Lost Civilizations Experimental Music Project

“In the drifting, wordless space between wakefulness and sleep: music of lost civilizations.

In the drifting, wordless space between wakefulness and sleep: music of lost civilizations.

Echoes lingering long past their creation;

Unusual polyrhythms juxtaposed with polyphonies neither western nor eastern;

music of civilizations long lost and forgotten

— and until now unheard.

Propitiations to an ancient muse?

Celebrations of forgotten feasts?

No one knows: no physical traces remain; the only surviving legacy is sound — and the imagery it inspires.

As first described by Sir Francis Bacon in 1624: “We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds, and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have, together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp; we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds, which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it: and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller, and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.” (Sources: Bacon, Francis, 1561-1626. Essays, Civil and Moral, and The New Atlantis, by Francis Bacon; http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1627bacon-atlantis.html).

The Lost Civilizations experimental music project  is a collaboration between Mike Sebastian (Tenor Sax, Saxello and Bass Clarinet) and Ted Zook (BassCello and Misc. Instruments).  Although it is essentially a duo and performs most frequently as such, it often features guest performers.  

When complex schedules permit, it now performs with Doug Kallmeyer on bass and electronics, Jerry Busher on percussion and electronics, Patrick Whitehead on flügelhorn and trumpet, Sam Lohman on drums and Emily Chimiak on vocals and violin. This project began performing in 2008.  

Mike Sebastian and Ted Zook were interviewed on WERA FM-LP (link available here: https://www.mixcloud.com/SongPoRadio/song-po-radio-ep-27-ted-zook-lost-civilizations-live/).

Below is a playlist of recordings by the Lost Civilizations experimental music project — all unscored, unrehearsed and improvised extemporaneously on the spot.

Our biographies:

Core performers

Mike Sebastian (http://www.alkem.org/mikesebastian/) has been playing reed instruments for decades. His passion to play grew when he first heard the spirituality of John Coltrane’s music. Mike plays improvised experimental, jazz, rock, gospel, and any other types of music that encourage creativity. His experience includes playing in a gospel orchestra, as well as with various local improvisers. Mike played improvised music for dance with Jon Matis and Mark Merella at the DC Improv Festival. Highlights of his career have ranged from live performances with Greg Osby and Peter Kowald to Joe Lally. Sebastian’s current projects are the DC Improvisers Collective and the Lost Civilizations experimental music project.

T. A. Zook  (www.tedzook.com) is primarily a nylon-string guitarist; however, in live performances he plays basscello and lap steel guitar through digital signal processors; at studio sessions, he also plays a variety of digitally-processed, non-traditional analog instruments such as bowls, rainsticks, slidewhistle, whistle-flutes, oceanharp, etc.  He began his study of the guitar in Chile and Uruguay (the latter under the guidance of Luis Acosta), and continued upon his return to the U.S. in the early 1960s under Andrés Segovia’s protégé Sophocles Papas (classical) and Frank Mullen (jazz). During the period 1999 – 2012, he studied improvisation under Grammy winner David Darling (http://www.daviddarling.com).  Here’s an interview published in  Avant Music Newshttps://avantmusicnews.com/2014/12/13/amn-interviews-ted-zook/ ; an interview broadcast on Arlington VA’s WERA FM-LP: https://www.mixcloud.com/StageCraft/stagecraft-with-alex-vidales-and-don-zientara-featuring-ted-zook/.

Guest performers

Musician Doug Kallmeyer spends much of his time on the road mixing bands which have included Blonde Redhead, School of Seven Bells, and Phantogram.  Add to that list more live work with notable artists including Shellac, Sunny Day Real Estate and Rancid. Both local to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and on the road, a career which has numbered live shows in the thousands, and continues. His last release, 2005′s “Even Calls” (EM:T, 2005, 302acid) was a group foray into ambient textures which received rave reviews in publications like the UK’s WIRE magazine, and resulted in tours throughout the US and Europe. His most current project, Dubpixels expands upon modern and classic aesthetics in dubwise music production to include audio and video.(http://www.facebook.com/Dubpixels; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/302_Acid; http://sesshinnofi.wordpress.com/; http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mantis/125299140867441)

Jerry Busher has been a fixture of the DC music scene for over 20 years. He toured for 8 years with Fugazi playing 2nd drums/percussion as well as on recordings “The Argument” and “Furniture”. He appears on albums by Fidelity Jones, The Spinanes, French Toast, Allscars, Alfonso Velez and John Frusciante. In 2007, he was the “Foley Artist” for Mabou Mines production “Peter and Wendy” at Arena Stage. Jerry worked on the music for the “Winchester” series featured in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Weather Underground”, and is the composer for the film “Frontrunner” (The story of a female presidential candidate in Afghanistan). Recently Jerry has been touring/recording with ESL artist Federico Aubele and working on the “Fugazi Live” series.  Jerry is currently the drummer for Deathfix (http://deathfix.com/).   A fascinating interview with Jerry is posted at http://traffic.libsyn.com/dissonance/Dissonance_2-12-14_Jerry_Busher.mp3; Jerry was also interviewed on WERA-FM’s “Stagecraft”:  https://www.mixcloud.com/alex-vidales/stagecraft-with-alex-vidales-don-zientara-featuring-jerry-busher/.

Emily Chimiak (http://synchchaos.com/?p=40) is a vocalist, violinist and graphic artist of rare scope and quality (http://www.artisstillrelevant.com/); in addition to her recent work with the Lost Civilizations experimental music project,  the debut performance of the “Chimaik & Zook” project (which is being considered for the soundtrack for a film of an interview with Noam Chomsky) and duo works currently in process are posted at http://avec-la-muse.tumblr.com/

Sam Lohman is a superlative drummer who  is also a mainstay of Trio -OOO (https://trioooo.wordpress.com).

Patrick Whitehead was inspired by the music of Louis Armstrong at age 5.   At age 8, he began playing in his school band.  His broad and varied career spans the decades as a soloist, orchestral, chamber, opera, commercial, and improvising musician. Possessing a great fondness of brass chamber music, he founded The Monumental Brass Quintet (https://www.monumentalbrassquintet.org/) and has recorded and toured extensively throughout the U.S. with this ensemble.

As a free-lance trumpeter, Pat’s performed with orchestras at the Kennedy Center and Constitution Hall. He’s also performed with the Annapolis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Gettysburg Symphony, the Annapolis Opera, Baltimore Opera,  and Concert Artists of Baltimore,.  Additionally, Pat has recorded for the PBS and ABC television networks, Voice of America, and has performed on numerous radio and TV programs.

In June of 2014 Patrick performed as part of the Momentary Quartet comprised, Jane Buttars- piano, Lin Foulk – horn, and Harold Mckinney- piano  at the annual conference of The International Society for Improvised Music in New York City.

Pat serves on the faculties, as instructor of trumpet, at the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Levine School of Music in Washington DC.  For several years he served as Coordinator of Brass Chamber Music and Director of Trumpet Ensembles at the Levine School.  Additionally, he has taught trumpet and brass methods at Mount Vernon College and the Community College of Baltimore.

Through his involvement (since 2003) with Music for People, Pat has become an avid proponent of improvised music.  As he progressed through MfP’s Music Leadership Program, he’s evolved as a passionate and dynamic facilitator of improvised music workshops. He has presented improv workshops at the Peabody Conservatory’s Prep Division.  The Summer Brass Institute hosted by Monumental Brass, the Howard and Montgomery County Maryland public schools, and at various venues in the central Maryland area.

Pat studied trumpet with George Recker, Rob Roy McGregor, and Langston Fitzgerald.  He studied theory and arranging with Asher Zlotnik.  Pat majored in music education at the University of Maryland where he studied trumpet with Emerson Head.

Leah Gage (drums) Leah curates DC’s Bathtub Republic DIY venue (https://www.facebook.com/bathtubrepublic/ ); she also performs in BRNDA (http://brendatheband.com ), The North Country (http://www.thenorthcountrymusic.com ) and Stronger Sex (https://strongersexmusic.bandcamp.com ).  Media coverage:   http://dcmusicdownload.com/2016/06/28/women-who-rock-leah-gage/ ;  https://parklifedc.com/2016/09/07/music-park-stronger-sex-the-hamilton-live-9316/#more-6175  ; http://bandwidth.wamu.org/dating-in-d-c-for-the-band-stronger-sex-it-makes-for-a-good-song-at-least/ .   Here’s a link to an interview on WERA-FM:   https://www.mixcloud.com/alex-vidales/stagecraft-with-alex-vidales-don-zientara-featuring-leah-gage/ .  Leah is not only an outstanding drummer, she is Oberlin-trained and has an incredible voice.

Performances by the Lost Civilizations experimental music project are totally unscored, unrehearsed and extemporaneously improvised on the spot, so no two performances are identical.  Our music is unique; we have been described as: “Combining atmospheric strings with Ayler-esque expression, this group provides a fundamentally different approach to improvisation, with a focus on mood, landscape, and intensity.”

“Veteran performers/composers T.A. Zook and Mike Sebastian create immediately enjoyable, yet endlessly complex soundscapes that seem to conjure a hyper-advanced, yet ancient parallel dimension. The duo regularly feature top improvisers in the greater DC area to compliment their electric strings, saxophone, and various loopers and effects.”

Our past performances have included appearances at the Kennedy Center (as one-half of the Twenty-first Century Chamber Ensemble with Janel Leppin and Anthony Pirog (https://soundcloud.com/xxi-chamber-ensemble/2009i27-twenty-first-century)); the Mansion at Strathmore (with überpercussionist Andrea Centazzo, with whom we recorded the september impressions CD released on ICTUS Records (http://www.amazon.com/September-Impressions-Centazzo-Leppin-Sebastian/dp/B004QVMTLW)); the Fillmore (Silver Spring); Galaxy Hut; IOTA; the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center; the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music; the Velvet Lounge; DC-9; Magic Mushroom; Bossa; the Back Alley Theater; Artomatic; Torpedo Factory; Orpheus Records; Arlington Planetarium; Baked and Wired; CD Cellar; Black Squirrel; Treehouse Lounge; the Hillyer Art Space; Fireflies; St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub; Studio 1469; Dos Gringos Cafe; Chief Ike’s; MIG-21; Baltimore’s An die Musik, Red Room and Club K; and the Atlas Performing Arts Center.   We also had a “Third Tuesday” residency at Dynasty Ethiopian Restaurant during 2012.

Massimo Croce’s Italy-based Ozky e-sound netlabel (http://ozkyesound.altervista.org/ ) has released three Lost Civilizations releases to date.   There’s an interesting backstory to this: Sig. Croce lived in Cairo for several years, drawn by the wonderful streetsound panorama there, which provides the sonic palette for his personal sounddesign work. Sig. Croce is a prominent scholar/musician in the field of experimental music and biographer of the trailblazing Luigi Russolo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Russolo; http://emusician.com/remixmag/artists_interviews/musicians/remix_luigi_russolo/; http://modisti.com/releases/?p=6869).  Sig. Croce somehow found Lost Civilizations on the Internet, which led to him releasing Lost Civilizations VII @ http://www.archive.org/details/oz033.   Sig. Croce subsequently released The Lost Civilizations experimental music project with Angela Morrish — Live at Arlington’s CD Cellar : http://www.archive.org/details/oz047 ; then, Live at Audiofest 2012, https://archive.org/details/oz061.  Sig. Croce has also released a solo work, T. A. Zook Basscello, which has been published on Modisti @ https://archive.org/details/oz036.