There are quick and less-than-quick answers to the question: "What Is Slow Music?"
One quick answer is that Slow Music is an opportunity for six pretty good and very experienced musicians to play and improvise together while experimenting/working within a specific context.
One longer answer is...
The idea for Slow Music initially grew out of imagining a kind of music I might like to hear: long-form live improvisations working with ambient/textural/environmental ideas.
I described this to Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah Willcox while visiting on a day off during last year's R.E.M. tour. As it turned out, Toyah was quite keen on the idea and her enthusiasm helped move things forward.
One aspect of the Slow Music idea is based in using standard instrumentation (drums, bass, guitar, keys/synth) under less-than-standard conditions – for instance: the use of space as an essential part of the musician's palate, and how sound might be used to open up space. In this context, listening skills are as important as competence on an instrument. So, I asked the best players I know to participate, each one with their own individual characteristics and point-of-view. Eventually they all agreed to join the project. They are:
Peter Buck – Guitar
Fred Chalenor – Bass
Matt Chamberlain – Drums, Percussion
Robert Fripp – Guitar, Guitar triggered sounds
Bill Rieflin (myself) – Piano sounds, Synthesizer, Percussion
Hector Zazou – Synthesizer, Computer
Originally, I had intended for Slow Music to be a studio project. When Robert suggested throwing in a gig, the ante got upped. Two days were booked for recording, with a show on the third day - also recorded. We played three sets at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle on October 19, 2005. The studio project had become a performing group. I was quite surprised to find that, after the show, while I was occupied breaking down my gear, the others were in the dressing room excitedly discussing the possibility of future performances. This set the stage for what is now the first Slow Music tour of the West Coast.
Each performance is improvised. So far, we have found that what works well for us is to establish some sort of framework that roughly sketches out a piece. Perhaps we'll begin in A major for a bit, shifting to G# minor, moving to... or this bit is gentle, this bit gets agitated, etc. All very general. Each performance is unique -even we don't know how things will turn out: it is the mystery and risk of live performance.
05.05 | Portland, OR | Aladdin Theater
05.06 | Seattle, WA | Showbox
05.09 | San Francisco, CA | The Great American Music Hall
05.12 | San Juan Capistrano, CA | The Coach House
05.13 | Los Angeles, CA | The El Rey Theatre