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ANCIENT FUTURE – QUIET FIRE narada LP-1012 LP 1986 GER

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PREMESSA: LA SUPERIORITA’ DELLA MUSICA SU VINILE E’ ANCOR OGGI SANCITA, NOTORIA ED EVIDENTE. NON TANTO DA UN PUNTO DI VISTA DI RESA, QUALITA’ E PULIZIA DEL SUONO, TANTOMENO DA QUELLO DEL RIMPIANTO RETROSPETTIVO E NOSTALGICO , MA SOPRATTUTTO DA QUELLO PIU’ PALPABILE ED INOPPUGNABILE DELL’ ESSENZA, DELL’ ANIMA E DELLA SUBLIMAZIONE CREATIVA. IL DISCO IN VINILE HA PULSAZIONE ARTISTICA, PASSIONE ARMONICA E SPLENDORE GRAFICO , E’ PIACEVOLE DA OSSERVARE E DA TENERE IN MANO, RISPLENDE, PROFUMA E VIBRA DI VITA, DI EMOZIONE E  DI SENSIBILITA’. E’ TUTTO QUELLO CHE NON E’ E NON POTRA’ MAI ESSERE IL CD, CHE AL CONTRARIO E’ SOLO UN OGGETTO MERAMENTE COMMERCIALE, POVERO, ARIDO, CINICO, STERILE ED ORWELLIANO,  UNA DEGENERAZIONE INDUSTRIALE SCHIZOFRENICA E NECROFILA, LA DESOLANTE SOLUZIONE FINALE DELL’ AVIDITA’ DEL MERCATO E DELL’ ARROGANZA DEI DISCOGRAFICI .

ANCIENT FUTURE
quiet fire


Disco LP 33 giri , 1986, Narada Productions , LP – 1012 , West Germany, DMM Direct Metal Mastering Teldec Technology

ECCELLENTI CONDIZIONI, vinyl ex++/NM , cover ex++/NM, sealed although open .

Ancient Future is a musical ensemble popular in the world music genre. Founded in 1978, it is known for starting world fusion music, blending centuries-old music traditions, along with mixing them with modern music, such as jazz, rock or reggae.

                                                                        

  • Interprete: Ancient Future
  • Etichetta:  Narada
  • Catalogo: LP-1012
  • Matrici:  CS – B – III   DMM   A   C – LP – 1012 – A 2  /  CS – B – II   DMM    C – LP – 1012 – B
  • Data di pubblicazione: 1986
  • Supporto:vinile 33 giri
  • Tipo audio: stereo
  • Dimensioni: 30 cm.
  • Facciate: 2
  • Original Teldec inner sleeve

                                                                        

Ancient Future’s third release is a rich and varied album in which
guest performances by Darol Anger and Alex De Grassi of Windham
Hill fame augment the lyrical strains of cello, flute, scalloped
fretboard and classical guitars, esraj, tabla, charango, bansuri,
and recorder.

“If this is new age music, then this movement has something to
contribute after all. This contribution’s a stunner. If you like
an occasional musical bout with Oregon or Andreas Vollenweider,
or if you simply believe that music should be beautiful and
uplifting
and rare, these guys are making your kind of music. And doing
it delightfully.”
— VALLEY STAR, Harlingen,Texas

A more subtle approach to the mix of new age lyricism and world music
rhythms.

Track Listings


SIDE
1

  1. Caged Lion (Escapes) (Matthew Montfort. 5:28). Romantic piece written
    for a Leo woman from Chile. The romantic
    part is her escape. Alex De Grassi helps out on rhythm guitar.
  2. Mountain Song (Matthew Montfort. 3:53). Charango piece written
    on a mountain top.
  3. Hillside View (Randy Mead. 6:58). Esraj, cello, flute
    and classical guitar continue with a hill
    theme.
  4. Cascade (Benjy Wertheimer. 6:22). A series of musical
    waterfalls with Darol Anger on violin. (Benjy
    Wertheimer. 6:22)

SIDE 2

  1. Candlelight (Matthew Montfort. 5:34). Romantic renaissance
    piece written at a British Inn.
  2. Charukeshi (Benjy Wertheimer. 3:10). Harmonized raga for
    esraj. 
  3. Quiet Fire (Matthew Montfort. 12:48). Classical, Spanish,
    Indian, and African elements form the title
    track.

Credits

  • Randy Mead
  • Flute (Bass), Flute (Alto), Bansuri, ?, DX-7, Flute,
    Recorder, Producer, Lyricon
  • Matthew
    Montfort
  • Guitar (Electric), ?, Mandolin, Guitar, Producer,
    Charango, Guitar (Classical)

 


Nell’ambito dei gruppi di world-music i maggiori discepoli dei Doah sono
i
californiani Ancient Future, il cui album d’esordio, Visions Of A
Peaceful Planet
(may 1979), era ispirato
direttamente dagli Oregon pur indulgendo nei timbri arcani del liuto
sarod, delle tabla, del sitar, delle
chitarre, dei flauti e delle arpe.

Melodie pastorali, ritmi indiani, timbri gamelan sono meglio
orchestrati in
Natural Rhythms (may 1981). Il trio, Matthew Monfort (compositore
e chitarrista del Colorado), Mindy
Klein (flauti) e Benji Wertheimer (tabla), si ispira alla natura, al
volo degli uccelli (Hummingbird,
con arpeggi di koto e un lungo, radioso excursus del flauto),
all’andirivieni delle onde del mare
(Waves, con languidi respiri del flauto cullati nell’intreccio di
sitar e chitarra) per le sue melodiose
suite, povere di strumenti ma ricche di emozioni.

Nell’ipnotica Frogorian Trance, un mini-concerto per
campanelli
gamelan e percussioni di bambù, nella tribale Frogorian Dance, un
concitato sabba per
bambù e lattine di birra, e nella soave Frog Orient Chance i tre
usano rane e grilli di un
villaggio dell’Indonesia, e Valley Of The Moon è anzi un duetto
improvvisato dal vivo fra
una cetra e le rane di uno stagno. Sono tributi umili e naif, nel più
puro stile francescano, alle
meraviglie della natura e della vita.

Al di là di usarne gli strumenti per i loro timbri esotici, Monfort e

compagni non seguono le tradizioni musicali dell’Estremo Oriente.
Rinnegano infatti le cupe e intense
atmosfere meditative a favore di un descrittivismo vivace e ottimista,
al limite più debitore dei
ritmi caraibici, delle armonie rinascimentali e del jazz estetico, come
dimostrano i brani più
complessi: Fading Dream e Somaloka. Eccezione saliente è
la travolgente,
vertiginosa danza indiana Eleventh Heaven, inno luminoso con cui
si conclude il disco.

Asian Journal è la “supersession” del genere, con Nana
Vasconcelos (percussioni), Steve Gorn (flauto bansuri), Badal Roy
(tabla) e Mike Richmond (basso).

Un sound molto più elettronico caratterizzerà le opere
successive, da Quiet Fire
(october 1986),
con una formazione estesa (nonché Darol Anger e Alex De
Grassi) e forti accenti sudamericani e africani, fino a Dreamchaser,
il loro lavoro più
commerciale, con l’epico tornado di Gama-rock e il tribalismo
dionisiaco di Chant Of The C
Shell
.

Ridotti a un quartetto (Monfort, Doug McKeehan, Ian Dugale e
soprattutto
Jim Hurley al violino) registreranno i più misurati World Without
Walls
(june 1990)
e Asian
Fusion
(december 1992). Quest’ultimo amplierà la strumentazione ai
nuovi mondi dell’Asia.

In loro non c’è la dolorosa coscienza del divenire di tutte le cose
(Kitaro), né la neutra fusion fine a se stessa (Doah), ma soltanto
un’infantile spontaneità
nel dipingere il mondo.


In a strange sense, Ancient Future created world fusion music. Not that
it didn’t exist before 1978 when the coined the term. But before then
it lacked the identity and draw that this (then) new ensemble of
musicians would create. Eclectic in their choise of instruments and
ethnic styles they were adept at taking the old and creating something
novel and compelling.

Quiet Fire is a perfect example of what they can
do. To the regular musicians (Matthew Montfort, Randy Mead, and Benjy
Wertheimer) are added Darol Anger and Alex de Grassi. This stellar cast
proceeds to play cello, flute, scalloped fretboard and classical
guitars, esraj, tabla, charango, bansuri, and recorder creating music
with infectious rhythms over which instrumental solos abound. Sometimes
melody reigns supreme, and at other moments improvisation grabs center
stage.

Thus, the music is both delightful to listen to and full of
the kind of depth that rewards concentration. Pieces range from the
contemplative styling of Hillside View and Cascade to the danceable
joyousness of Caged Lion Escapes. Quiet Fire. the title piece, started
out on a Spanish note and then adapts a dreamy sing-song style that
gradually evolves through Indian and African based turnings.

There
is something about this kind of work that is more than the sometimes
derogatory label of ‘New Age’ implies. Since I am a fan of the genre, I
always enjoy efforts that are more than ‘easy listening’ or ‘smooth
jazz.’ Ancient Future’s adventures in musical breadth reap considerable
rewards for the listener.


   Alla
world globale o fusion possono
ascriversi, ad esempio, gli Ancient Future, che Piero Scaruffi
collega ai Do’A
di Randy Armstrong e Ken LaRoche. A Quiet Fire (Narada 
1012), la
chitarra di Alex De Grassi, noto ai cultori della new age, e il sound
complessivo,
danno una parvenza  un po’ più
commerciale rispetto ai  lavori
precedenti.
Così l’effluvio un po’ sudamericano, un po’ indiano, un po’ new age di Caged Lion Escapes di  Matthew
Montfort travasa di traccia in
traccia fino alla dolcezza incantatoria di Hillside
View
di Randy Mead, con le cascate d’arpa celtica di David Michael,
ed alle
suggestioni rinascimentali di Candlelight.
L’impatto iniziale di Dreamchaser 
mescola chitarra elettrica e sitar, tampura e percussioni africane, con
la
prevalenza di un suono indiano in Edge of
a Memory
ed africano in Chant of the
C Schell
, con tanto di cori in stile. Ma le suggestioni restano
superficiali, non sempre fuse in modo omogeneo, ed un po’ ripetitive. In
Andrean Dream  l’imprimatur è
smaccatamente cileno, e così via, fino al brano migliore di un album
tutto
sommato prescindibile: l’Ode to Ajanta
di Ian Dogole, orientaleggiante.
                                                                               

Ancient Future is the first and longest running musical organization
dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music. The term was coined by bandleader Matthew Montfort in 1978 to
describe Ancient Future’s unusual blend of musical traditions
from around the world. BILLBOARD calls the group “trendsetters”
for their early contributions to the movement, which seeks to
show how people from different cultures can grow by learning from
each other.

World fusion is more of a process than a genre. It is a process
by which new traditions are created, and has been going on throughout
history. It would be difficult to find a form of traditional music
that has not at some time been influenced by the music of another
culture. But current times offer the opportunity for musicians
to learn music from anywhere on earth. It is the mission of Ancient
Future to explore this new sonic territory while shining a light
on the ancient musical knowledge of the world.

“The time has definitely come for world fusion music. Ancient
Future is one step ahead of the game; on their side is the philosophical
parallel between global consonance and world peace.” ­SANTA CRUZ
SENTINEL

“Laying the groundwork for some of today’s most successful world
beat acts, Ancient Future has grown into a global village of musicians…from
Africa, India, Asia, America and the Middle East. The tunes included
are diverse, yet equally captivating, evoking all that is most
appealing about music from a global village.” ­CD NOW

“Northern California’s … ‘world fusion’ band do more than simply
throw together players and instruments from East and West. They
rebuild at the sub-molecular level, puréeing the varied melodic,
rhythmic, and harmonic idioms into tuneful … compositions.”
­GUITAR PLAYER

One Band­Many Flavors

Over the years, Ancient Future has expanded its musical vision
through collaborations with master musicians from more than two
dozen countries, cultures, and musical traditions who are now
an integral part of what is today more than just a band. Ancient
Future has grown to become a large multinational music ensemble
with many smaller ensembles within it, enabling Ancient Future
to realize its core mission of creating world fusion music. Through
cross cultural exchange, Ancient Future has created a musical
world without borders.

World Traditions

The preservation of the world’s great traditions is vital to the
world fusion music movement. With that in mind, Ancient Future
also presents traditional music from the cultures of the individual
master musicians who perform with the band. This provides an educational
experience for the audience that excites people about world traditions
and then shows how those traditions can make contemporary culture
richer.

                                                                    

Ancient Future was formed in 1978 by students at the Ali Akbar
College of Music in San Rafael, California, including Mindia Klein,
Matthew Montfort, Benjy Wertheimer, and Phil Fong. Its origins,
however, go back to 1967. Two of the founding members, Matthew Montfort
and Benjy Wertheimer, were childhood friends in Boulder, Colorado, who
dreamed of forming a band together. By his senior year of high school,
Montfort was playing guitar professionally in several local bands.
Meanwhile, Wertheimer had gravitated to percussion and Indian tabla
drums in particular. A friend of Wertheimer’s introduced Montfort to a
record by the Diga Rhythm Band, which featured North Indian tabla
master Zakir Hussain and his students along with Grateful Dead drummer
Mickey Hart and guitarist Jerry Garcia. Montfort was fascinated by
Indian rhythms, and decided to integrate them into his
jazz/rock/classical fusion music.

In the summer of 1977 Wertheimer and Montfort came to San Rafael
to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College
of Music. There they met the members of the Diga Rhythm Band,
moved into the house that the group rehearsed in, and formed an
offshoot called Greenhouse Intergalactic, which included Diga
Rhythm Band members Tor Dietrichson (who later signed with Global
Pacific Records), Jim Loveless, Ray Spiegel, and Arshad Syed (who
joined Ancient Future’s touring lineup in 1993). Greenhouse Intergalactic
rehearsed at the Grateful Dead studio and performed a number of
concerts before splitting up into two groups: a Latin band called
Sun Orchestra, and the world fusion music group Ancient Future.

So, Ancient Future can be thought of as an offshoot of an offshoot
of an offshoot of the Grateful Dead:



Grateful Dead
offshoot:

Diga Rhythm Band
offshoot:

Greenhouse Intergalactic
splits into:

Sun Orchestra and Ancient Future


The first lineup of Ancient Future included Mindia Klein on flute;
Phil Fong on sarod, guitar, and zither; Benjy Wertheimer on tabla
and esraj; and Matthew Montfort on guitar and sitar. None of these
musicians were ever really quite Deadheads. But if the Diga Rhythm
band hadn’t been created by Zakir Hussain, Mickey Hart, and company,
Ancient Future may never have formed. Besides, we have to have
some names of famous 60’s pop icons to drop, don’t we?

Then again, we could have used The Beatles:

The Beatles

guitarist:

George Harrison

studied Indian music with:

Ravi Shankar

learned Indian music from:

Allaudin Khan

father of:

Ali Akbar Khan

taught Indian music to the members of:

Ancient Future

OK, so maybe this is getting a little ridiculous. But there is
no excuse for boring Ancient Future history!

Naming Ancient Future

Many have asked how the name Ancient Future was selected, perhaps
expecting a mystical answer incorporating quantum physics and
Eastern philosophy. The truth is that during the group’s “name
the band” brain storming sessions, two apparently contradictory
themes emerged. Sarodist Phil Fong was very interested in the
legendary ancient civilizations of Atlantis and Mu, and liked
to imagine what the music of Mu might have been like. Fong envisioned
a band name invoking an image of the ancient civilizations where
the world’s great musical traditions were born. But the group
also wanted its name to express a vision of hope for the future
through the cross-cultural exchange of that ancient knowledge.
Thus the name Ancient Future was born.

Those who were expecting the quantum physics explanation should
now exit Ancient Future history via this alternative gateway to
the Ancient Future from another parallel universe. Time travel
is a lot more fun than the truth.

No “s”

New fans of the world fusion music ensemble Ancient Future often
mistakenly add an “s” at the end of the name. When faced with
this band members reply in jest that Ancient Futures are expired
stock certificates. It has even been suggested that Ancient Future
go public one day and issue ancient futures (your feedback on
this hair-brained scheme is welcomed at the Ancient Future guest book). Actually, in light of David Bowie’s much publicized stock offering,
this scheme is looking less hair-brained all the time!

World Fusion Music

When Ancient Future created its own contemporary sound by combining
elements of the world’s ancient music traditions, no one quite
knew what to call the end result. In 1978, Ancient Future coined
the term world fusion music to describe a genre which blends musical ideas from many different
traditions.1 Today, the expanding popularity of world music merits its own
sales chart in BILLBOARD. The world fusion music movement that
Ancient Future envisioned has blossomed.

First Recording

In December, 1978, Montfort, Wertheimer, Klein and Fong went into
Tres Virgos Studio in Mill Valley to record Montfort’s song Moonbath.
The song became the springboard for the first Ancient Future record,
Visions of a Peaceful Planet, which includes five other songs. The record was financed by the
group and recorded for under $2500.

In May 1999, Visions of a Peaceful Planet was reissued as an Internet only release. The first MP3 song
from the reissue, Eternal Embrace, was the Internet’s #1 World
Music song (1999 mpulse.com tracking).

Tres
Virgos Studio later moved to San Rafael and was sold to producer Narada
Michael Walden, who, despite popular misconception, has absolutely
nothing to do with Narada Records, the label that released four Ancient
Future recordings in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

First Concert

Ancient Future’s first concert took
place to a packed house on February 11, 1979, at the Sleeping Lady Cafe
in Fairfax, California. The Sleeping Lady was a vegetarian cafe and
music club co-op that was the center of a vibrant local music scene. In
the mid 80’s, the co-op was seized by a punk rock aesthetic. Somehow,
punk rock music and vegetarian hippy food did not prove to be a winning
business combination, and the club went belly up. Coincidently, a new
version of the club re-opened with the blessing of Sleeping Lady
founder Billy Bramblett in fall 2008, exactly 30 years after Ancient
Future was formed.

The Natural Rhythms Period

The concept for the Natural Rhythms record grew out of a magical spontaneous recording session at
a friend’s recording studio near a frog pond. When Montfort and
Klein noticed the sound of croaking frogs leaking into the studio,
they were inspired to record them. Montfort went out to the pond
with a zither and began to play. He found that certain rhythms
produced musical responses. The music recorded that night was
very magical, and eventually became part of the Natural Rhythms album.

Several months later, Montfort and Klein went to Bali to study
gamelan music. They were amazed to find paintings all over the
island portraying Balinese rice paddy frogs playing gamelan instruments.
They saw dances imitating the frogs and heard music imitating
the frog calls. Montfort and Klein decided to extend their musical
experiments to include the Balinese rice paddy frogs. Late at
night, they gathered their musical Balinese friends, went out
into the rice paddies, and jammed with the frogs. Again, some
very magical moments of music transpired. The tapes were taken
back to San Francisco, transferred to multitrack tape, and became
part of the Natural Rhythms recording.

Epilog: 1986 Oregon Country Fair

Many years after recording Natural Rhythms, Matthew Montfort and Benjy Wertheimer were invited to perform
a duet at the 1986 Oregon Country Fair in Eugene. After their
performance, Montfort was surprised to be greeted by a Balinese
man. After all, it would take a typical Balinese villager an entire
life’s savings just to buy a plane ticket to America. On closer
inspection, the Balinese man would turn out to be none other than
Wayan Ludra, the brother of Natural Rhythms cover artist Nyomen Kawiana. What was he doing in America? It
turned out that an Oregonian named Sandra Barger had purchased
a copy of Natural Rhythms and fallen in love with it. She had an import/export business
that took her to Bali. She was walking through the village of
Pengosekan when she heard Natural Rhythms coming from a home. She was quite curious how they came to have
a copy of the record and went up to investigate. She met Wayan
Ludra and Nyomen Kawiana and was told the story of their American
friends who liked to play music with frogs. On this basis quite
a connection was made, and she became great friends of the family,
later marrying Wayan. She established her business in Bali at
the family compound, and brought the whole family great wealth.
Nyomen’s generosity had come full circle, and had even produced
a meeting in America for Wayan and Montfort

The Transition Period

After Natural Rhythms, Phil Fong joined a punk rock band and was unavailable for touring.
In August and September 1981, Matthew Montfort, Benjy Wertheimer
and Mindia Klein toured the US. Not long after the tour, Klein
left Ancient Future and was replaced by Randy Mead (flutes) and
Rick Henderson (sarod). After several tours Henderson left the
group and was replaced by Marcia Sloane on cello.


The Quiet Fire Period

On the next Ancient Future record, the group focused on a world
chamber music concept featuring flute, cello, classical and scalloped
fretboard guitar, esraj, tabla and charango. Guest artists Alex
De Grassi and Darol Anger of Windham Hill performed on the record.
Following the recording of a self-produced master tape that was
shopped to various labels, Narada Records made an offer that included
an opportunity to record a second uptempo album as a follow up.
Montfort was excited by the prospect of a more uptempo record,
and accepted the offer. The first record was released under the
title
Quiet Fire. About that time, Wertheimer and Mead formed a pop vocal band
with their wives, and Sloane returned to her classical cello career.
Montfort recruited Ian Dogole (percussion), Doug McKeehan (keyboards),
and Bruce Bowers (violin, flute) to form a new version of Ancient
Future with a jazzier sound.

The Dreamchaser Period

When Narada offered more artistic freedom on a new label they
were starting called Sona Gaia, it was gladly accepted. Ancient
Future recorded two of its very best releases for this label.
Although the Sona Gaia label had a minuscule advertising budget,
the records were strong sellers nonetheless that succeeded on
their own merits. The first Sona Gaia release, Dreamchaser, showcased some of the jazzier side of Ancient Future’s world
fusion music. The record debuted at #2 on the May 1989 JAZZIZ
National Airplay chart. It received a 10 out of 10 rating in CD
REVIEW.

                                                                    

The World Without Walls Period

Picture of Fifth Ancient Future Line Up( Matthew Montfort, Jim Hurley, Doug McKeehan, and
Ian Dogole)

In August of 1988, violinist Jim Hurley replaced Bruce Bowers.
The resulting line up remained the same for over 7 years.

After several tours on the West Coast, the group began working
on its next release, World Without Walls. It features performances by Zakir Hussain, the master of the
North Indian tabla. Working with Zakir Hussain brought the group
full circle from its 1978 origins out of the musical scene surrounding
Hussain’s percussion group, the Diga Rhythm Band.

The Asian Fusion Period

Picture of Chinese Zither Master, Zhao Hui

At the end of an Ancient Future performance at the 1991 Sacramento
River Jazz Festival, Matthew Montfort was introduced to China’s
top gu zheng (Chinese zither) master, Zhao Hui, by her husband, Shen Hsu. Montfort
was invited over for dinner, and afterwards Ms. Zhao played. He
was so captivated by what he heard that he took out his guitar.
The sound of her gu zheng blended beautifully with the scalloped
fretboard guitar, and a musical chemistry was immediately apparent.

This experience was the genesis for the Asian Fusion record. It inspired Montfort to further explore fusing ancient
Asian and contemporary Western elements. Zhao Hui agreed to participate
in Ancient Future’s next set of shows. Montfort taught her some
of the Ancient Future repertoire, while she taught him Dusk Song
of the Fisherman (which they later recorded for Asian Fusion), an ancient Ching Dynasty theme expressing the joy of returning
to the harbor at dusk, singing a happy song. When the first show
began, Montfort was back stage as the crowd went absolutely wild
for Zhao Hui’s opening solo. For the first time in many years,
he had a case of stage fright. He had been playing Chinese music
for all of two days. In a few minutes, he was going to perform
traditional Chinese music with China’s preeminent master of the
gu zheng. Would he be a let down after what she had already done?
But the muse took over and they were into one of those rare moments
in music when things click just right. The crowd gave them a standing
ovation, and the concert tape even landed them a Touring Program
grant from the California Arts Council.

The Asian Fusion album concept evolved to include other guest artists. One important
artist on the release is Bui Huu Nhut, a leading performer of
the Vietnamese dan bao, a one string instrument with an indigenous version of a whammy
bar. Montfort saw Mr. Bui at the Festival of the Lake in Oakland,
and was entranced by the sound of the instrument. The two became
great friends and set about finding a way to perform together.
Montfort wrote a piece called Ja Nam based on a Vietnamese folk
song, but with a reggae beat. Montfort was able to learn about
Vietnamese melody, and Bui learned about performing with Western
instruments and rhythms. That is the beauty of cross-cultural
exchange — people learning from each other and growing in the
process.

The Planet Jammin’ Period

After twenty years of development, the world music scene surrounding
Ancient Future flowered with collaborations between some of the
world’s top masters of traditional music. The Planet Jammin’ concept evolved out of these collaborations on recordings and
concerts.

On the concert front, in 1998 Ancient Future began offering a
new collaborative world music and dance series featuring top world
music and dance masters such as Pandit Habib Khan (North Indian
sitar master), Irina Mikhailova (Russian vocal diva), Zhao Hui
(Chinese national treasure), Georges Lammam (Arabic violin virtuoso),
and Sapphira (world dancer). A
quick check of Ancient Future’s concert schedule will reveal quite a few of these collaborations. The effect of
this has been to bring even more variety to Ancient Future shows,
and to provide a forum for various configurations of the ensemble
from a duet on up to a 12 piece group including the world music
and dance masters above.

On the recording front, several projects grew out of this vibrant
world fusion music scene. First to be completed were several all-star
projects featuring Pandit Habib Khan, who is regarded as one of
the best sitar players in the country today. He was born into
a family of musicians and can trace his lineage back several generations
to when classical music enjoyed the patronage of the nobility
and royalty of India. He has produced three CDs featuring collaborations
with Ancient Future leader and scalloped fretboard guitar master
Matthew Montfort. The lineup also includes Indian tabla master
Swapan Chaudhuri, jazz drummer Danny Gottlieb of Pat Methany fame,
Persian santur master Alan Kushan, pianist Ira Stein of Windham
Hill and Narada fame, George Brooks on saxophone, and others.

The 20th Anniversary Period

In 1999 Ancient Future celebrated 20 years of world fusion music.
February 11, 1999 was the 20th Anniversary of the first Ancient
Future concert, and was celebrated with a chat cave event featuring original members of the group. A 20th anniversary
concert featuring both the original and current groups occurred March
21st at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, California.

May 1999 was the 20th Anniversary of the cassette release of the
first Ancient Future recording, Visions of a Peaceful Planet, and was celebrated with the release of a sneak preview song from
the latest Ancient Future recording on the May 1999 Rhythm Magazine
CD Sampler, along with the internet-only release of Visions of
a Peaceful Planet on CD-R.

The Independent Period

The seventh Ancient Future record, Planet Passion, is a very ambitious project featuring the full Planet Jammin’
lineup collaborating on the theme of music inspired by rituals
having to do with love and procreation. For instance, the record
takes themes from traditional music associated with love gods
such as Ochun (Afro-Cuban) and Semara (Balinese) and uses that
as source material for contemporary collaborations. The record
began production in 1996, and was in stores starting in late 2002.
A selection from the record was included on the May 1999 Rhythm
Magazine sampler CD. The recording was produced by Ancient Future
without financing from a record company. Instead, money was raised
from fans of Ancient Future. While the fundraising total fell
short of goals, enough was raised to allow the music to be created
and released without pressure from a corporate record label more
concerned with marketing and trends than music.

The Internet Popularity/Piracy Period

By the year 2000, Ancient Future had established itself as the
top world music group on the Internet. Ancient Future had taken
number one positions in nine categories (World, World Fusion,
Irish, Indian, Asian, Arabic, Middle Eastern, Russian, and Indonesian)
on mp3.com. Ancient Future songs had been featured on many mp3
samplers from sites such as riffage.com and mp3.com with a combined
distribution of 750,000 units in 1999 alone. At riffage.com, the
song “El Zaffa” received top reviews in its category and was featured
on barnesandnoble.com. Ancient-Future.Com was the top world music web site 1999/2000 on the mPulse Internet Music Chart, which ranks music sites by numbers of daily unique visitors.
The band Ancient Future even beat The Backstreet Boys to become
the number one major artist site.

However, rampant free file sharing had resulted in the value of
recorded music being zero in the minds of many. It was widely
alleged in the media that this would be great publicity and result
in more sales. But those sales never materialized for Ancient
Future. For example, even legal downloads at mp3.com (which has
since gone out of business), complete with “buy now” links to
purchase CDs did not result in increased sales. To the contrary,
only 1 in 899 legal free promotional downloads could be matched
with a sale anywhere in the distribution chain. This doesn’t include
the many illegal downloads that also occurred. Many other independent
artists at mp3.com reported legal download to sales figures at
more like 1 in 5000. Faced with these obstacles, in 2001, Ancient
Future leader Matthew Montfort was involved as a proposed Class
Representative for Independent Musicians in a lawsuit against
Napster, and proposed a set of solutions to the problems facing
musicians in an Open Letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee
and Napster CEO Hank Barry on March 14, 2001, in which he advocated
a statutory license for file sharing to insure that the practice
could continue, but with payments to musicians. On April 3, 2001,
Mr. Barry made a plea to congress with a proposal substantially
similar to the one Montfort had advocated earlier. The proposal
was opposed by the major record labels, and was not adopted.

2002 and 2003 were tough years for Ancient Future financially.
Scores of independent record stores that had in the past carried
Ancient Future’s CDs went out of business, causing the other stores
to be very conservative in their stocking decisions. Out of 100
stores that agreed to stock Ancient Future’s Planet Passion CD,
10 went out of business in the first two months of the release.
In addition to the problems in the record industry, there were
severe cutbacks in arts budgets. The California Arts Council Touring
Program which supported the band’s touring activities in California
was terminated due to state budget cuts. Many of the presenters
who had sponsored Ancient Future concerts in the past were forced
to severely cut back their schedules or take a hiatus.

A new concert booking system involving email letters and streaming audio was developed in late 2003
to deal with the emerging situation, and by late 2004 bookings
were up. That year a deal was signed with an internet distribution company
that resulted in getting Ancient Future’s music on the legal download
sites such as iTunes. While further cutbacks in the arts in
the USA continued to take their toll, a new focus on international
performances resulted in tours of Spain in 2005 and India in 2006, when Planet Passion was released on Music Gallery India.

Ancient Future Studio Period

While Internet
downloads were having a deep impact on record industry, the computer
based home recording revolution was producing a flood of independent
releases. Concert presenters and reviewers found themselves buried in
an avalanche of new releases. Social networking sites like myspace
were popping up everywhere. This meant that artists could now reach
fans directly without a huge marketing budget, but doing so proved time
consuming. It seemed a great time to produce records, but maybe not
such a great time to market them.

With that in mind,
several projects were started. A concert featuring four versions of the
band Ancient Future was recorded to multi-track digital and
multi-camera video on June 6, 2003 with the idea of releasing a live
concert DVD. The video editing and DVD creation process is taking quite
a bit of time, but some videos from the concert have been released on YouTube.

In October 2005 rehearsals began for Mariah Parker’s Indo-Latin jazz project, Sangria
Ancient Future Studio was upgraded with a new G5 Pro Tools and Cubase
recording system. But in order to be able to concentrate on the music
rather than the recording process, live sessions were booked at Banquet
Studios, where Ancient Future’s Asian Fusion
release was recorded. The first live tracks were recorded on December
12 and December 29, 2005 with Mariah Parker, Mindia Devi Klein, Kash
Killion, Duru Demetrius, Debopriyo Sarkar, and Matthew Montfort. A few
percussion overdubs by Brian Rice were added at Ancient Future Studios.
The basic tracks were completed September 22, 2006 at Banquet Studios
with a live recording session with Mariah Parker, Anurhada Pal, Kash
Killion, and Matthew Montfort. Paul McCandless dropped by Ancient
Future Studios for work on two tracks, and the record was edited mixed
by Matthew Montfort at Ancient Future Studio. Mastering for HDCD was
completed by Paul Stubblebine on September 21, 2007.

Soon
thereafter, Matthew Montfort began work in Ancient Future Studios
mastering a series of improvisational solo recordings he had done
between 2000 and 2005. This was a large project, because the recordings
were done on a now obsolete G3 Mac system, and some of the work that
would normally be done in the mix stage happened in mastering instead.
Matthew Montfort also developed mastering techniques that seemed to be
required by the music. For example, all of the mastering adjustments
were done keeping in mind the exact mathematically calculated just
intonation harmonic series of each piece. He decided to call his new
mastering style 64-Bit Tuned Harmonic Mastering. The mastering was
completed in May of 2008. The result is Montfort’s debut solo
recording, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.

After developing these new mastering techniques, in November 2008 Montfort revisited Ancient Future’s seventh recording, Planet Passion, which was due for another pressing. The original recording was done on Power Mac, and the mix was limited by that system. Planet Passion
is a very large project with 19 musicians contributing, and one could
either hear each track separately with all effects, or all the tracks
with no effects as the system did not have the power to play back the
full mix in real time. To get around this limitation, the effects were
set up listening to each track separately, then the mix was set up
without effects. After that, the mix was exported and then re-imported
to listen. Notes were made on changes to make and the process was
started again. Most of the individual tracks were recorded at 20 bits,
with a few at 24 bits due to a late project audio interface upgrade.
The mixes were exported in both 24 bit and 16 bit formats. At
mastering, one important component of the mastering system had trouble
reading the 24 bit files. The considered opinion of the mastering
engineer was that the Power Mac system was not likely able to get much
out of the extra bits anyway and that the 16 bit format could be used
for mastering. Montfort reluctantly agreed, but in the back of his mind
always wondered if that was the right decision. So, when Montfort went
to get the master ready for a new pressing, he thought to check the 24
bit mixes against the mastered version on his upgraded G5 system. He
was shocked to find the mixes were in a box in his garage that was in
mortal danger because rats had used it for nesting (!!!). He was
relieved to find that after cleaning the discs off, they loaded fine
and the difference in quality was stunning. So to get that quality back
in the final master, he spent four weeks using the 64-Bit Tuned
Harmonic process he had developed to bring out the music he knew was in
the original recordings but that just didn’t quite reveal itself in the
original mastering process. The master was completed on December 12,
2008, and sent off to press via UPS next day shipment in order to meet
the pressing plant deadline, just barely making the UPS deadline by a
few minutes.

Work is also starting on a global gypsy jazz CD featuring Ancient Future violinist Patti Weiss.
The basic tracks for the first song are completed and an overdub
session with a famous gypsy singer is scheduled for December 29, 2008.

30th Anniversary Period:

3 Releases Celebrating 30 Years of World Fusion Music

In
2008, a deal was signed with Gemini Sun Records as an umbrella label to
pass through distribution of Ancient-Future.Com Records as a stand
alone label through Ryko/WEA distribution. This means that
Ancient-Future.Com releases will now be widely available in record
stores nationally with the same level of distribution that Ancient
Future enjoyed when it was signed to a major label.

Three releases celebrating thirty years of world fusion music are to be released February 10, 2009: Planet Passion by Ancient Future (AF 2010), Sangria by Mariah Parker (AF 2017), and Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar
by Matthew Montfort (AF 2008). February 10, 2009 is one day before the
30th anniversary of the first Ancient Future concert, February 11, 1979.

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