Nathan Hubbard (percussion and live electronics)
In the Year of the Dragon
This inaugural release on the "Stand Alone Series" finds the San Diego-based percussionist displaying the diverse aspects of his approach to solo performance and improvisation.
ordering - Circumvention Music -
|notes on the recordings Born On Tuesday|
|Born On Tuesday was my first documentation of solo work. My involvement with electronics had sparked my interest in changing sounds and different grains of sound, and a lot of this recording is about the production, my experiments with extended miking techniques and the use of different rooms to acheive different possibilities. The record went through several different stages, with different ideas changing as material was recorded. In general there were three main sessions, each are listed below with thoughts on recording and setups-|
For the first session, we recorded several electro-acoustic pieces at Palomar College. These pieces are born on tuesday, student studies (for Danlee Mitchell) and azungu sa ndi tsitsi. The setup was my red Tama kit (10" tom, 14" floor, 18" kick) with a 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K hihats, a 18" flatride, a 18" K crash/ride, a 20" Paiste tam tam, my percussion box, frame 1 and a sampler. We recorded the kit with three different mic setups, first (using an ADAT recorder) we placed four mics on the kit (kick, two overheads and a middle mic) and a mic and DI on the amplifier. Second (using a DAT recorder) we placed two 57s in coffee cans in front of the kit, and third, Nate Atwood was walking around the space with a minidisc attached to a lo-fi mic. Later, we mixed the ADAT tracks, lined up the coffee cans and lo-fi recordings and dub mixed the material. The possibilities allowed for a hi-fi sound (the ADAT), a slightly ring-modulated sound with very strange resonance (the coffee cans) and a grainy lo-fi sound (the minidisc).
For the second group of sessions, i recorded several pieces in my house directly to DAT. I recorded a short improvisation using a table of junk (miked with stereo overheads) that was later used in the piece turn the tide of the tale. The piece enabler was recorded using frame 1 and 2, a sampler (using samples from MCHS and my prepared piano) and an echoplex. The piece voice in the machine (for Harold Hubbard) was recorded by contact miking a junk kit (an old head for a bass drum, a gretch floor tom, a snare drum with beads in the shell, a garbage can lid, an 18" china and a broken 18" ride for hihats + a small bell cymbal for bowing) and running this kit through a chain of processors. The piece 5/25 was recorded using my 28" Leedy bass drum and a 8' by 4' thundersheet, strung from the roof and contact miked. Later, i setup a small drumkit, two DAT recorders and a PA in my living room, and miked both the drumkit and PA. After muffling the kit with towels and sheets of polyester, i recorded voice in the machine II by recording the four bar loop for five minutes. i then recorded the DAT tape being played thru the PA while i playing along with it. i recorded eight times with muffling and then four times without muffling. The source material for gate 6 was also recorded that afternoon, using the drumkit, a snare drum filled with wooden beads, various percussion and several graduated pipes. This material was later put in Greg Buhlerts IMac and put together over several months.
The third session was recorded at DHCC (the first recording there), now using my modified kit (16" Ludwig kick, 14" Gretch floor tom, junior conga, small 6" PVC tom, two small cymbals + hihats and various mounted blocks and metal stuff), frame 1, a sampler, a drum machine and several processors, including an echoplex. This session was recorded to DAT and includes the pieces turn the tide of the tale, the gift and in the year of the dragon.
reviews of Nathan Hubbard Born On Tuesday (CMCD SA-081)
|Hubbard, Nathan Born on Tuesday Circumvention SA-081 2002 This is West Coast drummer Nathan Hubbards first solo album. The culmination of a 12-month once-a-month solo concert series during which the artist has explored many ways to expand the palette of the standard drum kit, this CD culls studio recordings made in June and July 2002. The music ranges from solo free improvisations on the drum kit reminiscent of Paul Lovens and Paul Lytton (a track is even dedicated to him) to harsh noise pieces. Hubbard uses all kinds of sticks, brushes and miscellaneous beaters on his drums, but he also plays sampler, electronics, amplified metal frames and junk metal. In 5/25, he limits his arsenal to a bass drum and thundersheet, conjuring up a convincing thunderstorm. Born on Tuesday, Turn the Tide of the Tale and The Gift combine frantically fast drumming on conventional drums and frames with sampling and processing. These pieces showcase the widest palette of sounds and dynamics, some passages exploring very quiet textures (bowed metal in Born on Tuesday), although one could hardly label Hubbard a minimalist. The 12-minute Voice in the Machine and (to a lesser extent) the concluding Gate 6 constitute a drummer's answer to Merzbow's pre-digital noise guitar assaults. Pure mayhem, it drills into your skull to obliterate your memories of what drums should sound like. The sound capture on Born on Tuesday is not stellar (compared to Paal Nilssen-Love's Sticks & Stones or Milford Graves' solo albums for Tzadik), but Hubbard makes up for it in creativity -- and how! Francois Couture, All-Music Guide|
|Hubbard, Nathan "Born On Tuesday" Circumvention Music Active member of San Diego's Trummerflora Collective, percussionist Nathan Hubbard founded experimental quartet Return To One (composing solo / duo / chamber works, in addition to electronic tape / multi ensemble pieces), also works with assorted projects like NOD (found junk/percussion trio), Quibble (noise trio), Cosmologic (improv quartet), and the 22 member Skeleton Key Orchestra. Here, Hubbard works percussion with live electronics, first in a series of Circumvention solo works otherwise known as the stand alone series for label head Jason Robinson......much sampling / processing / thundersheeting / overdubbing of bass drum, full kit, junk kit, both analog + digital; winnowing echoplex and sticks, skins, rims, cymbals & snare combinations heard through a chain mesh of sylphlike filament and metallic shavings......Hubbard is a most careful and deliberate burglar using potentially explosive tools; the effect at times is the audio equivalent of window removal - with stealth & cunning. Alarming intricate larceny in the hands of a master. February 26 2003 Mitch Le May, KFJC, Los Alto Hills|
|Nathan Hubbard Born on Tuesday (Circumvention) And now we come to point in our broadcast where Jon spoos all over an album that maybe a thousand people will have the balls to buy. Nathan Hubbard is, for the most part, a percussionist, though he augments his rattlings with some cool electronic bits just for the hell of it. Careful readers will also remember him as (i my words) the somewhat underused percussionist in Cosmologic Syntaxis. When you've got an outlet like this, there's no need to hog time in another band. The percussion in question is something along the lines of jazz. Hubbard isn't one of those freaky guys who simply makes noise for the sake of noise (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course). Rather, he's tightly composed these pieces (or, at least, loosely composed them), which nicely showcases his wide-ranging skills and ideas. Yes, there is a lot of banging and pinging and such. That's the nature of these kinda projects. But Hubbard's skill keeps everything coherent, and since he's the only one playing a damned thing, there's an eerie feeling of dementia that never quite fades into the background. Me, I like such single-minded lunacy. It means someone really gives a shit about their music. Every once in a while, such pigheadedness actually results in a great album. Like this one. If you thought percussion was just drums, well, Hubbard will set you straight. There are enough sounds here to populate an orchestra. Aiding & Abetting http://www.cent.com/abetting/240reviews.html|
|NATHAN HUBBARD "Born On Tuesday" (CIRCUMVENTION) HUBBARD's name pops up on several TRUMMERFLORA-associated releases, so it's no surprise that we find him forging together an album of his own, rather than appearing as a guest of others. As percussion is his main contribution to the world of music, this album is filled with a variety of things beaten, slapped, shaken and rubbed. What might surprise you is the width of composition and the wealth of sounds which go to make this album by turns intriguing, abrasive and nightmarish. He must have utilised anything which came within beating distance - some things are obvious - kitchenware and radiators, while there's just too much going on to easily spot that which otherwise might be mandane. And while his roots may be in Jazz, there's a whole lot of harshness here which might just appeal to the Noise enthusiast - walls of feedback noise clash against enormous bags of scrap and junk. Although there are moments when he feels inclined towards his Jazz roots, he is fearless when stepping into the land of Noise, indeed exploring areas few have dared to tread. There seem to be a handful of samples and a lorry load of studio technique - from back masking to fx - and yet the core of this music is the percussion, the live, dynamic meeting of human ability with non-living objects to create something far greater than it's parts. HUBBARD bashes, hits, stirs, caresses, mixes and generally tortures his seemingly limitless wealth of sounds to create a scrap yard orchestra which would make such folk as Z'EV and early TEST DEPT shake their collective heads in wonder. This album is not an easy listening experience - there are few if any moments where the sound is not destroyed and disturbed in one way or another. Confrontational, cacophonous, crazed yet cleverly composed, this is a furious wake up call to those of us who have lost sight of our Industrial heritage. - Antony Burnham METAMORPHIC JOURNEYMAN|
|On his debut solo album, Nathan Hubbard explores the world of rhythm and sound-art using drums, percussion, found objects, electronics, samplers, drum machines, and "frames" (metal instruments strung with various objects and amplified). Hubbard is first and foremost a drummer. Yet his interests are varied and the music on Born On Tuesday is an avant-garde journey into sound construction, focusing on everything from frenzied chaos to ambient soundscapes. Tone and texture are key, though rough edged noisier elements are given equal emphasis. There are some outstanding moments in which Hubbard gives the drum kit front and center stage, with patterns and sound characteristics coming together to create a near symphony of pleasing aesthetics and dark aggression. Hubbard does an excellent job of communicating a range of atmospherics and emotions, playing the role of small orchestra that offers the attentive listener much to digest over the course of this 65 minute performance. Some of this conjured up images of a duo of jazz improv drumming and Fred Frith performing a found object attack on his prepared guitar. Hubbard also gets into some dense electronic segments with layers of sonic volcanic eruptions, colored by various noise and tonal patterns. Lots here for the sound-art fan and an interesting stew of percussion and freeform sound. Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003) http://www.aural-innovations.com/issues/issue24/cosmhubb.html|
|Nathan Hubbard -- BORN ON TUESDAY [Circumvention Music] Hubbard's primarily a drummer, but he's also a member of the Trummerflora Collective, so everything you thought you could assume immediately goes out the window. He's also hep to electronics, inexplicable percussion (the insert comes with a vast collage of pictures of his tweaked equipment), and the use of homemade devices (most notably his "frames," metal instruments strung with various objects and amplified -- they look really bizarre, too). On this, his debut release, he proves that jazz percussion is not dead, it's just gotten noisier. I like that he has background noise (hiss, echo, something minimal but definitely there) happening during his bursts of percussive fury, waiting for when the tumult dies down, as a defense against complete silence. In fact, his entire approach here is pretty inventive all the way around, as he incorporates live drumming on a standard kit, drum machine abuse, treated instruments, sampling, the use of homemade musical devices, efx processing, and background noise into his compositions. His use of electronics comes to the fore almost immediately -- the overprocessed sound of a drum kit and a frame device on "in the year of the dragon" create a broken, glitch-electronic feel that sometimes obscures the nice 'n natural sounds of the instruments. That track is short, however, and launches the listener into "born on tuesday," a longish and involving ride through movements of sound, said sounds built from a drum kit, percussion, sampler sounds, and the processed sound of a frame in action. It ranges from minimal stretches in which only the background noise of the efx processing provides any forward momentum or anchor at all to wild, rattling waves of percussion in which it frequently sounds like they're recording a fat-ass truck full of pots and pans all bouncing up and down over a really bumpy stretch of highway. Hubbard takes the rules o' the game and uses them to make toast (crispy, too): on "12 + 4 -- voice in the machine ii," he sounds utterly machinelike using a conventional drumkit (well, maybe the conventional part is in question, but it's definitely an acoustic kit as opposed to a drum machine), building up repetitive and metronome-like pulses and layers of percussion. He makes interesting use of a shrieking Echoplex in "enabler," and "turn the tide of the tale" is a complicated mess o' polyrhythms, waves of percussion fury, and exotic sounds, the result of overlaying beats 'n patterns from an acoustic kit, one of the frames, a drum machine, sampler, stuff from minidisc, echoplex, processing... a lot of action going on for just over five minutes in several distinct movements, each with its own set of baffling noises mackin' on the beat. One of the more interesting tracks is "voice in the machine," where he starts with a junk drumkit and processes it into sonic oblivion, turning the tracks into a collection of jagged, droning fuzz that sounds absolutely nothing like a drum set. This is where acoustic instruments and grim power electronics meet, with unnerving results. (I especially like the squealing mike o' doom toward the end.) Tonally speaking, "student studies" is a benchmark test of sorts, one of only two songs here recorded using strictly an acoustic kit. (Treated or not i'm not so clear on, but whatever, you get the idea, right?) Lots of cryptic and unpredictable rhythmic collisions, rendered with the clear and pleasing sound of a good kit, and a well-miked kit at that (this song and the other acoustic-only workout, along with "born on tuesday," were recorded by Hubbard and Greg Buhlert at Palomar College, and sound brilliant; the album in general sounds awfully good 'n consistent, in fact, for something that was assembled from three entirely different recording sessions, along with two excerpts from longer works). This song, like "azungu sa ndi tsitsi," is pure freejazz improv solo freakout, with no assistance from outside sources, live or recorded, and both pieces are totally swank. One of the later songs, "the gift," gets a pretty dense mojo working in places, as he gets a kit, frame, drum machine, sampler, Echoplex, and additional processing going in one large, pounding wave o' sound, only to back off again. The last track, "gate 6," is one of the noisiest ones -- metal percussion, drum machine sounds, and the overdubbed sounds of a junk drumkit recorded in analog and processed in digital come together to form harsh slates of machine-gun rhythm and textured sound. Given the number of people Hubbard has played with (he's currently working in one capacity or another with Wormhole, Quibble, Cosmologic, the Nathan Hubbard Skeleton Key Orchestra, and with a variety of other solo artists, after years of playing and recording with some of these artists and many others), it's kind of surprising that it's taken him this long to get around to recording a first solo album. (Then again, he has been busy.) The wait was worthwhile, however; this is a fine disc both on its own merits and as an argument against any nonsense about jazz being dead. Between releases like this and existence of labels like Accretions, Circumvention, and Public Eyesore, i'm pretty sure we're actually in the early years of a coming renaissance of jazz... one that promises to be well worth hearing. A fine release, one you should pick up right now. Dead Angel - Issue 56 (March 2003) http://www.monotremata.com/dead/issues/da56.html|
|Nathan Hubbard Born on Tuesday By Eric Hill September 03, 2003 Hubbard's album of solo percussion is a study in resonance. Using an arsenal of live electronic processing and expanding his drum kit to include its framework and whatever junk is on hand he makes music that is multi-hued. The title track alone branches off onto many different paths; from tranquil bells and chimes to a cacophony of clattering that'll have you checking your hot water pipes for an army of drumstick wielding rodents. Electronics elsewhere are used sparingly and for maximum effectiveness, like a shot of nitrous oxide for acceleration. Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority http://www.exclaim.ca/index.asp?layid=217&csid1=2180|
|Nathan Hubbard "Born On Tuesday" (Circumvention SA-081) As part of the "Stand Alone" series from the Circumvention label percussionist Nathan Hubbard has indeed released a new CD bravely standing alone from any other west coast percussionists I have heard thus far. The music on "Born on Tuesday" is created by over 100 percussion instruments and is a testament to the percussive traditions passed on by "mavericks" like Eugene Chadborn and Edgar Varese. If you have ever seen Nathan Hubbard perform in the past few years, you may have noticed how versatile and aurally meditative his percussion music is. If you have not had the opportunity to see or hear Hubbard perform, then prepare to let Hubbard bombard you with his intimate compositions for percussion and his intricate stick and hand techniques. "Born on Tuesday" explores a wide range of percussive possibilities and often sounds like two to four percussions rather than one solo artist at work. When he listener is aurally digesting the music on this CD, he/ she may find that it dances in undulating waves and offers a warm invitation to enter into the world of Hubbard's percussive language as he exposes you to his approach to rhythm and melody. As "electronic sound collage" gives way to "percussive prowess," this CD also exhibits the inspiration and homage paid to twentieth century percussive virtuosi like Max Roach, Milford Graves and Paul Lytton. The opening track, entitled "The Year of the Dragon," begins with a steady stream of hyperactive attacks made on the woodblock, drum skins and shells of the drum kit. After forty-five seconds, the ballistic introduction instantly diminishes into trills and "motivic shells" made on the cymbals and aluminum spokes of Hubbard's (self-constructed) instrument called "The Frame." Although the history of an instrument like "The Frame" dates back about 60 years, Hubbard has amplified this "Frame" and processed the instrument to make it sound like anything but an electronic percussion instrument. By using a violin bow, for example, Hubbard has been able to capture the eerie sounds of the amplified cymbals on this CD. Furthermore, by using very thin chopsticks, he has also made "The Frame" sound like an African kalimba. The "junk kit" used on this CD is made up of various found objects and Hubbard has used this kit to create musical "sound-scapes" analogous to (another San Diego improviser) Marcelo Radulovich. If the listener is intent on delivering a "verdict" after hearing the first five tracks on this CD he or she may want to reconsider listening to the territory Hubbard explores on the remaining tracks in order to fully appreciate the value of this young percussionist. Tracks like "Voice in the Machine," "The Gift", and "Gate 6," sound like two percussionists performing simultaneously as Hubbard's electronic "sound collages" are mixed with moans and remarkably rapid stick techniques on the drum kit. This CD features a number of intimate improvisations and if listeners are unfamiliar with any other young percussion artists of the twentieth century, then I would recommend getting to know "Born on Tuesday." Hubbard's unique improvisational sensibility, percussive finesse and stick technique are one in a hand full of twenty-first century percussionists. Curtis Glatter, San Diego New Music Newsletter|
Born On Tuesday was my first documentation of solo work. My involvement with electronics had sparked my interest in changing sounds and different grains of sound. A lot of this recording is about the production, my experiments with extended miking techniques and the use of different rooms to acheive different possibilities. For the first session, we recorded several electro-acoustic pieces at Palomar College. The setup was my red Tama kit (10" tom, 14" floor, 18" kick) with a 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K hihats, a 18" flatride, a 18" K crash/ride, my percussion box, frame 1 and a sampler. We recorded the kit with three different mic setups, first (using an ADAT) we placed four mics on the kit (kick, two overheads and a middle mic) and a mic and DI on the amplifier. Second we placed two 57s in coffee cans in front of the kit, and third Nate Atwood was walking around the space with a minidisc attached to a lo-fi mic. Later, we mixed the ADAT tracks, lined up the coffee cans and lo-fi recordings and dub mixed the material. The possibilities allowed for a hi-fi sound (the ADAT), a slightly ring-modulated sound with very strange resonance (the coffee cans) and a grainy lo-fi sound (the minidisc). For the second session, i recorded several pieces in my house. Several of these were purely electronic, using frame 1 and 2 and a sampler, and were recorded directly to DAT. The other pieces were acoustic material, and were either processed live or processed later in the computer. The acoustic pieces used various junk kits - a snare drum filled with beads, an old head used for a bass drum, trashcan lids for cymbals, broken cymbals for hihats, and various junk percussion to extend these sounds. The third session was recorded at DHCC (the first recording there), now using my modified kit (16" Ludwig kick, 14" Gretch floor tom, junior conga, small 6" PVC tom, two small cymbals + hihats and various mounted blocks and metal stuff), frame 1, a sampler, a drum machine and several processors, including an echoplex. This session was recorded to DAT. This CD was the first on the Circumvention Music Stand-Alone Series and was also the first use of my artwork as a cover. In addition to this, Ward Baxter did the design and Karen Hubbard took the photos.