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Nathan Hubbard Passengers live at Space 4 Art
Hubbard, with 16 of his musical associates delivered his vision of minimalism "for people who can't skateboard."
Robert Bush, November 22, 2012

Monday night's performance of the massive Nathan Hubbard Passengers group at Space 4 Art in the East Village was wildly ambitious and very creative. Passengers represents Hubbard's work in the field of minimalism, (think Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, etc), as a percussionist and composer.
Sixteen musicians gathered on stage to perform Parameters I, II, & III to a packed, and attentive audience. There were five guitarists, one violinist, five keyboard players, three bassists and two drummers joining Hubbard, who played vibraphone the first set (Parameters I & III), and glockenspiel the second, (Parameters II).
A short motif cycled through the room as different sub-groups entered and repeated the idea--each with their own individual length of interpretation, eventually leading to a wall of phased repetition of impressive density. When Hubbard began layering a new section over the dizzying labyrinth of echoed gestures--one only could have wished his instrument had been amplified--because it was almost inaudible amongst the din of keyboards, guitars and drums. The violin suffered in this respect as well, even though he was playing through an amp. That being said, this first piece offered a fascinating insight into Hubbard's creative use of odd-meters and cycling repetition --where slowly mutating ideas seemed to crash into each other like waves against the shore. Hubbard soloed, as did drummer Jesse Charnow and guitarist Nick Tocco, all adding welcome color to the proceedings.
Over a kind of rock-beat, the second piece began as a 3 or 4 note idea bounced around the room with a feel that brought to mind Reich meeting Frank Zappa, perhaps. Hubbard concentrated on conducting for the most part. After a long stretch where one line morphed into the next, Hubbard joined the ensemble with more vibraphone textures.
The second set featured the composer on glockenspiel, and it was an immediate improvement sonically.This instrument, due to its pitch, really cut though the instrumental morass. I started to feel locked into the hypnotic intricacies of the piece as melodies emerged, dominated and receded, with each section synchronizing in a tight orbit around each other.
I do have to say, though, that minimalism always rides a fine line between trance and tedium, because, for me at least, at a certain point, repetition ceases to be hypnotic and begins to be, well, repetitious. For my ears, all three pieces would have benefited greatly from some trimming. I think each piece had the potential to achieve the ecstatic, if the overall form, had been reduced from 15 cycles through a 75 bar sequence to say 10. Something like that.
Thoroughly enjoyable evening, nonetheless.
Nathan Hubbard's Passengers: Nathan Hubbard: vibraphone, glockenspiel. Guitars: Randy Chiurazzi; George Pritzker; Mike Slayen; Nick Tocco; Louis Valenzuela. Keyboards: Chris Adler; Chris Fulford-Brown; Danny Green; Ed Kornhauser; Jay Jay Lim Violin: Kris Apple Basses: Harley Magsino; Antar Martin; Henry Wessman. Drums: Jesse Charnow; Evan Backer


Nathan Hubbard returns from Arizona
Drummer talks about the scene in the desert—plus, more music news
By Peter Holslin
Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

After spending 16 months in Arizona, experimental composer / drummer Nathan Hubbard has moved back to San Diego with his wife and two kids so that his wife could take a job in the city.
The Hubbards lived in Chandler, Ariz., a city just south of Tempe in Maricopa County, which happens to be the stomping grounds of the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But Hubbard says he didn’t encounter too much conservative, anti-immigration sentiment. What he did find was a lot of great experimental music, including free-jazz, ambient noise and even some avant-garde gamelan from a group called Sungsang.
Hubbard found plenty of people to work with. He played multiple times with Chandler free-jazz outfit Jiggle and started the group The Scorpion Decides, which played beat-oriented jazz. Earlier this month, he assembled a 17-person ensemble—five electric guitarists, four keyboardists, four bassists and three drummers, plus Hubbard on vibraphones—to perform one of his compositions at The Trunk Space, an all-ages venue in Phoenix akin to The Ché Café.

While audiences tended to be small, Hubbard says the vibe was different than San Diego’s. “It almost struck me that maybe the isolation of the desert kind of makes people work a little bit harder,” he says. “There’s something just brutal about that heat. It’s kind of a cleanser or something. You feel like a different person after a while.”
Now back in town, he has big plans. He’ll keep playing with Rafter, and he’s working on three releases for his group Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed. His other group, Passengers, will play at Tin Can Ale House on Wednesday, Oct. 3.


The Black Page (dot) Net - A few months back we launched our innagural Summer Solo Series and with it our very first drum solo competition. The most uniqe and creative way of playing drums without the use of drumsticks would be crowned champion. The competetion was incredible stiff and all our entrants put on a heck of a show. But alas there can only be one winner.

So without further adieu; ladies and gentleman our 2012 Summer Solo Series winner is Chandler Arizona's very own Nathan Hubbard.


Nathan, tell us a bit about your drumming career and how you got started.

My beginnings were fairly usual—school band, garage rock, etc. I continued my studies into college, where I had the good fortune to study with Pat Pfiffner and Danlee Mitchell. This time period was also where I began performing solo, composing and getting involved with many different types of music. Since that time I have presented my own music in Canada, the USA, Mexico, as well as in bits of the European Union.

My current musical life is a bit fractured; I regularly perform as both a sideman and a band leader, in a variety of genres and styles.

Your solo was very unique and your use of just a snare drum was brilliant! Tell me how you came up with the solo.

I have been playing solo for 13 years, have released two CDs and several EPs of this music, and have presented concerts in a wide variety of contexts, from concert halls and festivals to freeway underpasses and desolate mountain roads. In this period I have been focusing on certain techniques and structural ideas, and I thought that recording several miniatures would be a good chance to work some of this out. For the video, each piece uses the same drum, but it is approached with different structural concepts as well as different mallets and percussion.

The violin bow was a really cool touch. What brought that about?

Much of the music I create when playing solo attempts to get away from the usual "sharp attack/quick decay" of most percussion instruments. So using a violin bow is one way to get no attack and long sustain. I also have to give credit to Gerry Hemingway and his watershed recording “Four Studies for Single Instruments,” which has influenced me greatly.

Where do you hail from, and what bands are you playing with? Where could readers see you play in your corner of the world?

I hail from Encinitas, California, and currently live in Chandler, Arizona. In San Diego I perform regularly with rock legend Rafter as well as leading two groups, Nathan Hubbard/Passengers and Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed. In the Phoenix metro area you can hear me with a group called The Scorpion Decides. I also show up regularly in various freelance and ad hoc situations.

Are you doing any teaching in your area? If so, where could someone contact you for lessons?

I teach privately and also have a background of classroom and group teaching. Anyone interested can contact me through my website or any of the myriad social networking sites.

What type of setup are you currently using?

My setup changes depending on the situation. With Rafter, I play high energy rock music and use an early 60s Slingerland kit with a 24" kick, 16" floor tom, various snares, two crashes and a hi-hat. For most jazz gigs I use a hodge-podge kit of older Ludwig and Gretsch drums in red sparkle, usually a 16" kick, 14" floor tom, 12" tom tom, various snares, two rides and a hi-hat. For solo music I use a lot of homemade instruments and modified drum/cymbals. The tech page on my website has a nice selection of pictures and commentary on setups if anybody is interested.

And last but not least, in your opinion, four songs every drummer should listen to and why?

Well, I don't know about songs, but since we are talking about solo drums, here are four recordings that changed my life and gave me new perspectives on percussion and music:

Max Roach – Survivors (Soul Note Records, 1984). A 20-minute piece for drum kit and string quartet—plus a treasure trove of classic Max Roach solo pieces.

Paul Lytton - The Inclined Stick (Po Torch Records, 1979). A classic and a favorite. Would somebody please re-release this on CD?

Gerry Hemingway - Tubworks (Sound Aspects Records, 1988). Mentioned in a earlier comment, a great multi-faceted look into Gerrys solo language.

Fritz Hauser - Solodrumming (hat[now]ART, 1985). Amazing attention to detail and beautiful music from Herr Hauser.

Visit Nathan online at Stay tuned to The Black Page for more contests in the near future!


Nathan Hubbard is single-handedly making sure that Phoenix stays on the modern musical map. Since 1994, Hubbard has combined percussion, guitar, and every other musical oddity available to him to create a wholly unique niche in the contemporary music scene. Solo and with his various ensembles, Hubbard has performed, taught and lectured across the United States, Mexico and Europe, most notably curating the New Sounds Downtown series from 2006 to 2009 in San Diego. For his latest pair of works, the composer is bringing it back home to the Trunk Space, debuting two pieces written for a 17-piece ensemble. The first piece will feature more drone and minimalist-based composition, while the second will utilize a more cacophonous arrangement. Through these new compositions, Hubbard aims to change the way we look at guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. - Connor Descheemaker/Downtown Devil


Bossa nova meets doom metal in “This Middle Ground”
The State Press / Arizona State University / By Ben Scolaro April 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm

While hybrid mash-ups of musical genres are nothing new from the rock/classical music experiments of the ‘60s and ‘70s to more recent fusions of jazz and hip-hop, Brazilian bossa nova and doom metal is certainly not a combination that most people would pair together.

However, that’s exactly what recent valley transplant Nathan Hubbard sets out to do with his new album, “This Middle Ground,” which he will be presenting in concert at the Lost Leaf on Wednesday.

“This Middle Ground” traverses a myriad of sonic landscapes and instrumentations as it describes a tale of lost love and its aftermath.

The album opens with a wash of ethereal vocals over synthesized chords that melt into a sultry bossa nova wishing farewell to a lover that will sound familiar to any aficionado of Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim.

After a few verses and some vocal improvisation, the low-key groove drifts into a breakbeat that fits naturally among the Brazilian rhythms as the acoustic instrumentation shifts to electronic, and an organ solo picks up where the vocals leave off.

This synthesis eventually dissolves into distorted chaos which suddenly evaporates, leaving another Latin groove centered around a snare drum pattern remaining — and all of this less than eight minutes into the album. The shades and colors continue to bleed into one another as they shift from horn arrangements to distorted electric guitar to vocal harmonies, and on.

As with any musical hybridization, listeners should not expect a pure representation of any genre in “This Middle Ground.” Hard-core bossa nova fans may not appreciate the album’s dissonance, just as those who closely follow doom metal may be disappointed by the album’s scarcity of “doom.”

However, those who seek interesting combinations and approach new ideas with an open mind will appreciate the clear undertones of both genres among this pastiche that at times borders on the epic and at others the psychedelic.

“This Middle Ground” is the fourth release by San Diego-based group Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed, following “If Memory Serves” (2007), “Bring Back the Gasmask” (2009) and “Volume III” (2011). Rather than performing with the band, which recorded the album, Hubbard will present the set in a series of collaborations featuring local Phoenix musicians.

Following the complete performance of “This Middle Ground,” local improvisatory ensemble The Scorpion Decides (featuring Nathan Hubbard again on drums) will debut a series of new compositions.

The Lost Leaf is located on 914 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix. The performance begins at 9:30 p.m.


Nathan Hubbard's "Translation" succeeds at 98 Bottles
San Diego Reader, Robert Bush, April 29, 2012

Jazz, and all of its myriad sub-genres, is the kind of music that is best experienced live. There is something about actually seeing the performers--and what it takes to produce the music that adds an extra dimension to understanding and appreciating a group, a concept or a given piece of work.

I listened to drummer/composer/producer Nathan Hubbard's latest group Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed, and their new release, This Middle Ground, with obvious interest, because I believe that Mr. Hubbard is one of the most original musicians I've ever encountered.

I have to confess, though, that I didn't really connect with the material until I witnessed the experience live, last night at 98 Bottles. My bad.
Fronting, (from behind), a remarkable ensemble featuring vocalist Molly Whittaker, pianist Ed Kornhauser, electric and acoustic bassist Harley Magsino, and keyboardist Preston Swirnoff, Hubbard's unlikely fusion of Bossa Nova with funk, cabaret, and operatic drama melded together into a sublime whole.
Hubbard began the concert by activating a mix of pre-recorded sounds of voice and synthesized textures, which yielded to the slinky, sensual atmospherics of "Last Tango In San Marcos," which, lyrics aside, mirrored the classic work of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Whittaker's lithe soprano was strong and sure, and Kornhauser managed to capture the idiosyncrasies of Tom Jobim's piano style, even as he stretched it into a more outre perspective. Magsino is one of the area's most solid bassists, and even on the electric, he displays an original voice. He plucked close to the bridge for a trebly dynamic during his brief, virtuosic solo.

Through a series of drum cues, the piece jerked suddenly into a four-note funk riff, whereupon Swirnoff sprung forth with a wild keyboard solo, using what sounded like distorted guitar samples. Even with only five people to keep track of, (and one of them being a singer), it was often difficult to tell where some of the music was coming from. Hubbard used a Roland Dr. Sample drum-machine, electronic drum pads, and an arsenal of percussive oddities ( like galvanized garbage can lids fashioned into cymbal shapes) to constantly color the orchestral washes that hovered above the music.

Shifting gears again, a samba developed, and Kornhauser let loose with a deeply lyrical solo--shooting out streams of unfettered melody before the piece morphed once again into the quiet, dirge like "Silver Moon," which found Whittaker intoning the words "Silver moon...too late," with appropriate pathos.

It has to be mentioned that large sections of the audience seemed oblivious to the music. They continued to carry on their conversations with the dogged intent of someone auditioning for the roles of insufferable chatterboxes on a soon-to-be filmed reality TV series. It was especially annoying when the music got quiet--because it would take them several minutes to realize that they were much louder than the band.

A short but furious drum solo found Hubbard launching into a rim-shot driven groove and substantially minimalist vamp, where Whittaker's wordless vocal soared-- bringing to mind an in-tune Flora Purim. Over the sound of waves crashing to the shore, Kornhauser laid down pristine, pastoral harmonies while Whittaker got golden-toned. Suddenly the serenity came tumbling down as the keyboards dueled with pounding clusters and the bass squiggled nervous fragments over the huge bass drum of Hubbard. Somehow, that eased into a kind of cabaret-on Mars groove, with Kornhauser channeling Claire Fischer into Don Pullen.

Magsino switched to double bass for the second set, which was even more wildly creative and aesthetically successful than the first. The band didn't have to share as much sonic space with the audience, and Kornhauser, ( who was the secret weapon in this group) pulled off an astonishing solo where he played piano and melodica simultaneously--almost stealing the show.

It all came to an end when each member of the group picked up a percussion instrument and ornamented the huge afoxe Brazilian groove established by Hubbard's off-kilter bass drum. When the sound of rim-shots, shakers, maracas and cowbells got thick enough--Whittaker belted out the lyrics to the Tina Turner associated, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" for a totally fitting finale.


Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed debuts This Middle Ground April 28 @ 98 Bottles
San Diego Reader, Robert Bush, April 19, 2012

Former San Diegan, drummer, vibraphonist, composer Nathan Hubbard will be making the trip from his new home in Arizona to debut a new release from his highly original group Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed titled, This Middle Ground.
The band will be performing April 28, 8 p.m., at 98 Bottles on Kettner Blvd.

I asked Hubbard about the somewhat mysterious sounding band name.

"One of the major factors for this group is that the music is more important than the lineup, so members names are rarely mentioned, or, if they are mentioned, they are given aliases. The name was a flash of inspiration, or maybe just an attempt to escape the trappings of the usual names. I had no idea how much this would freak people out-- I've had several club owners/promoters completely balk, not use the band name, or list the band as Nathan Hubbard Group. For me, I have a lot of ideas and interests, and have made a decision to divide these interests into different bands. When I started this group, I was militantly not using my name, and it was great to see peoples reaction to the music--good or bad, it was completely honest."

Hubbard describes the music on This Middle Ground as Bossa Nova/Doom Metal /Opera. Having checked out the new release, I can attest that that is a pretty apt description. I had to ask him about how that combination came about.

"Well, I should say that the "Bossa/Doom/Opera," moniker is used mostly to open a door for people to step through. There are a bit of those genres in the music, (as well as several others), but the larger scope of the piece is that it is a collection of songs about lost love. These pieces were written as a complete suite to give a larger picture of the topic (hence the "opera" moniker. And, if you're writing songs about lost love, what better setting than the lilting subtleties of the bossa nova, or oppressively slow atmospheres of doom?"

One more thing that sets this project apart from the expected is Hubbard's use of pre-digital drum machines.

"I love that part. We originally recorded it with myself playing acoustic drums, but it worked better with the Casio. My function in this group is equal parts drummer and producer, and I have no drummer ego where I need to be featured. And I'm a huge fan of pre-digital electronic drum sounds. For example, the sound of a Casio drum machine might remind you of listening to music in an elevator. You notice that many artists are using these machines with an ironic, tongue-in-cheek approach. This is not the case with this record--I love the Bossa Nova and the Casio drum machine, and the two together are like peanut butter and chocolate."

I'm listening to This Middle Ground right now, and I've got to say this is some beautiful, wildly creative stuff. There's a woman singing, (aliased as the "Cricket Queen") who is just remarkable.
Expect a large group (six or seven players, perhaps), aside from the aforementioned Cricket Queen, there might be Given/last minute choirboy; Sir Edward on acoustic and electric piano; Pad See Ow! on bass and electronics; Harry The Shadow on Casio, piano and percussion; Nate Atwood on electronics; D.J. Tenshun on turntables.


San Diego Citybeat Interview: Nathan Hubbard
Experimental percussionist talks about 'funeral doom,' label resistance and Chandler, Ariz. - Thursday, Jun 23, 2011

By Michael Misselwitz

When it comes to the sounds of Nathan Hubbard, categorization is futile.Using jury-rigged drum sets, home-built instruments and an array of electronics, Hubbard makes music that ranges from ugly to beautiful, "funeral doom" to musique concrete, solo piano pieces to chamber orchestra works. This weekend, he'll perform with two very different bands at two very different shows—experimental outfit Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed on Saturday and indie-pop act Rafter on Sunday.

Curious how he manages to pull it all off, we chatted with the San Diego native over email about Ogd's odd name,the allure of doom music and his recent move to Chandler, Ariz., among other things.

CityBeat: On your website, you say that the template for Ogd's show on Saturday is "doom/patience/drone/harley." Can you tell us more about this? And what's "harley"? You also say you'll be playing "ridiculously slow funeral doom music." What do you mean by that?

Nathan Hubbard: Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed is a band of multiple interests, and performances can be dramatically different in terms of expectancy. So I post a template for the performance to let people know what is planned for any given performance. And Harley is the bassist.

"Funeral doom" is the lower reaches of the genre "doom metal." Although it is a lesser-known genre than "death," "black" or "thrash" (to give three examples), it has a long history. Black Sabbath would be an easy entry point for most listeners and it is easy to mention bands like St. Vitus, Witchfinder General, Cathedral, Candlemass, Funeral, Thergothon, Mournful Congregation, etc. Not a complete list, but a few that spring to mind.

Akin to our use of an abstract name to escape labeling, I have never been a fan of genre placement and mention these thoughts only as a starting point for the listener's interaction with the music.

CB - What is Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed all about?

NMH - This group functions by improvising using various issues of tempo and altered interaction. Often the use of break-beats is a starting point. At faster tempi, the music shares sonic identities with various electronic genres and at slower tempi, it shares much with doom and funeral doom genres. These slower areas will be the focus for June Gloom 2011 [which happens at Kava Lounge this Saturday].

CB - What attracts you to "funeral doom" music?

NMH - In general, I am attracted to music with a strong identity. And over the last few years, I have been drawn to music that uses slower-moving materials. I find that the times we live in give us too many options and too much information. So Funeral Doom is one of many ways to slow down and allow a bit of introspection.

CB - What can we expect from your new recording, Volume III, which will be released via Bandcamp on Saturday?

NMH - Ridiculously slow metal drumming, thick noisy processed bass playing and drone-based organ playing with occasional melodic material. The record is completely improvised, was recorded in about three hours, and the piece[s] are presented in the order they were recorded. The recording was recorded and mixed by myself and mastered by Steve Langdon. The music is thick and wonderful, whether you are playing it in the foreground or background.

CB - Your style is super-eclectic and across-the-board. What's it like performing funeral doom one night and indie-pop with Rafter the next?

NMH - I have never thought of myself as "eclectic." I have made conscious choices in the music I listen to and / or play. These have been honest choices in terms of what interests me and gives me room for growth and development. Occasionally you will find me playing music that I have no interest in, but hey—I'm a musician and I need to make money as much as anybody else. Those are gigs you won't see me publicizing. Needless to say, neither of the gigs this weekend fall into that category.

Luckily I've been able to work with people I respect and love. Clearly, different gigs require different equipment and a different mind-set. Maybe different clothing. Let's say on one night I'm going to have a beer beforehand and the other some tea. I won't tell you which. Believe me—I've had much stranger work weeks in terms of genre-leaping.

CB - Are there any new instruments you've been working on? If so, what are they and what sounds do they make?

NMH - Most of my homemade instruments are metal frames with different implements bolted or welded to them. These are amplified and run through various effect processors. Most of the time, these are used in my solo performances and recordings and occasionally in group contexts. They are designed to have longer sustain than much of my acoustic instruments and give me a broader sonic palette to work from.

Lately, I've been modifying the square frame and building a few wind-harps. The tech page on my website has plenty of info for further research.

CB - What have you been up to in Chandler, Ariz.? Is there an experimental / noise scene down there?

NMH - I've been practicing, writing music, mixing audio, meeting people and trying to figure out the scene. I've also been sweating a lot.

CB - Is there anything you miss about San Diego?

NMH - Rico's Taco Shop, the trains in Encinitas, Rocky, the I-5 at 2 a.m., Siamese Basil and my support group—N2, Har-Har, Naz, Helzer, Grinnells, all the Singing Serpents past and present.

Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed plays with 60's Residue, The Armory Show and Mountain Tempel at Kava Lounge gallery on Saturday, June 25, as part of “June Gloom 2011.” Rafter plays with tUnE-yArDs and T.V. Mike and The Scarecrows at Soda Bar on Sunday, June 26. That show is sold out.