Return To One
Hopes and Dreams
Circumvention Music 033 (2001)




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 Return To One Hopes and Dreams (CMCD033)


The CD "Hopes and Dreams" by Return To One begins with a strong musical introduction including a quick tempo, a tight arrangement and a melody in the high range of the woodwinds which adds immediacy to the musical journey you are about to take. Within a few minutes, the tempo begins to accelerate into an Afro-Cuban groove and soon jettisons into a fierce atonal and arrhythmic collage of sounds eventually leading us back into the recapitulation of the original opening melody. The elastic tempo changes and metric displacements on "Hopes and Dreams" reveal how tight this quartet can be when they dedicate themselves to a common musical goal. Although the musical arrangements often include an introduction of melody by the woodwinds (and occasionally the bass) and the eventual expansion of the motives by each soloist, the direction of each chord change and rhythm accompaniment are still as fresh and unpredictable as life itself. After witnessing several live performances of Return To One, I think that the experience of RTO's live performances are very similar to this recording. There is a "passive" and "active" brevity in each improviser - as each musician steps aside to listen to the other musician make his entire statement, each performer also interpolates carefully what the pervious performer has already played. This is also true of the several selections on this CD that showcase simultaneous solos played by the woodwinds or rhythm section. The inclusion of homemade instruments ("the dopplerophone"), free improvisation, extended forms and the use of poetry (on the final fifteen minute track, "Silverfish") makes this CD eclectic enough to evade being labeled as a "straight" jazz recording. On "Hopes and Dreams", it is difficult to "pigeon hole" Hubbard's writing style - the melodies loosely range anywhere from 8 to 40 measures, multiple forms are used, etc. I think this makes the music exciting due to its unpredictability. This unpredictability also displays RTO's versatility and keen listening skills while exhibiting their confidence as instrumental performers. I recommend buying this collection of pieces featuring a variety of moods and textures - the musical arrangements cannot be mistaken for any other ensemble.
- Curtis Glatter San Diego New Music Newsletter (spring 2002)

(from program notes) "Three of tonights performers are members of the group Return To One, whose album Hopes and Dreams I heard for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Blown away by the album, I called Nathan Hubbard, the drummer and composer for the group, and with whom I've played on a couple of Trummerflora-related occasions, and asked him to round up several of his Return To One cohorts for tonight's show. I can't recommend their album highly enough; please pick up a copy..." - Mike Keneally, 2001