Dave Kulju - Abstract Expression
Dave Kulju - Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Bass Guitar, Drum Kit, Guitar Synthesizer, Keyboards & Programming
- Internal Combustion (4:42)
- Don't Mind Me (4:35)
- Hieland Road (4:32)
- Pleiades (5:38)
- Depth Of Autumn (5:57)
- Picnic At The Slag Heap (2:19)
- The Main Attraction (5:18)
- Somnium (15:16)
- The Water Discipline (4:59)
Frank Basile - Drum Kit on "Pleiades", "Depth Of Autumn", "Picnic At The Slag Heap", & "The Main Attraction"
Bryan Powers - Drum Kit on "Internal Combustion" and "Don't Mind Me"
Joel Mahathy - Theremin and Guitar solo on "Picnic At The Slag Heap"
Douug Upton - Organ solo on "Somnium"
Ian Cameron - Violin on "Pleiades"
Page One (5.7 mb PDF)
Page Two (4.0 mb PDF)
This solo project sort of happened by accident. While I was waiting to start tracking guitars for Standard Deviation in 2001 I wrote and recorded a song called Pleiades. Not long after that Gino and Joe had finished up the rhythm tracks for the Electrum record so I spent the rest of 2001 and early 2002 working on that project.
After releasing Standard Deviation life began to conspire against Electrum forcing us into an extended hiatus. I just kept writing music. The early works included a short fun piece called Internal Combustion, an extended piece that became Somnium, and a bizarre little grunge-jazz piece called Picnic at the Slag Heap. In a lot of ways these pieces were studies in instrumental composition for me. I worked at trying to write pieces that used fewer musical ideas while developing those ideas with different variations and focusing on melody. I also pulled out of mothballs a piece of music I co-wrote with 2 friends one magical summer afternoon back in 1988 called The Main Attraction.
In 2004 I began to realize I was approaching the point where I should consider releasing some of this material under my own name if I could find a drummer who would be willing to help out. Through a co-worker at my day job I met Bryan Powers (Guest Musician on Internal Combustion and Donít Mind Me) who is a fantastic drummer and was willing to play on at least a couple of tracks. So I continued writing music and came up with The Water Discipline, Depth of Autumn, Hieland Road and Donít Mind Me as well as some other experiments that arenít included in this collection.
In 2005 I began to focus on getting my home studio upgraded enough that I could record live drums, buying some new microphones and building a lot of acoustic treatment. On June 28th we tracked drums for Donít Mind Me beginning a process that would be completed some 22 months later when I completed final mixing and mastering on Somnium. Along the way, I learned a couple of new instruments and I worked with some wonderful guest musicians who breathed considerable life into these songs and transformed what would have merely been a one man demo tape into a quality collection of music that Iím sincerely proud of.
If this instrumental record has a concept at all it is simply that Music is an inherently abstract art form. I can't begin to really describe with words what I'm doing with that guitar any more than I could sufficiently describe a work by Jackson Pollock. That complete lack of a tangible meaning or frame of reference to everyday life is what I believe makes music such a powerful art form. So while these songs have titles, the names are not an essential ingredient nor do they reveal any important information about what you are hearing. The listener brings their own frame of reference.
Hieland Road - This one is my debut as a drummer. Like "The Water Discipline", I played all the instruments but Water Discipline doesn't have any live drums.
Strangely enough it was the guitar solo I had a hard time getting the feel right on. I flew the bass solos in from the original demo version I did.
This song started out as a Station ID I made for Progressive Soundscapes Radio, an internet radio station I do the website for. The melodies are based on a couple of Irish folk songs.
Pleiades - This composition features Frank Basile, from Live Studio Drums, with some unbelievable work. The drums were really critical on this one as the opening beat was the original idea for the song. It came to me in the car on my way home - ran right in the house and sequenced it. Within a few days the whole song was pretty well composed. I guess that was at least a couple of years ago now. Originally I had conceived this to be a piece with vocals and had just mapped out the melodies on guitar and synths for reference. But alas I'm almost as bad at lyric writing as I am at singing.
The song is named for my favorite object in the night sky. With the naked eye you can make out the 7 main stars. But then when viewed with an ordinary pair of binoculars the rest of this star cluster is revealed...and unlike most astronomical objects it actually looks as cool as it does in the glossy color adjusted photos you see in Astronomy Magazine.
Depth Of Autumn - This piece is partly based on the Irish folk melody "Autumn". When we started working on the last Electrum album we were running with a concept of pulling influences from different cultures. Gino's material focused on Eastern and Mid-Eastern influences while I was focused on pulling melodic ideas out of European folk music. Since that project came to a screeching halt due to logistics and time, we decided to start over again with a blank canvas at a later time. So sprinkled throughout my record are leftover ideas like the introduction and main theme in this piece.
Picnic At The Slag Heap - Along with Frank Basile on drums, this also features Joel Mahathy playing the insane "big muff" guitar solo and Theremin. He used an actual original "big muff" pedal, not some cheezy computer plug in. And if I remember correctly the Theremin is one of the early Moog kits.
This song is named for a line in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The movie they spoofed was called Robot Monster. The terrifying monster in this flick is a guy in a gorilla suit with a space helmet on. He says cool existential things like "I must, but I cannot". Ro-man comes armed with a death ray and a bubble machine.
Somnium - This one comes in at over 15 minutes, the title is Latin for "nonsense". This piece takes 4 themes and then applies them to many different styles and feels as well as combining them in different ways. But often the changes are jarring and nonsensical so while this is probably the most logical and carefully constructed piece on the record my guess is that unless the listener does a complete transcription and harmonic analysis they are going to perceive it as pretty much insane. And that is ok, most of the other stuff on the album has a very structured sound to it.
Other things of note on this track: There is a kind of weird rhythmic loop in this clip that I created by making unusual sounds with the guitar and wah pedal. I flew the loop in from the original demo. Musician-wise this one is all me except for the fantastic organ solo at the end of this clip which was performed by longtime friend Doug Upton. Doug and I played in a number of bands together in High School and College. For many years now we have lived about 1000 miles apart and just keep in touch by phone. I went on a road trip to Nashville to visit him a few years back and brought my PC along so I could record this performance.
The Water Discipline - This song is based on a section that was cut from "Seven Falls, Eight Rises" on the last Electrum CD. I elected to give it a sort of ambient trip hop groove. Being my first time venturing into that arena, it took forever to get the feel and sound of the drum parts right. Then I decided to take the keyboard part which used to have a classic synth pad sound and arrange it for strings. That effort paid off huge as the strings bring a ton of richness to the piece.
For those who haven't read Frank Herbert's Dune series the title of this song is a reference to those. But whether you have read the books or not this song is about whatever you imagine it to be about. I have to call them something and let's face it, Sonata #1 for Guitar in A minor would sound pretentious.