The second fiery 2007 release from Random Touch is titled A True Conductor Wears a Man. Members Brown, Day and Hamill take the music and the listener further out and further in as they explore the limits of improvisational composition.
“We start off listening closely to each other’s music-making even as we listen to our own. This becomes a stepping stone to a state where we can no longer distinguish what is our own music and what is another’s. The aggregate music becomes a unified, monolithic thing, and it becomes entirely unclear whether we are hammering upon it, surfing atop it, or are simply at one with it. For myself this last step often morphs into a state where he music itself becomes secondary to a dream-like emotional drama, replete with visuals behind my lidded eyes. The joy of making music like this is second only to sex. ” -- Christopher Brown
“Sometimes I listen to something we did, and it seems completely independent of me; I can’t begin to know how we made it.” -- James Day
“Unlike traditional musicians who seek to hone their skills to a point of utter control, we veer away when technique would make us too predictable. We know we need freshness and a sense of fun, and our pursuit of these inevitably leads to using instruments, genres and every day objects in ways that were never intended. When we play we don’t know where we are going or how we are getting there. Discovering the answers to these questions, in real time, is pure musical joy.” -- Christopher Brown
You can sense the spirit of Can, of Zappa, of Angelo Badalamenti, but the music of Random Touch lies outside of simple categories or comparisons. Their music appears sourced from the mythic plane where the collective consciousness of the whole and individual unconscious become one. The result is dreamy, hypnotic, and otherworldly; it is music that seems to float, free of gravity, continuously on the verge of cohesion and collapse.
“We have this amazing trust between us. It opens up all these doors.”
-- James Day
“That trust, that openness, is very inviting. It allows something bigger than us to come and play.” -- Christopher Brown
Random Touch founders Christopher Brown and James Day have an old and synergistic relationship that began with collaborations in high school (an original rock opera) and college (commissioned multi-media piece Broken Glass among others). Brown and Day first collaborated with member Scott Hamill (guitar) in 1978 and member Matthew Ebbin (camera) in 1998. In addition to music, the visual arts have been an integral part of their work over the years. To Random Touch they are all vibration. Whether videotaping the tight, electric frequency of the color violet or recording the long and lazy thrum of a hammered steel girder, it is all raw material, ready for the alchemy of transmutation.
On October 22, 2007 their eighth work, A True Conductor Wears a Man, will be released. A journey through beauty, tension and darkness awaits the listener. Some may consider the 54 minute CD even more wild and untamed than its predecessors. Listen as Scott Hamill, James Day and Christopher Brown converge once again to explore and flesh out the unfamiliar.
Christopher Brown began formal percussion study in 1963. His initial focus was orchestra and band percussion. In 1965 he began drum-set study with jazz drummer and early drum-set pioneer Dick Dickson. By 1967, contemporaneous with his jazz studies, Brown began playing with a series of rock bands. Influences over the next seven years included rock artists such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience and King Crimson, 20th century composers such as Elliot Carter and Morton Subotnick, and jazz luminaries such as Miles Davis and Weather Report. A growing interest in multiple artistic mediums led to the creation in 1975 of the Trusty Wourins Performance Ensemble with a number of fellow musicians. This group utilized projected film and slides, actors, improvised and structured music, as well as traditional, invented and “ready-made” instruments in performances reminiscent of the late 1960’s happenings. Subsequent to Trusty Wourins Brown played with the rock band The Benders and the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Film at Columbia College in 1980.
James Day began his formal music education in 1962. He began playing in his first rock band in 1970 as a guitarist. A dramatic and early influence on Day was his introduction to the compositions of Gyorgy Ligeti in Stanley Kurbrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition to Ligeti, he counts among his early influences Luciano Berio, Igor Stravinsky and Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi group. By 1972 his interest in 20th century composers led him to begin study of the piano and organ. From 1975 to 1978 he performed with the Trusty Wourins Performance Ensemble on keyboards and synthesizer, and collaborated with Christopher Brown on the group’s films and photographs. In 1976 he began formal composition study with Paul Cochran of the Chicago Conservatory College, followed by study with Robert Hanson, principal conductor of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Day’s formal composition and piano study continued through 1981. He returned to rock music in 1978 with The Benders and from 1982 to 1983 played with the rock band Sniper, Sniper.
Scott Hamill taught himself acoustic and electric guitar in the mid-seventies and became guitarist for The Benders in 1978. He counts among his early influences Bill Frisell, Phil Manzanera and Charles Ives. Subsequent to The Benders he played with a number of bands including The Browns.
Matthew Ebbin began videotaping Random Touch performances in 1998. Shortly thereafter he began joining the group for improvised video outings as well as more formal shoots.
For additional information visit www.randomtouch.com.