Smoke & Mirrors (2012)

Reich, Harrison, Ravel

Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble

Our album opens with Steve Reich’s already classic Nagoya Marimbas, written in 1994 and premiered in December of that year in Shirakawa Hall in Nagoya, Japan. Steve writes that the work is “similar to my pieces from the 1960s and ‘70s in that there are repeating patterns played on both marimbas, one or more beats out of phase, creating a series of two part unison canons. However, these patterns are more melodically developed, change frequently and each is usually repeated no more than three times, similar to my more recent work. The piece is also considerably more difficult to play than my earlier ones and requires two virtuosic performers.” Our two virtuosi are Joe Beribak on the left and Katy La Favre on the right.
Next follows Lou Harrison’s Canticle No. 3, written in 1940/1941, and premiered in 1942. Essentially a concerto for ocarina and percussion ensemble, Canticle No. 3 uses the haunting primitive sound of the ocarina (a Mexican terra-cotta flute which looks a little like a knobby sweet potato or cuddly sea creature) and a steel string guitar, both a strong contrast with Harrison’s creative assortment of percussion instruments. Joe Beribak plays ocarina and Derek Tywoniuk plays guitar. 

We experimented with our musicians in many different locations for this recording, since we used one stereo AKG C-24 microphone and no mixer for all of our takes on this album. As Joe reminisced, “some instruments (like tom toms and snare drums) were designed for use with a modern orchestra, while other instruments (like the ocarina and teponaztli) are ethnic instruments designed to be played in intimate settings. So we adjusted our setup to create the balance and tone quality we wanted. We brought the ocarina closer to center, and we actually rotated the toms 90 degrees counter-clockwise in order to balance these two voices properly on the recording. As a result we needed to modify the way we cued each other, since our relative positions were radically different from the way we stand when we perform this piece live. As with everything we did in this Yarlung recording, each challenge gave us a new perspective that enriched the musical experience and made it even more fun.” 

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Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble

The Smoke & Mirrors percussion ensemble was created in the fall of 2009.  The name, Smoke and Mirrors, reflects the aim of our group: to use the simple tools of rhythm, pitch, and timbre in a complex manner to create intensely effective experiences; and, in the process, expand the public’s literacy in the percussion repertoire.

While Smoke & Mirrors has champions the work of percussion masters such as John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Steve Reich, we also work with composers who are just beginning their careers.  Our debut album, Smoke & Mirrors Percussion Ensemble, features the signature piece of the group, Happenstance, written by ensemble member Derek Tywoniuk.  On our second album, Vanish, we worked with Argentinian composer Diego Schissi on the premiere recording of Juego de Relojes (Game of Clocks).  We have also premiered pieces by Kyle Werner and Joe Beribak.  On December 4, 2011 SME performed Toru Takemitsu’s masterpiece for percussion quintet and orchestra, From Me Flows What You Call Time, with The Colburn Orchestra and Gerard Schwarz.  We have performed with The Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Trudl Zipper Dance Studio, the Colburn Contemporary Players, and the New West Symphony.  In 2013, Smoke and Mirrors Ensemble was part of a co-commission with Teage Ensemble in New York and Sonore Ensemble in Toronto for the percussion trio An Index of Possibility from New York Composer Robert Honstein.  We gave the West Coast premiere on March 10, 2013.

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Smoke & Mirrors (2012)

Reich, Harrison, Ravel

Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble

    Positive-feedback

“Yarlung Records newly recorded and released Smoke & Mirrors walked away with this year's top prize! …Each track is a musical and sonic spectacular with perhaps Lou Harrison's Cantitcle No. 3 with its hauntingly, primitive feel punctuated by the ocarina (a Mexican terra cotta flute that as described in the notes looks like, "sweet potato") interspersed with John Cage-ish percussion segments being my favorite. This recording's huge dynamic range (this is not a piece for the weak willed amplifier), instrumental colors and especially cornucopia of percussion instruments including bass drum and tam-tam will give even a thoroughbred audio system everything it can handle and even a bit more.”

Myles Astor

Smoke & Mirrors (2012)

Reich, Harrison, Ravel

Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble

Mastering Engineer:Steve Hoffmann, Bob Attiyeh
Mastering Equipment:

Yarlung recorded this album directly to two tracks of RMGI 468 analog tape running at 15 ips, with no mixer.  We used the Hapi converter and Pyramix software from Merging Technologies in Switzerland to make these transfers to DSD.  Our sincere thanks to Merging Technologies for making this quartet of releases possible    

Microphones:AKG Tube microphones
Producer:Bob Attiyeh
Recording Engineer:Bob Attiyeh
Recording location:Zipper Hall, Los Angeles
Recording Type & Bit Rate:Analog to DSD256

This album was recorded to Analog tape. It was then transferred to the DSD bit rate indicated above.

Quality & Channel Selection Digitized at Analog to DSD256
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YAR87598DSD: Smoke & Mirrors
00:31:15   Select quality & channels above
Tracks
1.
Nagoya Marimbas
Reich
00:04:41   Select quality & channels above
2.
Canticle No.3
Harrison
00:15:27   Select quality & channels above
3.
Sonatine, Mov I. Modere
Ravel
00:04:03   Select quality & channels above
4.
Sonatine, Mov II. Mouvement de menuet
Ravel
00:02:55   Select quality & channels above
5.
Sonatine, Mov III. Anime
Ravel
00:04:09   Select quality & channels above

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