R to L to represent language which travelled back and forth across great distances of the Aegean Sea between the Minoans (Crete) and Hittites (Turkey).
The electronic parts from the A and A prime sections were realized by Peter Grenader using an analog/digital hybrid modular synthesizer. which were blurred using digital computer effects while the B section electronics feature both Jill Fraser and Peter Grenader. A written score was utilized for the A and A prime cello part. The B section cello part was improvised by Jennifer Irvine on electric cello. Katherine Redlus played an electric harp
Jill Fraser has created this unabashed electronic orchestration of Scarbo, the last movement of Gaspard de la nuit, written for piano in 1908 by Maurice Ravel. Notoriously difficult to perform and loosely programmatic (based on Aloysuis Bertrand's 1836 poem Fantaisies à la manière de Rembrandt et de Callot). It's was Ravel's intention to craft a musical nightmare in every sense of the word: disorienting, terrifying, and unsettling, with Fraser's unapologetic electronics augmenting the madness of the original Bertrand poem:
Oh! how often have I heard and seen him, Scarbo, when at midnight the moon glitters in the sky like a silver shield on an azure banner strewn with golden bees.
How often have I heard his laughter buzz in the shadow of my alcove, and his fingernail grate on the silk of the curtains of my bed!
How often have I seen him alight on the floor, pirouette on a foot and roll through the room like the spindle fallen from the wand of a sorceress!
Do I think him vanished then? the dwarf grows between the moon and me like the belfry of a gothic cathedral, a golden bell shakes on his pointed cap!
But soon his body becomes blue, translucent like the wax of a candle, his face pales like the wax of a candle end – and suddenly he is extinguished.
Scarbo was part of the second wave of zZyzx pieces, premiered in Spring of 2017 at Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts in Los Angeles.
Scarbo incorporates a Push II via Ableton and Jill’s Serge Modular, along with both natural and digital found sound. It's our intention that the process will disappear and you will only experience the dream that Ravel intended. No liberties taken with Ravel's original score. The original midi file used is by Bernd Krueger, graciously made available on Creative Commons. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode).
A mash up title of 'organ' and 'orgasm', Grenader's original motif concept (what is now part 3) was the first presented idea to the ensemble in Feb of 2016 which at that time consisting of him, Jill Fraser, Chas Smith and Thighpaulsandra. As this piece progressed- and went through many different iterations - in the end it was primarily composed by Jill Fraser/Peter Grenader (Part 1), Thighpaulsandra (Part 2) and Peter Grenader (Part 3). The Coda was a combined effort of Jill Fraser and Peter Grenader
Part 1's initial timbres were realized by Jill Fraser, with Peter Grenader accompanying with the arpeggiated layering (which reappear on part 3) as the piece progresses and the swirls which build to the final crescendo. Thighpaulsandra realized accompanying timbres in final cresendo as well.
Part 2 was Thighpaulsandra's creation who provided most of it's content - outside of the 'ahhhh' drones, the waving panned gestures and glassy timbres by Peter Grenader and the acoustic, electronic, timpani and talking drums by Danny Carey.
Part 3 was largely realized by Peter Grenader with some booming and banging accents at the beginning by Thighpaulsandra, electronic timpani by Danny Carey and feedback/guitar timbres by Jill Fraser.
The Coda consists of two 'ahhhh' choruses (one left, one right) by Peter Grenader with the reoccurring melodic phrases by Jill Fraser.
Jill Fraser's timbres were created digitally using Ableton and Push II. Peter Grenader's timbres were largely analog although realized on a hybrid analog/digital modular synthesizer with some secondary processing via computer plug ins which created the shimmer and doppler effects. Thighpaulsandra's timbres were generated on Serge and Eurorack modular systems with a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 providing the polyphony, while Danny Carey pklayed acoustic drums (toms and bass drum) and sampled timpani/talking drums via Mandala Pads - of which the talking drum timbres processed by an EAR Model 27 After Effects Generator's Digital Delay program 3.