This new release from drummer and multi-instrumentalist Timm Biery is the first in a series of projects under the Smart Dust banner. Combining free improvisation, structured form, and structured forms carved out of free improvisation, Smart Dust is as much a frame of mind as it is music - and another step forward in the development of this multifaceted artist.
"Some may be surprised by the electronica and ambient musical influences in this project", says Timm, "but I've actually had an interest in those styles since the mid 1980s. Some of that crept into pieces on my album Touch, and I think you'll find it surfacing from time to time in all my music since."
So what prompted this shift in direction after the jazz leanings of Timm's last release New Shoes ?
"The overall direction of these pieces was inspired by the music I found myself becoming immersed in after completing my last album", he says. "I was revisiting the ProjeKcts of King Crimson, particularly ProjeKct 3, after picking up their recent Heaven & Earth box set. I would start my day listening to the ProjeKcts as background music to my morning reading and gradually worked through every show they did. All of that music was born from free improvisation, which is something I had done quite a bit of over the years but never really attempted much as a solo artist. Throw in some of the esoteric Eurasian folk music I was also listening to at that time and you have a fairly complete picture of how I started down the path of these recordings.
"Every piece in the Smart Dust series began as improvisation; some remained free improvs throughout, but the pieces in this release all grew into structured forms of a sort while retaining improvised sections. To impart a sense of adventure and live performance I used virtually all of the initial tracks I recorded, then built upon those using as many first takes of the additional parts as I possibly could."
Also integral to shaping the recordings was the addition of a new tool into Timm's work flow. "I began to search for ways to incorporate more electronic percussion and synths into my compositions which led me to adding Propellerhead's Reason software to the process", he says. "Reason is a very powerful tool for for crafting electronic music. I've used it in a few different ways during this project and find it's a great way for me to change things up. All of my other electronic instruments and machines are fairly dated, so Reason gives me a far more modern palette to work with."
In keeping with this new way of doing things, the pieces were intended to be named by release title and position in sequence, with the date of inception included in parenthesis. However, distribution services were designed for more traditional naming schemes, so that needed to be somewhat modified. Pieces were named solely for their position in sequence (“Piece One”, “Piece Two”, etc.).
Just how much music can we expect in the Smart Dust series? "I've got 30 or so pieces in varying states of completion right now", Timm says. "During these crazy times, I've been finding peace and sanity through the creative process. Thankfully, I'm waking up each day excited to see what music will arise. I hope that continues long after the world returns to normal."