The Useless Lesson includes collaborations with Leo Abrahams, (solo artist and guitarist on Brian Eno’s Another Day on Earth) Dwight Ashley (Nepenthe artist) and phonographer Anode.
The music is comprised of constructed and deconstructed pieces juxtaposed to disclose the contrasts and commonality of organizing and recognizing sound. To emphasize the attractions and repulsions of these two poles the ensembles used in each case differ broadly. The constructed – composed – pieces are mostly for string trio and are traditional and surface-oriented, placing their emphasis on the interaction of separate voices. Set in contrast with collaborative, steady-state and hybrid pieces which are heuristic, synthetic and process-derived – deconstructed – to form a solid, gapless atmosphere of densely packed voices that listeners may or may not wish
There are many lessons that can be deemed useless, like the uncomprehending behavior in a story ascribed to a spiritual teacher of sorts who, when in need of cash, would catch Sparrows, use an aniline dye to tint the birds yellow and then sell them to the unsuspecting as Canaries. It’s not so much the spiritual component (are the beliefs that he taught any more or less authentic than the Canaries he sold, or do any beliefs objectively matter?) as it is an indicator that many of the lessons which constitute learned behavior prove either intrinsically useless or are made so by our own behavior.
Music is, to varying degrees, also the result of learned behavior and the music of The Useless Lesson is mostly derived from considering the differences in acting on those things that are learned and acting on more spontaneous impulses.