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Michael Masley

Cymbalom Solos (LP)

Label: Morning Trip

Format: LP

Genre: Experimental

In stock

€23.90
€18.90
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There are constellations within the grooves of Cymbalom Solos. Innumerable points of light, rendered audible in glowing, radiant sound. There are entire worlds too - undiscovered, yet familiar -- both terrestrial and celestial. There are moments of quiet comfort and exultant discovery. And all of it conjured by one man with a handful of ancient and invented instruments, recorded mostly-live, with precious few overdubs. Michael Masley has been a fixture of Berkley, California, since he arrived from Michigan in 1982. Even today, he remains a common sight, working as a street performer -- catching the attention of passers-by as he summons otherworldly overtones from a coterie of arcane instruments. This is how he met fellow east-coast transplant and musical voyager, Barry Cleveland, in 1983. Cleveland was enraptured by the sound of Masley's wildly innovative bowhammer cymbalom. The cymbalom is an ancient instrument, similar to a zither or hammered-dulcimer -- originating in Eastern Europe in 1874, but with primitive early examples dating back as early as 3500 BC. Yet Masley's approach to the instrument was wholly original.

Masley replaced the two traditional cymbalom hammers, with bowhammers -- an invention wherein he fitted each of his fingers with its own combination hammer/bow device, which allowed him to both strike the strings, and bow them like a violin. Outfitted with his bowhammers, Masley was able to wrest startlingly new sounds from a centuries-old instrument. In 1985, after performing together for a couple years, Cleveland produced Masley's first solo endeavor, Cymbalom Solos. With the help of Cleveland's timely production, Masley's technique reached its zenith. His complex and beautiful compositions combined elements of Eastern-European classical, new minimalism, and Celtic/folk music, yet the end result falls squarely within the world of new age kosmiche.

Music of the spheres, conjured by earthbound strings. Masley estimates that he sold tens-of-thousands of cassette copies of Cymbalom Solos over his years of performing. And now, Morning Trip is distinctly proud to offer it on vinyl for the first time ever -- an album of startling, imaginative beauty, by a brilliant American folk artist.

Details
Cat. number: MT 008
Year: 2021
Notes:
A large chromatic hammered dulcimer, the cymbalom is the national instrument of Hungary. It is traditionally played with a hammer (small mallet) in each hand. My technique springs from what I call "bowhammers". I wear eight -- one on each finger. The ends are fitted with three inch sections of violin bow. With the addition of thumb picks, this approach enables three attacks: striking, plucking and bowing. To the best of my knowledge, it's never been used before. All selections composed and performed by Michael Masley Produced by Barry Cleveland & M. Masley Recorded Spring 1985 at Spark Studios, Oakland, CA, eng., Tony Mills Mastered by Cooku Marenco, OTR Studio, Belmont, CA INSTRUMENTS: xylophone, vibes ('8-hammer') kalimbas, panpipes, flute & clock chimes All tracks were recorded 'live' (no overdubs) in real time & were performed as heard except for "The Sea As A Moon-launched Mirror" which has an additional vibe track.

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