Electrum - Standard Deviation
- The Will To Power (8:42)
- Degrees Of Freedom (5:47)
- A Tense Bow... A Moving Target (3:34)
- The Impudent Piece Of Crockery (4:45)
- Fugue State (6:50)
- Apartment Living (2:09)
- Seven Falls, Eight Rises (14:34)
Dave Kulju - Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Keyboards
Joe Musmanno - Percussion
Gino Foti - Bass Guitar, Synthesizers
Russian-American composer Igor Stravinsky once wrote: "Musical form is close
to mathematics -- not perhaps to mathematics itself, but certainly to something
like mathematical thinking and relationship."
There are a number (no pun intended) of connections between instrumental music
and mathematics. Both are capable of conveying ideas and embodying patterns
that cannot be translated into mere words, and the two have been conjoined
since the Quadrivium - the upper division of the liberal arts curriculum of
Ancient Greece. Given our academic backgrounds, work-related experiences
(oh, don't worry, we're keeping our day jobs!), continued fascination with odd meters,
and passion for instrumental rock, it is not a surprise we chose a mathematical
term for the concept of our second release.
The visual artwork explores several elements relating to the title
phrase. Standard Deviation is a statistical concept, but it evokes
an emotional and social response, even with people who are not
familiar with the mathematics.
The cover image relates on a fundamentally emotional level. The scene
is at once completely natural and yet other-worldly. We see, set into
the ground, a stone monument in the form of the Greek letter sigma, which
is the symbol commonly used to depict standard deviation. Indeed, the
sigma pervades the artwork, as an icon of the concept.
A mathematical representation of standard deviation is found on the
reverse of the CD insert. And, on the back of the jewel case, we see
a lighthearted visual depiction of the phrase: a flag, or standard,
in the process of tearing, or deviating. Literally, "standard deviation".
Finally, the music encoded on the disc provides one last interpretation.
There is a body of music known as the "standards", and in some ways this
recording represents a deviation from that body. Hopefully, the result
is a form that, like the cover image, evokes an emotional response which
is at once comfortable and exciting, natural and other-worldly.
Click on the song titles to stream music samples.
The Will To Power (Foti)
Inspired by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. For the uninitiated,
'Der Wille zur Macht' (The Will to Power) was his answer to the riddle
"What is life?".
"And do you know what "the world" is to me?
Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy,
without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not
grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself;
as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses,
but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by "nothingness" as by a
boundary; not something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly
extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a sphere that might
be "empty" here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces
and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at
the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally
changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an
ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most
complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most
turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple
out of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of concord,
still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and its years, blessing
itself as that which must return eternally, as a becoming that knows no satiety,
no disgust, no weariness: this, my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating,
the eternally self-destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptuous delight,
my "beyond good and evil," without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself
a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself - do you want a
name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too,
you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men? -
This world is the will to power - and nothing besides!
And you yourselves are also this will to power - and nothing besides!" ~ Nietzsche,
The Will To Power, 1067
Given the subject matter, this rhapsody is constantly changing in tempo,
meter, key, dynamics, etc. -- in short, it is as unclassifiable as the man who inspired it.
I may not agree with all of his theories, but anybody who wrote "Without music,
life would be a mistake" is alright by me!
Degrees Of Freedom (Foti)
This tune is a departure from our usual compositions with the
meter being mostly common time. It features various melodic sections and an
unusual arrangement in the way the different instruments are introduced and interact
with each other throughout the rhapsodic form, making this piece sound more like jazz fusion
than progressive rock, for the most part.
A Tense Bow... A Moving Target (Foti/Musmanno)
"But we [...] free spirits - we have it still, the whole need of the spirit and
the whole tension of its bow! And perhaps also the arrow, the task and, who knows?
the target..." ~ Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil, Preface
The title is an obvious tie-in with "The Will to Power", alluding to Nietzsche's concept of the
Overman (aka Superman) - "the bow with great tension" - as the music is mostly comprised of leftover
material from it, although it fits the contents perfectly: a three and a half minute
rhapsody with a couple of tempo changes, three individual solos, and nine
different time signatures.
The Impudent Piece Of Crockery (Kulju)
This piece was an attempt to bring the guitar into a more dominant role and remedy
the occasional melodic abyss of our previous effort. The title comes from a line in
the animated film "The Sword in the Stone" that gave my wife a good laugh. This
piece is for her.
A Fugue State (Kulju)
This piece is characterized by some fairly disparate musical ideas assembled in the
least logical fashion; aggressive guitar driven progressions, gentle melodies,
blues licks, semi-funky grooves with mean dirty organ, and a quiet but rhythmically
unstable fugue-like section.
In addition to the fugue-like section, the title comes from an appropriate
psychological condition. From the Mental Health Infosource:
"A fugue state is a type of dissociate disorder in which the individual may flee
from his or her usual life circumstances, take on a new identity and have no
recollection of his or her previous life. Often the new personality is in stark
contrast to the original one."
Apartment Living (Kulju)
This piece was written at 5 A.M. while the juvenile delinquents living below me were
having an all night party and making sure that everyone could hear it. This on an
evening where earlier the morons above me decided to do karaoke at 130dB. So I guess
this piece falls into that self-righteous-contempt-for-all-mankind genre.
Musically the piece's first theme is in 9/8 with some dissonant chords stabbing over
a pedal tone. The next theme moves to common time and attempts to settle into a more
steady groove but is interrupted every two bars by dissonant and rhythmically strange
phrases. An atonal guitar solo follows in 7/8 which sounds especially confusing due
to the placement of the accents and the relative stability of the preceding section.
The song concludes with a repeat of the second and first themes.
I've since bought a house... it is quiet here... nice!
Seven Falls, Eight Rises (Kulju)
The title is an English translation of the Japanese proverb "Nana korobi, ya oki".
The theme of determination is appropriate for this fourteen minute piece, as I have totally
scrapped and rewritten the last two thirds of the piece three times. Thanks to my new
computer-based home studio, the latest incarnation explores a far more orchestral
direction than my past work. At times, it sounds like an orchestra accompanied by a rock band.