Signs of Our Times II the Movie :: Sound Program Notes:

Signs of Our Times II the Movie 
Sound Program Notes:

Compositions in order of appearance [ ~1 minute each ]:
  1. Access granted :: Antonino Eze Cuscinà
  2. Knuckles :: Antonino Eze Cuscinà
  3. 'Daily task' :: Antonino Eze Cuscinà
  4. Étonnante Jubilation :: Christophe Delerce
  5. Three improvised compositions for 3 alto saxophones (1) :: Bálványos Judit
  6. Three improvised compositions for 3 alto saxophones (2) :: Bálványos Judit
  7. Three improvised compositions for 3 alto saxophones (3) :: Bálványos Judit
  8. "White Star Line"(Revisited) :: Danny Mc Carthy
  9. More Notes for PN-K :: Stefanie Lubkowski
  10. Aries :: Robert Voisey
  11. Draco :: Robert Voisey
  12. Orion :: Robert Voisey
  13. Averted Idiom :: Lewis Gesner
  14. Instrument :: Lewis Gesner
  15. Tongue :: Lewis Gesner
  16. untitled piece (1) :: Timecard
  17. untitled piece (2) :: Timecard
  18. Cat Guardian :: Sissi Liu
  19. Double Boil :: Juliet Case Kaplan
  20. Do Fa La (section 1) :: John Murphree
  21. Do Fa La (section 2) :: John Murphree
  22. Do Fa La (section 3) :: John Murphree
  23. 3 untitled pieces (1) :: Matt Samolis
  24. 3 untitled pieces (2) :: Matt Samolis
  25. 3 untitled pieces (3) :: Matt Samolis
  26. Five Lamentations :: TinyRedHuman
  27. Cut1 :: Lou Bunk
  28. Cut2 :: Lou Bunk
  29. Cut3 :: Lou Bunk
  30. Homage a Sufjan Stevens :: Matthew Lee Knowles
  31. Homage a Mahalia Jackson :: Matthew Lee Knowles
  32. Where Would You Go If You Were Going? :: Matthew Lee Knowles
  33. me duerme con las flores (1st half) :: Óscar Moíses Cruz-Díaz
  34. me duerme con las flores (2nd half) :: Óscar Moíses Cruz-Díaz
  35. Impromptu :: Julia Werntz
  36. Congested Area :: Jonathan W. Mills
  37. WalkDon't Walk :: Jonathan W. Mills
  38. DangerElectrical Hazard :: Jonathan W. Mills
  39. 777 :: Matthew McConnell
  40. Crystals of Ice :: Matthew McConnell
  41. Piano 47 :: Matthew McConnell
  42. Snapping with the Buddha Box :: Reed Altemus
  43. Breathing Beckett (Her) :: Mick O’Shea
  44. Breathing Beckett (Him) :: Mick O’Shea
  45. 3 untitled pieces (1) :: Max Lord
  46. 3 untitled pieces (2) :: Max Lord
  47. 3 untitled pieces (3) :: Max Lord

closing credits music:

Do Fa La (section 1) :: John Murphree

Reed Altemus (Portland, Maine, USA)
Reed Altemus is an intermedia artist from Portland Maine who works in visual art as well as sound. He has shown his work recently at The Studio in Laconia New Hampshire and at the Eve-N-Odd Gallery in St. Petersburg Florida. Also acted as contributing editor to the recent Last Vispo Anthology published by Fantagraphics Books. He recently performed a duo improvisation with Josh Ronsen (Austin TX) at Mobius on the evening of May 22nd, 2013.

Snapping with the Buddha Box
from a longer improvisation 05-09-13

Bálványos Judit (HUNGARY)

Three improvised compositions for 3 alto saxophones played by Bálványos Judit

Lou Bunk (Somerville, MA, USA)
Lou Bunk is a composer and improviser of minimal yet intricate music that investigates sound and silence through extended instrumental techniques, microtones and custom-made electronic and acoustic instruments. He is influenced by the classic American and European avant-garde as well as the vibrant electro-acoustic improv scene in and around Boston and New York. In his home town Somerville Massachusetts, Lou co-produces the concert series Opensound, and has chaired the Somerville Arts Council. He is also co-director of Collide-O-Scope music, a NYC based new music ensemble. Lou received his PhD in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University and is Assistant Professor of Music at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire where he teaches electronic music and composition.

Cut1, Cut2, and Cut3 are 1 minute portions of a fixed electronic music composition titled "Cut (Feat K.Kirchoff, Toy Piano)”. This piece is based on recordings of pianist Keith Kirchoff playing twelve separate musical segments I composed for toy piano. I then cut, spliced, and process these recording digitally.

Óscar Moíses Cruz-Díaz (Boston, MA, USA)
Óscar is a Salvadoran artist based in Boston. presently focusing zes art on the themes of diaspora, queerness and indigeneity. Mx. Cruz-Díaz works primarily in video performance, internet, installation and text art. they woke up sleeping next to flores in a field. aqui les enseño.
me duerme con las flores

Antonino Eze Cuscinà (Messina, ITALY)
Antonino Eze Cuscinà is an italian self-taught musician composer, left-hand guitar player, fond of electronica; he started playing drums in the seventies and then guitar in the '80s, he also used to sing his dark wave songs like 'Maritime Tatami', which was the A side of the 'Victrola' band EP in 1983.

The first of his 3 submissions for Sign of our Times II (2013), Access granted, is a vision that comes from an electronic sound sequence and a rhythmic pattern, which has a latin sabor, that apparently get in contrast with a mellow bell-like sound melody, giving birth to a brief scene taken from a spy story.

Knuckles, the second piece, is an idea starting from a loop made with an old analog synthesizer right in the '80s in one of his experiments, then he added a synth sequence and short rhythmic joints, realising a sense of suspended atmosphere that never resolve itself.

'Daily task', his third piece, is his tribute to a great musician composer, Jon Hassel, in fact the main sound pattern seems taken from one of the best inspired moments of the american trumpeteer; what makes this passage interesting is merging the loop in a city train station scenario, given rise to an imaginary suspense crescendo.

Christophe Delerce (Paris, FRANCE)

Étonnante Jubilation

Lewis Gesner (Kaohsiung, TAIWAN)
Lewis Gesner is an artist living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. While an exhibiting and performing artist, he is currently working on a series of books together titled "Malwart Trawlam" which may be found together for free download at  in addition to many print publications and a recent print book, "In the Shadow of the Still Hosts" available at

An instrument made by someone else for other people's music is briefly explored.

An enthusiastic form of expression for other people is explored briefly by an unfamiliar practitioner.

Averted Idiom
An instrument made by someone else for other people's music is explored with a metal device usually associated with an idiom with which the practitioner shows little interest.

Juliet Case Kaplan (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA)

Double Boil

Matthew Lee Knowles (London, UK)
Matthew Lee Knowles is a composer/poet/pianist/performer/teacher in London. He likes sounds and words, pushing them a little bit, then waiting to see what they want to do, then either leaving them to get on with it, or giving them another little push. Pieces invariably try to do quite a lot or nothing at all and there's usually a few dozen systems at play, or just one simple rule, continuing until it can do so no more. Recent creations include an eighty-minute string quartet, a lecture on cosmology, physics and mathematics, a fifteen-thousand note toccata for solo piano, a list of nine-hundred new words, a reduction of Macbeth into a single act and a four-movement work for twelve cornets based on the Teletubbies theme.

Homage a Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is a wonderful song writer and 'John Wayne Gacy Jr' (about a serial child-killer) is one of my ultimate favourite songs - this is an extract from the very end of the piece I mixed using the original song.

Homage a Mahalia Jackson
Using a small fragment from 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' I made a ten minute study on Jackson's warm and complex tone, sending it in all directions at the same time. This is an extract of that piece.

Where Would You Go If You Were Going?
For ten minutes I recorded myself asking the question which forms the title. It comes from a John Cage 'Indeterminacy' story.

Sissi Liu (New York, New York, USA)
Sissi Liu is a theatre/performance scholar, writer and composer. She teaches at Baruch College. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Theatre at CUNY Graduate Center. She lives in New York City with her charming boyfriend Chad and their adorable cat Coco.

Cat Guardian
This piece is dedicated to the charismatic kitten Coco, Sissi and her boyfriend Chad's cat, who is a faithful guardian of the couple and a bringer of boundless joy.

Max Lord (Boston, MA, USA)
Max Lord is a Boston-based improvisor who has worked in a variety of rock, noise, electronic and improv settings. Though originally identifying as a percussionist, since 2000 he has performed with Buchla electronic instruments including the Marimba Lumina, an exotic mallet controller. His recorded work as Ghost Grass recalls mid-century electronic experimentation as often as more modern improvised approaches, and is intimately tied to the magnetic medium on which it is created.

Stefanie Lubkowski (Boston, MA, USA)
A resident of Cambridge, MA, Stefanie Lubkowski studied flute, organ, and piano as a child before moving on to a ten-year love affair with the classical guitar. Stefanie received her masters degree in composition from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Pozzi Escot and Lee Hyla. She received her bachelor’s degree in Music and Technology and Guitar Performance from Connecticut College, in New London, CT. Stefanie has written for orchestra, voice, various chamber ensembles, and electronic media. She has been commissioned by Auros Group for New Music, Ashleigh Gordon, Anthology, the New Gallery Concert Series, and Alex Duval. Stefanie is pursuing a doctorate in composition at Boston University where her teachers include Ketty Nez and Sam Headrick.

More Notes for PN-K
This is a version of a short piece for solo trumpet that I wrote for Peter Nelson-King, first as a short encore, and then in an expanded version. The piece is a series of linked gestures of a rather playful nature cast in different timbres. This third version was constructed especially for Sign of Our Times.

Danny Mc Carthy (Cork, IRELAND)
Danny Mc Carthy is a pioneer of Sound Art and Performance Art in Ireland where he continues to be a leading exponent. He has presented work worldwide including USA, Canada, China, Japan, France, Poland, Italy, UK plus others. His work has been broadcast nationally and internationally both on radio and t.v.Hi work is available on many labels and is also published and distribute by Farpoint Recordings ( His latest work "The Memory Room" installation/drawings Book +3" CD will appear in a solo exhibition in Soundfjord Gallery London in May/June 2013 and later the same year in "The Room" Gallery, Turin.

"White Star Line"(Revisited)
The work is entitled "White Star Line"(Revisited) and is a remix of a 7" vinyl single released on Farpoint Recordings ( which I created using field recordings (+ electronics) made at,on above and below (hydrophones) the pier crossed by the last passangers to board the Titanic as it left its last port of call in Cobh,Ireland before embarking on its final fatal journey.The recordings were made on the 14th&15th April 2012 the centenary of the sinking of the ship.

Matthew McConnell (North Adams, MA, USA)
Matthew McConnell holds a B.A. degree in Music from Bennington College, a M.M. degree in Musical Composition with Distinction in Performance (and Academic Honors) from the New England Conservatory of Music, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree from the same institution. His composition instructors have included Stephen Siegel, Allen Shawn, John Heiss, and Hollywood film orchestrator Erik Lundborg. McConnell studied organ performance with Dr. Dwight Killam, as well as piano performance with Ann Cain, Jane Jenkins, and John Van Buskirk. He is a member of ASCAP, AGO, and is the current Minister of Music at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in North Adams. McConnell been a guest organist at numerous churches throughout the commonwealth, and was a Teaching Fellow at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. McConnell’s dynamic compositional output includes symphonic works, sacred choral pieces, concerti, incidental music for plays and events, chamber music, works for solo instruments, and songs cycles. He is particularly fond of his Concerto for Toy Piano and Orchestra which was premiered in Boston in 2004. His choral music publisher is E.C. Schirmer, and his digital music distributer is
The number 777 is significant in multiple religions, as well as in numerology. While it may refer to celestial perfection, the Kingdom of God on Earth, or various Theosophical interpretations, it is the listener’s task to imagine what is implied by the work’s title. Based on this number, the seven cellos are combined in manifold ways. Pitch, interval, timbre, range, and other details are inspired and governed by various subtractions and divisions of this number, culminating in a dense, sonic mass of awe and fury. Special thanks to cellist Christina Stripling for bringing this piece to life.

Crystals of Ice
The sounds for this piece consist of plucked strings inside the piano, which are then subjected to digital reverberation and additional chorus. This creates an eerie atmosphere where etheric-like “winds” overlap to form interesting harmonies.

Piano 47
This piano work, essentially for two voices, is based on a 4:7 polyrhythm. The same proportion governs the lengths of phrases, placement of rests, register, and use of pedal. A simple, 12-tone row provides the pitch material, serving as a predictable “reference point” amidst the piece’s rhythmic complexity.

Jonathan W. Mills (Bloomington, Indiana, USA)
Jonathan W. Mills (Slate) is a self taught musician who composes and improvises prolifically. He is an Associate Professor of Music Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has several credits for orchestral work at Arcosanti, Arizona, and a commissioned work-in-progress for the Icelandic group, Duo Harpwerks. His specialty is audio-MIDI feedback, heard in these three pieces. He also plays the toy piano! You can hear over 200 of his works here:

Congested Area
From a sabbatical in Manhattan. A lot of traffic.

Walk—Don't Walk
Crosswalks in lower Manhattan are where people just...walk!

Danger—Electrical Hazard
Found a bunch of workers dealing with wiring at 2am one morning.

John Murphree (Malden, MA, USA)
John Murphree holds a M.M. and a B.M. in composition from The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, respectively. He studied composition extensively with Andy Vores and John Bavicchi, participated in song writing master classes with Samuel Adler and William Bolcolm and completed advanced welding and sculpture studies with Dennis Svoronos at the Museum of Fine Arts School (Boston). Murphree designs and fabricates original percussion instruments, principally made of metal, which are used in live performance and are also pre-recorded for performance. His acoustic compositions and arrangements have been played by various ensembles, as well as by Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Chang and The Boston Conservatory’s Hemenway Strings. He has collaborated in the Juddertone Choreography Project, and his sound installations have been staged at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Mobius gallery in Boston. In 2009, Murphree was invited to join the theory faculty at The Boston Conservatory. He and his wife live in Malden, Massachusetts.

Do Fa La
"Do Fa La" is a song in three sections conceived in folksong style. The song has no words and was played on a set of chimes I fabricated from aluminum. The title comes from the solfege names of the first three pitches in the song; "Do" = the pitch C, "Fa" = the pitch F, and "La" = the pitch A. No digital effects were used to make this work.

Mick O’Shea (Cork, Ireland)
Mick O’Shea lives and works in Cork city and is a member and director of the Cork Artists Collective and The Guesthouse art project and has been instrumental in establishing a vibrant and growing sound art scene in Cork city. In 2003 O’Shea and fellow artist Stephen Brandes and Irene Murphy set up the collaborative practice, The Domestic Godless which, through performative cooking events, explores culinary activity as art practice and tests assumptions about the cultural traditions of food in challenging and often irreverent and absurdist ways. He also works with various sound artists and composers both national and international. In 2006 he formed The Quiet Club with sound artist Danny McCarthy to promote and showcase improvised music and soundworks. These include improvised collaborations with other sound artists as well as improvised and structured contemporary music events working with performers and composers such as Rhodri Davies, Stephen Vitiello, Steve Roden, David Toop, Jed Speare, Rajesh Meta, Jennifer Walshe and Damo Suzuki. In 2009 he with Paul Hegarty (academic and performer) formed TRACE who record and play live often with Gaitkrash.

Breathing Beckett (Her)
Breathing Beckett (Him)
"I’ve included 2 pieces for your pleasure. Both pieces are readings of Samuel Beckett’s work with the words removed, a sign of our times indeed."

Matt Samolis (Boston, MA, USA)

three untitled pieces

Timecard (Easthampton, MA, USA)
Timecard is an experimental pop project led by Easthampton, MA musicians Burns Maxey and Matt Medeiros. There are numerous Timecard releases available for download on

TinyRedHuman (Toronto, Ontario, CANADA)

Five Lamentations
Since this piece was written for an event called "Signs of our Times", I took the event's title rather literally, identifying the sounds that characterize this current moment in my life: drums, eructating infants, and cantankerous toddlers. Though it may be hard to believe, most of the sounds in the piece actually come from a field recording of my children's voices during a weekend lunch at home. I used Five Lamentations as an opportunity to apply techniques learned from the Producer Edition of the album Ninth Wave, by Trifonic. It was a departure from my usual approach in that I worked almost exclusively with audio stems (as opposed to sequenced samplers), cutting them up, stretching and reversing them. I was processing a sample of a crying baby when the unifying vision for the piece came to me: a terrifying midnight ritual to awaken an ancient beast best left asleep (an unintentionally self-reflective piece, perhaps?). This sound became the lamentation that opens the piece and anchors its various sections. The result is decidedly much eerier than I had anticipated. Sorry about the nightmares...

Robert Voisey (New York City, NY, USA)
"With few opportunities and much competition, ... composers show creativity in just getting heard." And in Chris Pasles's article in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Voisey is highlighted as one of those composers. Composing electroacoustic and chamber music, his aesthetic oscillates from the Romantic to the Post Modern Mash-Up. His work has been performed in venues throughout the world including: Carnegie Hall, World Financial Center Winter Garden Atrium, and Stratford Circus in London. Voisey has been profiled and music broadcasted on HEC-TV public television in St Louis, Elektramusik in France, as well as radio stations all around the world including: Cityscape NPR St. Louis Public Radio; Arts & Answers & Art Waves on WKCR, Upbeat with Eva Radich on Radio New Zealand; and Kol Yisrael Israeli Radio. "The word 'viral,' comes to mind as a trendy but disquietingly accurate image for Robert Voisey's infectious enthusiasm. He is always ready to mutate and reinfect the process as indicated to maintain the highest degree of project fever" -60x60: netsuke for the musical mind, Richard Arnest, Sounding Board

Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac (the groups of stars through which the apparent course of the sun passes during the year). It is located in the Northern Hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram.

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco.

Orion, representing the Hunter, is a prominent constellation  located on the celestial equator  and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous and most recognizable constellations in the night sky.  Its name refers to Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology.

Julia Werntz (Cambridge, MA, USA)
Julia Werntz is a composer living in the Boston area. Her music has been performed on concert series and festivals around the Northeastern United States and Europe, and she has published several articles on microtonal and other topics in contemporary music. She teaches Ear Training and Theory at the Berklee College of Music, and Microtonal Composition and Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. She is artistic director of the Boston Microtonal Society, and is co-founder of its chamber ensemble NotaRiotous.
"This little duo, written in the mid 1990s, was one of my very first pieces using microintervals. The piece is really about the gentle interplay of gestures between the two instruments, and a sense of them speaking to each other. Cuong Vu and Rachel Cox were both NEC students at the time, and they really captured the spirit of it. "

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