Monastral is excited to announce that its inaugural release will be the third solo album by Chicago percussionist/sound artist Mike Weis. Sound Practice follows 2014’s ‘Don’t Know, Just Walk’ on Type Records and ‘Loop Current / Raft’ on Barge Recordings in 2011. Weis may be best known as the drummer in the decade- plus band, Zelienople as well as other acts including Kwaidan and Good Stuff House. He has also collaborated with Scott Tuma, Mind Over Mirrors, Jasper TX, Black To Comm, Xela, The North Sea and Haptic. In addition to his experimental projects, Weis has studied and performed West African rhythms with Ghanaian master musician and High priest of the Yewe cult, Gideon Foli Alorwoyie. More recently, he has been studying Korean shaman ritual music with the Korean-American group Ilkwanori and with master drummer Sora Kim from Seoul, Korea.
For this new album, Weis eschews the use of digital loops and samples that were the backbone of his previous releases opting for a direct, present moment interaction with his instruments. The two long-form pieces were recorded directly in the studio in one take without overdubs or edits using his signature unorthodox drum kit made up of a large bass drum, Chinese gong, Tibetan singing bowls, cymbals and traditional Korean folk drums— changgo and buk. Weis augmented these percussion instruments with a tabletop guitar (prepared with aluminum rods, gong and vibrating dildos) and real-time manipulations of tape recordings of his gongs, bells and cymbals.
For Sound Practice, Weis chose not to work from any preconceived ideas and instead opened up to what is referred to in Zen as the “unknowing mind” or “beginner’s mind”, exploring the vast possibilities of sound of his limited set-up as if discovering it for the rst time (a lesson learned from AMM’s drummer Eddie Prevost). Weis is practicing with the “suchness of sound” within the objects, creating what he calls a form of non- self expression, essentially liberating sound from representation. However, this is not to imply that Sound Practice is a sterile experimentation of texture because there are moments on the record where Weis’ experience with ritual music clearly shines through. Among the curious sound searching with the various tones, textures, timbres and rhythms is a basic structure that seems to balance emptiness and form as one. For the listener, this balance of space is meant to allow for the acceptance of the random noise of the world to mix freely with recorded sounds or to isolate oneself and step into this “imaginary landscape”, as Cage suggests. Sound Practice will be available in October 2016 as a download and limited LP release, edition of 300, pressed on virgin vinyl with a sleeve designed by Common Name.