2001. The third Hypnos/Foundry co-release, THE BOY BENEATH THE SEA fluidly
weaves together music and spoken word to create an affecting 40 minute
immersive environment. The story of a boy who leaves his home to live
under the sea is unique and yet somehow familiar, like a book
remembered from childhood. Dean Santomieri's narrative is evocative and
personal, and the words are perfectly complemented by the musical
contributions of Bruce Anderson, Karen Stackpole and David Kwan.
Santomieri chose three experienced and respected musicians to work with
in creating THE BOY BENEATH THE SEA. Bruce Anderson, leader of the
seminal Art-Rock band MX-80, plays a specially designed chromatically
tuned, baritone guitar. Bruce has performed and recorded with The
Residents and Henry Kaiser. David Kwan is a composer and video artist
whose works can be heard on the Asphodel/Sombient and Artifact labels.
Karen Stackpole is a drummer/percussionist with a soft spot for gongs.
Her current involvements include Euphonics, a gongs/metals/singing bowls
duo, and Malcolm Mooney & the10th Planet. She has worked with a number
of Bay Area free jazz and improvisational groups.
Dean Santomieri has been working with electronic music and musique
concrete since 1971, as well as creating multi-image pieces, films and
videos. In recent years Santomieri formed the duo Donkey Boy which
employed live electronic music, slides or video, story-telling, costumes,
and props in their many Bay Area performances. Since 1997 Santomieri has
also been performing with Malcolm Mooney & the10th Planet (Mooney was the
original singer with the German progressive-rock group Can), providing
electronics and guitar. In 1998 Santomieri formed a multi-media group
with Anderson, Stackpole and Kwan, for live performance of his short
stories (narration accompanied by live music and video). This ensemble's
first show, THE BOY BENEATH THE SEA, was performed numerous times in the
Bay Area, and lead to this CD release. In 2000 the Archipelago imprint
released Santomieri's Crude Rotation, a 3" CD, EP of musique concrete/
electronic pieces, to critical praise.
Collectively this ensemble of Kwan, Anderson and Stackpole improvised a
rich musical setting for Santomieri's timeless fable. Words and music
interact and a spell is cast. Images grow, become vivid, and fade into
salt washed ghosts. The waves of the story recede and THE BOY BENEATH THE
SEA leaves behind pools of dreamy tableaux for us to muse upon,
beachcombers to the phantasmagoric.
A preliminary review:
"The Boy Beneath the Sea" is an enigmatic ambient saga coordinated by Dean Santomieri. He narrates the story. Improvisations by Bruce Anderson (chromotone guitar), David Kwan (sampling, processing and tidal control) and Karen Stackpole (percussion and gongs) surround Deanís narration.
This is an eerie and eclectic construction. The entire project borders on the avante garde and the nouveau noir. The story is interesting and offbeat. The music, while straightforward at times, benefits from Davidís processing and pre-mastering techniques and from Deanís direction and production control.
Keeping the focus on the music is difficult. The story is very cool and Deanís narrative style is hypnotic. The music is very worthy. The experimental sounds and overt minimalism serve the story very well. It IS the background. It DEFINES the background. Thus, it is definitive ambience.
It IS possible to play this CD as a pure background. To do so would be to miss the story. This is a cool experience. It demands total attention!"