Music is an endlessly unpredictable and malleable thing. Sometimes the most calculated composition can seem hopelessly disjointed while a more spontaneous effort, written in the spur of the moment, can sound as if it’s existed forever. For musician and composer Dan Carey Bailey (Faun and a Pan Flute, Visitors, Chis Childs Orchestra), obsessing over recordings has become a trap he’s fallen into again and again, so for his latest composition, he decided to take an altogether different approach.
“It started when I agreed to do a solo show, something I haven’t done in years,” Bailey explains. “And instead of preparing any material ahead of time to play on my own, I ended up writing a structure for flute, cello, percussion, and esraj the night before and taught it to [everyone the next day]. We recorded ‘The Great Market Standard’ [Tuesday] night before our show.”
Released under his solo moniker Carey, “The Great Market Standard” features Rasheeda Ali on flute, Julian Scotty Bryan on percussion, Benjamin Shirley on cello, and Bailey on esraj, cuica, and vibraphone. Stretching out across 15 languorous minutes, the composition shifts gradually back and forth between orchestral meditations, cinematic soundscapes, and avant-garde noise explorations. There’s a discernible lack of traditional rhythms throughout; instead the piece is carried along by a kind of airy, windswept flow that envelops the music in a kind of mystic veil. Delicate in its approach and grandiose in its vision, the piece is by turns enthralling, beautiful, and transportive.
According to Bailey, Carey has a new album on the horizon called Other People, but listeners should expect an altogether different aesthetic experience than what the composer is offering here. While “The Great Market Standard” is almost epic in scope, the forthcoming release will play with structures that are more succinct, if no less ambitious in their own way.
“Other People is 12 relatively short songs (some only 15 seconds long) and they all use pretty different attitudes, instruments, and colors,” says Bailey. “‘The Great Market Standard’ is, however, a good example of the process I will be pursuing in my solo work in the future. I have many times fallen into the routine of obsessing over producing a recording to the point where is becomes so convoluted that [I] just end up trashing it. So it’s quite refreshing to do things this way — write a composition, record it the next day, and release it the day after that. I’m also fond of continuing the idea of sarcastically using capitalist terminology to title my music.”
Other People is out via NullZone on September 8.