Nathan Hubbard
Blind Orchid
Accretions Records ALP 044 CD (2007)




Nathan Hubbard - percussion and electronics

i/nside (no exit)
17 stone park stutter / breath
wisdom of not knowing II (for Stomu Yamash'ta)
blind orchid
circle within a circle (for Max Neuhaus)
close to the margin

Blind Orchid is Nathan Hubbard's second document of his solo music, following the recording Born On Tuesday (Circumvention Music, 2004). Throughout, the polyphonic nature of the music finds Hubbard melding the pinpoint attacks and sharp decay of his acoustic percussion with the extended sustain and color shifts of his homemade amplified instruments and no input mixer.

Hubbard's percussion collection has grown enormously in the past few years and while each track employs unique instrumentation, miking and signal processing, the unifying factor is the room. Hubbard has always thought of the room and the drum as one and the same - resonant objects with an implied need for activity. The starting point is where to place the instruments and microphones. From there, Hubbard began to branch outward, doing multiple re-recordings of tracks by playing them back into the room, placing the microphones within objects to change the sound, playing drums into the piano, etc.

Hubbard expands upon this approach by using his voice on several pieces to add rhythmic impetus and overdubbing to create the oceanic proportions of wisdom of not knowing II or the resonant percussion on the title track. Additionally, prerecorded source material forms a soundworld to play with and against in circle within a circle; sampler adds foreground in witchball or forms a complete piece as in i/nside.

Hubbard often refers to the scope of his music as "solo to large ensemble," and the music of Blind Orchid shares close similarities to his larger works - his Skeleton Key Orchestra project or the recent (compositions 1998-2005) - in their expanded forms, contrasting shapes and in depth look at pacing and flow. Also intriguing is the correlation of the music to the artwork with its multiple layers matching and contrasting the stratified sound world of the music. In many ways, Hubbard solo music appears to be a blueprint of his larger work, giving the listener a look into his creative process.

Produced, recorded and mixed by Nathan Hubbard. April 13th, 2005 - November 2nd, 2006.

ordering - Accretions -

all music/text copyright Nathan Hubbard/Castor and Pollux Music 2006
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Nathan Hubbard
April 13th 2005 - November 2nd 2006 Termite Studios San Marcos CA
2nd engineer on wisdom of not knowing II - Dave Golia
overdub engineer on blind orchid - Nate Atwood
sample engineer on witchball - James Burton
engineer on close to the margin - Greg Buhlert

i/nside (no exit) contains samples of performances and studio outtakes recorded July 2001 - April 2006, including the poem (so......).
circle within a circle contains samples of radio and field recordings recorded November 2005 - February 2006.
The skipping CD used in witchball uses source material from a Cosmologic recording session July 2005. Thanks to Matt Hardey for the vacuum cleaner bag.

Mastering - Steve Langdon/Langdon Productions
Artwork - Nathan Hubbard
Layout - Ward Baxter
Continued thanks - Nate (2) Atwood, Ward Baxter, Stan Brakhage, Greg Buhlert, James Burton, Le Corbusier, Michael Dessen, Marcos Fernandes, Curtis Glatter, Andy Goldworthy, Dave Golia, Justin Grinnell, Gerry Hemingway, Paul Lytton, Noah Phillips, Gino Robair, Jason Robinson, Ali Silverstein, Gary Tedder, Kris Tiner, Scott Walton.


reviews of Nathan Hubbard Blind Orchid (ALP 044)

American musician Nathan Hubbard's clattery drums and metals, and his use of raucous electronics, hark back to the work of improvising percussionists such as Tony Oxley and Paul Lytton, but he works very much with composition in mind. His aim seems to be to minutely control his material without losing an improvisor's sense of immediacy. In this he succeeds admirably, and the use of overdubbing and prerecorded material enables him to build solo performances of ensemble density and complexity.
Even one of the seemingly more straightforward solos, "17 Stone Park Stutter/Breath", involves playing percussion into the belly of a piano to utilize its resonant characteristics; not to mention the use of voice, percussion, electronics and processing. Perhaps the simplest track of all is "Microhole", where Hubbard recites a poem while improvising a solo drumkit.
Much more complex and rather more typical of the album as a whole, however, is "Wisdom of Not Knowing II", dedicated to percussionist Stomu Yamash'ta (one of Oxley and Lytton's contemporaries, though he worked in a different genre), which involves the overlaying of eight drum kit solos in a deliriously dense dub mix. A stuttery Discman playing rehearsal sessions from one of Hubbard's groups, Cosmologic, features on "Witchball", but the cliches that usually come with such material are avoided. The title track and "Circle Within A Circle", the latter dedicated to percussionist Max Neuhaus, are perhaps the strongest items in an impressive programme. Hubbard shapes his material imaginatively, and on "Blind Orchid" he counters irrestible momentum with a spacious, ritualistic use of struck metals, and concludes with a section of enveloping feedback that seems to swallow time whole. - Brian Marley, The Wire


NATHAN HUBBARD - Blind orchid (Accretions)

Among today’s percussionists, Nathan Hubbard is the anti-paradigm par excellence. His music is “free” in an almost absurd acceptation, but sounds composed; he uses self-made apparata and a no-input mixer to enrich his world with devastating ulcerations and triturated patterns, often accompanying the fruits of creativity with uttered syllables, desiccated rapping and indecipherable wording. To obtain different washes and contrasts, machineries, percussion and microphones are frequently re-positioned into other things and instruments (including the room, perceived by Hubbard as a single entity with the drum, both “resonant objects with an implied need for activity”). The outcome of this “activity” could well rival a natural catastrophe as far as damage to the landscape of commonplace is concerned: there’s nothing in “Blind orchid” that can be conjugated with other people’s material. Hubbard produces an incredible amount of different projections, which he renders even more unpredictable through processes of multiple re-recording and playback of pre-existing tracks, with the effect of completely displacing any notion of commonly intended “pulse”, putting us in communication with a regulated chaos that is much nearer to life’s happenings than those boxed subdivisions invented centuries ago because men needed something to clutch at to remain anchored to their retrograde conceptions. The problem is, the same still happens nowadays and we’re lucky that smart guys like Nathan cross our road trying to show what the real rhythms of the earth are. A nimble musician, whose exciting hyperactivity wakes up from the incantations of expectation and the sortileges of delusion; a gorgeous album that vibrates and quivers with intelligent ideas, great cleverness in sound placement and the joy of showing everybody that, when one meets serious artists whose main intent is “playing with their playing”, anything can happen. Unconditionally guaranteed against mental apathy, to be enjoyed loudly and repeatedly. Massimo Ricci Touching Extremes


Blind Orchid - Nathan Hubbard - Accretions

This well-orchestrated recording of eight compositions by Nathan Hubbard could possibly stimulate the average listener into a better appreciation of the exciting and provocative sounds that can be provided electronically. And it could also stimulate the percussionist's creative juices relative to coordination between electronic sounds and pure solo percussion performance.
Of the eight tracks, the primary "real" percussion is drumset, with some additional live percussion. Tracks one and eight are essentially recorded sounds while the other six tracks involve drumset. Especially interesting is the performer/composer's extended sounds using his voice as well as homemade and found instruments. Also intriguing is the forth track, "wisdom of not knowing II," for eight overdubbed drumsets.
This is not dinner music, but it would likely appeal to any creative percussionist who likes electronic music combined with solo percussion.

-Michael Combs - Percussive Notes - February 2008


Tokafi - CD Feature/ Nathan Hubbard: "Blind Orchid"
This man can’t sit still: In Hubbard’s world, a drum is still a drum.

If it is indeed true, as Nathan Hubbard believes, that the room and the drum are inherently the same and both “resonant objects with an implied need for activity”, then he has certainly chosen the right instruments – this man can’t sit still! Just like the cover art to his second solo CD could be depicting satellite shots of roads leading in all directions at the same time, while crossing and penetrating each other’s lines on every level, “Blind Orchid” is a statement of energy, action and flurry, as well as a confession of love for the sounds of percussions.

In Hubbard’s world, at least, a drum is still a drum. Large parts of the material on display here either consist of him playing his kit against a backdrop of processed noise or of mixing up to eight prerecorded tracks over and against one another. In any case, the original character of his toms, hihats, bassdrums and snares is saved throughout most of the disc’s running time. Just like there are various layers to the artwork, there are different degrees of complexity with regards to this approach.

“Circle within a circle”, a tribute to architect and visual artist Max Neuhaus, was realised with a simple setup of a percussion and a tape backing. In a full length clip, Hubbard demonstrates his technique and watching him use ethereal, floating dronescapes as a starting point, gently coaxing them with cowbells, before rubbing his brushes against the drumhead and conjuring up rumbling rhythms until the piece attains a raw jazz vibe is one of the reasons Youtube does make sense after all.

“Close to the Margin” and the title track are more intricate works with more extensive arrangements, which include plate chimes, amplified grates, radio, a selection of metal and diverse overdubs synced with the live performance. This also hints at the mood of the entire record: Hubbard feels best when there are several things happening at the same time, some of them within, others beyond his control. The combination of predictable events (such as the prepared music) and the spontaneous reaction to them makes this an agile and colourful affair, which needs to be consumed wide-awake, if you don’t want to miss a thing.

It is hard for me to say whether “Blind Orchid” supports the idea of the equality between drum and room. Even though each track places the instruments somewhere else in the same space (Marcos Fernades’ Termite Studios in California) and plays with the positioning of the microphone, not all of this is completely apparent without prior knowledge of the creative process. What it has translated to, however, is that the album maintains a certain purity of instrumentation, while managing to lend each work an atmosphere of its own. A drum may still be a drum, but with Nathan Hubbard, it sounds surprisingly fresh.

By Tobias Fischer


Nathan Hubbard, percussionist, has appeared on a number of albums reviewed across the &etc years, mainly on Circumspection and Accretions. This solo album - Blind Orchid - is on Accretions (, ALP043) and is subtitled solo works for percussion and electronics. This release continues from his previous solo collection Born on Tuesday (circumvention SA081) and also complements ensemble releases Compositions 1998-2005 (circumvention CS121a/b) and Skeleton Key Orchestra (circumvention 039a/b) to give us a view of his developing oeuvre.

This is a very constructured, musique concrete album. i/nside (no exit) is a helter skelter of jumpy percussion creaking and groaning with a voice in the mix, which finally succumbs to a cracking up to break up (the lyrics are included in small writing in the diagram that accompanies the track in the booklet). more processing and piano resonance join percussion and voice in 17 stone park stutter/breath, with events occuring around a percussion solo (such as voice pops, and skittering hollows) that segues into a keening section and then complex rumbling rolling sounds with the piano twangs before a long slow fade. A simple drum solo and poem is Microhole; while another dense drumming solo, with some deep resonances forms Wisdom of not knowing II (for Stomu Yamash'ta).

The title track again carries us on a complex journey from fast distorted percussion into a pulsing tone, a simpler gonging central section, a voice crackle that builds a wave of percussion and feedback. A flowing percussion with tones and tinkles (possibly a sonographic tape) drops and rebuilds in Circle within a circle (for Max Neuhaus). Another normalish drum solo in Witchball breaks up through the processing and returns. A loose jack buzz opens Close to the margin with a metal percussion, building and speeding up over the track, layering, with a chittering end.

Not a simple percussion album - which makes it that much more interesting to me. Prepare to be unsettled as these constructions unfold before you in a complex weaving of processing and electronics, which my descriptions only begin to explore.


Vital Weekly (number 594/week 39) - NATHAN HUBBARD - BLIND ORCHID (Accretions)
The subtitle 'Solo works for percussion and electronics' makes clear what is going on this cd. Like Matt Weston, introduced earlier in Vital Weekly with his releases on 7272Music, Nathan Hubbard is a musician melting percussion and electronics together. An interesting little section within the world of experimental music, if you ask me. As the minicds of Matt Weston are very promising, so is this cd by Nathan Hubbard a real find. With 'Blind Orchid' he delivers a cd of very complete music that has much to offer and is very engaging. 'Blind Orchid' is the second solo effort by Hubbard, who produced, recorded and mixed the album by himself. 'Born On Tuesday' (2004) his first one, was released by Circumvention Music. Besides Hubbard is involved in numerous collaborations with people like guitarist Noah Phillips, percussionist Curtis Glatter, the trio ARC Trio and the quartet Cosmologic, etc. Also Hubbard is a member of the Trummerflora Collective. For each track on his solo cd Hubbard lists up the equipment used. Like eight overdubbed drumkits/percussion, dub mix + processing in the piece "Wisdom of not knowing II", dedicated to Stomu Yamashta. Remember..? All pieces sound very vivid and self-consciousness. Hubbard creates rich worlds of multi-layered sound and textures, with great dynamics and action, and without burying his ideas under to much of al this. Yes, here something is really interesting is going on. Like some of the pieces of Weston they sometimes have an almost orchestral outlook. Great. A man with a vision is at work here, who successfully combines his talents as an improviser, composer and instrument builder, seeking for a new musical language. (DM)
Nathan Hubbard - BLIND ORCHID: Quite a few reviews of Nathan's music have been written in these pages (check out our ARCHIVE), but this is the first pure percussion CD we've reviewed by him. It is recommended that you do this listening with headphones, & that you allow for (at least) an hour's worth of isolation... it's not the kind of album you will "grok" in spurts. The opener, "i/nside (no exit)" is nearly an "industrial" kind of sound, wherein he uses various & sundry elements (including his voice) to project a feeling of frenetic energy. There are, in fact, whole worlds inside his forays into the mysteries of percussion. "Witchball" (cut 7) is my favorite on the album, as it is the "crispest" recording of drums I've ever heard, & believe me, I've heard more than a few. If you're looking for ballroom jazz, or a host of horns, you'll go elsewhere... but if your mind is attuned to exploring true talent in a hyper-creative zone, you'll GET THIS one! It gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating from us! A very interesting sonic experience! Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj

Bad Alchemy - babblefish translation and then the original -

NATHAN HUBBARD, electrified Percussionist and Trummerflora Collectivist, is also alone and without its Skeleton Key Orchestra or the ensemble Everything After, Cosmologic and Return To One, a rampant growth. Blind Orchid (ALP044) shows the development of its one-man-show previously found on Born On Tuesday (2004). Sampling, processing, Electronics, Overdubs, Tapes provide for complex klangbilder, which reflect rumpelnd and scheppernd urbane and industriale hecticness. 'Wisdom of Not Knowing II ' is for Stomu Yamash'ta, ' Circle Within A Circle ' is dedicated to Max Neuhaus. Hubbard simulates rumorenden entrails of a city, collapsing architecture, hyper+active metalworking, tectonic quake, workshop noise, as he APPROX. probably came the Golfern or the Fry's electronics self-service putting shank into San Marco, hardly ever to ears. Blind Orchid is, if also not only, racing Solopercussionvirtuositaet of a Vishnus under river. Thereby area is seizing Hubbards dynamics, up to area blowing up. He builds as in quick-motion apparatuses bulky sound sculptures, fantasy things from metal and noise, which scoff each use and each logic. By final, particularly krachige 'Close To The Margin' wuselt the Trommelaeffchen first with cord needles and glockt then, to the King Kong mutated, with cow bells, as largely as oelfaesser. - Rigobert Dittmann

NATHAN HUBBARD, elektrifizierter Percussionist und Trummerflora-Collectivist, ist auch allein und ohne sein Skeleton Key Orchestra oder den Ensembles Everything After, Cosmologic und Return To One ein Plural, eine Wucherung. Blind Orchid (ALP044) zeigt die Entwicklung seiner Ein-Mann-Show seit Born On Tuesday (2004). Sampling, Processing, Electronics, Overdubs, Tapes sorgen für komplexe Klangbilder, die rumpelnd und scheppernd urbane und industriale Hektik reflektieren. ‚Wisdom of not knowing II‘ ist Stomu Yamash‘ta, ‚Circle within a circle‘ dem Klanginstallateur Max Neuhaus gewidmet. Hubbard simuliert die rumorenden Eingeweide einer Stadt, kollabierende Architektur, hyperaktive Metallverarbeitung, tektonisches Beben, Werkhallenlärm, wie er den Golfern oder der Fry‘s Electronics-Belegschaft in San Marco, CA wohl kaum je zu Ohren kam. Black Orchid ist, wenn auch nicht nur, rasende Solopercussionvirtuosität eines Vishnus unter Strom. Hubbards Dynamik ist dabei Raum greifend, bis hin zu Raum sprengend. Er baut wie in Zeitraffer sperrige Klangskulpturen, Phantasiegebilde aus Metall und Lärm, die jedem Nutzen und jeder Logik spotten. Durch das finale, besonders krachige ‚Close to the margin‘ wuselt das Trommeläffchen zuerst mit Stricknadeln und glockt dann, zum King Kong mutiert, mit Kuhglocken, so groß wie Ölfässer. - Rigobert Dittmann


Ragazzi - Babblefish translation -

For the label accretion the schlagzeuger Nathan Hubbard is an exception - its works have the still konventionellste structure - if of "conventionally" also rather not to speak is. Reliably is because of the main instrument of the avant-garde specialist: its impact things set and its natural sounds, which have crucial influences in the tonal thunderstorm of this sound volume again and again and which arrangements to control. Nevertheless we are here in the middle in the free improvisation - also for Nathan Hubbard, which was involved in clearly konventionelleren projects already, one thinks about only of Mike Keneally and its indeed pretty "Wooden Smoke" - and Hubbard discovered Electronics, Tapes and processors in its way. "blindly Orchid" sounds nevertheless comprehensible compared with accretion label colleagues more easily, because the schlagzeug draws structures beside voices, Pianoklaengen and all kinds of further Perkussion gewohnte(re). Hubbard is a trueful virtuoser musician, who creates such a thing with uncommonly inspiration like "Heavy Metal" of the free improvisation. Its Opener "i/nside (NO exit)" is the challenge: wildly, harsch, hard, fast, loud - as it, stops it begins. Only one is exhausted, then one misses the piece. But we already sit in the middle in the album, hear roar-end sounds of guitar, playful jazz Perkussion, Tapes roar in the off off, resonances pull on the horizon past, which sounds to schlagzeug like cello (!) - as that makes only? The tonal roller coaster travel on "blindly Orchid" has harsche, avant-garde structure, sounds however - contrary to some its label colleagues - inviting and makes curious. Which, one means to think, comes to it. As it continues. And: as only on it came. With the large output, which Nathan Hubbard had alone in the latter few years, among them Bigband productions on full 2CD, Kollaborationen with label colleagues and members of the loose, of the enormous to speak (over times with Polina Daschkowa [ of Russia most exciting crime film authoress the word loves "enormous" ]) Trummerflora Collective, to which far over 50 musicians, who develop and arrange all kinds of free improvisation, free sounds in many small or large ensembles, comes one belongs inevitably to the question, from where the inspiration can come for so many and so different music. "Microhole", only voice and Drumset, is an avant-garde RAP. Hubbard speaks in sober RWS style and lets be to schlagzeug in addition abstract jazz sounds to sketch, a doublesolo, into one another mixed. Whether it the also live hinkriegt? The harsche, dark electronic sound language of the processors, which gesampelten sound, Hubbards voice, always something in the off, its free impact things play - which is added a film, a tonal film, which does not know vordergruendige Action, no hard Sex or other cheap elements, in order to hide its bad story. This story is as well as the fantasy of the listener rich. - Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi




The solo recording Blind Orchid was recorded from April 2005-November 2006 at Termite studios. The following is a lineup of equipment and recording info.

1. i/nside (no exit)
sampler, gig tapes, processing (March-August '06)
- an entire piece built from samples of myself, including several tracks recorded for blind orchid, the poem (so, we did....), live recordings from Line Space Line and the Sunrise Highway, and most of the piece no exit.

2. 17 stone park stutter/breath
16" Ludwig kick, 14" gretsch floor, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K Zildjian hihats, 17" Paiste crash (broken), 17" unknown ride, frame 1/electronics, voice, piano resonance, processing (November '05)
- kick mic, stereo overheads, vocal mic (a lofi radioshack mic), one mic on a pignose and a DI for the frame and a contact mic on the piano.

3. microhole
Red Tama Artstar kit - 18" kick, 14" floor, 10" tom, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" Zildjian hihats, 16" Zildjian crash, 19" Zildjian crash, 21" Zildjian ride, voice (April '05)
- a piece dealing with rhythmic and phrase issues stemming from the use of text. A kick mic, snare and tom tom mics, hihat mic, stereo overheads and a vocal mic. Several people have asked me - yes, it was tracked live.....

4. wisdom of not knowing II (for Stomu Yamash'ta)
first kit - 28" Leedy kick, 18" Ludwig floor, 14" Ludwig snare, 26" Zildjian ride, 20" Zildjian pang, boat bell
second kit - 20" WFL kick, 14" Gretsch floor, 12" yamaha tom, 14" Ayotte snare, silver dinner bell
third kit - 16" Ludwig kick, 14" gretsch floor, LP Junior Conga, 8" PVC tom, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K Zildjian hihats,
fourth kit - 16" Ludwig kick, 14" gretsch floor, LP Junior Conga, 8" PVC tom, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K Zildjian hihats, 17" Paiste crash (broken), 17" unknown ride - towels on drums, fabric on cymbals
dub mix + processing (November '05)
- four duo recordings, each recorded without listening to any of the others, then later panned appropriately, dub mixed and processed. Each duo had a distinct processing chain, a light delay for 1, reverb and echoplex for 2, 3 was run repeatedly back into a room using a pignose, and four used extreme gating and pitch effects. Each kit was recorded with a kick mic, middle mic and a room mic. This track take some of my early interests in overlapping textures to new extremes.

5. blind orchid
16" Ludwig kick, 14" gretsch floor, LP Junior Conga, 8" PVC tom, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K Zildjian hihats, temple block, woodblock, reco reco, frame 1/electronics, radio
overdubbed - 29" Ludwig timpani, 18" Ludwig floor, 18" spoxe, 20" Paiste tam tam, 26" Zildjian ride
processing (August '06)

6. circle within a circle (for Max Neuhaus)
16" Ludwig kick, 14" gretsch floor, LP Junior Conga, 8" PVC tom, 14" Ayotte snare, 13" K Zildjian hihats, temple block, woodblock, reco reco, bells, chains, prepared tape (August '06)
- this track began with the tape, built from field recordings and vinyl samples. The overall concept was to build a sound world that i could play with and against. Kick mic, close mics on the snare and small percussion, stereo overheads.

7. witchball
26" yamaha kick, 16" Ludwig kick, 18" Ludwig floor, 16" yamaha floor, 14" gretsch floor, LP conga, LP Junior Conga, 8" PVC tom, 10" SDDP snare, 14" Ayotte snare, 26" Zildjian ride, 22" Paiste 602 ride, 18" K Zildjian ride, 11" K Zildjian, 8" Paiste bell, 10" Zildjian Zilbell, 20" Paiste tam tam, two woodblock, two ridged woodblocks, one temple block, sampler, discman, processing (March/September '06)
- this track is a study in shortening the language parameters, building a dialog from small phrases. The three main sections are broken up by sampled processed maracas, and the track ends with a stuttery discman playing outtakes of a solo from the Cosmologic recording III. Mics on the kick drums and three overhead mics.

8. close to the margin
no input mixer, plate chimes, amplified grate, hanging coil spring, four coffee cans, implements/processing (May '06)
- this track is built from the interaction of feedback loops with live instruments. This is also the first recording of the amplified grate. There is a bit of post processing, an Electro-Harmonics POG on the feedback loops and the grate, and a Sansamp and Big Muff used on the plate chimes at the very end. The mixer and grate were run thru DI's, we stereo miked both the plate chimes and coffee cans. This was the first take, Kevin Scott was watching as i tracked it.