Trapping the celebratory, buzzing insect of improvisation in amber can be rewarding. It's just important not to mistake that maplet for the territory it attempts to cover (hey, i wonder how many random metaphors can I throw at you in one graf?).

One of my primary teachers in the art of improv was the percussionist Mike Mahaffay, a.k.a. Robert Mike Mahaffay, may he rest in infinitely groovy peace. The incredible openness yet demand for art that be brought to each session were amazing. Over the years, I played with him numerous times in our weird little Portland experimental world: Black Orchid, Tres Gone, The Gone Orchestra, with members of Smegma, Soriah, Three Leg Torso, etc..... often at fun or off-the-wall venues like Voodoo Doughnuts or improvising a live soundtrack to Man Ray films for TV and KBOO radio. Very fun stuff.

Annnnyway: Mikey liked to record most sessions in some form (the options were limited early on). As recording and playing-back became easier with technology, he always wanted to listen to a jam right after we'd finished. I found this awful and refused. For me, it's good to do some things utterly sans documentation; it can also be good to take the documentation but not fuck with it for a while. Just leave the thing alone so you can savor the magic of whatever experience it was, a magic untainted by your post-performance anxieties or critical faculties.

That said, Mike was a cannabis-fueled musical genius, whereas I was more of a tobacco-chainsmoking interdisciplinary tourist, so hey, maybe his approach was just plain better.

A few links Mike's wonderful spirit are below. Guess I should upload more of our music together, bands like Black Orchid and Kings on Straw Mats, because they don't appear to be on the interwebz at present!

* https://www.amazon.com/CDs-Vinyl-Robert-Mike-Mahaffay/s?rh=n%3A5174%2Cp_32%3ARobert+Mike+Mahaffay

* https://soundcloud.com/mahaffays-musical-archiv

* https://jaxsta.com/release/99365061-6bbd-444b-8b91-9886355a5cde/52358f5d-0932-491f-9027-6572b9e0f82f/overview

* https://www.tiktok.com/music/Night-Fishing-6858860430136199169

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This is great “ Kinda sad-sack elven-hippie raga-blues stuff, sometimes lovely and sometimes tedious. Once in a while I turn on the electronic shruti box for full sandalwood misterioso.” Sounds a lot like my guitar practice these past few years, on the other end of decades of music school, rock bands, noise combos (I got to play with Rhys Chatham once, immortalized on one of his Guitar Trio albums). It’d be fun to exchange licks some time...I’ve been dreaming of an online sharing community of musical meditators but alas, I’m all Zoomed out.

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Loved this, Erik. Didn't know you were a guitarist, but had an inkling you might be based on your taste in music. I can totally relate to losing your mojo as soon as you hit record - "don't fear the little red light" - is a mantra I've repeated often but which has never quite stuck in the way I might have hoped...

I've recorded a couple of hundred little improvs since our first lockdown here in Melbourne, the vast majority on my iPhone. Half-baked and lo-fi as they are, they're worth more to me than they ever will be to anyone else, but that's enough to make them worthwhile. After reading your post I listened to the first track on Avatars... "Harakiri, Kali Style" - then recorded this little improvised loop. Totally cheating to use a looper of course, but I'm no Robbie Basho:


Love what you do mate - only "discovered" you recently but I've been delving......

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Wondering if you’ve ever listened to Daniel Higgs? Ed Hardy apprenticed tattooer, turned post-rock frontman (Lungfish) turned full-on Christian Mystic? He’s one of my favourites. Saw him live a few years ago opening for OM (another fav bunch of musical mystics).

Here’s a taste: https://open.spotify.com/track/20F4ZKCTo8whqY62WfvnMF?si=T-K1snd3QAifymb6JFRNIg

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