Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spring 2018

F.U.K. (Fucked Up Kids, 1977)  

Release date:  March 21, 2018, on Hozac Records.
A nice review in Raven sings the Blues.
One can order from Hozac or purchase from Miller at shows…
“Here’s this chugging 2-chord riff coming at you, and then it bursts into a guitar solo that sounds like a wet robot frying in a vat of acid.”
It was Oct. 1977, and Miller had long decided not to join the Ann Arbor band Destroy All Monsters. But his band Red Ants had already bottomed out in four completely different incarnations. So he decided to put one last band together before he moved to Boston. He named it F.U.K. (Fucked Up Kids) in a quasi-parody of D.A.M. (Destroy All Monsters). In a quasi-parody of punk rock, most members of this one-off band could barely play their instruments. They played one show, on Halloween, at The Cube in Ann Arbor, MI. It was a very fun mess. The song Road Kill was performed extremely sloppily at that show, and Miller recorded this version with Sue Rynski in Dec. of that year. The B-side, I Got A Head, was one of 5 or 6 songs which he wrote as fast as possible whilst listening to the first Ramones album three times in a row in the summer 1977.

FUK

Singer Sue Rynski on F.U.K. cover

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Trinary System 

All overdubs are done for their first full-length album: only mixing remains. They will likely release their version of King Crimson’s 1974 classic “Red” as a pre-release freebie.
—–Spring shows:
June 8, Fri: The Root Cellar, Greenfield, MA
June 9, Sat: On the Ground, Townsend, VT
June 16, Sat: Accurate Records, Cambridge, MA

Tim Bugbee

At the Sinclair, Boston. Photo Tim Bugbee.

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Alloy Orchestra

—–Spring shows:
April 15: Beverly, MA
April 21: Ebertfest, Champaign, IL
May 4: AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD
May 6: Maryland Film Festival, Baltimore, MD
June 19: Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC

Alloy T-shirt

New Alloy Orchestra T-shirt!

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Mission of Burma

***  “Vs.” was recently listed as one of the 10 best post-punk albums to own in vinyl.

June ’80 at The Channel. Photo Richie Parsons.

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Other:

Miller will be performing solo (guitar/voice) for an Amnesty International benefit on Sun., Mar.25, at the Aeronaut Brewery, Somerville. Miller will perform songs he’s written starting in 1967 (2 years before Sproton layer) and ending in 2018. That should be “quite a trip.”

Miller will be sitting in on keyboards (as he has happily done many times before) with the venerable improv. group Club d’Elf at Lizard Lounge on Fri., Mar.31.

 

Anecdote

Ryles, a club I didn’t frequent much, is closing in Cambridge. Still, they promoted local musicians and gave non-rock bands a place to play. One more club gone.
Some years ago I was scouting for vocalists at Ryles for a film I was scoring, “You Don’t Know Dick”. It was around Halloween and costumes were requested, so I went as “death”: completely robed in black with a very white “The Scream” face mask. I sat in the back of the room, and as I knew no one there I just listened. People started to get very uneasy about my presence – death just sitting in the back of the room, saying nothing. Towards the end of the night a couple guys, after more than a few beers, came up and started provoking me. I had nothing to say really, but they got more and more worked up. Finally I realized there was a possibility of violence and that maybe it was time to act more “alive”, so I perked up and managed to defuse the rising adrenalin in my corner of the room. Close…
The other time I was at Ryles was a great show by Lookie-Lookie where Deb and I danced the whole night.

Deb Ipswich

Deb on Plum Island, Nov.2017

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Wintry 2017/18

Trinary System:

——————— ———– – Upcoming Gigs:

Sat., Jan.6: Brooklyn, NY.
El Cortez. Headlining with Munic Hoof opening.
Sun., Jan.7: 9Washington DC.
9:30 Club. Opening for Boat Burning 100 Guitar Orchestra.

The band will be mixing their first full-length at Kimchee Studios in February.

Hasslefest 2017. Photo Ben Stas.

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Alloy Orchestra:

The Fall touring season is over, and winter is usually spare. But the group has the following shows going into the new year:

Jan.25: Keene, NH.
The Black Pirate.
Mar.3: Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA.
Two shows: The Lost World and Page of Madness.
Mar.9 and 10: Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY.
Two shows: Strike! and The General.

L to R: Roger, Terry, Ken.

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F.U.K.:

“Road Kill” (with singer/lyricist Sue Rynski) and “I Got a Head”, both recorded in Ann Arbor, MI, in 1977, will be released as a 45rpm on Hozac Records. Miller played all the instruments (yes, it sounds like punk rock with Eno sitting in). This is definitely a curious artifact. Release date not yet set, but probably Spring 2018.
——–————————-————-—————-“I don’t need a rifle to be an American Hunter.
——–———–————-————-
—————-All I really need is my shiny front bumper!”

Road Kill/I Got a Head front cover on Hozac.

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The Davis Square Symphony:

The fine cut has been critiqued by a select few. Ideas are being compiled. Completion of the final cut will happen in Jan/Feb.

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Living:

The Bathroom Upgrade is finally Done. We have officially been potty trained. Now I can’t wait to get into second grade so I can make stencils of leaves with a paint-soaked toothbrush over a metal screen.

Trash Removal. It’s Gone.

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Minor Anecdote:

The mind-bending 2.5 minutes that changed my life on the Ed Sullivan Show (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”) nullified my positive feelings about piano as a 12-year old. Yet I took up French Horn entering Jr. High, and kept studying piano, and (of course) started guitar. Who knows why anyone does what they do… Once the Doors and Pink Floyd kicked in, keyboard was cool again. Not that the 9-year old pictured here had any idea what was going to happen in a few years…

Roger@Piano, age 9.

 

 

 

 


Fall 2017

Alloy Orchestra Fall Tours:

Sept.22 – Oct.6:
Hopewell, N.J.; New Haven, CT; Cedar Rapids, IA; Iowa City, IA; Lincoln, NB; Omaha, NB; Milwaukee, WI; Nashville, TN; Columbus, OH; Rochester, NY.
Oct.-Nov:
Forays to Washington, DC; Hamilton College, NY; Keene, NH; Silver Spring, MD; Baltimore, MD.

The band will mostly be playing their new score to A PAGE OF MADNESS, a 1925 Japanese silent which takes place entirely in an insane asylum. Half the time one sees things from the inmates point of view. Very psychedelic, and a perfect vehicle for Alloy’s more improvisatory work.

New Alloy Orchestra T-shirt!

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Trinary System Action:

Nov.10: Ralph’s, Worcester, MA
Nov.11: Once Ballroom, Somerville, MA. Hasslefest with Pere Ubu headlining.
In Sept., vocal and acoustic guitar overdubs started on their first full-length LP. Overdubs will continue into December.

Hasslefest Poster 2017

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As a Composer/Conceptual Artist:

The first pass of The Davis Square Symphony is nearly done. Miller not only scored but also shot and edited the entire film. This may account for the excessive time it is taking to complete the project. It’s almost there.
Miller is also revisiting his conceptual vinyl work, beginning with his 1984 record, POP Record/evolving. That record involved record surface noise ONLY, which wears away and is replaced by new surface noise. It was in two gallery shows which also featured Christian Marclay. Miller has come up with a number of new manipulations of the vinyl medium which he has begun preparing.

Gallery Show from 1987.

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Fun World Productions:

Miller and Andrew Willis (Trinary System bassist) produced an EP for the Washington DC multiple guitar band BOAT BURNING. The same duo also produced the first Trinary System record, AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS. They are available for production needs.
contact…

Fun World Productions, producing.

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On the home front:

Our bathroom is nearly finished! The charm of an outdoor shower wears off after a couple of mandatory months.

Almost ready to Use!


Summertime times 2017

“Other” Art:

Artist Joeseph Wardwell created a gigantic mural titled “Hello America” for the new wing at Mass MoCA, based on selections from Miller’s Mission of Burma song “Fame and Fortune.” In layers of smaller letters are quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Patti Smith, Burroughs, etc..

“Hello America” at MassMoCA. By Joeseph Wardwell.

 

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Alloy Orchestra Upcoming shows:

June 23 and 24: Wilco’s Solid Sound Music and Arts Festival at Mass MoCA
June 30: 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH
July 30: Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, Michigan.
Sept: Texas swing likely early on, then Midwest tour begins.

The ensemble’s new film for the fall is the silent Japanese Avant-masterpiece A PAGE OF MADNESS. Set entirely in an insane asylum, half the time one is viewing the world from the inmates’ point of view. This is a perfect vehicle for Alloy’s improvisational mayhem. Truly psychedelic. The BluRay with Alloy’s score is available at their on-line store.


Page of Madness with score by Alloy Orchestra. Flicker Alley.

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Trinary System:

Upcoming shows:

Wed., July 12: Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain. With the amazingly high-energy Fully Celebrated Orchestra.
This is Trinary System’s last show before they go into the studio to record their first full-length the end of July. Makin’ sure they are lubed up for the sessions.

It’s hard to explain how things move in a band that plays so rarely (the first release was recorded after a total of 6 gigs). But because the band plays so rarely, each gig is a landmark. As such, the show at Midway Cafe in J.P. on March 8 was where the band reached a new level of relaxed confidence, and this was obvious in the following shows. By the time Trinary System hit the Sinclair stage in April (where Burma played 5 years earlier) there was no concern at all – they just played because they knew what they were up to. Now it’s time for an album.

Noise Floor, May 2017, review of Apr.28 Sinclair show:
“Trinary System, a power trio led by Roger Miller, was on first with an excellent set of jams that fell somewhere between Marquee Moon and a more experimentally-minded deconstruction of Miller’s work in the venerable Boston art-punk unit Mission of Burma.”

Trinary System at the Sinclair, April 2017. Photo by Tim Bugbee.

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Guitar Lessons:

Tonereport: 9 Essential Post-punk Guitarists.
Mr. Miller is listed at number two.

Guitar Lessons continue, mostly via Skype. If interested, click here.

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As a Composer:

Miller has begun a Viola Sonata inspired by hearing the RAHA piano/viola duo perform his “In Natura” in April. As is his mode these days, he is utilizing natural phenomena for organizational purposes. Two photographs of lighting (thanks Tom Sholz!) and one of clouds he took in Vermont form the basic structural form. Audio peaks in recordings of a camp fire and a fountain tumbling into a pond form some of the basic rhythmic gestures of the piano pulses and viola melodies.

Miller’s Davis Square Symphony, which received an Awesome Foundation award earlier this year, is on-going and nearing completion.

Viola Sonata Part I (Lightning Music), first page.

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Anecdotes:

In the summer of 1975 I was sequestered in the Bay City area of Michigan, trying to make a living as performing musician (still working on that…). I played bass guitar in a quartet I did not start. We started out as a jazz-rock fusion band, performing covers and originals the guitarist wrote. During my 3-week stint in the band we morphed from that into a quite good Top-40 cover band. I quit shortly after we were offered a set of “stage costumes” to choose from, after which we’d make “really good money.”

The most interesting and terrifying moment in this band was as follows:
We played one venue almost every night, 3 sets. On one particular occasion, a biker club/gang from this part of Michigan hired out the venue as a memorial for one of their members who died in a crash the previous week. We were on-stage with 300 leather-clad bikers in the audience, definitely not the friendliest bunch. At one point, they “requested” we sing a song about death. We decided to do a blues, and it fell to me to do the singing. As the song got going, I made up some cliched lines about death: “no one wants to die”, that sort of thing. Almost immediately, the entire group of 300 leather-clad bikers was bawling in each others’ arms, sobbing uncontrollably. We were both terrified and amazed. We had to complete the song of course, and the bawling did not stop until it was over. That was quite possibly the strongest reaction I ever got to a song I made up on the spot.

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Epilogue:

Five Lady Slippers and Deb (Maidstone Park, VT).

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Spring-time in America…?

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Trinary System 

Upcoming shows:
March 28:  Pipeline – live radio broadcast on WMBR
March 30:  Once Somerville (w/Black Helicopter and Boston Typewriter Orchestra)
Apr.28:  The Sinclair, with Boss Hog
April 29:  Aurora, Providence, RI (w/Minibeast)
May 20:  On the Ground, Townsend, VT

2017 Reviews for AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS (Listen HERE and buy if so inclined!):

Mojo Magazine:
Their EP Amplify the Amplifiers opens with a snarling garage nod to the younger Kink’s influence on MoB’s razored-amp electric fizz (“He kinda helped me go crazy”).  

Delusions of Adequacy (UK):
The threesome’s promising self-released debut download/seven-inch combo EP, Amplify The Amplifiers, which appeared to not enough fanfare last year, extends upon Miller’s blistering psych-infused solo-traded “Big Steam” b/w “Dream Interpretation” 7” from 2012.

The band is planning to record their first full-length album in the late spring. Their newest song, “Hovering”, is based on two dreams from the same night. As Miller was waking up, he had a drum riff in his head that he kept perfecting for Trinary System. When he awoke, he wrote down this unusual drum beat. Later he wrote the main guitar riff around the drum beat and put together the lyrics from that night’s dreams. It is turning out to be one of the band’s more interesting songs.

Trinary System at Store 54. Photo: Margot Edwards.

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As a Composer

Sun., April 30:  Third Life Studio in Union Square, Somerville, MA.
The Elaine Rombola Ensemble will perform Miller’s composition In Natura (2011, for clarinet, viola, prepared piano and modified nature ambiences). Elaine Rombola prepared piano, who played on Miller’s Gilgamesh at Jordan Hall in 2016; Rane Moore clarinet, who helped with the extended techniques used on this piece; and Amelia Hollander Ames viola. Other compositions on the bill include a piece for toy piano and amplified viola as well as a Beethoven Cello Sonata adapted for viola.

“In Natura” continues Miller’s interest in concrete sounds, this time entirely from nature: wind, water, insects, storms. The 9’30” collage of natural ambiences is in 3 continuous movements and directs the entire composition. The clarinet and viola  parts are based on Miller’s bird-whistling improvisations, incorporating numerous extended techniques, and the sound of very slowed down crickets. The prepared piano serves as commentary.  As in “Vines for Music”, Miller has eliminated “concert pitch”, creating a score which mimics nature’s tuning: sounds co-mingled but do not form “chords” or have an over-arching tonal center.

Miller’s Davis Square Symphony was awarded a grant from The Awesome Foundation in March. Miller is close to completing this time-consuming work for film and orchestral score, with the aim of getting it into film festivals and shown as an art installation.


After performance of Snakes Dream Sky at New England Conservatory in 2010. Photo Bill T. Miller.

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Alloy Orchestra

Alloy Orchestra has prepared two new films for our next season
1.  A new version of the classic Dinosaur film, LOST WORLD.
2.  The 1927 Japanese masterpiece PAGE OF MADNESS. The film is set entirely in an insane asylum and is a perfect vehicle for Alloy Orchestra’s more improvisatory work. One of our very favorite silent films!

Upcoming Shows:
Lincoln Center, NYC.
Academy of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles.
Roger Ebert film Festival, Champagne, IL.
AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD
Maryland Film festival, Baltimore, MD.
Beverly, MA
Castro Theater, San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Premier of LOST WORLD and PAGE OF MADNESS.
Mass MOCA Wilco Festival, North Adams, MA

Alloy Orchestra setting up in Albuquerque.

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Guitar Lessons

I continue teaching guitar lessons, mostly through Skype. I can be contacted at the link above.

 

2002? Photo: rthenadey.

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Three quotes about my music that amused me:



1. The Noise (Boston). Nov.’95, regarding my Elemental Guitar CD:
“The album as a whole makes you feel like you’ve just been lectured to by someone who is a genius, but in a subject that you never thought was important.”

2. From an NPR piece on The Binary System, my piano/drum duo with Larry Dersch, in the late ’90’s:
“Roger writes complicated music. They learn it. Then they play it like it’s Louie Louie” – Russ Gershon, Either/Orchestra

3. I played one of my compositions for my teacher at CalArts in 1976. When it was over, he looked up at me and said:
“That shouldn’t have made sense.”

Maximum Electric Piano, Chicago 1987? Photo Russ Smith.

 

 

 

 

 


Winter 2016-2017. What’s up w/Miller?

SOUNDTRACKS 

Miller completed the documentary “500 Years”, his fourth film for Skylight.  It will premier at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan.24, 2017.  The music was produced by long-standing associate, Michael Bierylo.  This is the third film Miller has done with Skylight that has premiered at Sundance, and it is the third film that he has done with Skylight regarding the genocide in Guatemala in the early ’80’s (supported by the Reagan administration).  Click HERE for more information on this film.

During the genocide trial of Rios Montt.At the genocide trial of Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt.

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COMPOSER

Miller began his “Solar System Sonata” for piano and string quartet late summer 2016, and worked on it during Alloy’s relentless fall touring.  He will complete the score by the end of 2016.

sssonata-pg-2 “Solar System Sonata” for piano and string quartet, pg.2

Here is a recording of the first movement to Miller’s composition “Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream”, from the premier on Feb. 2016 in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory.  Miller played the guitar part with the Callithumpian Consort conducted by Stephen Drury.  Miller was pleasantly surprised to feel that even though the musicians were all reading music, it felt like he was in a band, just a different type.  The score blends his interest in Varese and Messiaen with his interest in rock music.
——–Clinton Conley: “(the musicians) were clearly diggin’ in!”

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TRINARY SYSTEM

The band is working on new songs (the epic “Press the Button” and the more pop/rock “When the Dust Settles”), aiming to get enough material for a full album in 2017.  Trinary System couldn’t play shows this fall due to Alloy Orchestra’s dense touring schedule, but will be back in action in 2017:
Feb.11:  Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA. With Audrey Harrer, harp and vocals with loops, electronics.
Mar.8:  Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA.  With Fully Celebrated Orchestra.


You can buy our 7″ 45 (with 5-song EP download card) at shows or on Bandcamp.

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ALLOY ORCHESTRA

Alloy’s fall touring was relentless, but even films they hadn’t played in a long time came off remarkably well.  Even they were surprised!  And now there is not a single gig until the Spring.  That’s kind of a relief…

flight-home-from-tellurideSomewhere out west flying home.

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MISSION OF BURMA

Mission of Burma contributed one of Miller’s unrecorded songs, “Panic is No Option”, to the “30 songs in 30 days: A playlist of Songs that Trump will Hate.
Miller was interviewed by The Guardian for an article about protest music in the age of Reagan and potentially the age of Trump (god help us…)

And the band made it in at #36 for POP MATTERS top-50 best post-punk albums ever.

Playing with the Obliterati Cards. Trying to make sense of “The Obliterati Cards.”  Clint and Bob just plain gave up!  Photo:  Kelly Davidson Savage

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AND IN CONCLUSION:

super-moon-2016“Super-Moon”, Nov.14, 2016, over our backyard.  Photo: Debra McLaughlin.

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Here are my three claims to fame:

1.  I played drums in Destroy All Monsters (with my brothers Laurence and Benjamin) in Ann Arbor spring/summer 1977 until they got a full-time drummer.  After Ron Ashton joined the band, Scott “Rock” Action came to see us rehearse.  He told the Monsters’ manager, DB Keeps, that they should keep the drummer because “he’s rock solid.”

2.  Alloy Orchestra was playing Buster Keaton’s great film “The General” at Washington University in St. Louis.  Because there was no stage, I was in the aisle by the wall.  The promoter’s daughter was at her very first movie (3 years old?), and her seat seat was at the end of the row.  When the film was over and we were taking our bows, I saw this little girl point at me (a few feet away) and heard her say “Is that Buster Keaton?”

3.  My son’s name is Chance, and he was born the night after one of John Cage’s Norton Poetry lectures at Harvard in 1989.  At the next lecture, 2 months later, we brought him backstage.  I was introduced to John Cage, by the gentleman who put on the event, as “The Father of Chance.”

mebillychance-by-wayneLilly, Billy, Chance and Me     Photo: Wayne Valdez.


Fall 2016

Alloy Orchestra:

Midwest Fall Tour starts in Detroit – first time playing there in quite a few years and the band is glad to be back.  The tour goes as far West as  Bismark, South Dakota (my first ever gig in S.D.)  then turns east and ends in Nashville, TN.  In between we hit Chicago, Milwaukee, Iowa City, Des Moines, St. Louis and other suitable urban centers.
After that tour there are many more gigs, from Gloucester to Providence to Boston to many upstate New York towns, then on to Atlanta and San Francisco and surrounding areas.  All Fall All Alloy Touring All The Time.

For more information about Alloy’s fall touring.

This summer Alloy scored their new film for the fall, VARIETE, and premiered it at the Telluride Film Festvial in early Sept.  The resulting standing ovation was a good sign.  Drama in a circus/trapeze setting.  Suitable for the band.

This summer the band also scored the crazily inventive Japanese film (silent of course, until Alloy gets their hands on it) A PAGE OF MADNESS.  Set entirely in an insane asylum, this film is right up Alloy’s alley: moody, emotive, dark, and completely insane.  This will be released on BluRay later this fall.

alloy-milwaukee

Alloy in action in Milwaukee at the Oriental Theater some years back.

As a Composer:

Miller is excited about, and working steadily on, his “Sonata for Piano and String Quartet”.  He is using this image of Frozen Oceans on Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) to structure Movement II, the classic “slow middle movement”, but in this case without a beat, any pulse, any melody, harmony, or concert pitch.
Movement I, structured less severely by a photo taken on Mars by one of the Mars Rovers, will generally have an on-again/off-again rhythmic thing going.  Movement III is based solely on intuition and feel, with the struggling forward-motion of Miller’s 1976 CalArts composition “24:24”.  Movement I and III have similarities to Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream which premiered at Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory on Feb. 2016.  Movement II has similarities in style to Vines for Music, which premiered at N.E.C.’s SICPP festival in June 2014 (and got a nice write-up in New Music Box Review).

For more information about Miller’s composing.

europas-ice-ocean

Ice Oceans of Europa, courtesy NASA.

Trinary System:

Due to Alloy Orchestra and Soundtrack work dominating the summer and fall, Trinary System won’t be playing much in the near future.   But the band continues to work on new material.  PRESS THE BUTTON is complex and pursues what in 1969 Miller called “Warp Riffs”, but now might bear some similarity to the later style called “Prog-Rock”, if you believe what certain individuals have to say on the topic.   WHEN THE DUST SETTLES is more on the pop/rock side with even a full-on chorus.  Top-40 here they come….

For more information about Trinary System.

once-photo-by-blowfish

Trinary System at ONCE BALLROOM.  Photo: Blowfish.

As a Soundtracker:

Over the summer, Miller composed 40+  cues for the feature-length documentary “500 Years”.  This is the second film he’s done with Skylight Pictures on the Genocide in Guatemala which began in 1982 (with the graces of Ronald Reagan).  Two films Miller scored with Skylight Pictures premiered at Sundance.  Mixing will happen in later October (after the first round of Alloy shows) with long-time producer/partner Michael Bierylo.

For more information about Miller’s Soundtrack work.

skylight-guatemala

Skylight in Action.  Proud to be associated with these folks.

Mission of Burma:

Generally, we’re not workin’ too hard.  But in Paste’s Top-50 Post Punk LPs, Vs. came in at #44.  Musta done something right at some point (as if these lists are “truth”).

burma-nyc-likely-1980

Some time in 1980. Miller ponders his next move, any move…  Clint and Jimmy remain unconcerned.  Photo via Clint.

And as a Normal Person:

our-living-room

Our living-room in Vermont when the weather is good.  (my foot always manages to find a way into these photos).