Thursday, January 30, 2014

Missouri Blue: The Gift of Hope

The following is part of a series of short essays about particular Logos tracks. I think it helps to relate to the music better to understand their stories. All of these tracks can be listened to or downloaded at

1. Missouri Blue (listen here.

The motel in Marshall, MO.        

Most of my tracks have stories behind them. Sometimes they are revealed to me in the process of writing them. At other times, the composition itself arises from the circumstances of my life. The best pieces are often born of the most difficult stories. Missouri Blue is one of those.

It was December of 2010 and I was having something of an existential crisis. My marriage had ended eight months earlier, and now I had quit my job at Moog Music and uprooted my entire life in Asheville, where I'd lived for 17 years, and moved to Denver, CO. I was seeking a bigger life in a bigger place, but the catalyst for my move was actually the desire to be with a woman I'd known only a couple of months, (most of that long-distance). I was in the throes of a romantic and mystical revelation, a Quixotic leap of faith into the unknown.

And then came the inevitable crash. After living my entire adult life in one town, a place where I had developed deep social connections and financial resources, I suddenly felt like a plant violently uprooted and transplanted into strange soil. I went into what can only be described as a state of shock.

At first I was invigorated by the excitement of being in a new place. But soon I found myself desperately homesick and uncertain how to navigate this strange new life. I began to feel empty and numb, sinking into a mild depression. I couldn't bring myself to leave the house most days. Furthermore, I had no idea how to find employment in a strange town, without any local references. My savings began to dwindle and the reality of living with someone I hardly knew proved to be more difficult than I'd anticipated. Disheartened, I returned to Asheville, tail between my legs, with the intention of returning to my old job, saving money, and trying again. It was a week before Christmas.

As I was driving home across the barren wasteland that is rural Missouri, my car began to overheat. Foolishly, I attempted to drive it to the next exit. But moments later the engine seized up and the car came to a stop. I had blown a head gasket; the car would never make it to its destination.
The nearest town was Marshall, MO, a bleak and remote speck of a place. After being towed to a repair shop where the vehicle was pronounced dead on arrival, I went in search of lodging, not knowing what else to do. I found a dingy motel down the road. It was one of the bleakest places I've ever seen. The room had a foul stench and insufficient heat. Roaches crawled across every surface. I didn't see another person at the motel the entire time I stayed there.

I spent three days in that motel, waiting for a friend to come rescue me. It was a kind of purgatory, an in-between place. When I looked at the map to see where I'd marooned myself, I realized the great irony of my situation: unable to decisively commit myself to my new life, I'd wound up stuck right in the middle, geographically speaking, of my new and old life. I was roughly half way between Denver and Asheville, which happens to be the exact middle of nowhere. And it was grey and cold and desperately lonely there.

I had my laptop and a keyboard with me. I decided to make the most of my time in purgatory. I opened Ableton Live and began improvising. Reaching for an electric piano sound, I played some simple chords. They sounded so sweet to me, yet tinged with sadness. Some icy sounds came next: soft pads and bell-like melodies. It sounded like Winter. But as more elements got added, a sense of tension began to creep in. The piece got thicker and darker and more intense. The anxiety in my soul that had pushed me out of Denver had a voice, and it sounded like a highly distorted guitar. Soon my beautiful, winter melody was a cacophony of electronic noise.
And then the original sound came back. The electric piano chords returned and the whole process came full circle. It was so soothing to play those chords again, to realize that there was hope throughout the process, even when it seemed most bleak.

I managed to make it back to Asheville on December 21. I arrived just in time for the annual Winter Solstice party at The Landing (an intentional community I co-founded). I felt such relief to be among friends and family at last.

Three years later to the day, I performed the final version of the track I ended up calling "Missouri Blue" at the Landing Solstice gathering. I live there now, with a partner who makes me very happy and a baby who is about to be one year old. The song, meanwhile, has changed a lot as well, but the spirit remains the same. It is a gift for my daughter, one of six that I created for her in the form of songs on my most recent album. This one is a reminder that even in our most lonely, difficult times there is still hope. And that sometimes, you have to go away to realize how good home actually is.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Logos Projects, Old and New

It's been a whirlwind in my creative life recently. In December, I finished up Songs for Coralyn (which you can download here. I also played at the Visionary Arts Fair with Alex and Allyson Grey in Asheville. This month, I've gotten the new recording studio here at The Landing set up, at least to a functional point. And most recently I've been wrapping up a project that I've had on the back burner for some time now: touching up the mixes and remastering my 2003 album, Biophelia.
It's been a fascinating process diving back into those old recordings. That album, though it was the second as Logos, was the first one that started to find an audience and established certain musical characteristics that would go on to define my sound.
There are several songs I've fallen in love with all over again. Others sound somewhat basic to me now, but I can hear what I was going for, and how they connected to events in my life at the time. Overall, I've been impressed at how well the album hangs together as a cohesive unit.
I'm going to be re-releasing Biophelia soon, and for a while will offer it at a "pay what you can" rate. I've also got a much larger project in the works that I will be announcing soon.
Keep checking back here for news and special offerings (I've got some video and some new audio coming shortly).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Artist Statement

I'm going through my web site and simplifying it. This is one of the things I cut from my biography, but I wanted to keep it documented, because it is a good explanation of why I make the music that I do.

Logos Artist Statement

Logos" is Greek for "word" and it was used by the Christian mystic St. John to describe the fundamental creative force that gave shape to the universe at the beginning of creation.

This project began in 2001 as an effort to synergize electronic sounds and human voices. As my personal journey has taken me further into explorations of psychedelic trance and other more dance-oriented forms of electronica, my music has come to reflect that shift.

Originally, though, it was classical music that forged the pathways in my neurons that associate sound with experiences of the sublime. As a child, I was introduced by my mother to records of the classics — Beethoven, Bach, most of all Edvard Grieg — and listening to those recordings, I developed a sense of music as narrative. Music, I learned, had the power to take the listener on a journey into the unknown, even into the unknowable.

The Ancient Greeks identified two distinct musical traditions.
The Apollonian which includes what we would call "classical" music today, has its roots in the tradition of lyric poetry, and its patron was Apollo, the solar diety. In that tradition, music (literally "the inspiration of the muse") described a connection between the poet and the gods, who spoke through him. Lyric poets accompanied their epic tales by playing the lyre, and the melodies were meant to serve the story or narrative.

The Dionysian lineage, on the other hand, was the music of ecstatic revelry. Dionysus was the god of wine, and his music was played on aeolian pipes to accompany dancers and drummers in their celebratory (and often orgiastic) revelry. Dionysian music encompasses all the musical traditions that awaken ecstasy and substitute intuition, passion, and unrestained joy for the controlled rationality of our everyday consciousness. Jazz, rock-and-roll, drum circles, and electronic dance parties are all born of the ecstasy of Dionysus.

My desire is to bridge the two worlds — to be a composer of narratives that invoke the spirit of ecstatic trance.