Free Form Radio Program
In anticipation of International Dawn Chorus Day, the worldwide celebration of nature’s greatest avian symphony, Ballroom Marfa is presenting Birdscapes Radio from 10am to 2pm CST on Saturday May 1st here on Ballroom Marfa’s website, organized by musician and birder Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas, Exoplanet, Flux Bikes). This freeform program will center on Frye’s ever-evolving collaborative, sonic exploration into the world of birds. Listeners can expect to hear down-tempo dawn chorus, historical recordings, rare sounds, and seabird colonies hosted by Rob Frye with guests Martin Kaulen, Edbrass Brasil, Cristian Pinto, Martin Frye, Satya Gummuluri and more. The show will also include excerpts from “Experience the Birds,” the first episode of Maui Nui Seabirds: Mauka to Makai, and Rob’s performative lecture “Hearing Hidden Melodies.”
In addition, Ballroom Marfa and Astral Spirits are excited to announce the release of Chihuahuan Desert | Birdscapes on cassette. The cassette features Frye’s original Birdscapes from 2018 in addition to Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes, commissioned by Ballroom Marfa in 2020. Chihuahuan Desert | Birdscapes will be available on on April 30, 2021 through Astral Spirits on Bandcamp and Ballroom Marfa’s website (see below).
Chihuahuan Desert | Birdscapes Cassette Release
Ballroom Marfa and Astral Spirits are excited to announce the release of Chihuahuan Desert | Birdscapes on cassette from musician and birder Rob Frye. The cassette features Frye’s original Birdscapes from 2018 in addition to Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes, commissioned by Ballroom Marfa in 2020.
Self-released on Bandcamp in 2018, Frye’s sounds from Birdscapes (side B on the cassette) featured processed sounds of South American species, including Song Wren, Common Potoo (both recorded by Peter Boesman) and Musician Wren (recorded by Richard Ranft), with Frye on flute and granular synthesis with voice contributed by Satya Gummuluri. Satya and Rob had performed together in Ritwik Banerji’s Quintet in Chicago around 2009, and reunited in Ulm, Germany in 2018 for a duo performance at the opening of a group show at Kunstverein Ulm, “WIRKSAM VEREINEN – Kulturelles Erbe und zukünftige Wirksamkeit.”
Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes (side A on the cassette) was created while Frye was an artist in residence at Ballroom Sessions–The Farther Place. The album is inspired by the avian populations of West Texas and features the sounds of handmade reed flutes intertwined with field recordings and birdsong selected from xeno-canto. With Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes, Frye tunes in to the subtle consciousness of the natural world and dives deep into the sonic landscape of the Big Bend.
Positioned along migratory routes from South America to Canada, the Chihuahuan Desert region of West Texas is home to one of the most diverse bird populations in the Northern Hemisphere. Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes highlights common and threatened bird species of the region, using granular synthesis to produce a series of vignettes supplemented by the rich texture of flutes handmade by Frye from invasive grasses collected on the banks of the Rio Grande. Processed samples of Lesser Nighthawk, Baird’s Sparrow, Blue-throated Mountaingem, and Eastern Meadowlark permeate the music that is an organic West Texas sound bath, where hypnotic woodwinds and synthesizers familiar from the artist’s work with Bitchin Bajas intermingle with manipulated trills, warbles, and whistles.
Rob Frye plays woodwinds, percussion, and synthesizers in Chicago-based bands Bitchin Bajas, Jackie Lynn, and CAVE (Drag City), tours internationally, and has recorded with Ben Lamar Gay (International Anthem), Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (Western Vinyl), and Circuit des Yeux (Thrill Jockey) among others. Since 2010, his project Flux Bikes has held solar-powered workshops, annual bike tours, and performances. In the field of jazz and improvised music, he collaborates often in Chicago and participated in the second edition of The Bridge, a trans-Atlantic network of creative music linking France and Chicago in May 2019; and Close To There, an artistic exchange allying Salvador, Bahia and Chicago through Comfort Station and Projeto Ativa in February 2020.