"wonderful, sometimes astonishing private press electronic music ranging from the whimsical (gift) to the meditative/affecting (delayed response). an incredible find. Favorite track: Delayed Response." (bccl @ Bandcamp)
meruvina: electric guitar, electric bass, sho, synthesizer,
Composed, Programmed, Mixed, Designed and Produced by Michael Robinson
Recorded and Mastered by Catharine Wood at Planetwood Studios
My use of computer-controlled synthesizers began in the summer of 1984 when I purchased a pre-MIDI digital music system. These instruments were used exclusively until the summer of 1989, when I acquired my present MIDI system. [More recently, I have named the software and hardware used in various incarnations Meruvina.]
The first half-year of my involvement with this medium was spent transcribing music I had composed for acoustic instruments and/or voice. These works include two symphonies, three string quartets and four one-act music dramas. (Prior to focusing on composition, I was active as an improvising saxophonist.) Beginning in January 1985, I started composing directly for my pre-MIDI system, which consisted of a single computer and three sound modules: one for pitches and rhythms, one for dynamic control, and one for tempo control. In December 1985, I presented my first concert of this music at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, and also appeared on WNYC FM. Since then I have given numerous concerts and live radio broadcasts in New York, Hawaii and California.
In 1989, I began composing for my new MIDI system, which consists of a single multi-timbral sound module and one computer. At the time of this writing, I have completed 108 pieces. Seven of the works on this recording are among this most recent body of compositions. I also began transcribing the 144 compositions I wrote for the pre-MIDI system into MIDI format. Three of these transcriptions are included here: Gift, Trembling Flowers and Pictures On the Wall. The former two works employ a pitched timbre that roughly approximates the mono-timbral sound of my pre-MIDI system. [Again, more recently, I have collectively named the software and hardware used Meruvina.]
Gift and Trembling Flowers were composed in New York. Delayed Response, Pink Candle, Pictures on the Wall and Haunted Trees were done in Maui. Pilgrim, Summer Streams and Painted Birds were worked on in Beverly Hills.
- Michael Robinson, July 1991, Beverly Hills
Here are more comments about some of the compositions that make up Trembling Flowers, which was my first album.
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, I was a guest on Carl Stone’s Imaginary Landscape radio show. One of the pieces played was “Delayed Response.” The next day, I received a phone call from two men who had been driving on the 405 while it was being played, and they pulled off at the next exit so they could listen more carefully, and write down the name of the composition and composer when it was finished. They were able to get my phone number, and insisted on meeting me, so I invited them to drop by later in the week.
Sadami (Chris) Wada, the Vice Chairman of Sony Corporation, once played Trembling Flowers from a player on his desk at full volume with the door open, drawing astonished stares from those passing by in the hallway. We were situated on the top floor of the Sony building on 57th Street in Manhattan, looking out over the expanse of Central Park trees in their autumn beauty. At the time, I was temporarily his assistant, and he insisted upon hearing my music. This composition, in particular, excited him, exclaiming that the propulsion, drive, contrapuntal complexity, and lucidity reminded him of Bach toccatas.
Lee Konitz once played along with Pictures On the Wall in my East 65th Street apartment on a late summer afternoon with his soprano saxophone, excitedly attempting to emulate some of the fast, complex passages, and remarking how the composition with its background riffs reminded him of Count Basie and his orchestra. Afterwards, we walked all the way from East 65th and First Avenue to his home on West 86th Street near Amsterdam, taking the scenic route through Central Park, myself carrying Lee's saxophone. I wish he had brought the alto, where he shines the brightest, of course. Konitz said the only reason he brought the soprano was because it was easier to transport.
After playing selections from Trembling Flowers while being interviewed on WBAI FM in NYC in 1991, I returned home to a voice mail asking me to phone La Monte Young. He and his wife, Marian Zazeela, had listened to the broadcast and were very excited by my music and thoughts. Calling back, Marian answered and then handed the phone to La Monte, whereupon we spoke for over three hours on a wide range of music subjects.
Summer Streams was composed after hearing about the passing of Leonard Bernstein, who I had met while studying at Tanglewood, finding his performances, rehearsals and classes all thrilling. Summer Streams was originally conceived for string quartet.
Rodney Oakes told me in 1994, at the time his review of Fire Monkey was published in Journal SEAMUS, that he had submitted a review of Trembling Flowers to the same publication, and believed it had been published, but checking back issues we were unable to locate the review. Apparently, there is no exisiting copy of the review either. Rodney's review of Hamoa (1995) was published by Journal SEAMUS.
Pink Candle was composed for the memory of Jim Morrison. A few years later, I became a friend, and music collaborator with Ray Manzarek.