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Winter 2019/2020

 

Transmuting the Prosaic

Miller’s first art installation, “Transmuting the Prosaic”, opens on March 14, 2020, at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.  The work consists of two parts: his first film, “The Davis Square Symphony”, will run on a loop against the far wall of the room. On the left wall will be five of his Modified Vinyl pieces, some etched, some audio, some inked. In front of each will be a listening station to hear either a copy of the record that is on the wall, or audio relating to it. One of the Modified Vinyl records on the wall consists of all the lyrics to “Signals Calls and Marches” (in alphabetical order) inked ONTO a record. At the listening station, there will be a 7″ 45 with those same words isolated from the record and sequenced in quick succession, to be listened to while one reads them on the wall. It’s a real mind-bend… 

  “Four Bars of a Bach Fugue” on the back of the original “POP Record/evolving.” (1985)

Related Concerts

All these shows have been cancelled due to Coronavirus. They will be re-scheduled later in the year:
March 26: I.C.A. Boston;    
March 28: MassMoCA, North Adams, MA;     
April 3: Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.
April 4: Rhizome, Washington, DC. (Guitar only).  
The concerts incorporate two directions in Miller’s current musical work.
1. Dream-State Guitar:
This is an updated version of his Elemental Guitar work from the mid-1990’s. With a customized Stratocaster 6-string, three altered/prepared lap-steel guitars, a new looping device (the Boomerang III) and many sound-altering devices, this is his take on a “One-Person Guitar Chamber Ensemble”. All the music will be structured by dreams, utilizing his “Dream Interpretation” technique. The unconscious mind is expressed by extended techniques and attitudes in the electric guitars.
2. New Music for String Quartet (with The Ludovico Ensemble):
The Ludovico Ensemble played Miller’s Tufts University concert fall 2018 excellently. The culmination of this concert will be “Music for String Quartet and Two Turn-tables”, where a pre-recorded 12″ record plays continuously to define the composition. This record utilizes primarily record noise (referencing his “POP Record/evolving” Modified Vinyl piece), sometimes raw, sometimes organized into beats and structures.

New England Conservatory in 2010. Miller’s first chamber music concert since CalArts in 1976. Photo: Bill T. Miller

Altered “Lap-Steel” Guitar, i.e., a “portable prepared piano”.
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SURREALIST GAMES

“Surrealist Games Night” keeps happening, and the games are always tremendous fun. First one this year will be Valentine’s Day, 2020 at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT (2019 Valentine’s Day there was a total blast). Surrealism is the perfect ice-breaker. 

Miller explaining games at Real Art Ways Feb.14, 2019. Photo: Debra McLaughlin.
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Trinary System

Trinary System went into hibernation in October due to Alloy Orchestra’s dense fall touring season. But starting January, the band will begin working on new material and setting up shows for the late spring. They are gearing up to record their second album in summer/early fall 2020.
Reviews of “Lights in the Center of Your Head”:
“Trinary System continues the elegant, abstract, agitated firestorm tradition of Miller’s Burma songs, with an unmistakable swagger… ‘Infinity in a Box’ is a Rubik’s Cube of a song, full of sharp, shiny, colorful edges that align in abrupt, unexpected ways and then, just as suddenly, go out of joint…  As Miller sings in the opening song, “I love chaos cos you get to see what new forms show up when the dust settles.” Lights in the Center of Your Head is a surprising amount of fun, intricate when it needs to be, but solidly anchored in rock-hard foundations of rock, funk and blues.” – Dusted Magazine, Aug. 2019
“If Burma at its best had the jostling, bounded chaos of a really physical basketball game, Trinary System is a bit more like pro soccer.” – Magnet Magazine, Sept. 2019

 

Cover for 2019’s “Lights in the Center of Your Head”. Image: Wayne Viens. Design: Joanne Kaliontzis.

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And then there’s living life:

It has been an incredibly dense year for both Deb and I, but we seem to be blasting out of the woods and hoping for a more relaxed 2020. So much is going on it’s almost too much, but if one is hoping to chart new directions it doesn’t happen on its own…

Deb at our air b’n’b in Cerrillos, New Mexico in 2018, where I hatched the idea for “Music for String Quartet and Two Turn-tables”.

 

 


The Fall is Falling!

Alloy Orchestra:

Fall Time is Tour Time for Alloy Orchestra. Here is our fall schedule:

Sept. 21 Epsilon Spires, Brattleboro, VT. “Man with a Movie Camera”.
Sept. 23 Coolidge Corner theater, Brookline, MA. “Underworld”.
Sept. 27 and 28: Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. “The General” and “Metropolis”.

Midwest Tour (“Gallery of Monsters”; “Speedy”; “Metropolis”; “Variete”‘ “The General”):
Oct.17 – Oct.31: Bloomington, IN; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, KS; Lawrence, KS; Lincoln, NB; Omaha, NB; Iowa City, IA; Nashville, TN; Columbus, OH; Cleveland, OH.

Nov.1: Rochester, NY. “Man with a Movie Camera”.
Nov. 8 – 9: Cornell University, Ithaca NY. “Metropolis” and “Gallery of Monsters”.
Nov.16-17. AFI Silver, Silver Spring, MD. “”Metropolis”, “Variete” and “Gallery of Monsters”.
Nov.23: Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh, PA. “Gallery of Monsters”.

Our new score for 2019, for the film “Gallery of Monsters”, was commissioned by Indiana University Cinema and the Indiana University Office of the Bicentennial. The film is set in a circus, which suits the group just fine! It will premier at Indiana University in Bloomington on October 17. The Blu Ray with our score will be released Spring 2020 by Flicker Alley.

Another upcoming release is Rudolph Valentino’s “The Black Eagle”, on Kino Lorber/Lobster Films. with our score from many years ago. This has now been released in DVD and Blu-Ray and the band will have it with us for sale at shows! 

Display Case Indiana University

Alloy Orchestra Display Case at Indiana University.

 

Trinary System:

Dusted Magazine Review:
“Trinary System continues in the elegant, abstract, agitated firestorm tradition of Miller’s Burma’s songs, with an unmistakable swagger.”

Magnet Review:
ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC: “If Mission of Burma at its best had the jostling, bounded chaos of a really physical basketball game, Trinary System is a bit more like pro soccer.”

The band is working on new material for the next album. They are on a bit of a hiatus due to Alloy’s fall touring schedule, but will be playing in January and Spring 2020. They are hoping to record the next album late spring/early summer 2020.

The 2019 LP “Lights in the Center of Your Head” available here:
Vinyl from Feeding Tube!
Digital from our Bandcamp!

 

Photo Ben Stas

Hey, Where’s Andrew? Photo by Ben Stas.

Transmuting the Prosaic Updates:

The Modified Vinyl piece “Audio/Visual/Audio” (12″ ), where Miller draws with sound on a record, is currently being test-cut by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering (thanks Bob!).  The audio record for “Signals Calls and Marches lyric edits b/w Four Bars of a Bach Fugue” (7″ ) is shortly going off for pressing. The etching into vinyl for both the “Signals Calls and Marches Lyrics” and “Tone Arm” (thanks Joanne Kaliontzis!) will be sent off shortly (12″ ). The audio mixing for the film Davis Square Symphony  is due in early December (thanks Michael Bierylo!).

The new looper, the Boomerang III, is here and is amazing. Getting ready for essential Elemental Guitar/Dream-state guitar composing in November/December.

“Music for String Quartet and Two Turn-tables” is under way: deducing record noise and other audio for the primary 12″ record that structures the composition. A general map of the String parts has been created. Analysis for use of the turn-table live (thanks Mr. Rourke!) has also begun. This will be intense.

A_V_A early sketch

Early sketch for Audio/Visual/Audio.

B.Mez:

“B.Mez.” is an improvisation group grown out of the more formal “Birdsongs of the Mesozoic”. Miller has kept up his association with them (Michael Bierylo, Rick Scott and Ken Field), and they had a great improv. recording session at the very comfortable HearStudios in Maine last May. A CD release is likely from the very spontaneous material. And on Nov.21 Miller will be sitting in w/them (they always have one “roving member”) at the Lizard Lounge. Wasn’t Roger just there improvising with Club d’Elf?

B.Mez. Frott

Origami Haiku frottage during the B.Mez. sessions. (incomplete)

Anecdote:

It’s been a super dense summer of work for both Deb and I, but to relax we like hitting art museums that have excellent grounds for walking, like the Clark and the Decordova (where my written description of Joe Wardwell’s piece “Change will do you Good” was on a plaque next to said painting). Relaxing as well as idea generating.

Eye Roger. Photo Debra McLaughlin

Clark Art Museum. Roger looking through a free poster from the Venetian Bicentennial (from Luanda). Photo: Debra McLaughlin.


Summer 2019 (hoping not extremely hot)

Trinary System

Sun., July 14, at Great Scott opening for Messthetics.
Sat., Sept.14, at Basilica Soundscape Festival, Hudson NY. Trinary System on at 3pm.

Trinary System’s first full album, “LIGHTS IN THE CENTER OF YOUR HEAD”, is out now!

Vinyl from Feeding Tube!
Digital from our Bandcamp!
And HERE is the video for the lead-off track, “When the Dust Settles”.

LP Cover suitable for head replacement. Photo: Andrew Willis

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Alloy Orchestra

Upcoming shows:

Sat., July 20 Brooklyn NY. Prospect Park Bandstand, Free!
The film is VARIETE, a dark circus silent.
Sun., Aug.4: Traverse City Film Festival.
Sat., Sept.21: Epsilon Spires, Brattleboro, VT
Mon., Sept.23: Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA

 

In July we are recording our score to “The Black Eagle”, starring Rudolph Valentino, for
Blu-Ray/DVD release on KINO-Lorber Fall 2019.

Valentino in his Russian garb in The Black Eagle.

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Transmuting the Prosaic Updates

First, thanks to everyone who contributed to my Kickstarter for this in March! It was quite successful, and that’s why I am able to do the following:

Dream-State Guitar:
I’ve acquired some new devices for my Dream-State Guitar setup, and now am the proud owner of three (yes, three) Lap-Steel Guitars on stands for preparations and alterations. Expanding the sonic palette.

Modified Vinyl:
Focus has been applied to creating these vinyl/record objects in a clear and cost-effective manner. So far, so good.
I’m holding off on the composition “Music for String Quartet and Two Turn-tables” for now, concentrating instead on other details. Once I get into this one, all else will become invisible to me.

The Davis Square Symphony:
All the instruments have been recorded, so now all I need is a week to place the audio and mix it with Michael Bierylo. That week hasn’t shown up yet, but it will over the summer.

Prepared Lap-Steel Guitar (that is on 3 legs).

——–

Surrealist Games

Great fun at Askew Providence on April Fool’s Day. As usual, people who didn’t consider themselves artists or writers came up with great images and words. Surrealism leads the way… Hope to do more of these next year!

Askew Providence Surrealist Games, April 1.                       Photo: Robin Bowman.

 


Springtime in Vermont (and all across the northern hemisphere).

My Kickstarter Ends on Mar.28! 

My first kick-starter is concluded and it has definitely been successful. It reached beyond the initial goal, to stretch-goals. And this is where it really affects my life in a positive manner. I am so grateful to everyone who donated. I had no idea if it was going to work when I set it up. It is one helluvalot of work, I must say! (and full of anxiety and over-indulgent stress on my part…) But it looks like it was worth it! Thanks again to everyone who contributed! The result will give me a pool of resources to really make my upcoming work happen.

And HERE is the link where I example my “altered lap-steel guitar”, which is part of “Transmuting the Prosaic”. Which is what the Kickstarter Campaign is all about…

Miller at Mass MoCA. Photo: Debra McLaughlin.

 

TRINARY SYSTEM

June 1: Release of our first full-length album on Feeding Tube Records: LIGHTS IN THE CENTER OF YOUR HEAD! Chock full of our unique brand of psychedelic 3-Piece Pre-Post-Rock!

Upcoming Shows:
April 26: Accurate Records, Somerville, MA, with Mr. Airplane Man!
April 27: The Wheelhouse, Greenfield, MA with Tin Vulva!
June 7: Thing in Spring Festival, Petersborough, NH
June 8: Once Lounge, Somerville, MA. Record Release Show! with
June 14: Sun Tiki, Portland, ME with
June 15: 13th Floor Lounge, Easthampton, MA with Bunnies and Landowner!

Lights in the Center of Your Head – Due out June 1, 2019!

 

ALLOY ORCHESTRA

The group is composing a new score to the silent film GALLERY OF MONSTERS, set in the world of the circus. Suits the band just fine, thank-you!

Upcoming Shows:
April 11: Roger Ebert Film Festival, Champaign, IL
May 2: Lincoln Center, NYC
May 3: Maryland Film Festival, Baltimore, MD
May 4: National Gallery, Washington D.C.  Free!

Alloy in action in Milwaukee.

 

SURREALIST GAMES!

April 1: Askew Providence. 150 Chestnut St., Providence, R.I. Part of the Designxri Festival. Guaranteed creative mayhem involving every person who shows up. Damn reality, full steam ahead!

Miller pointing out something surreal during Surrealist Games at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, on Valentine’s Day, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 


My Art Installation KICKSTARTER is up!

My first Kickstarter Campaign, for my first art installation at the Brattleboro Art Museum, “Transmuting the Prosaic”,  is nearing completion! It’s going well, but if it really goes, it will have a profound effect upon my future work. I have an agent working to get this installation to other art museums/venues.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559618439/transmuting-the-prosaic-film-conceptual-art-and-mu?ref=ksr_email_creator_launch

There are two elements to the installation: 

1. My film Davis Square Symphony;
2. Five of my “Modified Vinyl” conceptual records.

Then I will be artist in residence for three nights:

1. Artist talk;
2. new music for solo electric guitar;
3. music for string quartet (and turntables!).

To make sure this happens, this is my first Kickstarter campaign. There is a video of me explaining what the installation is, and why I’m starting the Kickstarter. And of course, a slew of interesting “Rewards” for your contribution.

Please share this if you can! I am counting on this Kickstarter succeeding to create the artwork.

And here is a link to a very short video where I example how I have altered a lap-steel guitar to become a portable prepared piano:

Thanks for reading.
Roger.

P.Island Feb24:17 copy 2                            Two years ago, Plum Island, MA. Photo: Debra McLaughlin.


Winter 2018/2019

 

Trinary System:

Mixing is finally getting completed! Excited!
LP due out by June 2019 on Feeding Tube Records! Excited!
Cover art will be by Wayne Valdez. Excited!

Trinary System at Sonelab Studios, Meat for Tea, 2015. Photo: Austin Rutledge.

 

Alloy Orchestra winter gigs: 

Feb.1: World Financial Center, NYC. Underworld.
Feb.22: Topeka, KS. Silent Film Festival. Metropolis.
Feb.28: Hartford, CT. Phantom of the Opera
Mar.3: Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA. Metropolis.
Mar. 19: New Jersey. Speedy.

Here’s an interesting interview w/Mr. Miller which starts with Mission of Burma then slants heavily to Alloy Orchestra.

      Cheloveks kino-apparatom (1929) aka The Man With a Movie Camera Dziga Vertov

 

Kickstarter:

Miller’s first Kickstarter campaign is now up and running! It will be for his spring 2020 art installation at the Brattleboro Art Museum. The funds will be used for the following purposes:
1. To complete the film the Davis Square Symphony;
2. To create five different “Modified Vinyl” pieces to be hung on the wall and acquire five turntables w/headphones to be positioned in front of the pieces on the wall, to play them on;
The next two are for when he is artist in residence there:
3. To assist in acquiring gear for his updated Elemental Guitar work, which will feature two or three inexpensive lap steel guitars fixed together to become a sort of portable prepared piano. Most of this music will be created using his Dream Interpretation technique;
4. To create 2 records and purchase 2 Direct-Drive turntables for his composition “Music for String Quartet and 2 Turntables”, where the string quartet will interact with record noise and recordings of itself. Miller will operate the turn-tables in the performance.

Miller’s agent is working to get this installation traveling to other museums.

Initial Etching of Bach Fugue #16.

 

As a Composer:

Three compositions premiered at Tufts University on September 28, and were performed excellently by the Ludovico Ensemble. Here is Miller’s composition “Rocks Music for Solo Cello”. Small rocks thrown against a garage door were analyzed for the first section, while a rock in his backyard in Vermont was used to structure the main body. Of course there is a pun on the word “rocks” – this was written for cellist Benjamin Schwartz who is as big a fan of Mission of Burma and Minutemen as he is of Iannis Xenakis or John Cage.

Leo Eguchi, Cello (Ludovico Ensemble), at Distler Performance Hall at Tufts University

 

Surrealist Games:

Feb.14: Valentines’ Day. Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT.
It always brings me great joy to see groups of people, many who do not consider themselves artists or poets, create new work. With Surrealism in charge, anything is possible. It’s a great ice-breaker to boot, hence a Surrealist Valentine’s Day in Hartford.

Miller’s surrealist frottage drawing used for the cover of the Readercon 16 Booklet.

 

Anecdote:

My father, Robert Rush Miller, studied “fish that live in the desert” (he was an icthyologist/paleo-icthyologist), so a good chunk of my childhood summers were spent in that environment, wonderfully in the middle of nowhere (can you tell me where Jones Valley, Nevada is?). By 1969, our (my brothers Laurence and Benjamin and I) interest in creating music with guitars got the better of things. Here I am trying to find a new riff by a dried up wash with the old Silvertone acoustic.

Photo by Robert Rush Miller.


Fall 2018

As a Composer:

Thurs. Sept.27, 8pm, at Tufts University. Free!

This is Miller’s first concert entirely focused on his chamber work.
——–Three premiers:
Solar System Sonata (for piano and string quartet);
Three Skies (for viola and piano);
Rocks Music (for solo cello).
——–Plus:
Snakes Dream Sky (viola, piano, percussion, altered sounds) and
In Natura (for clarinet, violin, prepared piano, modified nature ambiences).


 

Alloy Orchestra:  

September 30:
Hamilton College F.I.L.M. program, Clinton NY. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Russian avant-garde); THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton)
October 8:
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA.  COEUR FIDELE (Dark French romance)
Oct.16 – Oct.30:
Midwest tour. (Columbus, OH; Chicago; Milwaukee; Omaha; Lincoln, NB; Iowa City; Webster Groves, MO; Nashville; Tuscaloosa, AL.)
Dec.1:
San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The Castro Theater.

Alloy Orchestra smites Again!         L to R: Roger, Terry, Ken. Drawing by R.Miller

 

Trinary System: 

The band was derailed in mixing the new album over the summer, but is planning to complete mixing before the end of 2018.

Trinary System playing “See You” at Thunder Road on Aug.17. Video by Will Regano.


——–A 

A Night of Surrealist Games:

Thurs., Nov.15, 2018. 118 Elliot in Brattleboro, VT.
Miller is jumping back on the surrealist bandwagon, looking forward to opening minds of the masses.
Tickets and info HERE.

Previous Exquisite Corpse Result

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As an Experimental Film-Maker: 

The Davis Square Symphony score is being recorded instrument by instrument. Hoping to have it completed by the end of Dec. So far ‘cello, stand-up bass, french horn, trumpet, clarinet and flute. The film will be part of an installation at the Brattleboro Art Museum in spring 2020 along with five of Miller’s modified vinyl pieces, and very likely at film festivals.

Roger at deCordova Museum.  (D.McLaughlin)

———–

Anecdote:

My sister Francie, like many in my family, was a zoologist. She studied primates before she taught biology at UNO. In 1966 or ’67 she did a neo-Jane Goodall thing, spending nine months in Rio Muni (now called Equatorial Guinea) in Africa, studying a troop of monkeys in the jungle. Just her and an African guide with a machete most of the time. When she came home, she brought back 4 monkeys! A chicken-wire fence was installed in the back yard of our Ann Arbor home, and the monkeys (Katie, Kobo, Ka’a, and Chitfung) moved in. She would sometimes take them out and let them play in the yard and with us kids – but they always came back because they had bonded with her. She was a pretty amazing sister, and is still very much missed.

                                                                                Francie and 3 of 4 monkeys.


And:

Here’s Deb on our summer trip to the Four Corners region of the US. The place is stunning – you can see deep time in the rocks.

Deb in Bryce Canyon, Utah.