Arlo.jpg

He's a composer...

But he's a little bit old school and doesn't really "do the internet," so he asked me to help him share his music. Scroll down to hear some of his pieces and find out about how I met him.

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Raíces

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Hauntology

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Knockout

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The Story of Arlo Black

A few years ago I was out hiking in the deserts of west Texas, collecting audio samples for an acousmatic piece I was working on, when I stepped off the trail to pee, and got totally lost. I wandered around for a few hours, and got pretty nervous when the sun started to set. I took a second to watch the sunset, if you've never seen a west Texas sunset it's really some to behold, ever grain of sands lights up bright orange against the clear and fading sky. As I was surveying the horizon a silhouetted figure appeared to me, it looked like he was riding my way on horseback, and a few moments my later my suspicions were confirmed.As he rode closer I noticed some strange sounds were emanating from his general direction, it sounded like his saddlebags were full of shakers, sleigh bells, tambourines, and other auxiliary percussion instruments. He eventually reached me and his saddle bags grew silent. He looked like a younger more progressive Clint Eastwood. He wore a cowboy hat low on his head, a toothpick peaked out of a thick scraggly beard, and his colorfully striped poncho reached down to his ornately decorated saddle, which I could just barley see in the dim light was embossed with marimba mallets and maracas. He asked what I was doing out in these parts with a predictably rasp growl, and I told him I got lost collecting audio samples for a new piece. He looked skeptically at my microphone and sound record and chuckled to him self, and told me to hop on. The stars were just starting to come out as we rode past feature that didn't look familiar to me, lonely prickly pears and wide open deserts gave way to tall pines and steep valley walls. It became clear we were not going back to the trailhead when we came upon an old cabin, barely visible in the shadows the moon was casting on the trees. We walked in, the stranger lit an oil lamp and illuminated a veritable cave of riches. There were vibraphones and glockenspiels, tubular bells and timbales, bass drums and tam-tams as far as the eye could see. An altar in the corner was dedicated to mallets and sticks, easily hundreds of sets of each in all the colors of the rainbow. Every space of the deceptively large cabin was covered in instruments and manuscript paper, all hidden from the outside by inconspicuous cabin walls. I had never seen something so magnificent, I was speechless. After a long while he eventually explained that he was a composer of percussion music, but had become disillusioned with society during the Reagan administration leading to his self imposed exile somewhere between Alpine and Terlingua. His collection became his solace, and writing his only escape. I asked to see some of his works, but instead of handing me a score he walked over to the nearest marimba and starting playing. It was incredible, tasteful yet intricate, soulful yet constructed, precise yet emotive. As he finished I was again speechless, I'd never heard anything like it. He told me he hadn't seen another person in a decade at least, and that seeing another composer awakened within him a desire to share his works with the world to try and recapture his initial love of music that was shattered by the questionable economic policies of the mid-80's. Without another word he thrust a pile of scores handwritten on old yellowing paper in my arms, and told me the road was a half a mile past his cabin. As I walked out the door into the night, not quite sure of what I was going to do. I turned to see the man standing as I first saw him, silhouetted against a magnificent light. I asked what name I should publish them under. Arlo, he said. Arlo Black.


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