Captains of Industry: SAIL ON–Downloadable Music/CD Now Available

Captains of Industry

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What Is/Who Are These Particular Captains of Industry?

Not the generally greedy, selfishly motivated captains of industry who run much of the world’s political machinery at this point in time; the captains I’m referring to here consist of Bill Bartosik on guitar and myself, Greg Burrows as percussionist-drummer-effects wrangler-sometime vocalist. Bill also utilizes an array of effects on his guitar.

In the drums/percussion aspect, one of the interesting features of this project is my use of the Wavedrum, a compact-sized, oddly little-used instrument (arguably…) that was introduced originally in the 1990s as the “Wavestation,” which still has its adherents: those who think the new thing sucks as compared to the rare, high-priced “classic.”

The Wavedrum is officially described by its manufacturer as a Dynamic Drum Synthesizer, a somewhat dry yet accurate description of the instrument. It’s got qualities of both acoustic drums (responsiveness to touch changes, pressure on the tunable drumhead, scratching, useful for brush playing) and a large array of programmable sounds and noises, both pitched and nonpitched. What does this thing contribute to the Captains of Industry improvisational duo project? A lot—in terms of sound texture, sound variability, groove and noise options. It allows me a palette of sounds unimaginable on a modest budget 10 years ago or less. And specifically in this project, it establishes the guitar as more of a grounding, sonically consistent force, while the drummer (me) has the option to expand  in multiple, unpredictable directions, often within one piece of music. In other words, there’s a bit of a role reversal happening here: the guitarist in a little bit more of an ‘anchor’ role while the drummer is freer than usual in terms of “holding down the beat” or staying with one set of sounds for an entire jam.

CD In the Works

In this month of December of 2012, these two Captains shall be embarking on a voyage to Headline Studios (the same recording studio where I recorded my recent “In the Loop” drums/percussion/live looping video performance seen here: in Irvington, NY, which is one of the lovelier Hudson River Valley towns nestled just south of Tarrytown. Longtime musical colleague and friend of both Captains, Joe DiGiorgi, will be manning the audio controls—-the “engine room” of this project.

The recording process will happen like this: set up, get sounds, go. Even a casual ‘warm-up’ jam will be recorded—any moment of playing can yield surprises or moments of magic. Pieces will be of varying length, tempo, approach, and energy/dynamic levels.

The Project

Captains of Industry perform/record uncharted, unplanned musical pieces based on a theme, melody line, percussion groove, noise loops (galloping horses…roaring ocean…it could be anything) initiated by either Bill or me. From these departure points, there may be some soloistic playing–perhaps a guitar solo or some busier percussion activity–but all of this is played with some form of allegiance to the initial groove or noise or pattern: we nearly always seem to naturally fall into a compositional approach. So in that sense you can’t really call it “free jazz” since more often than not, there’s some sort of beat or groove going on, or a basic shape that’s set at the beginning of each piece. But it’s also pretty far away from standard of classic jazz or blues or any sort of pigeonhole like that (though both of us have played jazz music extensively), as there are no standard song forms, classic tunes, or direct stylistic references to these tunes/forms.

The process of creating a Captains of Industry jam or piece basically goes like this: prepare the musical “ship,” survey the immediate conditions/scene (percussion sound, guitar delay, etc or any number of variables set by one or both of the two players, or, Captains), throw the compass/map into the ocean, and set sail. In other words, we will play and record for 6 or 8 hours or so, until we arrive at a CD’s worth of interesting, engaging music. No overdubs. No “fixes” or “punch-ins.” just…music. This type of improvisational playing has been done by many musicians in numerous settings since approximately the mid-1960s–it would be absurd to claim that this approach is something unique or new. However, one thing is for sure: when using this type of nonmethod or nonplan approach, we are true explorers, surprising, entrancing or even delighting ourselves and, hopefully, listeners alike.

Bill and I have been working within this context for approximately two years and the time seems right to capture this thing in a high quality recording, and put it out into the world. A recent live performance at Las Vetas Lounge in Fairfield, Connecticut—and the enthusiastic audience reaction that night—confirmed our belief that this thing is ready for the recording studio.

I’ve been involved in similar projects before and have nearly always found them very gratifying. I worked in a similar way in my dozen or so duo performances in Brooklyn, N.Y. with clarinet/mandolin master Andy Statman in 2006, using this same nonmethod of “setting sail without a map.” I have also participated in many high-energy explorations some years ago in another Connecticut-based project called Felnik, with Jamie Finegan and a revolving crew of great musicians (there are three audio examples here: I feel strongly that all musicians ought to take time to get together with like-minded players and just play–no charts, tunes, or game plan. The results can be surprising and exhilarating both for the ‘sailors’ (musicians) and ‘passengers’ (the listeners) alike. Departure (CD release) will be around Christmastime, 2012. Please visit for blog updates, CD release news, live show announcements, and other information related to this project.

-Greg Burrows