Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews - March 30, 2014



Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews

Cow.Cow.Cow.Cacao.Cacao.Cow.Cacao.Caw.Caw.Caca.Caucous.Caucous.Cuss.Caucous.Cussed. Caucoused.Cussed.Custard.Cussed.Custard.Must.Must.Must.Mustered.Mustard.Mustard… Mustard.

The past four or so months I have experienced something new to me in the music world; writer’s block, or a lack of newness and inspiration, actually. I have suffered this before when trying to write prose or poetry in the English language, but I’ve somehow always had a constant source of musical inspiration. Up until recently. During this slump, I didn’t feel like practicing, composing, or having intelligent thoughts and conversation about music. Maybe the break was much needed, I don’t know.

Either way, when Gus Carns reintroduced me to Ligeti’s music a few weeks ago with “Lux Aeterna,” I was invigorated. Prior to this, I had been thinking about how our perspective colors our opinion of “things,” and how every being has their own unique way of viewing the world, and in particular, art. The Earth’s rotation is perhaps an overused example, but applicable nonetheless; to humans it is impossible to perceive this phenomenon with our immediate senses because we exist on it and are small in comparison. I also realized my attention span lessened the more I engaged myself in the ever-increasing electronic, upbeat, urban world of social media. Instant access to information had actually changed the way I “consumed” art, insofar as I now seemed more interested in sampling a bit of everything for short periods of time, rather than really pursuing an artist, song, album, or concept to the fruition it deserved.


Thus, to push myself in the opposite direction, I decided to pursue a more patient approach with my compositions for this Racer Sessions, focusing on gradual changes and drawing from Ligeti’s micropolyphonic ideas and Escher’s graphic metamorphoses as aural and visual fuel for my fire. Joining me are Ray Larsen on trumpet and Greg Sinibaldi on tenor saxophone, I’ll be playing alto. When the minimalist composers wanted to make a piece of grand-scale that changes gradually, I noticed they often made use of large ensembles, string instruments, electronics, or reverb to make it easier to achieve a pad or trance-like sound. We will be playing in a trio setting with none of the above resources at hand. In fact, our instrumentation will be three wind instruments, which creates another potential “problem”: How does one deal with wind instruments and breathing when trying to create a pad-like atmosphere that undergoes gradual change over the course of several minutes? In this session and my composition I intend to address this problem.