404 Open Graves with Stuart Dempster: Flight Patterns | PM
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Open Graves with Stuart Dempster: Flight Patterns

Duration: 38:19
CD Edition: 1000
LP Edition: 200
Release Date: November 2010
Cover Art: Renko Ishida Dempster, Paul Kikuchi

Download & CD Bandcamp


  1. 11:45
  2. 9:23
  3. 8:57
  4. 8:14

Open Graves is a duo of Paul Kikuchi and Jesse Olsen. Flightpatterns is a follow up to their first release, Hollow Lake, both albums recorded inside the Dan Harpole Cistern, an empty 2-million gallon water cistern in Port Townsend, WA.  Joined by cistern veteran Stuart Dempster, the ensemble explores the 40 plus reverb time with atmospheric improvisations, enveloping waves of feedback, and impressionistic free-jazz.

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.

Stuart Dempster - Sound Gatherer – composer/performer; University of Washington Professor Emeritus; fellowships include Fulbright and Guggenheim; numerous recordings including New Albion’s “Abbey,” “Cistern Chapel”; landmark book “The Modern Tro,bone” published in 1979; Merce Cunningham Dance Company commission, 1995.  Founding member, Deep Listening Band.  Two Golden Ears: Deep Listening 2006; Earshot Jazz 2009.  International Trombone Association Lifetime Achievement Award 2010.


Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times
Picture Miles Davis floating somewhere out past the rings of Saturn, and you’ll have an idea what Olsen, Kikuchi, and Dempster are up to.

Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
Recording in an empty water cistern, specifically the one in Port Townsend, Washington, must be something like conversing with Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist and cosmologist, whose battle with ALS has left him to communicate through tapping words on a voice synthesizer. Each note produced in the cistern has the capacity to overwhelm every other sound, as it bounces and reverberates; in effect, making every gesture, every choice, painstakingly critical.  The significance of each gesture might be the motive for the experimental percussion duo known as Open Graves to record at this location. Jesse Olsen and Paul Kikuchi recorded Hollow Lake(Prefecture, 2010) at the cistern. They are back again, this time with trombonist Stuart Dempster—the duo’s inspiration, perhaps. Dempster’s Underground Overlays From The Cistern Chapel (New Albion, 1995) was a startling and meditative recording that gave birth to similar projects, such as John Butcher’s Resonant Spaces (Confront Records, 2008).  Olsen is a musician and performance artist living in the Bay Area and Kikuchi is percussionist, composer and instrument builder who is a member of several ensembles including the Empty Cage Quartet with fine discs out on Clean Feed and pfMentum Records.  The four tracks heard here are, of course, echoey ambient creations that focus attention by way of the recording and listening limitations of the cistern. Time must be slowed, giving a protracted feel to the performance. Dempster’s long, drawn-out trombone notes act as a blanket covering the plucked notes, percussion, and bells applied. The effect is one of slow-motion free jazz, with sub-woofer reverberations that apply texture and an almost tactile sense of feeling—so lovely, that you might catch yourself holding your breathe, dare you make a sound to disturb them.

Kim Heron, Metro Times
Phil Spector had the wall of sound. Prefecture Records artistic director Paul Kikuchi and his associates have the well of sound, or maybe it’s the sound of the well. Phil Spector mastered the art of sound that slammed you even when it came out of a tinny transistor radio. To appreciate what’s going on with Flightpatterns, you’ll need earphones or at least half-decent speakers, but with even modest gear you’re enveloped in the mysterious sound recorded in what sounds like an enormous hall or cave — and that turns out to be a 2 million-gallon cistern (200 feet in diameter, 14 feet deep, with a 45-second echo) in the coastal burg of Port Townsend, Wash. That’s where Seattle-based Kikuchi and Bay area-based Jesse Olsen, partners in the group Open Graves, play all manner of percussion instruments, unidentified and mostly unidentifiable, many of them Kikuchi’s inventions; meanwhile a trombonist, University of Washington’s Stuart Dempster, blows long, sinuous tones; brass and percussion — from the thundering to the tinkling — all echo eerily with tones continually overlapping the echoes of what went just before. Yes, you can do all sorts of things with loops and special effects, but this physical space has a majesty and mystery that you probably haven’t heard unless it’s on one of the earlier records cut in similar echoing spaces (such as Dempster’s 1987 In the Great Abbey of Clement V). One question arises for Detroiters: Can we start having concerts in the salt mines?

No Guts No Glory Studios
This year the winds brought me a collaboration between the duo, Paul Kikuchi and Jesse Olsen–recording as the group Open Graves and The Deep Listening Band’s Stuart Dempster. It’s called Flightpatterns and it provides an astonishing ‘float’ in sound.  Recorded in the Dan Harpole Cistern located in Port Townsend, Washington, it is Kikuchi and Olsen’s second recording as Open Graves, and the second essayed in a naturally reverberant setting. Dempster, a unique virtuoso who plays trombone and didjeridoo, has recorded on numerous occasions in similarly cavernous, man-made yet natural vessels. Dempster has said of the environment,“This is where you have been forever and will always be forever.” Flightpatterns is the follow-up to their superb debut recording, Hollow Lake. It’s one of my most favorite records from this year.  Dive in.

Garrett Schumann, Sequenza 21
Flightpatterns demonstrates the potential value of designing albums around special acoustic environments. Immediately, the album’s intrigue and surface appeal blossoms in light of of Open Graves’ imaginative use of the empty water cistern as a recording studio. Despite the evident danger of casting the music in a monochromatic reverb throughout the length of the disc, Flightpatternsis a bold exploration of physical and musical resonance. Alluring and chilling at once, the CD’s tracks will undoubtedly leave you with aural goosebumps as the blurred identities of Stuart Demptser’s trombone and Open Grave’s multi-instrumental accompaniment will press the boundaries of your music-listening imagination.

RJ’s Modern Music
Open Graves is a percussion duo which focuses on developing unique timbres from their instruments through electronic manipulation and extended techniques.  Flight Patterns is their second album, their first being Hollow Lake.  On Flight Patterns, the group is joined by trombonist Stuart Dempster, who provides textural long tones which add an indefinite harmonic aspect to the percussion instruments.  The most unique aspect of this album is the fact that it was recorded in an empty water cistern.  This environment provides an incredibly unique sound for each instrument.  I was amazed at how minimalistic percussion music took on a new meaning in this setting.  I think that this aspect of the recording is enough for anyone who is interested in unique instrumental music to want to check out.  The music itself is spacious and minimal but is clearly the result of skilled and sympathetic musicians.  If you listen to one demo on iTunes and you may have to buy this album on the spot.

Flight Patterns featured on:
Electronically Enhanced Acoustica, WNYC