Sabbaticus Rex is:
Karen Stackpole: gongs, percussion
Cornelius Boots: shakuhachi, taimu shakuhachi, throat vocals
Sabbaticus Rex is an ensemble rooted in the supremacy of sound over music, the triumph of tone over time and thought. This process uses haunting and beautiful acoustic instruments and methods: overtone gongs, shakuhachi (bamboo Zen flutes), Taimu (bass) shakuhachi, and throat-singing. The group is completely acoustic; no electronics or amplification.
Through spontaneous, sustained sound structuring, these sources combine to form a resonant, expansive and raw environment. Creating music with a majority emphasis on slow-evolving sound and texture, and allowing some aspect of wu wei (action-less action or spontaneous naturalness) to guide the entire process is both behind and at the core of this project: removing or at least side-stepping the egoic-self for most of the creative decisions.
Mostly, we hope the listener enjoys the sounds of the fat flutes and the big gongs talking to each other, all this other stuff is just our mindset and musical perspective.
Walking the razor's edge between the mystical and the scientific, Sabbaticus Rex is dedicated to the creation and performance of ambient, avant-orchestral works utilizing modern, ancient, and invented instruments in non-standard tunings that maximize their harmonic interaction and create layers of overtone resonance. Exploiting the acoustics within different performance spaces is an intrinsic aspect of this acoustic ensemble. There is no narrative, socio-political, or otherwise extra-musical plot or agenda involved with this music. That being said, it takes form and context from some elements that can be written about such as breath, overtone/harmonic resonance, imagination, and simplicity within chaos.
The instruments themselves are treated with reverence and are given as much if not more command over the path that the music takes. Inasmuch as metal particles or stalks of bamboo “want” to become instruments, at the point at which we discover them, the gongs and shakuhachi themselves are approached in a highly collaborative manner, i.e. letting sounds emerge from them, guiding rather than forcing, generally unifying with the instrument as much as possible. This requires a complex skill set that intertwines the rational, problem-solving and skill-acquiring mind with the realm of uncertainty, chaos, and intuition. There is an animistic, primordial perspective at play here; the idea of letting the instruments play what they want to play: guiding sounds from sound sources, building directly upon the intentions of the instrument maker, builder or designer, thus creating a kind of intentional feedback loop of a creative process combining imagination and utility.
This approach of guiding or shepherding sounds and ideas is seldom acknowledged or discussed within the formal music education or performance spheres. A return to the innate diversity of nature and of our own existence within nature might require a kind of letting go, a sort of action-less action, a conscious but not overly controlling participation within the flow, the stream of perceived reality, what has been referred to as the Tao, the Way, or tathata (suchness). A music performance with this intention or approach at its core could result in an atypical and transformative experience for performer and audience. The performer and listener might be more likely to become absorbed, immersed within the intuitive/chaotic exchange between the instruments and taken beyond the mundane realm. There is scientific and mystical support for this approach, it is, in many ways, an extended attempt to get back to the basics. The purely technical definition of a virtuoso has run its course: ambition and achievement are hollow vessels and dead end roads because they form their own feedback loops (hamster wheels) of Striving. In this ensemble, we hope to emphasize the Experiencing over the Striving, although both are present.
Karen uses Paiste metals.
Cornelius uses 4 Mujitsu Taimu shakuhachi (2.8, 2.75, 2.65, 2.45), and Shingetsu (1.8) and Yung (2.4) jinashi shakuhachi.