November 19, 2013

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August 17, 2011

J.C. Combs (born 1970) is a Seattle-based neoteric composer. His works include “Charmed Elixirs” from 2008 (Sequenza21 described it as “antique poise and luminescence recalled in a disturbing dream from just last night”), “Bats in the Belfry” from 2009, “Safe Passage” on the premiere Russian label Electroshock Records from 2010 which has been featured on Max Shea’s “Martian Gardens” (WMUA 91.1FM Amherst and online), Don Campau’s “No Pigeonholes” program (KOWS FM Sonoma and online“Solta a Franga”  (Netherleands), The Mystery Lesson –radio show presented by Daniel Spicer. 97.2FM in Brighton, UK, “WWSP”, Program “Ambient Aether/Space Continuum”,  Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio (show #249) and more; Jane Martin” from 2010 (video excerpt of a piece set to dance at BEAF), “Minstrel Nomadic” from 2010, “File Under: Misc.” (an ongoing album of misc. works featuring many artists), and “Rings of Saturn” – 2010. Combs also participated in the international event 60X60, 2010 – Magenta Mix.  In 2011, Combs released “Confessions of a Deviant Machine,” a collaboration with Lee Noyes on the label Con-V, which was included in “Spiritual Archives” magazine year-end favorites of 2011 and Acts of Silence magazine top 100 netlabel releases of 2011.

2012 brought the release of “The Chrome Castle and an Overgrown Lawn” on his independent label Cellar Door Records.

In the summer of 2013, Combs released the EP “Gazing” on the Spectropol label, which has been featured on radio programs including Max Shea’s “Martian Gardens” (WMUA 91.1FM Amherst and online) and Don Campau’s “No Pigeonholes” program (KOWS FM Sonoma and online) and Miniature Minotaurs with Kurt Gottschalk (WFMU 91.1 FM in New York and 90.1 FM in the Hudson Valley).   Gazing is also the  soundtrack for some great choreography  by Susan Haines with performances in Bellingham WA. More performances in early 2014 will include even more music from Combs.

In the fall of 2014, Combs announced a solo piano project called “Excursion” which consists of a travelogue in and around Seattle.  10 works composed between October and November.  In March 2014 Combs returned to his private label after a two year hiatus and released “Every Junkie is a Recording.” , a piece which travels in and around ambient, drone, accidental sounds, mystery synthesis and melodic noise.

Combs has also been involved in several compilation projects, including “ImprovFriday Volumes 1. and 2.” and “For Japan” on the “Amaranth Records” independent label.  He has also made appearances on the “Three Legs Duck” label and “Spectropol” label via compilation projects.

Combs founded and is actively involved in the serious musician’s social network “Sound-In” 2009-present.

Performed at the Bellingham Electronic Music Festival May 7, 2011. Composer J.C. Combs, Choreography/Performance Susan Haines (It Must Have Been Violet Dance Productions)

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with reviews, but I think I may have been slipping of late with all the work I’ve been up to.  Being an artist of any type with a full-time job makes operating a blog more trying, but I do believe I have enough energy to get by (knock on wood).

Anyway,  below is a quote from a very thoughtful review by David Nemeth on the pages of “Acts of Silence.”regarding “Confessions of a Deviant Machine”Lee Noyes, myself, on the Con-V label.  (PS:  I shy away from using the term “netlabel” because the “net” part no doubt will become irrelevant in the future in the recording industry).

Maybe the “liking” of various experimental improvisational music is much like Justice Potter Stewart’s recognition of hard-core porn, ” . . . I know it when I see it.” For me, I know when I like a record when I like it, and I really like Confessions of a Deviant Machine.  –  Acts of Silence (David Nemeth reviewed)

I just realized recently that I should create a couple videos for “Safe Passage.”   Here is this first of probably a couple more.

A nice review by Damian Koczkodon over at Elmusyka in Poland.  Damian also nicely surprised me by creating a video to accompany the review.  A very kind gesture.  An excerpt:

“Ta twórczość, mimo eksperymentalnej etykietki, daje się swobodnie słuchać dzięki swojej różnorodności. Może stanowić dobrą zachętę dla lubiących wyzwania odbiorcy”

The full review here.   This is the video for the track “Safe Passage.”  

Here is a short review of Safe Passage.

J.C. Combs


Electroshock Records


Llamativo trabajo experimental, basado en la combinación de técnicas de collage sonoro con audiopaisajes urbanos y atmósferas musicales.

Las piezas, con títulos como por ejemplo “Trinity 666 – The Last Train to Hell” (que cierra el disco), “November 13, 2009”, o “The Giant Eye of the 5th Dimension”, son como audiorretratos, algunos realistas, otros con toques sobrenaturales, que oscilan entre los aires costumbristas y el Ambient oscuro, además de entre otras influencias.


A remarkable experimental work based in the combination of techniques of collage of sound with urban audio passages and musical atmospheres, this is a noteworthy album. The themes, with such titles as for example “Trinity 666 – The Last Train to Hell” (closing the album), “November 13, 2009”, or “The Giant Eye of the 5th Dimension”, are some sort of audio portraits, some realistic, others with supernatural touches, flowing from folk airs and dark ambient among other influences. – DOMINIQUE CHEVANT –

Sure, the genre says New Age, but don’t worry about that. Right now Tunecore is in the middle of negotiating with iTunes re: classical genre misrepresentation of all classical artists.


Postminimalist composer, David Toub, took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us a little about his start up in to composition and what we can look forward to from him in the future.  I think people generally look over the detail, “when did you start composing and what triggered it.” I would suspect that is because a good number of composers are straight out of a college of the arts and it streamed from childhood.  Directed.  I personally find it more interesting when someone has “a calling” without any direction.  The individual working/studying, etc., to succeed in a competitive society, yet pulled into the arts, towed in by a force, that being a creative outlet in the mind, a predefined set course maybe or simply a natural talent discovered and utilized to its fullest.  Be sure to visit the links and check out his works. 


Combs:  How old were you when you started composing?

 Toub:  I can’t remember the age, but I know I started writing something by the seventh grade. It was pretty bad, and I knew nothing about theory, not even how to write proper notes (backward noteheads, etc.).  I got more involved during ninth grade.

Combs:  What attracted you to minimalism? 

Toub:  Initially, I had zero interest.  I had heard some early Reich (Come Out, Four Organs, Drumming, etc.) and thought it was weird and unlistenable.  I was writing freetonal and 12-tone music at the time. However, I remained intrigued.  In 12th grade (1978-1979), I heard the radio premiere of Einstein on the Beach and was hooked.  But it was about two years before I actually wrote a postminimalist piece. I wanted to make sure I was writing in my own voice rather than plagiarizing.

Combs:  You practiced medicine for many years. How in the hell did you compose hour long works while attending medical school?

 Toub:  That was tricky.  I made the time during off-hours.  I also would copy my scores by hand during down time between surgical cases as a fellow.  The biggest challenge was finding a piano.  I made use of a lot of practice rooms under less than optimal circumstances.  In the early 90’s, my wife got me a synthesizer that I still use, and that was invaluable.

Combs:  Who is your favorite composer?

Toub:  Too many to count, but certainly Feldman, Scelsi, Riley, Shostakovich and Reich are up there.

Combs:  What project is on deck for David Toub?

Toub:  I am currently almost done digitizing my first postminimal work from 1981. It’s around 2 hours for piano. The percussionist Bill Solomon has asked me for a piece, and I will write it eventually.  I just took a great position with a medical device startup in Silicon Valley, so I spend a lot of time flying to work from Pennsylvania.  But I have a MIDI keyboard controller in my office in California, so I’m managing to get something done after the workday.

Charmed Elixirs

1.  The Gathering

2.  Agrimony

3.  Lotus

4.  Fuchsia

5.  John the Conqueror

6.  Valerian

7.  Elixir Intermission

8.  The Saxman Asshat

9.  Lady’s Mantle

10.  Antihero Beaker

11.  Provisions 

12.  Peste d’Esprit