The Escalators


The Escalators is my latest ensemble and something I’m very proud of. I started my masters in composition in 2007 and am very close to completing it. My main achievement through this process was the creation of The Escalators and the subsequent music written for it. The band has recorded our debut CD which is now available from our myspace site. This Sunday we are performing all the music at a concert at my warehouse (see the myspace page for details)
I was required to write a series of compositions an then write an exsegesis of the process which I am going to upload parts of to this blog over the next couple of weeks.

The band The Escalators together with the music uniquely composed for it, emerged from a key area of research, sample-based music and its relationship to human memory. The strategy of triggering memory with the use of existing musical recordings has been the dominant determining factor of the music. Additionally a number of other interests, have been influential. These include:
1. the film and TV work of David Lynch and the atmosphere it generates
2. structured improvisation
3. aspects of minimalism
4. a desire to compose in a style radically different from anything I had produced previously
5. the possibility of creating an ensemble and a recording that I could sell to a wider audience

These concepts defined the bands composition and makeup.

The Escalators’ distinctive identity is a consequence of crossing once-sacred style boundaries. In using samples, a composer can create hybrids that were previously unthinkable. This has the capacity to produce new, unique and personalised musical identities.

Concept development, writing the music and choosing the musicians for the Escalators commenced in 2007. There are two reasons for the name. Firstly, for me the name elicits the feeling of a constant returning to the same place, likewise, in my opinion, sample-based music also seems to have this effect. It creates memory confusion and a sense of return. The second and less obvious reason was Escalators starts with the letter E. All my jazz/improvisation groups have had names starting with the letter E (En Rusk, Escargone, The Electricians, so now the Escalators). Doing this creates a sense of uncertainty in those who have followed my career, as well as a slight confusion when talking about one band compared to another. The state of minimal uncertainty or subtle confusion is something that has always interested me.

The ensemble consists of Pat Thiel playing trumpet, Mark Hannaford playing piano, Joe Talia playing drums, Mick Meagher playing electric bass, Lawrence Folvig on electric guitar, DJ Element playing turntables/sampler, and me on trombone.

At the early stages of development the shared improvising/compositional language that the players possess has allowed me to rapidly explore concepts. It has helped me decide what to keep and what to discard. It frees me up from having to constantly produce physical written work that might or might not be kept, thus saving me time in decision making and allowing for a more flexible, responsive approach to the final pieces. The distinguished clarinetist Anthony Pay states “I am the sort of player who is more disposed to start off from the accuracy point of view rather than starting off from the musical point of view. You can with some modern music start off and say : ‘I’m not going to pay any attention to the notational aspects of it, but initially I am going to decide what the music is about, the gestures – and language – the sort of thing, if you are improvising, you have to deal with.’ Now, I tend when I’m approaching a modern score, to start off by trying to get, as accurately as I can, what he’s actually put down on paper.” (Bailey 1992, 67-68) That premise is precisely what I want to avoid.

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Confusion Tends to Lend Itself to Brilliance but not in this case


I attended the AMP awards the other day in Sydney. An event that was bathed in strangeness, desperation, and a need to be loved, well maybe just liked, by all in attendance and further afield despite the lack of substantial qualities that lend themselves to liking or love. AMP stands for Australian Music Prize giving off the deception that it is a reflection of what is to be regarded as good in Australian music. Instead it is an example of what can be done when a good publicist jumps into bed with media, industry, washed up rock starts pretending to be holders of some sort of knowledge and keen to be washed up rock stars all glittering and shiny in their rap around Ray Bans or T Shirts with designs from a previous decade emblazoned over them, and a tiny sample of talent.
The ceremony conveniently took place at the corporate offices of one of the major sponsors, an energy drink company that not only provided slabs of their gum decaying ridiculous ideas of a drink but also provided the gold colored girls wearing air hostess uniforms resembling an era long since past where to be an air hostess was to be sexy even if slightly plastic. It was there job to hand out the free slabs of Red Bull on offer and then wonder aloud “why isn’t anyone taking the drink” . Everyone instead had made there way up to the corporate nightclub, past the corporate basketball court, skate ramp and whatever other retarded idea some corporate designer thought would be appropriate to put in the offices of a corporation keen to represent energy and youthfulness as well as ensuring their employees had the BEST DAMN TIME at work.

The nightclub quickly filled with people, aromas and blazing afternoon sun pounding through the windows. Mixing in with the aromatic delightful musk of media types was the rotting sweat of young rockers together with the bland aroma of advertising people. The Presets were up for the award, not because they were likely to win it as they have gotten to large for something like this, no a decision would have been made in some small office by those who are running this award in conjunction with the major sponsors to ask them to be on the shortlist, maybe even pay them some money to be on it and show up. This would further legitimize these awards making it even more attractive to sponsors.
So many people with simultaneously so much to gain and lose in this room. So much in their own eyes so little in everyone elses.
A media type who had been at our gig the night before was gushing in his praise of our band and how sympathetically we played. I burst out laughing then realizing the inappropriateness of that action and how much of an uncomfortable situation it had paradoxically caused I excused myself and went to the bar and ordered a drink of the boutique beer company owned by one of the Industry types in attendance.

I was starting to feel a stickiness all over my skin and a claustrophobia not helped when a shrieking young representative /presenter from Channel V started squawking in the microphone espousing the greatness of her employer and her all round excitement at presenting this life changing award (that’s $30000 to change a life). Here was a girl who had entered the workforce to early in life therefore depriving her of the ability to compare it with any other from of reality, she seemed to truly love her company. Her shrieking was only matched by Renee Geyers loud and forceful attempts to speak for everyone while successfully speaking for no one screeching at the young presenter to Shut the F..k up and get on with it. Now didn’t that cause some confusion.
A performance by a clichéd riddled band with a confused front singer not old enough to know how to be the embodiment of cool from such a bygone era he was imitating was followed by the announcement of the winner. The confusion of all my senses was growing evermore extreme and the idea of violence had a soft fluffy type feeling to it. It was time to go. When the arts gets involved in money making, back slapping self deception it always makes for an intolerably boring occasion and subsequently an intolerably boring story. I apologize.

The gig with no Beer

Perth, we were booked to play a show at the Octagon theatre but due to some administrative complications, which often happens when you have to get the many layers of the self justifying “Music Industry” involved to accomplish Music Industry things like putting on a gig, our gig had to be moved at the very last minute.
That was fine except that it was moved to a venue with no alcohol, food lamingtons or refreshments of any sort what soever.
People don’t take kindly to this, it doesn’t matter who you are, and many a grumble could be heard.
In act more than grumblings down right dissent was streaming forth from various sober mouths.
While it would be incorrect to assume that panic hit the band, we were previously made aware of the situation and had prepared ourselves accordingly, there was a level of panic coming from the Music Industry members of our small party. They were the ones in the direct firing line (they were assigned to the door).
At this stage our illustrious leader, realizing the responsibilities that come with that title grabbed the bull by the horns and assigning my good self and fellow ship mate the task of manning the big wheel and steering our cruising yacht down to the nearest refreshment house to stock up with supplies. On our return arms was handed out to the poor suffering thirsty patrons (despite the protestations of the Music Industry specialists present under the guise of us becoming lawbreakers) and boy did the mood lift.
Sometimes it’s not only the music that is required to have a good show.

Here is a cartoon drawn by a member of the crowd that night and here is a link to his blog about that gig, Its always interesting to read the perspective of an event from someone else and his is fabulous. And his pictures are likewise fabulous

Bunbury Holidays


The first gig we played on this tour was in a placecalled Bunbury in a joint called The Prince of Wales, while the gig itself was as uneventful as the place I did have one interesting experience which might sum up the gig, Bunbury, and in fact most of Western Australia. On arrival and after eight hours of travel getting to this Mecca of sterility we stumbled in the back door of the hotel. Right in front of the stage sat 4 old people, all well into their eighties, all drinking beer from a pint glass all complaining loudly about the noise we might be about to make. I was immediately enamoured by this sight so I sat down with them and got chatting. We made some decent conversation despite the obvious inhibitors created by the hearing aids and my mumbling and I discovered that this group of 4 was once a group of 20 and had been travelling down to this pub from Perth by train every year to attend the Bunbury races (trots and normal horses). The absence of the other 16 members of the group was due to death which I was loudly informed by the only women who hadn’t as yet spoken, would happen to me sometime so I had better get used to it (I presume she was talking about old age preceding death but it doesn’t matter). I wished them all the best, told them not to loose to much money and headed off to my room. Strange place to come for a holiday I thought, this was no pleasant English country pub rather a dank smelling beer drenched pub, the walls covered in posters of other touring bands, the flat screen TVs adorning the walls blaring out video hits and announcements of the weekly bingo games or dog racing and where I believe one of the owners of the sound system is currently doing some time because of an untimely death to one of his ex mates. Oh well I though, maybe it was different 40 years ago.

The next morning I got up, showered the headach out of my head, and not daring to sample the breakfast on offer I decided to go for a walk. I had to pass through the hotel and here were the 4 elderly people sitting around the same table with beers in hand and empty glasses on the table in front of them. “Are you heading off to the races?” I asked after some cordial small talk.
“No Why would we do that,” they answered, “we’ve never been. We’ve got all we want here, beer, there’s no crowd (there was defiantly none of that) and the race is on the TV all day.

“Fantastic” I thought, what a great 40 year annual holiday you can have in this part of the world.

More Explanation on Cowboy and Miniman

My Band Des Peres named our new album The Adventures of Cowboy and Miniman and huge numbers of people have been asking for the meaning of the title.
On October 14 in my third blog I gave my explanation on who Cowboy and Miniman were (Scroll down to see). Here is a little further insight int the type of brave and creative men they were.

Cowboy and Miniman loved to fight, they loved to attack, burst forward, charge, surround, launch missiles, block, thrust, encircle, destroy.
But that last word was the one thing they seemed incapable of doing. Their strength and military knowledge was of such equal footing that neither of them could shift their opponent even an inch. That’s not to presume that losses weren’t taken, in fact huge loses were taken on both sides.
Battle forces were smashed and women lost husbands. But just as armies were lost they were rebuilt. Both these foreign adventurers and warmongers had the persuasive gifts including the tongue and the gold coin.
Their spirit of discovery had long since changed from the desire to find lost treasures. Instead rare powers were sought by both leaders to gain the upper hand.
Miniman possessed a great talent in his voice. He had the type of voice that could sail, drift, or float but more importantly when really turned up to its full volume through methods of diaphragm control it could pierce through shards of glass, shattering them into a million pieces.
At nights before a battle or on a long march through the thick jungles when his men were tired he would use his voice to calm his men by singing out over the camp, but it was his voices vengeful side that became his interest in his current position, trying to discover his inner weapon.
If he could train others in his army the power of the human voice to reek havoc over whatever it was aimed at surely he would have a weapon at his disposal to crush his weak eared opponent.
There were reasons for both the beauty and sharp ugliness of his voice, the most significant of these being that he was indeed a miniman. With his newly chosen choir of soldiers who were to become his highly skilled killing machine he trained them in all the most modern techniques of singing, how to hold your note, how to produce articulation of the highest order, how to fire out rhythm, how to lull your enemies in with slowly shifting melody, who to control your breathing and stomach muscles to increase in pitch but most importantly he had them all castrated. And then they were ready, for they to had become the ultimate miniman army.
So one evening he marched his choir out……..

Northcote Social Club

Pre gig the venue is great, they work with you in regards to publicity etc and know what they are doing.
The sound system cost a trillion dollars and there is the problem. Sounds to clean, , band room is great except in Summer because their isn’t airconditioning up there, but it has a TV, generous rider. Venue staff don’t like it if you make a mess, they will charge you a carpet cleaning bill. Hard to get a vibe in the venue. Food isn’t good

Bennetts Lane –Melbourne JAZZ

One vibe and if you don’t like that you wont have a good time. No rider whatsoever


How to make money on new years

The experiences of a musician for hire are the same the world over. A never ending uncertainty concerning every single gig and added to that a general scense of weirdness surrounding almost every gig. Here’s a tale that gives you a taste.
Once a year on the 15th of December I get a phone call. The man on the other end of the line is a fat, very wealth restaurateur who never has any idea who I am despite the fact the fact he has called me every year on this exact date for the last 5 years.
“ Hi is This ahhh how do you say your name, Kynan, is it” he says with the sort of tone that comes from a man who has always been pigeonholed as a jolly fellow.
“yes it is , hi Alf good to speak to you again”
“Ah good, hi Kynan, you don’t know me , Adam Simmons gave me your number. You see we have a new years bash at my house every year, lots of fun, my wife likes to have a brass band at it, I want Adam Simmons but it seems he’s very busy, he’s very good that guy I love listening to him. Anyway he tells me you might be able to organise something. Is that something you could do. Get my wife a brass band for my New Years bash.”
“Of course”
“Good good good, now get some trumpets saxophones drums the whole lot play some music, have a drink you’ll love it. Now I want American Patrol – you know that song Da Da Da dumda da. Of course you know it, the wife loves it so play that oh and also the Peter Gun tune play that. I don’t care what else you play. Actually if you just want to play those two and just keep playing them that’s fine with me, especially that Peter Gun. What do you play?”
“Trombone”
“Oh right oh, ok, bring one of those along…and some drums saxophones, oh I’m sure you know what your doing, just get American Patrol OK. Right see you then but 11.”
And the phone goes dead.
This conversation isn’t all that dissimilar to any other weird gig promoter who has his own delusional ideas of what makes a great event except that it comes around like clockwork every year, word for word, and no matter what I try to do each year big Alf blocks me out of his memory without blocking the routine.
So I make a few phone calls get a baritone sax, a trumpet, and two marching band drummers and we show up to his mansion at about 11.00 on new years.
The party atmosphere is unchanging from year to year, about 15 people sitting around looking fairly unenthused despite the surrounding madness. When we enter the house pushing past the collection of choristers that are lining the staircase getting ready for their set Alf come s striding up , arm outstretched, huge feathers sticking out of what must be regarded in some quarters as a hat, shirt open revealing the grey haired mat on his leather chest.
“You must be Kynan” he bellows.
“Yep the same as last year”
“Right heres the routine after the choir finishes you guys come on for about an hour set, that be right with you? Great what do you think of my hat. I got this this at the set of Pricilla Queen of the dessert. I’ll put my fire mans hat on in a while. Help yourself to anything, You want to come out and see my Lamborghini? What do you think of my chandelier, had it imported from Italy I hate it. I’ve got some costumes I want you to wear, go get changed in that spare bedroom. The chandelier cost me thousands, hundreds of thousand, the wife wanted it. See you when your ready.” Even with his huge fat voice he still has to speak louder than usual to bellow over the police bagpipe and drum band he has performing in the kitchen. This seems like no place for a police outfit unless you were wearing a skirt which this ones conveniently are.

Same drill as last year which we follow to the letter.

And come out charging determined to blow the 15 drowsily drunk guests off there feet. We start with a calypso number which on its conclusion draws an immediate response from Alf
“Alright boys enough of that just give us American Patrol followed by Peter Gun and loudly.”
So we do for the next hour at which stage it is the comedians turn.
When its over Alf stuffs wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills into my hand tells me he loves it. And says. I don’t think we’ll bother with that Adam Simmons next year, we’ll just get you.

Lats night I played a gig with one of the most unusual pop bands I’ve ever experienced
10000 killed in Chile. Check them out their great

More on the House of Pow

am no teacher but my father was a preacher so I have seen him show the people. I will try
If you are there you know, welcome and grab yourself a bed. If you aren’t, there are plenty of invites floating around, find one for yourself, put on your best suit, grab a cane, umbrella or taxidermist’s bird (make it a big one) and hail a street car. But make sure you bring a plate, a plate full of big love. Love for all things fast, red, a love of slight of hand, a love of loud sounds when you need them, a love of theft when the object can be better used, a love of all things old but only when presented in a new way, a love of fox skins and a love of that deep, deep POW.
POW is when you are being held up against the wall but a man much bigger and stronger than you, adrenalin pumping but oxygen leaving, only one thought comes to your head POW
POW is when you can take over a back stage after a roaring concert by singing nothing but American work songs unrelentingly and then use the same skill to unload all the band of all their drinks, negotiate your way around a large city, order a Greek dinner delight and then wave goodbye all without dropping a note.
House of POW is a lifestyle. If you don’t see the world this way you might never but you must try and try and try. You must Must Must.
House of POW is music . The best music, music you cant understand but it gets you, gets you in that spot. The spot that fills you with groove and move, fills you desire, lust passion hatred love all of the great emotions. Fills you with confusion that says you must have more.
POW is when you know everything there is to know and the only thing left is to go POW
Des Peres is in the house of POW, Des Peres is its prime minister, president, sultan, and singalong chief.
Des Peres’s just finished the mixing process of the new album which makes it one step closer to being in your hot little hands or on your funky new personlised digital readers or flashing at you from your computers or however it is you enjoy DES.
I might even upload some new tracks for you in the next coupla days
GOD BLESS you all
DES PERES and the HOUSE OF POW

http://www.myspace.com/desperes
http://www.myspace.com/kynanrobinson