“Chaos, Part II” was recorded through the condenser mic on a boom box in my family’s living room, thus the wildly uneven volume of the opening. It’s a barely finished sketch meant to be part of a suite on an impromptu, DIY, “pause-record” cassette album; by default, juvenilia. This was my musical childhood. I was already 18, but had only been playing and teaching myself music in earnest for 2-3 years.
If there were unconscious influences from English church music and stage musicals, both of which were part of my community involvement, it was the sounds of 70s prog and adult contemporary, both just a few years old by this point, that dominated my interests. I was beginning to pick up on minimalism, though I knew little of it at that point. Typically, this was one of several pieces improvised and captured in a day (without using notation at any point), and never played again.
My thin, yelping vocal and extremely reductive lyric “K, O Chaos” reflected the high school punk/new band wave nights I participated in, as well as the aforementioned prog. The voice was meant to stand in for a distant chorus, though the condenser mic exaggerates its presence. There’s an echo of the banality of my life at the time, secure but longing for something else, wandering in a personal mystery. Six months later I’d move to Toronto to begin studying music at York University, and childish things would gradually be left behind — though not entirely.
Composed and recorded March 1986
unremastered cassette recording, digitized 2003
Photo: Nora Lusterio, December 1987
Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2022