Half-Open Doors

Gino Foti - Half-Open Doors Track Listing

1. Despondency breaks off its course. (5:45)
Anguish breaks off its path.
2. The vulture breaks off its flight. [Intro]

2. The eager light streams out, (8:36)
even the ghosts take a draught.

3. And our paintings see daylight, (9:55)
red beasts of the ice-age studios.

4. Everything begins to look around. (7:56)
5. We go out in the sun by hundreds. (8:59)

6. Each person is a half-open door (9:00)
leading to a room for everyone.

7. The endless ground under us. (8:04)

8. Water glitters between the trees. (4:16)

9. The lake is a window into the earth. (6:46)


Gino Foti - MIDI Bass Guitar, Bass Guitar, MIDI Bass Pedals, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Loops & Samples


Looking to produce a concept album with my remaining pool of compositions in different instrumental fusion genres - even if their eclectic nature is not suitable toward that endeavor - I thought that using the words of a poem, or short story, about music/musician(s) as an inspiration would be ideal.

After that search proved futile, I turned to writers with a sense of the enigmatic, mystical, and even surreal, which led me to the poet Tomas Gösta Tranströmer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2011, as well as a passionate piano player throughout his life.

Although references to music and classical masters - especially Franz Joseph Haydn - appear throughout his works, I found myself drawn to The Half-Finished Heaven, or in the original Swedish, Den halvfärdiga himlen:

Modlösheten avbryter sitt lopp.
Ångesten avbryter sitt lopp.
Gamen avbryter sin flykt.

Det ivriga ljuset rinner fram,
även spökena tar sig en klunk.

Och våra målningar kommer i dagen,
våra istidsateljéers röda djur.

Allting börjar se sig omkring.
Vi går i solen hundratals.

Var människa en halvöppen dörr
som leder till ett rum för alla.

Den oändliga marken under oss.

Vattnet lyser mellan träden.

Insjön är ett fönster mot jorden.

I had heard this poem before, as it was recited by lead actor Kenneth Branagh in the final episode of PBS' Masterpiece: Mystery series Wallander, based on the novels of Tranströmer compatriot Henning Mankell, that I had watched years ago.

The two best-known English translations, by Robert Bly & Robin Fulton, provide slightly different words in places, and since this is a fusion album, I decided to use parts of both for the track titles.

Composition Notes

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its path.

As an homage to Tranströmer, I wanted to begin this release with an arrangement of a Haydn solo piano work, but the problems facing me were: I do not own an acoustic piano; it is not my principal instrument; a purely Classical piece composed by a master would sound out of place with the other tracks; and most important of all - I have never found his solo pieces compelling.

My compromise was to take a few melodies from his piano compositions, use them as points of departure, add some improvisation, and splice them with material influenced by my favorite keyboardists/pianists - including J. S. Bach, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Lyle Mays, and Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti - for a classical meets contemporary jazz amalgam.

Wanting to mimic a live, acoustic piano sound, I placed a microphone near my speakers, and blended the sound output with the direct input recording of my digital keyboard.

The vulture breaks off its flight.

The introduction to the second track is a heavily-processed classical strings section played on keyboards, suggesting imagery of a vulture taking flight, circling its target, but eventually breaking off.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

The chord progressions and harmonic structure of this composition were influenced by the orchestral works of Bach and Haydn.

I was trying to capture a serene meditative mood, but with interweaving melody and harmony lines, something along the lines of Bach's famous "Air on the G String" - the second movement from his Orchestral Suite in D Major (BWV 1068).

Instrumentation includes synth pads, strings, and vox, as well as various ethereal and spectral sounds played on MIDI bass guitar and MIDI bass pedals.

And our paintings see daylight,
red beasts of the ice-age studios.

A slowly evolving piece, using a wide panning scheme with reverb and delay effects, attempting to represent a surreal, mystical soundscape.

For inspiration, I went "old school" to some of my favorite contemporary instrumental (or what most people call "New Age") composers, like: Jean Michel Jarre, Kitaro, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, and Vangelis.

In addition to several keyboard pads, synth vox, and a lead sound that is a blend of flute and saxophone, a MIDI bass guitar plays classical strings. For continuity, a few of the sounds from the previous track were edited and combined to the mix during post-production.

Everything begins to look around.

This track was influenced by Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, where he transcended ideas from the Italian concerto grosso, a Baroque form where music flows seamlessly between soli, or multiple soloists playing different instruments, and tutti - the full ensemble.

I also used the ritornello form, which similarly features the alternation between structured material by tutti, and contrasting episodes by soli.

Given this contemporary setting, instead of traditional classical/chamber music instruments, I opted for a wildly eclectic combination, including: synth arpeggios, pads, and vox; two effected bass guitars with different EQ curves; MIDI bass guitar and pedals; keyboards; assorted hand percussion and cymbals.

Again, I utilized a wide panning scheme trying to fit "everything", and added several of the sounds from the previous track, altered and pitch-shifted to suit the arrangement.

We go out in the sun by hundreds.

This composition was influenced by the organ works of Bach, using a fusion of ideas from his secular fantasias, fugues, passacaglias, preludes, and trio sonatas.

The left hand features his trademark "walking bass" lines, purposely written to be as independent and meaningful as all the melodic lines in this contrapuntal texture.

The right hand plays different ideas - some composed, some improvised - adding melodic and harmonic interest, as well as syncopation, along the lines of Baroque realization.

Delay effects, to allude to the "hundreds" of people, and a bright radiant reverb, suggesting the Sun, were also employed.

Each person is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

I had imagery and/or some basic musical ideas for all the other tracks, but this one left me in two minds, as I was not sure if my "half-open door" leads to a room that is so overcrowded that people are packed in like sardines (maybe 'herring' is more appropriate?), or one so vast that there is enough space for every human being.

Since the title refers to "Heaven", some of the lines include creation myth symbolism, as well as broad words like: "everything", "everyone", and "endless", I settled on the latter.

With the mood and contents of the previous and next tracks already sketched out, I opted for something similar to the second track. Once again, my influences were J. S. Bach and Haydn, instrumentation was the same - but with different sound banks - and a similar "depth of field" panning scheme was used.

The endless ground under us.

This composition was inspired by the sound design and production of Rush's Power Windows, which, besides the virtuosic power trio, featured the synth programming of Jim Burgess, and keyboardist/pianist & film score composer Andy Richards.

I arranged keyboard arpeggios and pads, a lead synth sound playing mostly fragmented passages, drones via MIDI bass guitar, and a standard bass guitar with a "twangy" EQ curve - trying to mimic Geddy Lee's tone from the Wal bass that he borrowed from producer Peter Collins.

Playing around with the density and reflection settings of several reverb effects, and the dry/wet output of different types of delay, I came up with yet another panning scheme, going for "depth" instead of "width".

A few sounds from previous tracks were re-introduced for continuity, and again disguised to properly fit with the primary mix.

Water glitters between the trees.

The heart of this piece is made up of two superimposed piano parts: a structured one influenced by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Franz Schubert, and an improvised one blending contemporary instrumental and modern jazz.

I was inspired by Tranströmer's Schubertiana, and even though he stated that the poem is not about the life of Franz Schubert, but "about what music means to me and to mankind", it includes an allusion to a fantasia for two pianos, which is basically what I sketched out in pre-production.

As far as C. P. E. Bach is concerned, he was a primary influence of Tranströmer's, as evidenced by "I did not leave my clavier till I played them through, and whoever knows me thoroughly must discover that I owe a great deal to Emanuel Bach, that I understood him and have studied him with diligence." referring to C. P. E. Bach's first six keyboard sonatas.

During mixdown, I daisy-chained a few types of reverb together to come up with a sparkling "glitter" effect on various notes/parts that, for once, worked as envisioned.

I also added two field recordings from Sweden in the background. The first is water flowing through the partially frozen Göta älv (river), near Göteborg (Gothenburg); the second is of the Baltic Sea, near Ystad - the center of the Wallander novels/TV shows.

The lake is a window into the earth.

The finale is centered around a bass guitar, drenched with effects so it sounds like it being played underwater. Synthesizer, via MIDI bass pedals, was performed in real-time using one of the sound banks from the previous track, for continuity.

As above, it also features a field recording - this time more in the foreground - the gentle waves of Lake Hjälmaren (or Jälmaren), Sweden's fourth largest lake, adding to the introspective mood of the piece.