Tag Archives: Music

Let’s Spend the River Together

the writing spree begins now; in  Johor Bahru, Malaysia at 2AM... What a delight it is when unplanned events suddenly enrich our lives. A small example: I wanted to research the possibilities of short story/gaming mashups. This search led me to the work of Marc Laidlaw.  His words and ideas helped shape the legendary Half-Life.  His blog post about writing for games  is a burning  Panthunian crystal, set high on a hill; guidance  for the  hooded, tired traveler that was my question. However, what was delightful is this: I have been researching hands, especially all that is profundis , as well as writing about photography. Mr. Laidlaw had once been approached about doing a “cover version” of The Viewfinder by Raymond Carver.  Hats off to  Larry McCaffery for that idea. Fingers and a camera figure prominently in Carver’s story! My  “cover” of The Viewfinder is now in its second draft and will be in the JB book. I will do my best, but it will never be as good as this story about a musical cover: http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-greatest-music-of-all-time/   PS: Just discovered this, about the use of photography in The Viewfinder:  https://www.scribd.com/document/263990334/Raymond-Carver-in-the-Viewfinder   PSS Here is the latest draft of my cover of The Viewfinder.           Weaselspittism

I HEART STONEHENGE: Something Like an Open Letter to Elvis Costello

Elvis Sunset i. Sent a telegram to Rolling Stone magazine in New York City. Elvis photos. Please advise. 1978, April. Elvis at Royal Oak. Detroit. The Attractions. B 'til open the late show doors. Smell of paint on animal leather. First time, Faster than Normal. 'Good night', spat out. Stormed off. ii. The hotel room window back cover. Accidents will happen. Hasselblad stand-up in my room. iii. a. Rochester New York, Imperial Bedroom. Talk Talk. b. Fuji Rock,with only Steve... at the piano above the sea. iv. Roppongi hotel room, the Residents tour. A yakitoriya, Snakefinger eloquent about Pete. v. Back home in Toledo, my mom played Burt Bacharach records, especially on weekends. vi. Singapore: A Good Year for the Roses... Days.

Silent State logo tests

Silent State is the name of a new musical project by Amith Narayan, Wilson Goh, Justin Bannister and Siva Saravanan. The following are simple tests made with MS Paint. At some point I hope I can invest the time to learn Pshop or the equivalent, but for now the following do the job as starting points for discussion. The last one is, perhaps, the most exciting. It also requires a delicate sensibility and the experience to combine a handwritten word with an authoritarian block font. Amith had suggested that green or grey could be used. Those choices could work, but with the following I was, obviously, just working with the idea of negative space... as well as a limited selection of fonts and the bare bones positioning capabilities of MS Paint. Re: the music. It is a treat.  For those of you who don't know, Justin is a keyboard genius from the great state of Michigan, Siva has done outstanding work as a percussionist and composer of award-winning movie soundtracks, Wilson is an award-winning choral singer and Amith's band The Unseen Guest continues to get more fans and praise for their two albums. And then there is 3how... almost silent state sil state silent state 2 lines silent state almost nice silent silent state close silent state red and blackuntitledstate01 (1)

Orange Song Blues (inspired by a painting by Picasso)

the first blog post of this series is here. I have been involved with bands, musicians and music production all my life. My last "proper" project was  co-producing The Riverwalk Session by 3how. So...Picasso.  Music... I am working on a piece of interactive fiction that combines my original story ideas with factual information about a painting Picasso painted in 1921.Here is a great description of interactive fiction, as well as the Interactive Fiction Competition which I am determined to enter. At the moment, I am focusing on music/a song which would be heard beneath the end credits. I would prefer to create something new, working with musicians, vocalists and other people. I am now in Singapore/Bali. The music should be finished in the next three weeks. I have started work on lyrics and can suggest types of music, instrumentation, etc. that would reflect well on the story and the painting itself. But, although I am fortunate to have talented friends here, there is probably not enough time to create something new. Which means using existing music. The pluses to using are existing music are:
  1. It is completed and I know exactly what I am getting.
  2. No schedules to co-ordinate, no studios to book.
  3. No possible personality clashes.
  4. The legal side of things is simpler.
  5. The synergy of someone who has a "new" following/fan base.
The minuses of using existing music are;
  1. Difficult or impossible to use lyrics created to specifically reference the story.
  2. There is no creative process.
  3. Solitary, brief-lived enjoyment
I should also mention that that there is no budget for this project. Later, when it is finished, it will become  a game for sale as well as an ebook. There are other possibilities as well. I don't like asking people to do things "for the publicity". I would pay people if I could. But the best is working with people who are excited and focused, whether paid or not.  

Yangon Notes (4 of 9)

Rizal Abdulhadi at Casa Luna, Ubud February 26, 2016

Rizal Abdullhadi and Andro Yopi...original songs, original instruments and classic good times...
original bamboo instruments

Rizal and Risendriya at Casa Luna, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

bassist IMG_7379 Rizal looking down strumming IMG_7374Rizal lights in glasses IMG_7395 More Balinese musicians here. Rizal's homepage. Rizal frontal serious darkIMG_7394Rizal bassist diagonal facesIMG_7399Riza audience man bassis black and whiteIMG_7401Rizal and bassist audience framing IMG_7417Rizal and bassist singing flash IMG_7410Rizal and bassist w flash IMG_7409 ... and yep, I was lucky to read on stage and be accompanied by Rizal!

Contemporary Music made in, or influenced by, Bali


A book called Bali Wave Ghost.

I have selected the following pieces of music/videos with the hope of starting something. What is it I want to start? Not sure exactly, yet, but some type of promotional collective. The goal is simple: I would like to promote music made in, or influenced by, Bali and my book, Bali Wave Ghost.


Hopefully things will be positive and expand and other creatives and businesses can join as well. For now, though I would like to simply share the music. I post the following links with a great deal of respect and have contacted, or will contact, all musicians... Hopefully there will be additions, changes and growth…

Terima kaseh


Stephen Black

Please let me know about the musicians I have missed...

Rizal Abdulhadi at TEDx with an instrument of his own making.

Photos of Rizal performing at Casa Luna.

Ryan Teague is a UK-based musician and composer who has studied Javanese gamelan in Bali and Yogyakarta.

Cellomano/Algimiro Cesarino A Venezuelan who has played and recorded in Bali. I had the privilege of having Algimiro spontaneously performing while I read from Bali Wave Ghost. Here is his Soundcloud page. Here is a video of the last part of our completely improvised performance.

Gilles Saïssi is someone I've seen perform several times; he is not easily categorized. Here is a sample with video. Gilles' musical pages are The Isaïs Metaphysical Project and Persahabatan Project.

Miyoshi Masato!

Bali Wave Ghost debut public reading with Algimiro Cesarino

Reader and cellist

The first public reading of Bali Wave Ghost took place in Ubud, Bali Indonesia at an open mike session at Casa Luna. Cellist Algimiro Cesarino played as Stephen Black read a passage about a man wearing the head of a goldfish as he drove a luggage cart an airport.

Wow! Open Mike sessions are extremely unpredictable in terms of quality, but last night at Casa Luna the musicianship, songwriting skills, vocal expertise AND the sound system were MOST IMPRESSIVE! There were the musical sounds of an African thumb piano, melodies from Eastern Europe (I can only compare it to klezmer), healing songs, love songs and audience participation. When we walked in a cellist was on stage and he was superb. Once he finished and was seated, I asked if he was interested in a collaboration. He was, and asked me what kind of atmosphere would support my text. I said that I would read a funny story told by a man who was about to explode with rage. The story involved a baggage handler at an airport who drove a luggage cart while wearing a giant goldfish mask. Leeli was up after us and she said she enjoyed the story and reminded me that Ozzies say "prawns" and Americans say "shrimp".
a cellist nd an author onstage

a collaboration: AC on cello, SB reading

Here is a video of Algimiro at a place called Betel Nut...

Unlocking With Ears: John Zorn

John has a zillion styles...Google him. Little Bittern with Marc Ribot John Zorn with Book of Angels

Checkpoint, by The Unseen Guest: notes about their second album

Well... if you know about 3how, then you know about me and Amith and the various projects we've worked on, including live concerts, theatre, musicals and The Riverwalk Session. But, before 3how, Amith was part of the  team that recorded two albums under the name of The Unseen Guest. I was fortunate to be around at the time the CDs were being made and had a hand in the layout of the artwork. The second album features photos I took in Myanmar, including the cover. Here is an excellent interview, with Amith and Declan, The Unseen Guest. The following text is something I wrote for Schott ,the record company that released the two Unseen Guest albums.. It is a tad bit commercial, but I hope its sincerity can be felt. The Unseen Guest really did produce some very very very good music. Google them. On Youtube you will see videos produced by fans, which says it all. Checkpoint, like the first album of The Unseen Guest, beautifully weaves two influences into a seamless whole. The instrumentation combines bluesy melodies (check out the harmonica work of Curtis King on Miracle Mile) with elements from pop, folk, rock and free jazz. To describe the album as a combination of the best of eastern and western musical styles would not be an exaggeration. The album closes with an excellent rendition of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows, which is familiar yet new, with a beautiful string arrangement. It is only on a second listening that the listener realizes that some of the album's sounds are distinctively Indian - percussion instruments like the dholaks on Ancient Greek, and the gan-jra on the Whitest Lie. The tablas pop nicely, the sax is rich and one can feel the dusty roads of India in Declan's voice. The listener receives a continual variety of pleasant surprises through-out! "Imagine a jailhouse where you're always free..." At times world weary, at times full of joy, Checkpoint is a traveller's diary, full of dualities and memories recorded on the spur of the moment. Not the cliches of East and West, but the stuff of novels and good movies: wanderlust versus security, love versus cynicism; the wildness of Saturday night and the regrets of Sunday morning. Checkpoint is an apt title for the Unseen Guest's second album. With it, Declan and Amith acknowledge the successful musical territory of their first album - but  keep moving forward. A solid collection of eleven songs, Checkpoint combines the best of two (or more) worlds. The Unseen Guest have produced yet another beautiful dusty snapshot of life on the road, one you can sing and dance to!
Color photo of musicians on stage

Amith Narayan, Declan Murray, Silvestro Studdu Mascali and Stefano Schiavocampo: The Unseen Guest in Europe, 2007

Checkpoint on cdbaby The Unseen Guest on Facebook