Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble.

“Eight Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble” LP/CD on Cuneiform Records OUT NOW!

HERE is the link to the video for “Dream Interpretation No.17” by film-maker Jesse Kreitzer.

Premier Guitar, Jan. 2023:
“The post-punk 6-string hero takes a deep dive into sonic surrealism with his new album, a loop-driven collection of riveting soundscapes.”

Pop Matters, Jan. 2023:
“His skills as a guitar player and his bottomless imagination have collided in a perfect encapsulation of the two traits, bringing forth a third strand that just can’t be imitated by anyone else, no matter how hard anyone should try.”

AllAboutJazz.com, Nov. 2022:
“Roger Clark Miller has a hell of a resume… “Dream Interpretation #16” opens the program with a mysterious low rumble, heavy on the reverb. Rock guitar riffs appear on top, then a locomotive rhythm drives a guitar solo (more than a bit reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix at his most experimental). “Dream Interpretation #20″ is awash with echo and backward loops, recalling Pink Floyd at their most psychedelic, before building to a massive multi-guitar climax… These dreams vary between three and seven minutes each, but they are information-rich. The dance between composition, performance and improvisation is unique, the end result of Miller’s long journey into these lands.”

The Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp, Sept.2022 (Bill Murphy):
“The sonic twists and turns on these eight tracks do indeed follow a dream-like logic, as Miller jumps from drones to abstraction to heavy riffs that could fit into raging rock songs. Most impressive is the guitarist’s tonal control – this music may emerge from the fog of sleep, but Miller’s deft handling is crystal clear.”

Audion 71 (UK), Oct.2022:
“Miller explores the many possibilities of using guitars as a virtual live ensemble, by way of using looping devices, cleverly achieving the sound of several performers. Roger’s playing and creativity follows a unique path that’s constantly surprising and fascinating throughout all the eight pieces, some of it jarring and edgy, some of it rotating loops with solos, some of it totally freeform and very experimental. So, it’s not only a surprising album, but remarkable really, right down to the quite bonkers final track.”

Alias (Italy), Sept.2022:
“kaleidoscope of sounds… adventurous, and extremely psychedelic.”

Live at the Lilypad, Cambridge, Ma. Oct.8, 2022. All Rights Reserved / © Tim Bugbee

Four different guitars are used: a slightly modified 6-string, two lap-steel guitars (on legs) that function like prepared pianos, and one lap-steel guitar (on legs) that is tuned to unison “E” and is used as a slide guitar, but also is often prepared with objects such as a fork, rocks, business cards, etc.

Pivotal to the work is his new looping device, the Boomerang III, which is capable of capturing and repeating up to three separate motifs, each which can play in reverse, or shift an octave up or down. Along with a new series of sound-altering devices/stomp-boxes, Miller is able to layer up multiple parts simultaneously with a wide variety of tones. This is a live performance: nothing is pre-recorded.

All the compositions use his “Dream Interpretation Technique”, where he transforms dreams from his dream journal into music. The unconscious mind is expressed by extended techniques and attitudes in the electric guitars. We all dream. 

Miller showing one of his Preparation Tools at the Lilypad, Oct.8. All Rights Reserved / © Tim Bugbee

Miller began this new work in late 2019. By early 2020, he had gathered all the equipment he needed (his Kickstarter campaign helped immensely), and by fall 2020 he had finalized eight compositions. A virtual concert video of this music aired on Oct.1, 2020, in conjunction with his art installation “Transmuting the Prosaic”, at the BMAC.  There are four Dream Interpretations, followed by a Q+A by the director of the BMAC.

Close-up of alligator clips (and a bolt) on one of the Rogue Lap-steel Guitars.

From 1983-1988, he made extensive use of loops in his “Maximum Electric Piano” work, and again in the early 1990’s with “Elemental Guitar”. However, this new loop-based music takes things considerably further down that road.

For those of you who are into this sort of thing: My Pedal Board:

Pedal-Board for “Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble”. Not shown: the Boomerang III.

Mixer: Four guitars in (Strat, three Rogue Lap-steels) with one out, into:

Boss Tuner.

Walrus AC51 amp modeler: Deluxe Reverb type setting. I have the guitar tone at the top of the chain and run the end-game stereo output into the house. This is better for me than having an amp, or two amps for stereo, because once multiple loops get going it’s like putting four guitars through one amp and the tone starts getting crushed. This way the tone is at the top, and each loop has its tone already set. The end stereo audio goes directly into the PA system. When my engineer friends from Guilford Sound helped me do a mock-up of a live show and heard my guitar through the PA, they thought it was, indeed, an amp.

TC Electronics RUSH: simple gain increase/volume boost. Used when specific guitar parts need a gain boost in the ensemble.

Source Audio Kingmaker Fuzz: While this would not be my number one choice in a regular rock setting, it works extremely well here. I use two settings: one is a normal fairly thick fuzz sound, and the other has ring-modulation in it.

Electro-Harmonix East River Drive: overdrive. I use this a lot (also in my rock band Trinary System). It makes single notes jump out or amplifies harmonics.

TC Electronics Sub n Up: Pitch shifter. I use it only for adding an octave down. This increases my sonic spectrum considerably. Sometimes it adds a bass guitar sound; at other times, a deep drum sound from the prepared lap-steels.

Source Audio Vertigo Tremolo: Performing live I use only one setting, what Andrew Willis (of Trinary System) calls “the UFO sound.” It’s the first device in stereo. (note also: this is the first tremolo pedal that I could really duplicate the “Trem II” sound from Burma).

TC Electronics Flashback: I use the reverse delay setting frequently, but there is also a nice chorus-type setting I use.

Source Audio Nemesis Delay: This device is wide stereo and has an endless amount of patches one can alter. Sometimes I use a simple slap-back, but more often the “Helix” setting, which includes a pitch-shifted octave above the fundamental which is then reversed. I use other patches as well, and they are perfect for atmospheric sounds

The stereo out from the Nemesis goes to two separate mixers, where those two outputs go to two places: one stereo pair directly into the 4-input stereo mixer, the other stereo pair goes to the Boomerang III Looper where it is looped. The looper is stereo, and runs out through a stereo volume pedal which also goes to the mixer. So the loops can fade out while the live guitar continues playing. All richly stereo.

The Boomerang III Looper: I also have the Side-car controller because it gives many more options on the fly. I use up to three loops, plus layering on top of any given loop. Each loop can be independently pitch-shifted up or down, reversed, turned on and off, and erased. The different loops can have their own length which solves the typical looper problem: you pile stuff up all at the same tempo and length until you can’t pile on any more so you stop. The flexibility with the Boomerang III is really amazing. My previous looper was the Electro-Harmonix 16 second digital delay from 1983. So, in this case at least, I know what I’m talking about.

One might note that I use a lot of SOURCE AUDIO pedals. The people at Source Audio have been very helpful in my Dream Interpretation work, especially John Beaudette. He was the one who suggested going stereo and that really opened things up. But besides being cool folks, their devices that I use are perfect for my work.

Photo by Wayne Viens.