From A Danish Princess to Winter Fantasy
Cover art for the A Danish Princess album.
I’m delighted to have available for the first time compositions from 1984-1989 performed by my original Meruvina. As you may know, Meruvina is my name for the combination of software and hardware used, including computer, sound modules with sampled and synthesized sounds, and software. This first Meruvina works with an Apple II computer, three separate analog modules, plus software. There are only two different timbres available for use, including a raw electric keyboard sound and a bass sound. Added to this are eight different percussion sounds. At the time, I felt this severe timbral restriction was akin to how painter Vincent van Gogh restricted himself to only blacks, whites, greys, and browns during his early period, the idea being to force himself to develop meaningful content from an extremely limited coloristic palette.
These notes will serve for all twenty-three albums featuring my first Meruvina at least for now. There simply isn’t enough time to write individual notes for every album even though just about every composition has a story behind it, a number of them momentous for the evolution of my music. In terms of evident musical influences heard in these early works, Steve Reich, Lee Konitz, Morton Feldman and John Coltrane would appear to be paramount.
My composition, "A Danish Princess", was named for a dancer studying in NYC from Denmark who visited my studio to listen to music after John Cage told me he would like to attend a dance concert featuring my work. "Winter Fantasy" was named for a phrase developed into a composition from "Mean Town Blues" by guitarist Johnny Winter.
Most of the compositions contained on these albums have never been heard before, unless you happened to attend one of my Manhattan or Maui concerts in the mid to late eighties, or one of my radio appearances broadcast from Manhattan during that period. Those familiar with my work will notice how several dozen of these compositions were subsequently orchestrated for my second and third Meruvina incarnations with comparisons inevitable. Lastly, there are several pieces originally conceived for acoustic instruments among these albums, too.
And there might have been many more albums among these. The Distant Times and Neptune albums consist of 5-10 minute opening excerpts of compositions actually around one hour long each, with "Tropical Pines" being three hours originally, "Distant Times" six hours, and "Mer" twelve hours.
No doubt, there will be some who prefer this original Meruvina to all my other music, enjoying the sounds and images of a classically Spartan early music system. Personally, I still regard a number of the compositions here to be among my best work, and it’s a pleasure to present these in their original format for the first time.
I apologize for the lack of detailed liner notes, but please feel free to contact Azure Miles Records if you should wish any more specific information about the music found on these instrumentally related twenty-three new recordings, which are listed below.
- Michael Robinson, March 2018, Los Angeles
© 2018 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).