“You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time.” –Wallace Stegner
Desert Music, the debut EP from Los Angeles percussionist Ben Rempel, is a fresh, inter-genre exploration of time at different scales. Through a combination of minimalist percussion compositions and improvisation by an ensemble of distinctive musicians, Desert Music reflects on the grand, hostile, fragile, and rough beauty in Southern California’s deserts.
Though this EP is a debut, Ben Rempel has already embraced a wide array of musical practices early in his career. He has immersed himself in studies of contemporary western classical music, free improvisation, jazz, Brazilian music, music and dance of West Africa and its diaspora, and cross-cultural collaborations. All these influences manifest organically in Rempel’s compositions and improvisational style, and coalesce into an especially mature voice for a maiden voyage recording.
At the core of Desert Music are several rhythmic cycles, which are manipulated through improvisation, phasing, polyrhythms, swing, and modulation. In “Spheres” and “Horizons,” these cycles orbit one another in low drums and gongs. The compositions “Geologic” and “Coyote” each center around a provoking rhythm cycle and are expanded through open-ended improvisation. The four tracks flow together seamlessly as one continuous work.
Comprising the rest of the ensemble are violinist Keir GoGwilt (of Mark Dresser’s quintet), cellist T.J. Borden (of the Mivos Quartet), bassist Jordan Morton, and percussionist Amy Cadle (who collaborates with samba masters Ailton Nunes and Dudu Fuentes). Co-producer John Burnett was a vital collaborator throughout the editing process.
In the desert we are confronted with the vastness of the earth, exposed landscapes, and an incomprehensible scale of time and space that is not human, but geologic. This debut EP presents an artist whose musical vision is as expansive as the desert, and launches a career dedicated to the exploration of layers of time, like the layers of our planet’s long and mysterious history.
released July 26, 2019
Ben Rempel - Compositions, Drum Set, and Percussion
"Geologic" & "Coyote"
Keir GoGwilt - Violin
T.J. Borden - Cello
Jordan Morton - Bass
Amy Cadle - Congas and Djembe
Recorded by Andrés Gutiérrez Martínez
Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by John Burnett
Album Cover by Matt Omahan
Recorded at University of California, San Diego, June 2018
"Orenda Records is a small Southern California label that punches above its weight... Orenda’s offerings are informed by
rock, modern classical, and jazz, and combine these genres in a natural, organic fashion... Orenda’s musicians grew up in a post-Braxton era where musical styles are viewed on a continuum rather than as individual silos of expression." –Avant Music News...more
supported by 6 fans who also own “Desert Music (EP)”
Hats off to NPR for including this in their 25 best albums of 2019. This is avant-garde post-modern jazz with just amazingly immense groove amongst the angular noise. You'll bob your head while simultaneously having your brain tickled. World of Echo