One of the most important steps in our process is to record the repertoire we have created. Listed below are our past and upcoming albums, all filled with the new music created from each of our collaborations for contemporary guitar trio. For links to the websites of each of our collaborators, go here.
Mobius Trio’s debut album, Last Light, features compositions written expressly for Mobius between 2010 and 2011. The album’s collection of Bay Area-based composers covers a wide range of styles and backgrounds, from Post-Romanticism to hints of New Complexity and several distinct flavors of Post-Minimalism. These pieces call for a host of extended techniques: mixed percussion using the body of the guitar, detuning and scordatura, plucking intertwined strings – even preparing each guitar with a rubber band around the neck. Some of these sounds can be associated with different instruments or different styles of music, but many of them have no precedent whatsoever.
In Making Good Choices, I tried to push the limits of the guitar’s vocabulary and the MobiusTrio’s prodigious talent and energy to create the tension of a trapeze act. The goal was music that would necessitate extreme precision, ensemble tightness, and the ability to read each other – the result was a piece full of frenetic, precise grooves and fluid, shifting stillness. The hope is to draw the performers together as a unit, and connect the listeners to the performers and the piece itself through witnessing the drama of executing something slightly terrifying.
Persian Dances for Guitar Trio consists of a number of miniature pieces which each of them conveys a different color and mood and what keeps them together is the sense of rhythm and dance. Each of them is written in a different Persian mode (Dastgah) and was combined with different textures of contemporary music. They all portray the sense of belonging to a culture that does not exist in the surroundings of the composer any more, and they all convey the nostalgic and homesick moments of being away from one’s homeland.
How to Shatter Light, an homage to Benjamin Britten, takes the theme from a movement of Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal (Gently Rocking) and spins it around, either coming closer to Britten, or further away. Throughout the piece, the trio gradually detunes their guitars, falling more out of tune with traditional standards, but finding in their absence, their own branch of beauty. In this piece, I wanted to treat the space around the notes, the space between the notes, almost as an extra member of the ensemble, bringing them into a place where their playing does not disrupt the silence, but actually is one with it.
When I talked with the guys in Mobius about writing a piece for their trio as a part of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Composition and Guitar departments’ collaboration called “DoubleSpeak”, I had no idea how incredibly fun this writing process would become. These guys were a part of every step of the writing process, from talking about the piece to tinkering with ideas. This, to me, gives a much more personal and intimate connection with the piece to the performers. Rather than simply playing a piece I gave them, the trio is performing music we concocted and watched unfold together. I thank them for the time they spent with me trying different ideas, and the many hours they spent rehearsing, making this piece as awesome as it is today.
Needle Play is a set of aphorisms outlining a typical experience at a community acupuncture clinic in the SOMA district of San Francisco. The three guitars play various roles throughout: they explore the subdued yet effervescent energy of the nervous system at work, outline the exact points of entry and exit of this energy (i.e. where the needles are placed and then removed), and mimic the ambient interruptions of fans, noise machines and human shuffling. Like a treatment in the chair, what results is a bifurcated experience of deep relax and vivid awareness (and the strange lucid dreams that accompany).
Still not 100% sure what this is about, but I think that it has something to do with my inability to shake my own hillbilly approach to playing and writing for the guitar. The idea that this approach has followed me into a so-called “concert piece” appears to echo a sort of larger truth – that is, that there are certain places (sonic, ideological, geographical, whatever) that we return to because they are a part of who we are. Perhaps, then, as you listen to this tune, you can find some sort of connection to those places that mean something to you.
Being a guitarist myself, one of my goals for this piece was to ensure that each of the three parts was idiomatic – as opposed to a lot of guitar ensemble music which is transcribed from other mediums. Compositionally speaking, “TheTransition” is structured around two main themes (the first opens the piece; the second is marked by the entrance of the other two guitars). The tonality shifts frequently, and even though the piece moves forward, it ultimately ends in a similar state to which it began; the transition has failed.
The last light of any phenomena is a mysterious and magical occurrence, and often just the beginning of something, not the end. Whether it’s that moment when the sun dips below the horizon, or that moment when a loved one passes from this world, very often the energy surrounding such an event increases rather than diminishes. The piece Last Light was commissioned by and written expressly for the three young men of Mobius, fantastic players all. It is ultimately and simply a play of patterns, spinning out personal musical translations of the thoughts, emotions, and states of mind conjured up by its title.
This summer, Mobius will be recording TWO albums tentatively titled Bon Voyage Part One and Bon Voyage Part Two. The first of these will feature ALL electric guitar works by the following composers.
Samuel Carl Adams