Thursday, December 13, 2012

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Crossing Of Shadows

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Crossing Of Shadows (fs12) 

orchestramaxfieldparrish's Crossing Of Shadows is a dark collection of lamentations originally recorded in 2006 and only released in a small private pressing in 2007 and has now undergone a remix and remastering. This new edition of six improvised electronic compositions is based on field recordings both left unprocessed and severely reprocessed, with added guitar, piano, voices and electronics, creating a musical path beginning from a place of extreme darkness and culminating in a point of light and hope. Recorded and mastered in 96K 24 bit audiophile audio. Included is a reconstructed version of 'Thirst' which first appeared on the Caligari - An Exquisite Corpse dvd release through the Chain Tape Collective.

There are two limited editions of this release, with the first being a hard cover book bound artist edition. This First Edition is 75 copies and consists of elegantly handcrafted covers made from the finest papers and photographic printing. The Second Edition is for 225 copies and is in a Japanese style mini lp sleeve. Total one time press of 300.

You can hear samples of this work and purchase a copy at

from textura:

Improvised and recorded “at the Luna County Observatory and outdoors within the shadows of Hell Gate,” orchestramaxfieldparrish's Crossing Of Shadows was recorded during the summer of 2006 and subsequently released in a private pressing in summer of 2007, and now appears in a fully remastered form for public consumption. It wouldn't be stretching things too much to say that the respective characters of the recording locales are manifested by the music, given that its six dark lamentations are both ethereal and earthy. It also wouldn't be reading too much into the album's elegiac tone in noting that the album is dedicated to Jeff Ladd, a dear friend of Fazio's who co-founded Faith Strange, played with him in Life With The Lions (among many group ventures), and passed away on May 21st, 2010. As such, one could quite legitimately hear Crossing Of Shadows as a memento mori, though one whose journey might begin in darkness and despair but is finally imbued with hope. As the saying goes, from tragedy great art is born, and the principle applies here too, as Fazio transmutes the great personal pain he endured into a moving fifty-two-minute statement that could be the most personalized work he's ever produced.

There's much to admire about the new release. On presentation grounds alone, it's striking, as Fazio prepared two limited editions of the release, the deluxe version a hardcover book-bound edition (75 copies) and the other a Japanese-style mini-LP sleeve (225 copies). Part of the recording's appeal is that it sounds almost nothing like Fazio's previous orchestramaxfieldparrish recording The Silent Breath of Emptiness, Fazio's thinking being that repeating a previous release's sound is pointless. It's a more sonically expansive recording than its predecessor, for one. Whereas the earlier recording focused on a purer distillation of guitar-generated textures and tones, the new album brings into its orbit field recordings (untreated and heavily treated) and piano while it at the same time downplays the guitar's presence, at least in so far as it appears in recognizable manner. It's an album that's also best served by a surround sound playback so that the multi-dimensional distribution of its elements can be experienced. Spatial positioning in this case transcends simple foreground-background determinations; instead, entire geographical expanses are suggested by the album's material.

The album begins with the magnificently realized rumination “Thirst (Revisitation),” so named because it originally appeared as part of the soundtrack to the Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse DVD project. After first rising out of the gloom like a softly moaning spectre, the piece builds gradually in intensity, its elements filling in and spreading into the space, until a lethal metallic drone detonates with a violent clang and thereby opens the gates to a flood of spectral noises. Ethereal creaking sounds whistle until they're supplanted by a low-level rumble and crackle, with the volume level and intensity continually shifting. “On Nine Mile Marsh” then unfolds like a patient scanning of a lunar surface alien territory, after which the brooding nocturnal ambiance of “Mystery by Moonlight” appears, enhanced by the inclusion of cricket thrum and an overall sense of dreamlike calm that nevertheless contains an undercurrent of turbulence and threat. Near the end of the piece, the musical elements fade away altogether, leaving in their wake the cricket drone accompanied by the sound of footsteps trudging through the undergrowth at three in the morning.

An intentional moment of silence separates parts one and two, the gesture signalling a subtle shift in tone towards a second half that plays like a requiem of sorts, even while flickers of light seep into its material as if to posit the possibility of rebirth and hope. “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” unfurls peacefully with the flutter of spindly textures gently prodded by a whisper-soft shuffling rhythm, and then takes a meditative turn in its second half when a speaking voice recites text in a foreign tongue and acoustic piano playing appears. Only once does the album recall the sound-world of The Silent Breath of Emptiness, and that's in the closing piece “Lament (“The end is where we start from, a new beginning always begins with an end.” “…Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is…”),” which pairs celestial streams of guitar-generated material with piano chords—the ethereal and earthy united a final time.

There's a certifiably enigmatic quality to the album that enhances its appeal, and one of the mysteries, naturally enough, concerns the identity of the speaker in “A Walk Amongst the Raindrops” and an account of what he says (though one presumes that the speaker is Fazio, there's nothing to confirm unequivocally that it is so). This is a recording that is not only a superb addition to the orchestramaxfieldparrish discography but also a beautiful tribute that honours Ladd's memory in dignified manner. - January 2011

from Cyclic Defrost:

According to the orchestramaxfieldparrish myspace page, this shadowy outfit reside on Green Dolphin St, US of A. Somewhere in the psychic and musical neighbourhood of Dutch outfit Dolphins Into The Future, its a glowering neighbourhood of broken street lights and steaming ventilation ducts, neglected and mournful in contrast to Lieven Martens dayglo Cetacean odyssey. orchestramaxfieldparrish main man Mike Fazio initially released Crossing Of Shadows as a limited private pressing in 2007. A New York native, Guitarist Fazio has a long and varied history of improvisation and band-driven outings reaching back until the early 1980s.

Opening track ‘Thirst (Revisitation)’ was previously available as part of the soundtrack to the DVD Caligari: An Exquisite Corpse, released by the Chain Tape Collective, of which Fazio is a member. If Crossing Of Shadows had continued in this dark ambient / isolationist vein throughout, it would be a harrowing listen, but the atmosphere gradually allows more light in over the duration of proceedings. The orchestral WHOOMPH! around three minutes in might make you jump out of your skin, as befits a movie including Caligari in the title. ‘On Nine Mile Marsh’ dynamic panning and deep sonorous ambience tell a tale of a foggy place of foreboding and dread, straight out of some Victorian potboiler. Concluding Part one, ‘Mystery by Moonlight’ summons up the spectre of late 90s Coil, more creeping bent than creeping dread. It’s also reminiscent of Cluster and the Germanic Sky axis from the late 70s; a contemplative ambience draws the listener into the sultry night.

Part two swims further towards the light with ‘Lone Star’, as subtle repeated guitar motifs and low-key manipulation allow the ambience to shine through. Gradually, pointillist washes and space-age guitar echoes overtake the piece. This is a very interesting approach to guitar driven dark ambience, reminding me of Per Henrik Svalastog’s release for the Rune Grammofon label. The following track ‘A Walk Amongst the Raindrops’ has hypnotic Chain Reaction style pulsed rhythms and enough echoic delay to maintain that ‘minimal tech’ feel. The piano interludes and Japanese spoken word interludes feel somewhat clunky when contrasted to this beguiling rhythmic base. With the whole album serving as a lament to the memory of Life With the Lions band mate Jeff Ladd, orchstramaxfieldparrish has created a worthy shrine for the remembrance of a multi-faceted life. - Oliver Laing, February 2011


Some thoughts on Crossing Of Shadows and orchestramaxfieldparrish in general:

This will be the last orchestramaxfieldparrish work for the foreseeable future, if not, indeed, forever. I have said all I can say within its context. It's time to move on. Crossing Of Shadows is 4 years old now and I put it out on replicated cd finally as a memorial to my dear life long friend and co-conspirator in Faith Strange, Jeff Ladd, who passed on in May of this year. If anyone would like to learn about Jeff they are welcome to view the life with the lions page on the Faith Strange website. A fraction of his beautiful poetry can be found here.

For the record:

- Faith Strange is a totally self-funded private imprint run by artists for artists. It came into being in order to release works that WE deemed were viable enough to bring to a wider audience.

- A "lamentation" is a song of mourning. These are songs of mourning, for many personal reasons.

- ÆRA is the Old Danish word for "era" or "age" and is pronounced "era". It follows from my first experimental band Æ, with Thomas Hamlin, Micky Ortiz and Dan Luhmann which existed back in the 80's.

- orchestramaxfieldparrish is spelled with a small "o".

Enough said.

Time now, please!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

MF's best of 2010 - Heavy Rotation - on the stereo...

MF's best of 2010

Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises

Steve Tibbetts – Natural Causes

Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back

Robet Wyatt, Gilad Atzmon, Ros Stephen – For The Ghosts Within

Marsfield – The Towering Sky

Organum - Sorow

Ian Holloway & Darren Tate - The Earth In Play

Fabula Suite Lugano

Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu - Chiaroscuro

Jan Bang - …And Poppies From Kandahar


Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion 

Einsturzende Neubauten - Strategies Against Architecture IV: 2002 - 2010

David Sylvian - Sleepwalkers

no-man - Wild Opera

Saturday, December 5, 2009

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA – To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming makes The Top 10 Of 2009 in textura & the 2009 Brainwashed Readers Poll

To The Last Man Index Of Dreaming Pæan No.1 - The Paradise Syndrome
orchestramaxfieldparrish has once again been voted as part of the Top 10 Recordings of the year at textura with this years triple cd companion release of orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA – To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming / Pæan No. 1 – The Paradise Syndrome.

Sincere thanks to textura for being the very special website they truly are. orchestramaxfieldparrish’s The Silent Breath Of Emptiness had made the list for 2008.

also: Brainwashed has nominated ÆRA – To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming to the 2009 Reader’s Poll. Many thanks to all at Brainwashed for sharing the vision.
Soundbites can be heard and the entire trilogy of recordings can be found at a specially reduced rate exclusively through Faith Strange Recordings

Sunday, August 9, 2009

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - Pæan No.1 - Paradise Syndrome (Second Edition)

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA

Pæan No.1 - Paradise Syndrome
... I have found paradise
Surely no man has ever attained such happiness. Here, there is much time for everything. Each time your arms hold me is as joyous as the first. Each kiss is as the first...

- has been released through Faith Strange in a second edition. This is a professionally printed and duplicated high quality cdr and comes in an extra heavy (130lb.) 6 page card cover with archival rice paper inner sleeve to last forever.

Recorded In New York City, December 27th, 2008. Field recordings recorded Summer 1993 in New Mexico & Nevada, U.S.A.

The first edition was included as the third disc in the first fifty copies of orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming.

An excerpt can be heard here.

Available in the faith strange shop.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming

Just released, Faith Strange Recordings has issued it’s first double cd of new recordings:

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming (fs8&9)

A beautifully detailed and rich sonic palette exploring the fleeting aspects of memory and dreams. These recordings manage to strike an artistic balance between adventurousness and a neo-classical sensibility, combined with a keen perception of aural sculpture. In a genre that brims with derivations, To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming is something way ahead of the curve.

Issued in a limited edition 2xCD package in a Japanese style double mini lp gatefold sleeve. Two hours of wide open vistas and introspective private rooms.

Further info, ordering and music soundbites can be found here: here

ÆRA - Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome …I have found paradise, Surely no man has ever attained such happiness. Here, there is much time for everything. Each time your arms hold me it’s as joyous as the first. Each kiss is as the first…

(fs10) - A limited and numbered edition of fifty included with the first fifty copies of orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming. Exclusively through Faith Strange.

This title is no longer available but a second pressing is in the works and should be available July, 2009.


orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA :: To The Last Man/Index Of Dreaming (Faith Strange)

“…A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres – of the ær rather than the earth…”  - Alan Lockett, Contributing Editor

Mike Fazio conceived of ÆRA as a personal take on symphonic music merged with the art and the literary worlds. The art/literary element can be seen minimally in arcane presentational trappings, but it’s musical matter that matters here. A subtle Eastern European dark-night-of-the-soul undercurrent runs through ÆRA; under influence of late-modernist composers – Górecki (check), Pärt (check), Penderecki (check), Kancheli (check) – the prevailing ambient drone of Fazio’s guitar manipulations, familiar from outings under the cloak of orchestramaxfieldparrish, gets a headier, more mysterious, flavour. The ‘X presents Y’ billing is comparable to the Coil presents… projects: where musical expression emerges in a slightly different voice from an artist’s customary articulation, yet is recognisably of the same blood. So ÆRA bespeaks another place while vibrating with a resonance recognisable from Fazio’s ‘parrish. A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres – of the ær rather than the earth. Long wisps and swathes of tonefloat are drawn out languorously arcing over tracts alternately teeming and evacuated, finely flowing from a sonic palette deployed for exploration of memory and dreams, of ritual and forgotten memories, scenes found not deleted – recovered from the There and Then of a Future-past hybrid projection.

So, artfully navigating the interstices between experimental ambient and a distillate of neo-classical, Disc 1, To The Last Man, tends to the melodramatic and dense, while Index Of Dreaming to the oneiromantic and spatial. “Elegæa” initiates the ritual, wispy atmospherics laced with orchestral infusions setting in train a multi-hued journey attended by dark portent. “To Touch The Sky” bristles with micro-chatter and campanology, tone-whorls over dark drone and post-Gothic colourings. “Ennoæ” injects percussive patterns into the synthetic base, vague echoes of Steve Roach emerging. At other points Fazio displays affiliations with other iconic ambient/space/drone artists. On “Out Of Many, One” synth sonorities suggest ’70s Kosmische – Klaus Schulze, vintage TD. Disc 1 spans organic environmental to outer space cosmicity, taking in various stops on the La Monte Young-Phil Niblock-Fripp/Eno-Robert Rich line. Where the first CD is questing and restless in experiment, the second is more restrained and stay-at-home. On the second, “1/1″ opens in titular hommage to Music for Airports (note similar parallels in the disc’s nomenclature, Index Of Dreaming – cf. Eno/Fripp’s “An Index of Metals”). The extended “1/3″ grows to epic proportions through fields of static and chimes – a lulling paean of heady post-industrial vapours, swells and billows. This ÆRA bestrides musical eras effortlessly and engrossingly.

A new approach (or at least moniker) for orchestramaxfieldparrish's Mike Fazio, this album presents two separate discs, each individually named, for a double dose of dark and moody ambience as rendered by Fazio's nearly neo-classical approach. Long though it may be, there is enough depth to the material here that suggests numerous listens, yet it is also bare enough that it is just as suitable as background accompaniment, albeit to a consistently grim undertaking.

The first disc, To the Last Man, features a lengthy presentation of seven pieces each exploring a similarly shaded demeanor materializing and decomposing tonal matter. The shimmering bell-like resonances of "To Touch the Sky" writhe uncomfortably above the dark underpinnings of drone that situate themselves amongst an almost Gothic sonic backdrop infested by gargoyles and ghosts alike. It is a strange, unnerving approach that manages to paint new material with old techniques.

The filmic quality of much of this material is undeniable considering the strength of its spare and evocative mood setting. With delicate placement, each piece here finds new corners and awkward, creeping modes of the same general tone. As the previously mentioned track slips into "Ennoæ," a distant hand drum rhythm brings new color to the bleakness, adding an echoing force behind the thick swabs of blackness being worked with. When a series of pipes come in, the work begins to resemble a mini percussion orchestra, riding atop some steady drone that bobs up and down in untended black waters.

Fazio's greatest abilities lie in his decisions, as each work displays many that point toward a general caution executed in the creation of his pieces. Never one to overindulge himself, Fazio's textures and patterns service the tune far more than any egotistical self-journey. There is a meditative, almost minimalist effect to many of these, as the carefully produced sounds bounce in and out of the mix with trance-inducing effect.

Yet Fazio's signature sound seems to stem far more from Arvo Part than Reich or Glass, while also interweaving an almost proggy sense of the dramatic. "Ecquænam" may be short, but it has enough dramatic flourishes to make it an ample close to the first disc. "1/1" opens the next disc in a seeming homage to Eno's Music for Airports, a connection made stronger by the title of the disc and its close approximation to Eno's collaborative effort with Robert Fripp on "An Index of Metals." If greater convincing is required, then it can be found in the ambient structures constructed throughout, as the aforementioned proggy elements are brought to the fore and coaxed into writhing electronic sculptures that bend and sway against the skies.

The two discs represent a fine and strongly crafted construction that, though quite a lot for one listen, serves its listener well over the course of numerous re-dippings into the cold waters. That these are as beautiful as they are only makes the darkness more alluring, as the closing "1/3" certainly displays. Almost a half-hour long, the piece builds slowly through static mine fields and church bells. It may be intimidating, and it may long, but the allure of such a mystique can't be denied. - Henry Smith

The last time I had the distinct pleasure of hearing a Faith Strange release it was the sublime ‘Silent Breath of Emptiness’ by the rather unwieldly named orchestramaxfieldparrish. Now a year later the name has grown with the addition of ‘presents AERA’. It’s a mouthful and a half isn’t it. In order to work around this I’m going to refer to orchestramaxfieldparrish presents AERA by his given name of Mike Fazio - it’s much easier to type.

The two halves of this album are individually named possibly as an indication of content or possibly as a thematic device for Mike’s overarching driving concept. Either way they encompass a sumptuous and engrossing set of ambient music. Utilising, slow snowfalls of drones, showers of micro-tones and (if you’re lucky enough to grab the limited edition with the extra third disc) some well chosen field recordings Mike has created a set that fills a room with a cushion of sound.

It’s difficult to give you a straight and easy description of the music. It is, by turn, the purest of ambient - like Eno at his best - before morphing into the most uncomfortable of atmospheres - dripping with discomfort and trepidation. His music is as slow and stark as the winter months and as lush and vibrant as the summer ones. Always recommended.

orchestramaxfieldparrish is, for want of a better description, an ambient project, encompassing everything that that much overused “A” word brings with it. However, this beautifully presented double CD comes with a Faith Strange quality guarantee, and over two hours, the listener is treated to OMP’s now trademark deep soundscaping. OMP’s founder and central composer, Mike Fazio finds strength in uniting bold themes with his grandiose, sombre arrangements, and the press release explains that the “Ae” diphthong of the title, translates to a dual tonality, a kind of linguistic trip of the tongue where one tone skips to another. The album’s expansive, dreamy atmosphere is immediately captivating, and the tracks segue into each other in a seamless montage of prolonged tonal tracts, wispy atmospherics, and grand orchestrations, reminiscent to me of early Tangerine Dream pieces, particularly Phaedra, which coincidentally utilises the “ae” dipthong in its title.

The accompanying CD, Index of Dreaming dispenses with titles and nomenclature, and simply numbers each piece, presumably as some kind of personal cataloguing, or reference points that we as listeners are not yet privy to, or have to decipher as each tract unfolds. Indeed the slightly cryptic use of Viking Eggeling’s pictorial series, “Diagonale Symphonie”, in the internal sleeve adds to the air of enigma shrouding this release, and I am left pondering this audio-visual conundrum as I listen to the washy, tidal strains emitting from my sound system.

Aera is an impressive foray, and is perhaps something of a defining moment for Fazio’s project thus far..tempting us to investigate further. Aera is effortlessly immersive, and I can think of few other ways in which to absorb my senses for two hours..listened to consecutively, Fazio’s hand is more than capable. An epic release. - BGN

from textura:

A bit of background first: called “ash” in English, the majuscule Æ (minuscule: æ) is, in aural terms, a diphthong (literally “two sounds” or “two tones”), a “contour” vowel whose separate components run together in rapid speech such that the sound changes as the tongue moves from one articulation to the next (Æ is also formally called a ligature due to the physical union of its two letters). Perhaps Mike Fazio (aka orchestramaxfieldparrish and Gods Of Electricity member) chose the ÆRA (“ash-ra”) name for his latest solo project as a gesture of tribute to Ash Ra Tempel, the German Krautrock band formed in 1971 by Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, and Hartmut Enke. Regardless, there’s definitely a cosmic quality to the ÆRA material.

In any case, the companion recordings constitute an audacious maiden voyage for Fazio’s new project with To The Last Man and Index Of Dreaming best regarded as a single, two-volume work. The recordings are dominated by heavily synthetic landscapes that more naturally reside in the upper spheres than on earth. Infinitely long trails of electrical tones—wholly guitar-generated, presumably—stretch over silent expanses like shooting stars captured in slow-motion, and tones shift and notes bend as they arc across the sky. To The Last Man takes the listener on a journey of varying moods with dark portentous lines sweeping across the open plains in the scene-setter “Elegæa.” The sixteen-minute “To Touch The Sky” follows, with prickly micro-noise, suggestive of the rapid chatter of insects or squirrels, sputtering across and bell-like tones occasionally punctuating flowing tendrils of simmering tones. “Ennoæ” introduces a pronounced physical dimension by layering percussive patterns atop the synthetic base, with hand drums and acoustic-sounding blocks giving the piece a natural character. In the ten-minute meditation “Out Of Many, One,” a more readily identifiable synthesizer sonority emerges during the final minutes, deepening the connection to the space-rock tradition associated with outfits such as Tangerine Dream.

Index Of Dreaming eschews conventional track titles for numbers (e.g., “1/1,” “2/2”) but sonically the ÆRA style carries over from one disc to the other; with “1/1” even seeming to pick up from where To The Last Man’s closing “Ecquænam” leaves off. If anything Index Of Dreaming may be the “purer” release of the two, as Fazio reduces the latter’s meditations and drones to their essence by largely banishing natural sounds altogether (the clear exception being “1/2” and “2/2” where choir exhalations accompany the tracks’ sweeping tones). The recording’s simmering prisms of light and sparkle reach an epic culmination in “1/3,” a lulling meditation where speckled, semi-industrial sheets of vaporous sound slowly billow, ripple, rise, and fall for twenty-eight hypnotic minutes. Natural additions to Fazio’s discography, both releases exemplify the astral traveler’s long-standing commitment to perpetuating the progressive and experimental traditions, electronic or otherwise, and should strongly appeal to fans of his recent orchestramaxfieldparrish The Silent Breath Of Emptiness which is sonically kin to the new material, regardless of moniker difference. - January 2009

orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness


orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
"One of the best of 2008" - Musique Machine
"One of the top 10 Of 2008" - textura

the first new full length orchestramaxfieldparrish work since 2002’s highly acclaimed ‘Tears’ is now available as of January 1, 2008, titled The Silent Breath Of Emptiness. It consists of an improvised solo guitar soundscape specifically intended for local area visual artists and their exhibitions that never came to be. This piece was totally improvised, recorded live and captured in one take and then divided into 4 parts. No overdubs were done so as to not augment the original intention of the piece. Recorded and mastered in 96K 24 bit audiophile audio. Beautifully presented in a full color limited digipak with obi strip.
This work is a refreshing return to the art of true improvisation in the age where music is now recorded mainly as computer edits. Fazio has gone back to his roots of abstract guitar playing on a very personal level with a symphonic approach first explored in past outfits Æ, Copernicus and Chill Faction throughout the 1980’s and early 90’s and further explored on 2002’s ‘Tears’.

To order a copy please visit the faith strange shop…

from tokafi:

CD Feature / orchestramaxfieldparrish “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness”
Heartbreaking charme: Interrelated tones conglomerating into thick tonal tufts.

What is it about the stars? Poets are comparing them to the eyes of their lover, scientists are breaking apart at the weight of their mysteries and uncountable generations of musicians have used them as a metaphor for the final frontier and the finity of all human knowledge. To Mike Fazio, however, the sky is the canvas and his guitar the brush for a musical work full of little galaxies.

On the scale usually applied by music industry executives, time between two subsequent orchestramaxfieldparrish releases should indeed be measured in lightyears. Previous album “Tears”, now available again in a completely remastered edition, was published in 2002 and in between, Fazio has been active in various parallel universes as a collaborator and band member. The thought that “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” was essentially recorded on a single night makes these stretches seem even more romantic. It is almost, as if Fazio has been waiting for that one inspired moment to arrive and to follow it wherever it might lead him.
His second album is a fully improvisational effort bemused by the panoramically plaintive view of the Luna County Observatory. Recorded on Christmas Day, however, it not only captures the yearning sensation of sensing one’s own irrelevance underneath the sky’s umbrella, but also conveys the doleful emotion of a year drawing towards its close: “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is about things ending, about horizons we’ll never see, places we’ll never reach. On top of that, though, it is also about the inspiration one can get from feeling one’s fragility and about the need to make the best from the little time we are given.
Fazio’s sound is wide and epic, his themes composed of intricate interrelated tones which initially combine into longing melodies before conglomerating into thick tonal tufts, their decay in turn constituting dreamy drones in their own right. After introducing his material in full in the beginning, he often merely quotes poignant passages, sometimes only a single note, to create cohesion, familiarity and alienation at the same time. On other occasions, things are allowed to drift and develop in a floating kind of way, with sheets of sound overlapping to create harmonic tension.

The most radical piece on the record is the third part of this aural quadrilogy, a sixteen minute series of inhaling and exhaling, each breath appearing different from its predecessor and revealing tiny new details. Growing from a noisy opening with percussive patters, a swelling deep bass pad leads into an icecold Dark Ambient meditation, which at first puts the listener in a vulnerable and insecure position, but then intangibly transforms into a comforting rhythm of sound and silence.

In the thirteen-minute “Reconstruction – Afterthought”, the album receives an unexpected recap, its motives reoccuring as if filtered through a sieve of melancholic memory. Entire passages are played backwards, tracks are combined into new compositions, melodies are twisted and deformed, others allowed to shine even more then previously. On paper a seemingly unnecessary addendum to an otherwhise agreably concise album, this final chapter in practise proves to be vital in adding a consiliatory and calming finale to a work which otherwhise profits from its irridescent intensity.

With its heartbreaking charme, “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is of course no food for gloomy characters or rationally-minded analysts. It is an album, which can only be understood by intuition and by piecing wordless metaphors together. They may not make sense from an objective perspective, but translate into something far bigger and more important than us. Just like the stars above us. -  Tobias Fischer

from Aural Innovations 39 (May 2008):

Cultivating sonic terrain first explored by Fripp, Eno and other ambient anarchists, Mike Fazio (who, for all intents and purposes, is orchestramaxfieldparrish) ventures into the hinterlands of tonal expressionism, creating strange un-guitarisms that congeal and mass into virtual icebergs of sound. On each of the five distinct parts of “The Silent Breath Of Emptiness,” Fazio conceives and utilizes his guitar as an orchestral instrument, his sweeping chords achieving an almost symphonic grandeur while the drone of endless delays and the slow glacial drift of key changes imply a studied minimalism absorbed from Glass and Reich but filtered through Branca and other 80’s New York guitar terrorists. Among the infinitely-sustained, ringing tones of Fazio’s guitar, one is at times assaulted by abrasive dissonances and harsh metallic clusters of sound that evoke the clatter of machinery and the kling-klang of heavy industry. But there are also moments of stark beauty in several movements of this 50-minute composition. At times, Fazio’s uncanny guitar symphony approaches the soaring ecstasy of a Gregorian choir, creating a mood of temporary detachment from the terrestrial world. Ultimately, what Fazio demonstrates on The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is that he’s equally at home in both the secular and the ecclesiastical and in both the lyrical and the mechanical, as well. Like Fripp, he’s a man at work with his machine. - Charles Van de Kree

from textura:

orchestramaxfieldparrish: The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
Faith Strange
The Silent Breath Of Emptiness, a fifty-minute set of guitar-generated soundscapes issued by Mike Fazio under the name orchestramaxfieldparrish, is rather similar in sonic spirit and perhaps equal in quality to Robert Fripp’s superb At the End of Time: Churchscapes, Live in England & Estonia, 2006. Like his better-known kin, Fazio uses various effects to expand his solo guitar playing into an hypnotic polyphony of rolling waves, supplicant peals, and hazy drones; conventional guitar sounds are all but absent as Fazio generates industrial sheets and metallic washes throughout the five explorations, the first four of which are in fact a single live improvisation he recorded (sans overdubs) on December 25th, 2006 at the Luna County Observatory (indexed into four sections for the recording), while the final piece is a reconstruction of the preceding material that may be more deliberately conceived but sounds no less spontaneous. The sixteen-minute third section is the release’s most aggressive though Fazio never intensifies its industrial character to an unmusical or unpleasant degree. Part four exudes a devotional character reminiscent of the Fripp release, and Fazio’s guitar shimmers celestially too. Though devotees of experimental guitar playing will find much to admire about this follow-up to 2002’s Tears, The Silent Breath of Emptiness is so captivating in terms of execution and its material so arresting that it deserves a listening audience far greater than that associated with a singular fanatical group. To Fazio’s credit, the recording manages to be avant-garde in spirit yet also thoroughly accessible, in large part due to the material’s “symphonic” character. Put simply, a beautiful recording. - March 2008

The Silent Breath Of Emptiness is like encountering a static photograph that, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be a timelapse film. The slow building, reflective guitar drones absorb as though a dark starry field. These pieces stand without any foreground or background. Rather, they exist as a network of needling threads, crosshatched and manipulated, sketching a welter of variations on a single theme.
Pieces are played with a gentle spirit and an attention to the occult and elemental. At first, the work is a treacle of strums, which unfurl and circle in the shifting light of successive sound washes. With the momentum being slow, an intense concentration on the interlocking lines is made possible, better still, it is encouraged or even requested, though always in a hushed manner. Indeed, the piece lays itself open while at the same time making its emotions felt subliminally, as though transmitting or sharing a secret, rather than making it known explicitly.

The remaining segments continue to coil into themselves with stronger and more malicious thrusts. “Part 3″ sinks into a morose, melodic continuum and almost epiphanic chimes, before oozing into a distantly undulating crescent of atmospheric noise. “Part 4″ continues to seep into dark, tunneling visions, using what sounds like several guitars to produce a dense, almost symphonic feedback drone. Even here, though, shards of light filter through the darkness, giving the piece a movement and vibrancy that is knotty and wholly inflaming - Max Schaefer

orchestramaxfieldparrish is Mike Fazio, a composer, as well as a (studio) member of New York City’s Black 47. The Silent Breath of Emptiness seems miles away from the Celtic inspired rock of Black 47. It’s important to note then, that Fazio, and a couple other members of Black 47 originally backed up Avant-Garde musician and poet Copernicus (Joseph Smalkowski). Maxfield Parrish was a Philadelphian painter and illustrator, who lived from 1870-1966. Though he was a commercially successful illustrator, his paintings were quite often fantastical. I’m not sure how his work ties into Mike Fazio’s project, but Parrish’s art is well worth exploring.

The Silent Breath of Emptiness consists chiefly of four segments of live improvisations recorded in one take at the Luna County Observatory, with no overdubs. The music was created solely on electric guitar, but the sounds presented here rarely conform to the traditional sound associated with the instrument. Instead, Fazio treads ground which runs the gamut from pleasant ambience ala Eno or Bill Nelson to sheets of drone, which could be more closely tied to Andrew Chalk and his work with Mirror.

Fazio’s technical ability certainly shows through, as these pieces rarely sound like music created by one individual. The improvisations are distinctly different from one another, yet they run together nicely. The music runs from quiet, neo-orchestral ambience to fairly noisy drones. Apart from the previous comparison to Andrew Chalk, the latter passages remind me quite a bit of John Duncan’s seemingly straight-lined drones (though Duncan doesn’t use guitars), which upon closer inspection are anything but.

The feeling of event is paramount to the success of any spontaneous performance, and the Silent Breath of Emptiness is steeped in that spark of inspiration. Perhaps that inspiration was the result of the observatory setting, but judging from the mastery of the different approaches on display here, it’s more likely that Mike Fazio’s enthusiasm and technical ability are responsible. It’s rare for a performer to pull something together which is subtle and genuine, while displaying obvious skill. More often than not, those with technical ability are more interested in showing how well than can play, rather than investing their music with soul and depth. The Silent Breath of Emptiness, thankfully, is honest, unpretentious and, in it’s own odd way, soulful. - Erwin Michelfelder

Despite the name of the band, this is the solo work of Mike Fazio. I had not heard of this project, but I am familiar with his work in Copernicus, which is a wonderful blend of poetry and music. The label describes the disc thus: “This new recording consists of an improvised solo electric guitar soundscape originally intended for an exhibition of local area visual artists that never came to be. This piece was totally improvised and freeform, recorded live and captured in one take and then divided into 4 parts.” Guitar drone is often polarized in terms of quality—when it’s good it’s really good and when it’s bad it’s really bad and there is little in between. Fortunately, this falls on the good side of the spectrum, probably because it doesn’t really sound like just guitar drone. I’m assuming that there are a lot of effects being used to create the variety of sounds in these tracks. The album opens with what sounds like an orchestra warming up for performance. As the disc progresses, the layers become more and more intertwined to the point where, in Part 3, it becomes almost like a wall of noise that continually crescendos and decrescendos. But this wall of noise is not to be confused with the Merzbow style of wall of noise. It never becomes oppressive, just intense. Overall, this is a nice disc to relax to but still engaging. I suppose it would work for your next gallery installation as well…. The main comparison that comes to mind is Vidna Obmana. This disc weighs in at 49 minutes and is nicely packaged in a digipak. You can check out some of it at his myspace page at - eskaton

from All Music:

Besides his various group and collaborative efforts, Mike Fazio has pursued irregular solo ventures under the Orchestramaxfieldparrish name, an interesting choice of nom de plume but one with an admittedly evocative edge given the reputation of that painter and graphic designer. The Silent Breath of Emptiness surfaced after a six-year-gap from the previous effort, showing that Fazio’s ear for atmospheric textures via electric guitar remains strong; if there are now any number of releases exploring this form worldwide, Fazio’s approach remains one of the better ones. The core of the album consists of four untitled pieces recorded on a single day, ranging from artful reflectiveness to a sculpted, understatedly angry grind, the latter most prevalent on the third track. The fifth song recaps and reworks all the other pieces into a “Reconstruction” as titled, a sort of summary of the entire album that becomes its own distinct piece. Functioning both as meditative background and direct sonic captivation, The Silent Breath of Emptiness is a gentle treat. - Ned Raggett

Contrary to the suggestion made in the name this is the work of one man, Mike Fazio. ‘The Silent Breath Of Emptiness’ consists of a single solo guitar improvisation, subsequently edited into four discrete and cohesive parts and accompanied by a fifth reconstruction. It’s a stunningly melancholic and hallucinogenic experience with Fazio’s guitar often sounding more like a bank of synthesizers than a guitar. The use of ‘Orchestra’ in the project name is readily apparent in Mike’s playing style which is described in the press notes as ’symphonic’ and I can find no more apt word to replace it with. In style OMP is reminiscent of people such as Andrew Chalk but in sound is very much related to the ambient recordings of Eno, or Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream with lush electronic chords layered to create a sumptuous bath of sound into which you can submerge. I think I would have liked to hear more variety in the effects with which the guitar has been treated but equally I am quibbling over small things as this is a fine and recommended release.

orchestramaxfieldparrish is nom de plume of the underground New York musician Mike Fazio. “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is a solo electric guitar piece that was originally created as a soundtrack for an art exhibition that never actually got off the ground. The piece itself was recorded in a single take and is presented here without overdubs, divided into four tracks. A fifth track, which is an abbreviated reworking of the entire piece is also included on the disc. The entire album contains a variety of ambient guitar loops and sounds that traverse many moods. In fact, the guitar effects often cause it to sound like other instruments, namely keyboards and various orchestral strings.
Really, much of the work could be labeled as ambient music. For example, the first track, called “Part 1″ has an ethereal feeling as guitar echoes over a low background drone. “Part 2″ has a similar feeling, but gives way to more powerful sounds, to the point that it almost sounds heavy. Layered distortion and effects come into the latter part of the song and produce a droning, almost mechanical, eerie feeling. In many ways, “Part 3″ continues what was begun on the previous track, rising and falling into cacophony several times before slowly fading out. The fourth track, “Part 4″ returns to the ethereal beauty of “Part 1″ to bookend the original long piece. Finally, comes the album recap, which is entitled “Reconstruction | Afterthought.” Amazingly enough, this track does call on many of the sounds and themes present in the previous tracks. Still, it does not come off as a rehash of the other music. In fact, it combines well with the rest to nicely close out the disc.
“The Silent Breath Of Emptiness” is ultimately a great disc to settle back with and take in. It’s very easy to get lost in its complex tones and textures and I have a feeling that this will prove itself to be a favorite in those quieter times in life. Definitely, a recommended disc. — Matt Blackall

This five tracker is culled from an improvisational session at the Luna County Observatory in December 2006, and as such stands as a document of a unique performance by OrchestraMaxfield Parrish. I know nothing of this group, but the elegantly executed digipak cover with rural photography that echoes the work of Jon Wozencroft on Touch gives some small indication of the contents within.

Essentially, this is a convincing dronescape, that swirls and evaporates around heavily reverbed strings and guitars, a series of gently unwinding pieces permeated with an air of unthreatening darkness and melancholy. The strings pieces are underpinned by shimmering and repetitive sampling, creating endless loops and whorls that cascade into infinity.
The sleeve notes proudly announce that there are no added overdubs, and as such, “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” stands as it is, un-edited and slightly tainted in places, some of the richness of the work is lost as a result.

As with all improvisation, there are minute hiccups and breaches, but nothing that detracts from the general swell and flow of the pieces, and one imagines being set adrift and immersed in a sea of tones and cycles, that are at once compelling and calming. We are rewarded in the final track, with an uninterrupted rendering of the piece in 24 bit audiophile audio. Encompassing everything from Robert Fripp to Thomas Koner, this an aural delight.
Very nice indeed. - BGN

Med den mycket lämpliga titeln “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” återvänder amerikanska Orchestramaxfieldparrish med sin första platta på över fem år. Upprepade slingor av improviserade, maskerade gitarrdroner gör att musiken får en klart minimalistisk prägel trots en tät struktur. Man skyndar långsamt framåt och de ljudvågor som sköljer över lyssnaren är så pastorala att det är svårt att tänka sig något som fungerar bättre en grådassig morgon.

Tydligen var musiken ursprungligen tänkt att ackompanjera en konstutställning som aldrig blev av och att döma av den nerv som finns närvarande rakt igenom skivans fem utdragna spår kan man inte låta bli att låta fantasin måla egna bilder. Varma melodifragment tittar förbi ett kort tag för att sedan försvinna in i ett muller av mörk gitarrabstraktion. Fjäderlätta moln hotas ständigt av en annalkande storm över öppet hav. Skivan illustrerar på ett förnämligt sätt litenhet i något väldigt mycket större. Skrämmande? Ibland, men allt som oftast är känslan av att släppa taget, det fria fallet, att tidlöst stirra ut i det tomma intet, något befriande och själsligt rengörande. Knappast ett banbrytande album men så imponerande genomfört att det är omöjligt att inte förföras. - Av: Mats Gustafsson

from Earlabs

orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness

Although involved in the underground/experimental music scene since the 1980‘s, Mike Fazio is a another new name to me. Using the alias of orchestramaxfieldparrish since 1999, this diverse purveyor of experimental guitar music has been composing and improvising atmospheric drone and drift since before these terms were widely used or even recognized. The Silent Breath of Emptiness is the seventh release on Faith Strange Recordings of which Mike is a co-founder.

The press release says that followers of such established avant-garde music artists as Arvo Pärt, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Andrew Chalk, Thomas Köner, and trombonist Stewart Dempster among others “will find much to savor here.” The common denominator being beautiful experimental/ambient music that comes from the heart. I’ll add to this list of icons Canadian multi-instrumentalist Aidan Baker another like-minded improviser of spacious experimental guitar drones.

Initially a single improvised, free-form performance for an exhibition that was never realized, The Silent Breath of Emptiness was recorded in one take (with no additional sounds added) and for this album has been split into four segments of varying lengths. The fifth track is an almost thirteen-minute beautifully opulent reinterpretation of the original performance. All of the segments are guitar-based cinematic drones having a symphonic quality. The first and fourth segments are vibrant, harmonious and translucent. In contrast, the second segment begins a descent into darker, denser, more atonal drones. The third segment continues the dark, droning atmosphere initiated by its predecessor but takes the listener even deeper into thick, murky, distorted, inharmonious ambiances.

For the dedicated drone enthusiast, you might not hear a whole new here, however, the symphonic touch is a nice twist on an old theme, and it’s clear that Fazio’s sounds originate deep within his psyche. On the other hand, the novice or occasional drone listener will find much to enjoy and appreciate on The Silent Breath of Emptiness. - Larry Johnson

from Bad Alchemy (BA 57):

orchestramaxfieldparrish -  The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (Faith Strange Recordings, Faith Strange 07): Wenn man in der Vergangenheit des Gitarristen Mike Fazio stöbert, stößt man auf Life With The Lions, auf Chill Faction mit ihrem FunkNoFunk und auf die irischen AgitPop-Stews von Black 47, zwei New Yorker Projekte mit dem Green-Suede-Shoes-Crooner Larry Kirwan. Zusammen mit Thomas Hamlin, einem alten Weggefährten bereits seit den 80ern, bildet er auch die Gods Of Electricity, die Dark-Ambient-Welten jenseits von Eno erschaffen. Hier jedoch lässt er allein seine Gitarrenwellen aufrauschen und durch den Raum branden. Ältere dürfen an aufgeraute Robert-Fripp-Soundscapes denken, Jüngere an Fear Falls Burning. Nennt es Dröhnminimalismus oder psychedelisches Tripping ins Parrish-Blaue, Fazio ist lange genug dabei, um dafür als einer der Blueprints zu gelten, nicht als Kopie. Er erzeugt seinen nahezu symphonischen ‚Orgel‘-Klang ohne Overdubs, im intuitiven Freispiel, Welle für Welle für Welle. Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) war übrigens ein stilbildender Märchenillustrator und Maler von androgynen Träumern und phantastischen, anfänglich goldschimmernden und später mondlichtblauen Landschaften. Seine präraffaelitischen Wesen sind zu ätherisch für Fazios Klang. Der gehört zu den Monument Valleys und erhabenen Plateaus ihrer Traum-Monde. [BA 57 rbd] - Rigobert Dittmann

orchestramaxfieldparrish - The Silent Breath Of Emptiness (Faith Strange)
One realizes that things have to be hurried up when opening a packet and reading “Merry Christmas, Massimo” on the accompanying card - in June. But it’s not too late to invite you to discover another participant to the “celestial guitars” contest: Mike Fazio from New York, whose work has been quietly progressing since the 80s under various monikers and through a lot of situations (including the “college/indie dark folk outfit” Life With The Lions). This is my first encounter with his ideas, most definitely a pleasurable occasion. 

orchestramaxfieldparrish is a solo project dating from 1999, this music originally conceived for “an exhibition of local area artists that never came to be”. A soundscape of solitary improvised guitar captured in a single take yet, on record, divided in four parts plus a fifth containing a “reconstruction” of the others. Those who are interested in Robert Fripp’s most recent outings or in Aidan Baker’s stratified trips - and also people who remember “Hypnotics” by Suso Saiz well - will surely appreciate this CD very much, especially because Fazio doesn’t allow the effects to be too overtly recognizable. The sound waves remain suspended mid-air, at times menacing, elsewhere with a higher degree of serenity, the effect on the psyche always interesting. The game of superimposed resonances and vibrating frequencies is played with experience, sudden openings and layered hues at the basis of a sonic palette that for once won’t make us drown in “been there done that” syrups. The cover design is certainly notable. A nice Christmas present for the summer. - Massimo Ricci

Mike Fazio has been recording avant-garde, electronic and indie rock music since the early 1980’s and has contributed guitar and electronic input to releases by dark folk outfit Life with Lions, New York City’s Black 47 and toured with post-punk psych rockers Chill Faction and performance poet Copernicus. Orchestramaxfieldparrish is Fazio’s solo ambient project based around improvised electric guitar soundscapes.

“The Silent Breath of Emptiness” follows 2002’s “Tears” - also on Faith Strange - and was performed and recorded in a single take on Christmas Day 2006 at Luna County Observatory. The recording consists of the single improvised piece that is split into four parts with a fifth track consisting of a remix of the full performance. The music was originally intended for an exhibition of local area artists that never came to fruition.

Musically, “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” consists of huge undulating waves of guitar texture that tumble and flow over each other in cascades of fluid sound. Sometimes resembling layers of gently droning electronic texture (”Part 3″) and at others taking on an entirely more orchestral quality (”Part 1″), it is hard to believe that this music was created and documented as it happened, such is the intensity of feeling it creates. Often deep and enveloping with thick encapsulating swathes of droning texture, Fazio’s music sounds as though it has been meticulously crafted in a studio by carefully layering electric guitar and electronically generated sounds. “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” is essentially a journey in four suites that takes us from the warmth of “Part 1″’s electronic tones through the grand church organ like emotive drones of “Part 2″ on to huge demonic mechanical grind of “Part 3″ to conclude with bright organ-like optimism of “Part 4″. It is almost as though we follow a train of thought that slips deeper into the dark depths of despair before emerging renewed and invigorated on the other side. As a bonus, the almost 13 minute final track is a remix of the entire musical piece entitled “Reconstruction | Afterthought” which draws recognisable elements of the preceding four tracks and gives it an edgier mood by adding undulating drones and deep vibrating undertones that result in an entirely more anxious atmosphere throughout.

Listening to “The Silent Breath of Emptiness” it is amazing to think that it was recorded live as it was performed and in a single take as music of this type is often carefully orchestrated in a studio using layering techniques and all manner of electronic effects and gadgets. Considering the core of this recording consists of electric guitar textures that are manipulated and produced live, this album could be described as ambient, drone, experimental or avant-garde but also as absorbing, intense, dark or hypnotic. – Paul Lloyd

Kubla Khan

August 2008, textura's premiere label release Kubla Khan is now available from textura - the number one authority on new experimental music on the web.

Kubla Khan is comprised of interpretive musical responses to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream. A Fragment', written in 1797 and first published in 1816.

Featuring original music from orchestramaxfieldparrish titled "Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea' an extended 19 minute improvisation on pedal steel guitar, there are also beautiful, powerful and sublime works from Ryan Francesconi and Lili De La Mora, Alexander Turnquist as well as The Retail Sectors. You can hear an edit of 'Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea' here.

All compositions are exclusive to this release. There are only 500 units printed and undoubtedly will go fast.

Mastered by Mike Fazio.

Available exclusively through textura

REVIEWS (Kubla Khan):

Tokafi (Tobias Fischer), October 16, 2008:

"Most people think of music journalism as merely passing judgement. Canadian print magazine textura, however, has taken a completely different route. Far more interested in providing information than doling out meaningless ratings and focusing on essential lines of artistic development instead of short-lived phenomena, the Ontario-based publication has established itself as a source of inspiration for anyone with an inclination for sound art and experimental electronica—and as a serious threat to purses incapable of handling all the compulsive CD orders resulting from regular reading.

If the editorial team has now decided to enter the supposedly saturated label market, this neither comes as a big surprise nor as a random act dictated by a fleeting fancy. The impulse of finding out about interesting new artists on paper and the desire to listen to their music are closely connected, after all. And since well-reasoned subjectivity has thankfully replaced cool, market-oriented pseudo-objectivity in deciding on cover stories and review coverage, the case for a magazine to feature the same acts both through stories and physical releases is clear: artists and media have turned into partners, mutually supporting each other and shaping overlapping scenes and communities based on shared aesthetics and a need for uncompromising sounds.

As Kubla Khan proves, predominantly personal preferences need not contradict coherent creative concepts either. Admittedly, the artist roster for this four-way split draws a decidedly diverse line-up from textura's editorial innards: typographically nightmarishly-titled orchestramaxfieldparrish, Japanese one-man Post-Rock project The Retail Sectors, ambitious folk duo Ryan Francesconi and Lili De La Mora as well as New York'ean sound scuptor Alexander Turnquist have all been featured on their pages before. But two distinct selection criteria prevent the album from falling into arbitrariness.

On the one hand, there's the obvious outward leitmotif of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's eponymous, drug-induced hallucinatory poem. Its lines represent a point of departure for the participating composers, whose stylistic differences are suddenly carefully aligned by the joint goal of approximating the lyrical mystery of these verses through sound. In fact, the musical distinctions serve to sharpen one's perception of the words more than a more smoothly-styled sampler ever could: The Retail Sectors' plaintive minimalism and elated ecstasy and the shimmering, beautifully brittle love letters of Francesconi/De La Mora detect constant change in Coleridge's verbal magic, while Turnquists's epic spatial ruminations and the orchestramaxfieldparris's darkly peaceful and amorphously floating 18-minute wonder-world underline its enigmatic, ambivalently anthemic nature.

Less pronounced and yet equally essential is the fact that all of the artists involved use the Guitar as their main compositional tool. In the textural sections of the album, this factor sometimes dies down to a mere echo of its original timbre or to short, fragmented figments of strummed strings or melodic picking—but it always remains a clearly audible, distinctly recognizable element. Kubla Khan therefore not only allows readers an enlightening juxtaposition of some of their favorite projects, but also offers a glimpse of the very plurality of a scene all too often lazily summarized under the tag of “experimental Guitar.”

Already, the poles of this simplified term have started moving towards each other, driven by their inherently similar approaches and fruitfully pollinated by their idiosyncrasies. It is the task of the media to uncover these trends and to establish links between seemingly unconnected camps. By boldly following the latter ideal and ignoring the traditional allocation of tasks for magazines, labels and artists, textura has taken another step in establishing music journalism as a positive rather than a judgmental force—and in presenting themselves as a fully-fledged crossbreed of record company and print mag."

The Milk Factory (Bruno Lasier), September 30, 2008:

"Already a successful music magazine, textura is now launching a new imprint, and releasing its first album. Kubla Khan takes its name from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's classic nineteenth-century poem Kubla Khan, Or A Vision In A Dream, A Fragment, which was, according to Coleridge, inspired by an opium-induced dream. The poem also serves as a thread to the seven tracks featured on the album, as each song takes a particular aspect of the poem and is built as a response to it, or an interpretation of it, by the respective artists.

Four very different acts have taken on the challenge and brought their own musical vision to the project, from the expensive guitar-laden dense rock of The Retail Sectors and the vast sonic stretches of orchestramaxfieldparrish to the delicate folk flourishes of Seattle-based Ryan Francesconi, who contributes two solo tracks here plus one with vocalist Lili De La Mora, and the exquisite sound assemblages of New York's Alexander Turnquist. The focus of the album is therefore very much centred on experimental guitar work in one form or another, and while the scopes of the artists involved vary greatly, there is a surprising impression of consistency throughout Kubla Khan.

The album is bookended by compositions from Japanese artist and Symbolic Interaction label head Kentaro Togawa, who single-handedly spearheads The Retail Sectors. "Precarious Awakening," which opens, and "The Ever-Changing Scene," which concludes, are in many ways sister tracks, each building up momentum from originally spacious and crystalline formations, where shimmering guitars draw gentle shapes over an increasingly potent drum section, especially on the former. Little by little, the compositions gain in riches and depth until Togawa pushes into more distorted and altogether less clearly defined territories. On "Precarious Awakening," the distortions are abrasive and acidic, but it is a much more mysterious and haunting cloud of noise that temporarily erupts on the latter part of "The Ever-Changing Scene" and puts a very final touch to the album.

In between these two electric discharges are much more delicate, complex and ethereal pieces, first with Alexander Turnquist's complex sonic architectures on the epic "Fragments Vaulted Like Rebounding Hail" which, in the space of just over seventeen minutes, shatters acoustic instrumentation, interferences and processed electronics and found sounds into textured wallpapers which morph and change appearance throughout while remaining almost static. At first, Turnquist applies a finely detailed mechanical setting, but as layer upon layer of sound is added, and the reverb grows considerably, the piece becomes much more monolithic and rigid in appearance. Yet, there is a constant flow of activity just below the drone glaze of the surface which maintains the momentum throughout the piece. orchestramaxfieldparrish proposes the equally epic and dense "Waning Moon Over Sunless Sea" which shows a much more electric reading of quite similar ambiences. Yet, Mike Fazio creates here a wonderfully oneiric piece which takes shape very progressively into vast swathes of processed guitars. Unlike Turnquist, Fazio never drastically changes sonic setting here, and while strips of darker matter rise occasionally in the latter part of the track, the overall progression is almost imperceptible, yet it is very much real and tints the piece with rich undertones.

The three shorter middle tracks come courtesy of Seattle's Ryan Francesconi. His delicate acoustic pieces contrast greatly with the rest of the album. "Parables" is wonderfully light and airy. The feather-light melody is surprisingly complex and detailed, and actually seems to develop on a multitude of levels at once. This is also a characteristic of "Deep River Run Quiet," but the piece is more introspective and emotional. On "Green To Red," Francesconi teams up with Lili De La Mora, with whom he released the rather lovely Eleven Continents album earlier this year. Once again, the piece is somewhat reflective, but Lili's voice gives a much warmer and impressionist relief to Francesconi's delicate wanderings.

With its first release, textura has certainly created an impressive collection which reaches far beyond the realm of usual compilations to actually create a true narrative throughout. While the musicians featured come from somewhat diverse horizons, they meet here on common grounds and, while retaining their own identity, manage to contribute to the overall mood. Only 500 copies of Kubla Khan have been made available, and it would be a shame to miss it!


from cyclic defrost:

Ears aware of the quiet precision of sound in a blatantly loud world may have passed their eyes across the reviews in Textura. Akin to Cyclic Defrost, discrete sonic adventurers abound in this Canadian music blog/magazine. It’s first CD release is in a sense a contemplation on Coleridge’s Kubla Khan (or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment), poetic vision on history, all too resounding in modern times where the promises of ‘the pleasure dome’ lull to sleep its entrants. But the representatives are no slouches, The Retail Sectors (Kentaro Togawa) bookend the compilation with a build to drone and distort intensity and warmth. Alexander Turnquist’s ‘Fragments Vaulted Like Rebounding Hail’ is epic textural melding of his skill with 12 string guitar, toy zylophone, fused with samplers electronic manipulation. Ryan Francesconi 3 tracks standout somehow their direct crisp guitar play convey more; simple bright, deceptively naïve minimal guitar scapes reveal a depth of knowledge alluded. His ‘Green to Red’ with Lili De La Mora vocals holds a delightful whimsy in the center of the compilation. Mike Fazio under the guise orchestramaxfieldparrish presents a pedal steel guitar shimmer of light akin to ambient cathedral works of overly sacred organists. It takes skill and active imagination to stay awake in Kubla Khan’s dream, the players are aware of it being a dream and the entrants asleep, aware of their complicity in the dream state, close examination of technique, awareness and mind activity allows you entrance and exit to this beautific dream palace. With clarity of mind Textura’s debut awakens the mind to the beauty beyond the soporific poetry of Coleridge.

- Innerversitysound

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Tears

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Tears

From Aural Innovations #31 June 2005:

Deeply influenced by the 80s academy of ambient guitarists (Bill Nelson, Robert Fripp, Michael Rother, Durutti Column), Mike Fazio’s orchestramaxfieldparrish project is a splendid concatenation of soaring e-bow guitars, heavenly synthesizers, crystalline percussion and an assortment of other instruments finely tuned to the frequencies of the heart and soul. Fazio’s closest spiritual antecedents, however, serve as mere ghostly projections that infuse his compositions with a kind of invisible aura and rarely a heavy-handed presence. At their best, Fazio’s songs are channels to other times and places that resonate in the pools of memory, anthems of transcendence for fallen angels and romantic warriors. The lovely “Bow” is a case in point. Chiming electric guitars create a lush dreamscape over which an orchestra of tuned percussion, wood, glass and assorted metals flicker like fireflies on a summer evening. Both intoxicating and entrancing, “Waiting for Twilight” builds swelling guitars into a symphonic architecture of longing ascension, where rich chordal clusters rise and fall like the shadows of velvet birds cast against a kaleidoscopic horizon. These and the other shorter pieces (”…and then a crowd, impossible to number…” and “Where the Angels Crash and Die,” for instance) all share a consistency and fluidity of vision that the extended suites (”The Tears of Christ” and “Music from the Empty Corner”) occasionally lack. This isn’t to say that the longer compositions are too repetitive or directionless, only that within the less consciously circumscribed, more open-minded framework, Fazio tends to drift far afield to esoteric circles that only true initiates can fully appreciate. “The Tears of Christ” effectively utilizes musical space for the creation of sounding structures through time - a kind of kyrie eleison for solo guitar processed with a multitude of effects. “Music from the Empty Corner” is perhaps Fazio’s clearest and most heartfelt expression of his connection to the Orphic myth he alludes to in the album’s liner notes. Using little more than bells, gongs and synth, Fazio sculpts a mesmerizing tone poem of luminescent beauty. Here, timbre and pitch are constructed in the same way that a painter might use light and shadow on a canvas. Shimmering and radiant, “Music from the Empty Corner” sunders the darkness like veils of light from another sun - truly splendid music for the deep silences of the night. Tears is a rare oasis in what is increasingly becoming a barren world of sound. - Charles Van de Kree

From FUNPROX - July, 2005:

…‘Tears’ by the formation orchestramaxfieldparrish is a record one mustn’t skip.

‘Tears’ is an evocative and dynamic blend of all sorts of instruments (listed separately beneath each track in the cd-booklet) as electric guitars, drums, piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitars. Keywords to describe the music would be: atmospheric, soundtrackish and dreamy. The overall audial impression of the record is not dark at all, more soothing then menacing, sometimes even more poppy than ambient.

The rich variation of styles is clear in ‘A lot like you’. After the initial drones, orchestramaxfieldparrish suddenly breaks the ambient structure and starts a moody and catchy song. In the next track, besides droning electronics, also drums and a bass-line are present, but this time more to support atmosphere than to create a songstructure. ‘Bow’ is definitely my favourite track, which sounds like a mixture of Raison d’être and Alio Die. The echoing, reverbing guitarsounds create a very powerful lush feeling of desolation and sadness. Like Orpheus’ lyre twanging sad strains, emitting nice vibrating sounds. These chilling, distant guitarstrains are present in most of the tracks; resulting in an album that sounds as a whole. Everyone sensitive to soundscapes will absolutely be touched by the efforts of this band from the big apple.

Orchestramaxfieldparrish combines the best ingredients of ambient-electronic music on the one hand, and post-rock-alike guitar drones on the other. A definite recommendation. - JS

from EXPOSE - issue 27, JULY, 2003:

I chose this CD for review based solely on the name. What a welcome change to see a project that absorbs influences from other art forms, not a common enough trait. And the serenity in the paintings of Parrish - once the whipping boy of hip mid-century moderns, for whom all but splashes and blobs of ugliness was bourgeois and out-of-fashion - is the perfect afflatus for the beautiful ambient sound paintings of OMP. And it is all the work of one man, Mike Fazio. Striking is Fazio’s grasp of the production savvy needed to achieve a professionalism that exceeds the grasp of most other ambient music projects. Surely the emphasis is on mood and atmosphere - each track explores a different side of the craft, delivered by a distinct orchestration. Electric guitars here, Mellotron, piano and acoustic guitars there; synths and samples on another; and so on. Cues are taken from various ends of the genre: Fripp & Eno, Harold Budd, Bill Nelson, David Sylvian, etc. But he reveals his instruments more prominently, adding bass, even a touch of drums and symphonic elements as well, something that most ambient composers run scared from. It all coalesces into a wonderfully coherent statement, not a hodge podge. Ambient music is easy to fool around and dabble with, but deceptively difficult to get right. OMP hits the mark splendidly, and I recommend it. - Michael Ezzo

Mike Ezzo’s Best of 2002:

New Releases:

1. Univers Zero - Rhythmix

2. Jonas Hellborg - Icon

3. Pat Metheny - Speaking of Now

4. Lars Hollmer’s Global Project - Sola

5. Peter Hammill - Clutch

6. Manring/McGill/Stevens - Controlled By Radar

7. orchestramaxfieldparrish - Tears

8. Tangerine Dream - Inferno

9. Wayne Shorter - Footprints Live

10. Softworks - Softworks





faith strange - fs2

Mike Fazio is the Orchestra, and has been around since 1987 – the sleeve includes a useful bio: Black 47 prominent for over a decade amongst other gigs, various production. Among the enthusiasm of a pr insert, the references to Bill Nelson and David Sylvian strike a chord at first listening (celebrated by the cheeky sampling of samples from the Orchestra Arcana for one track).

‘Beauty and wonder’ is that, echoed and delightful backwards and forwards guitar tones, reminiscent of Bill Nelson, which is furthered by the choppy Chinese chimes and sweeping guitar in the first half of ‘Dorothea gets her wish’ but then a big percussion enters with voice tones and piano and OMP is finding its own voice, perhaps symbolised by the squeezed guitar at the end. But the Nelson sampled samples of ‘…and then a crowd, impossible to number…’ surrounded by long tones and washes, sounds swirling around the slightly echoed voices.

I have often wondered about track lengths – and there does seem to be a pointed nature to ‘A lot like you’ being 8:01 long (we are the 801, we are the central shaft). But it opens in an un-Eno way with a couple of minutes of tidal crackle rumbles before a very nice guitar solo with piano accompaniment that fades back into the rumble that is extended to fill the time. Some echoes of Windham Hill, but there seems to be a little more edge. Unstable and phasing surging and pinging tones (including some high guitar) grounded by drum and rubbery bass are ‘Where the angels crash and die’.

The lush echoed and reverbed guitar provides a varied density melody surrounded by restrained chimes and soft scraping noises in ‘Bow’ after which long tones in ‘Waiting for twilight’ form embracing and warm clouds of sound, with room for a bass solo and then some edgy guitar. The Fripp-ish nature of that sound is echoed in ‘The tears of christ’ a 17 minute soundscape that is a spacious work with phasey looped and delayed guitar, lyric chromatic clusters that nod towards Fripp’s soundscapes but develops OMP’s own sound. Finally ‘Music from the empty quarter’ is a contemplative piece for gongs and deep rumble, chimes and tones drifting and surging, some larger echoed sounds, but generally relaxed. Or almost finally, as there is a brief extra piece of backward and ringing guitar to balance the opening track.

This is one of those albums which is going to get replayed because it is full of timeless pleasure – from the more dramatic guitar pieces to the extended spacious contemplations - a musical suite to savour (especially if you like Bill Nelson).

- Jeremy Keens


Progressive Newsletter 2005

Im Moment scheint wieder mal die Zeit für elektronische Musik reif zu sein. Brachte zum Anfang des Jahres InsideOut über ihr neues Label Revisited Rec. gleich vier Alben von Elektronikpionier Klaus Schulze als CD Wiederveröffentlichung unters Volk, so ist auch das Projekt Orchestramaxfieldparrish in den Gestaden der elektronischen Klänge angesiedelt. Reiner Zufall oder nicht: die ätherischen, schwebenden Klängen passen einfach vortrefflich zum nasskalten, schneereichen Wetter dieses Winters. Mike Fazio, der sich als alleiniger Musiker hinter dem Pseudonym Orchestramaxfieldparrish verbirgt, ist vom Arbeitsgerät keineswegs allein auf die Tasten fixiert. Neben Synthesizer, Mellotron und Klavier, reproduziert vor allem die elektrische Gitarre den Großteil seiner feingliedrigen, komplett instrumentalen Klanglandschaften. Seine Bandbreite ist weitgefächert und reicht von abstrakten Ambientklängen bzw. allein auf Stimmungen aufgebauten Soundcollagen hin bis zu “normaler” Musik in melodischer Schlichtheit. Dadurch gelingt es die eher schwebenden Klänge wieder zu erden, eine Balance neben reiner Atmosphäre, durch fragile Songfragmente zu finden. Der Spagat zwischen Experiment, Avantgarde und struktureller Denkweise gelingt auf diesem Album über weite Strecken, dennoch ist die ganze Synthese des amerikanischen Musikers nicht unbedingt leicht Kost, sondern eher als Extrem Ambient einzustufen.

- Kristian Selm

from WIND AND WIRE - November 2003

Volume 1, Number 7

I have mixed feelings about this ambient music CD, the work of Mike Fazio recording here under the pseudonym orchestramaxfieldparrish. Those songs that I do like on Tears I like a lot. Then there are two to which I have a negative reaction. On balance, though, I would give the CD a solid recommendation because of the brave nature of what Fazio is doing as well as the music contained on the tracks I do enjoy. And, while I had to hit the “skip” a few times when playing the album, you may not have to.

Instrumentation on the nine tracks (which range from one and half to over seventeen minutes in length) varies from electric and acoustic guitars, drums, piano and bass to more traditionally ambient tools of the trade (samplers, synths). This variety also extends to the music, as I hinted at above. The album opens with a short (the minute and a half piece mentioned earlier) abstract electric guitar song, “Beauty and Wonder,” and segues into the full-bodied (guitars, drums, piano and synths) upbeat “Dorothea Gets Her Wish,” full of sparkling electronic notes, rolling piano chords and soaring electric guitars (placed back of the mix). From there, we are treated to a very nice pure ambient cut, “…and then a crowd, impossible to number,” featuring layers of billowing serene but minor key synths helped along by some dialogue snippets (one sounds like Spock, one sounds like Lousie Fletcher from Brainstorm and the other one I’m unsure of).

As I mentioned above, some of the tracks on Tears are misses for me, including the disjointed “A Lot Like You,” which tries to evolve an opening stretch of noise and static into an acoustic guitar and piano number resembling an instrumental folk music piece. For me, it didn’t gel and neither of the disparate parts hit me much either. Likewise, the next song, “Where The Angels Crash And Die,” while deserving of its pessimistic title, plays like a goth rock band (electric guitars, drums, bass) jamming to no real purpose except to craft a lot of dark textures. If that turns your crank, you’ll love this.

Things take a sharp turn upwards (meaning, for the better) starting with “Bow,” a drifting but melancholy Jeff Pearce-like electric guitar song that also features assorted percussive effects on metal, glass, and wood which are, remarkably enough, cohesive and non-pretentious. Guitars on this track are both strummed and also used as drone-like ambience. From here on out, the album is on a roll, with one solid number after another. “Waiting For Twilight” is a serene ambient cut, on which Fazio’s electric guitars sound more like synths as they weave a darkish, but not too, pattern in the night sky. At more than seventeen minutes, “The Tears Of Christ” is far and away the most ambitious track on the CD. Using nothing but electric guitars, Fazio explores abstract minimalism, experimenting with the silence between notes as well as a variety of tones, shadings, and more overt “guitar-like” musical stylings. The only other artist doing anything at all like this that I’m familiar with is Jon Durant, and Fazio stands toe-to-toe with him on this piece. It’s possible that the track could have been shortened, yet with minimalistic music like this, how much is enough or not enough?

For me, the closing track is also far and away my favorite. “Music From the Empty Corner” (an alarmingly appropriate title) also journeys down minimal pathways, but this time does so with assorted bells and gongs, most of them reverberating and sustaining for long periods of time. The various tones, each of them pleasant in their own right, coalesce to form fascinating patterns yet in a completely random fashion. While the music is not “dark,” there is a brilliant juxtaposition of contemplation tinted with profound sadness (or at least that’s my reaction) which transfixed me every time I played this cut. While twelve minutes long, I never tired of the wind-chime like allure of this selection.

The upside of Tears far outweighs my complaints and since it’s easy enough to program out the two cuts I don’t care for, I can recommend it to ambient and minimalist fans with breezy confidence, assuming the listener is not opposed to non-traditional (i.e. not synthesizers) sources for his/her ambient bliss. Because, the majority of this album contains more than a few blissful moments, as well as stretches of artistic creativity and virtuosity that bode well for Mike Fazio’s future releases. - Bill Binkelman

Axiom Of Choice


Mike Fazio has been involved with numerous artists in New York City including Black 47 and Chill Faction. This is an ambientish release from 2002.

The music:

The artwork and titles already indicate this to be an artistic and tasteful release. And it is. The opener is a short one moving right into Dorothea Gets Her Wish. Reverb and guitar sounds dominate. Follw up …And Then A Crowd, Impossible To Number… is a prime example of ambient with spoken words, vocoded and an angelic atmosphere. A sample is nicked from Bill Nelson which says something.A Lot Like You has warm piano playing, strings, acoustic guitar and a zooming bass sound, while Where The Angels Crash And Die (I really like that title) is rather experimental and eerie. Lots of things happening at the same time making it come off as rather chaotic. Think of Frippians soundscapes on The Gates Of Paradise. Incidental drum work occurs on this one.

With Bow we are back to serene ambient, complete with the tinkle of bells. Comparisons can be made to the excellent More Than A Just A Seagull by Gandalf here, although Orchestramaxfieldparrish is a bit less melodic. Waiting For Twilight continues on a soothing note with ambientish bass and guitar. Think Fripp, Sylvian and Eno (but mainly the former, as on his That Which Passes).

The final two pieces are of more than respectable length, and are more Soundscapes like in essence. The first of these is The Tears Of Christ, which indeed features only guitars. Music From The Empty Corner is similar but uses what is called a ‘reaktor’ instead. This is more in the line of typical Electronic Music ambient.


A really nice ambientish releases with a bit of experiment, but not overly much. The sound is warm and soothing, as it should be, except of course when the artist decides differently. Main reference point is Fripp’s solo work.

- Jurriaan Hage