THE LONER HEXILOGY In 1983 I went into Soundtrax Studio, in Raleigh, NC intending to make a solo demo to sell my songs and perhaps get some gigs. When I arrived, Perry Cheatham the studios engineer told me very excitedly about a new Profit 5000 synthesizer they had recently purchased and lobbied for me to use it for my session. I was skeptical because I knew nothing about the instrument but Perry insisted he could find any sound I wanted. The studio agreed to cut me some slack on the rates so I agreed. Armed with this new, powerful asset I decided that the album needed to be about something meaningful. I pondered the problem and chose to illuminate the issue of finding ones identity in a world of increasing conformity, which the seeming invasion into the local area of giant Corporations seemed to foretell. In addition the fact that I was the only one creating, arranging, and performing the music, which led me to the title of "The Loner", which ended up as six compositions. During the sessions I couldn't find a drummer who could be expected to hang with the improvisational nature of the creative process. I recorded all of the piano parts first just to see what I was doing. I would listen to the playback and ask Perry to find a sound, which was a process itself. I had to describe with words a sound that I didn't know if the synthesizer could produce, and Perry would have to translate my intent into a sound. He'd ask me, what do you hear? And I might answer I dunno, let me think for a minute. Play it again. Everything was recorded as live performances, so I really didn't know how it sounded until we played it back. Because I wasn't using drums I rationalized that the piano was really a rhythm instrument, and so I would make the absence of drums part of the theme. Not a really good idea, as it turned out. None of the labels could get past the lack of drums. They'd say I don't know what to label it! It would be great if you'd add some drums; comments that only strengthened my resolve not to use them. The session never became an album and only existed as cassette tapes for twenty five years, and would have remained in that state had not technology made the advances it has during the last fifteen years. The original music was recorded on a 16 track tape and mixed down to a two track stereo tape that is lying in repose somewhere in my storage locker. I recently ran across a cassette tape that sounded great so I decided to publish the session on my own Kumekucha Label. Chapter 1: Bobbin' & Weavin' Chapter 2: Changes Chapter 3: Peaches at the Disco Chapter 4: The Loner Chapter 5: Spirit dance (in search of Lewis Burton) Chapter 6: Ecstasy All compositions: Kumekucha Music BMI Cast of Characters All Compositions, arrangements, Performance & vocal by: Elmer Gibson copyright 1983 Recorded: Soundtrax Studios Raleigh, N.C. Recording Engineer/ Synthesizer technician: Perry Cheatham Photographer: E. Oliver Gibson Voice #1: E. Oliver Gibson Voice #2: Fran Garrett Remastering: Joel Leipzig Cover Photograph: E. Oliver Gibson Cover design: Lori Barmer CD Package design: Barmer Graphics Design Produced and Manufactured by: Kumekucha Records @ 2008 The story behind "The Loner Hexilogy" The Loner Hexilogy is a project that was the product of outrageous fortune for me. In 1983 I went into Soundtrax Studio, in Raleigh, NC, intending to make a solo demo to sell my songs and perhaps get some gigs. I thought that if a record company picked me up I would be able to expand their production. When I arrived, however, Perry Cheatham, the studio's engineer, told me very excitedly about a new Profit 5000 analogue synthesizer they had recently purchased and lobbied for me to use it for my session. I was skeptical because I knew nothing about the instrument but Perry insisted he could find any sound I wanted. The studio agreed to cut me some slack on the rates so I said okay. Perry and I spent time experiencing some of the assets the keyboard offered, and as I learned of the seeming limitless possibilities with this instrument, I realized that the project had changed exponentially. As solo pieces I didn't have the pallet necessary to give them the depth I knew was there. We began the creative recording process: I recorded all of the piano parts first just to see what I was doing. I would listen to the playback and ask Perry to find a sound, which was a process itself. I had to describe with words a sound that I didn't know if the synthesizer could produce, and Perry would have to translate my intent into a sound. He'd ask me, what do you hear? And I might answer I dunno, let me think for a minute. Play it again. Everything was recorded as live performances, so I really didn't know how it sounded until we played it back. During the sessions I couldn't find a drummer that I could afford, who could be expected to hang with the improvisational nature of the creative process. Because I wasn't using drums I rationalized that the piano was really a rhythm instrument, and so I would make the absence of drums part of the theme. Not a really good idea, as it turned out. None of the labels I approached could get past the lack of drums. They'd say I don't know what to label it! It would be great if you'd add some drums; comments that only strengthened my resolve not to use them. The session never became an album and only existed as cassette tapes for twenty-five years. If not for advances in technology, they would have remained in that state. The original music was recorded on a 16-track tape and mixed down to a two-track stereo tape that has lain in repose somewhere in my storage locker. I recently ran across a cassette tape that sounded great so I decided to publish the session on my own Kumekucha Music label. The story line was finding one's identity in a world of increasing conformity, an issue I was introduced to in Art School about stepping away from traditional beliefs. In order to step away, the seeker must be prepared to consider alternatives, and develop the willingness to be alone. The transition is part of a process that involves six major milestones: Struggle, Frustration, Confrontation, Realization, Redemption, and Hope. Each composition is it's own story, and a metaphor for one of the six issues above. Struggle: "Bobbin' and Weavin'" I used to work for a firm whose plant was located in a very rough section of North Philadelphia. My walk from the car to the plant was always interesting. Almost daily as I walked towards the office, a figure in an overcoat and knitted ski hat would approach me while doing this rhythmic movement with his shoulders hunched over in a boxing position, feinting and jabbing with his fists. One day I finally spoke and asked, "How're ya doin" and he replied without looking up, "just bob and weave and keep movin," and continued his way down the street. I saw his simple statement as a metaphor for life's everyday struggle to keep from getting the knock-out blow. In 1983 "Gallaga" was a popular video game, and at my laundromat I used to watch young students playing the game. One day a brother reputed to be the highest scorer in town stopped by with his retinue of girlfriends and curious onlookers. I watched his intensity, bobbing and weaving, trying not to get knocked out, and noted the response of his friends and onlookers. Some called out encouragement, some mumbled "umph, umph," as he won his way into the outer reaches of the game. I decided to use some of those sounds and attitudes 'to introduce my boxer's philosophy. Frustration: "Changes" The process requires that we become frustrated with the status quo, and the changes we endure in order to survive. This frustration might be the result of our economic situation, social situation, and/or a host of other situations with which we become dissatisfied. We begin to realize that our circumstance requires a serious re-organization of our view point if anything is to change. This reorganization involves a great deal of self-analysis, positive criticism, and the fortitude to face weaknesses. Finally we have to decide to change, stop what we have been doing wrong, and pursue another objective. Confrontation: "Peaches at the Disco" During the late fifties and sixties one of the most significant, revolutionary black female vocalists was Nina Simone. In 1966, Nina wrote the song "Four Women," describing the plight and attitudes of four black women in American history. She recorded it on an album titled, "Wild is the Wind," (Phillips label). The fourth and most outspoken of these women was named Peaches. Her defiance became a symbol for change in the racial status quo for black Americans during the sixties and seventies. "My skin is brown, my manner is tough. I'll kill the first mutha I see. My life was rough. I'm awfully bitter these days... because my parents were slaves. What do they call me? My name is Peaches" As portrayed in the song, the black community felt that Peaches could never be co-opted by "The Man." For many, the arrival of "Disco" music constituted a serious breach with, and challenge to the goals of, the freedom movement. The dumbing-down of the message, and crass commercialism of the music and dances seemed to spell the end of the era. Having been a Jazz musician during the sixties and seventies, and a witness to the high regard with which artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Nina Simone were held, the changing nature of the music scene constituted a threat to that status. By 1983, seventeen years later, the change had come to pass. In the context of "The Loner Hexilogy," the search for Peaches is a metaphor for the struggle each human being must face in order to break with traditional thinking ... confronting the reality, and discovering the truth for yourself. Realization: "The Loner" After confronting very deeply held issues, and discarding some of the baggage you've carried around for years, you come to a new reality. Without the familiar crutches that both sustained you and held you back, the future appears before you like the artist's blank canvas. Here you realize that the picture you paint on that canvas is entirely up to you, and the prospect at first seems almost frightening. Your first steps are naturally timid as you test the waters. Next, you realize you must take that step into the unknown. Gradually as you proceed, you gain confidence and your stride becomes more purposeful. Soon, you realize you don't need the crutches you used to rely on so heavily. Finally realizing that you have made it, you stroll confidently into the future with a spring to your step, forever a changed person. Redemption: "Spirit dance for Lewis Burton" Realizing the debilitating effects of your past transgressions, you seek your roots in hopes of seeing for the first time the wisdom of all the life experience you overlooked. In my own case, after moving to North Carolina, my father, a native, asked me to look up the family history. The NC Museum of History was just a few blocks from my apartment, and I took my oldest son Oliver on this quest. We discovered many family documents, the plantation and the plantation house said to have been built circa 1795. I discovered that David, my great-grandfather born 1801, and Lewis Burton Gibson, my grandfather born in 1835, were slaves on the Andrew Gibson plantation in the town of Gibsonville. We visited the plantation in 1983. On that visit, I saw an old tree close to the back of the house that overlooked a huge clearing that I concluded was where the slaves must have come in from the fields to drink water. I sat under the tree for awhile and surveyed the scene wondering if I could summon some words of wisdom out of this hallowed ground laden with the sweat of my forefathers and mothers. I put myself in a trance as I searched the atmosphere for a sign. It was my process in seeking redemption. The lyrics of the opening prayer are: "I am trying to find out just where I belong. I am trying to find out who I am. There is something I need to know about my past. And I ask you to hear my plea and come to me..." I felt a chill when I realized that the thoughts that came to mind that day may actually have been brought to me by my grand-parents. Hope: "Ecstasy" Reaching a new plateau in your existence, you feel the exhilaration of unlimited possibilities that afford you the opportunity to visualize a new, positive future. It is natural to feel the need to share this dream with someone, particularly of a like mind, who will walk with you into this future. We live our lives each day and hope to be The image in a dream we often see Forever running from reality Constantly We search the faceless crowd and hope to see The perfect object of our fantasy We dare to dream the dream that it might be Fervently And in the dark of night the emptiness Betrays the secret of our loneliness We pray our lives outlive unhappiness Endlessly But in the great somewhere there has to be A someone who has dreamed a dream like me The moment when we meet must surely be Ecstasy Elmer Gibson.
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