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Open Graves: Hollow Lake

Duration: 60:22
Format: CD-R
Edition: 300
Release Date: July 2009
Cover ArtPeter Hasson

Download & CD at Bandcamp


  1. capillaries
  2. lightless
  3. cumulus
  4. waiting room
  5. battery ash
  6. canyon
  7. tonic

Open Graves is a duo of Paul Kikuchi and Jesse Olsen Bay. Hollow Lake is their first release, recorded inside the Dan Harpole Cistern, an empty 2-million gallon water cistern in Port Townsend, WA.  The duo uses a variety of found, invented, and traditional instruments to create music ranging from ambient space rock to textural improvisations.

Artist Bio:
Paul Kikuchi is a percussionist, composer, sound artist, and educator originally from Indianola, WA.  After playing in rock bands as a youth, Paul went on to study music at Bennington College (BFA) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA).  He currently works as a musician and educator in Seattle, WA.  Paul is involved in a wide variety of musical projects, from percussion ensembles to jazz quartets, as well as his own groups that feature his compositions and invented instruments.    He is a founding member of the acclaimed Empty Cage Quartet, an ensemble has toured extensively and released seven albums since 2002.  Kikuchi’s recent work has emphasized performances and recordings in site-specific locations such as train tunnels, cisterns, and nuclear cooling towers. He actively performs internationally and his recorded music can be heard on a number of record labels both in the US and abroad.  Paul is the founder and artistic director of Prefecture Records, an organization that supports contemporary music through performance, documentation, and education.  As a music educator Paul has taught at West Sound Academy, The American International School of Budapest, the Oakwood School (Los Angeles) and the Community Arts Partnership (Los Angeles).  He is currently audio faculty at the Art Institute of Seattle, and teaches freelance at organizations such as Jack Straw Productions and The Wing Luke Asian Museum.  Paul’s work as a musician and composer has been recognized and supported by Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 4 culture, Artist Trust, Earshot Jazz, Chamber Music America, the American Composer’s Forum, the Jack Straw Foundation, and the Montalvo Center for the Arts, among others.  He has been featured in publications such as the Earshot Jazz Magazine and the International Examiner.

Jesse Olsen Bay is an award-winning composer, musician, and educator. He holds a B.A. from Bennington College. His recent work has been supported by the Zellerbach Foundation, Meet The Composer, and The American Composers Forum. Jesse is half of the eclectic folk duo Ramon & Jessica, collaborates with percussionist Paul Kikuchi as Open Graves, and is completing a song-cycle based on writings by his grandmother, author Tillie Olsen. He is an accomplished composer for dance, having collaborated with choreographers Joe Goode (including 2011′s Izzie-nominated score for The Rambler), Scott Wells, Nancy Lyons, Melinda Ring, and Frieda Kipar Bay, among others. He is also an experienced dance accompanist, audio producer/engineer, and teacher of music and movement.


Gapplegate Music Review
I rely upon the kindness of strangers. OK, so I watched that movie again last weekend (A Streetcar Named Desire) and it still kills me. But I do depend on people I have never met (for the most part) and the music info dissemination network. If it weren’t for that I would never have known about the group Open Graves and their CD Hollow Lake (Prefecture).  The group is Paul Kikuchi on percussion (the drummer for the Empty Cage Quartet, whose CD I reviewed earlier on these pages, among other associations) and Jesse Olsen, Bay Area composer and performer. Those preliminaries tell you little, just as I had no idea what to expect when I first put this CD on my player.  It is first off important to note that the entire album was recorded inside an empty two-million gallon water cistern. That factor gives the music a hugely cavernous resonance that makes the sound distinctively ambient. Kikuchi and Olsen wisely make full use of that sound by populating the eminations with plenty of room, with space between sounds and notes so that the full impact of space and sound becomes primary.  The musical sounds are produced by percussion instruments and a long noted, eastern sounding string instrument (sounds like something out of Harry Partch, but in an infinitely lengthened temporal world) among other things. The music is partly improvised, partly composed, and sounds like it belongs with some kind of ritual for a world we do not yet know. Parts consist of very long event-centered series of resonant sounds, other parts have a quasi-gamelan like quality and feature more pulsating chimed phrases.  This is music for your deepest brown studies. It has a kind of rather profound stillness to it in parts; in other parts it moves one along on a well-conceived path. Either way this is highly original, very moving aural sculpture that should be required listening for anyone who likes music in the long form, the lingering phrases, the feeling of universal expansion. It’s subtle. And it is an uplifting experience.

Rachel Arnold
Each piece on this album is a unique tapestry of sounds created by hauntingly beautiful mixtures of percussion, strings, winds, voices, (and probably a few other nifty knick-knacks, which I suppose will get classified under the “percussion” category)… although iTunes classifies the genre as “jazz,” I beg to differ. It is definitely its own thing. There are some Partchian qualities to the music (which I am partial to), but the album mostly reminds me of… well, the Earth singing some sort of aria to itself (I realize that this perhaps sounds like a pile of fluff, but if you listen to the album I think you will know what I am talking about). Basically this album makes me happy. I reckon it will do the same for you.

Ken Shimamoto, Fort Worth Weekly
Under the rubric Open Graves, Hollow Lake is a duet between Kikuchi and Bay Area muso Jesse Olsen, recorded inside an empty two-million-gallon water cistern. Between them, they employ an arsenal of sound generators that includes slit drum, trombone, walkie-talkies, and homemade instruments. The music they create together is as spacious as the setting in which it was made, with an almost ceremonial dignity and repose. Each piece unfolds in an unhurried manner, allowing each note ample room to breathe. This is haunting, evocative stuff.