lush harmonies, patient sonic evolutions, crystalline tone and masterful playing. This is super beautiful and thoughtful music making. Gregg demonstrates an enormous range of technique and aesthetic sensibility within compositional structures that are mature and uncontrived. He's an original voice who nods to the obvious modern influences without being drawn into the same obvious comparisons. HIGHLY recommended.
Gregg’s music has always struck me as deeply thoughtful. The feeling of waking up before anyone else, making yourself a cup of coffee that’s too hot to drink. The time, that quiet, expectant, open and ready time spent waiting for that coffee to cool is where Gregg’s music sits for me. Dang this record is great.
Gregg Belisle-Chi - guitar and compositions
Matt Aronoff - electric bass
Jason Burger - drums
ensō, in the Zen tradition, is the spiritual practice of painting a circle in one uninhibited brushstroke, symbolizing a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The result is either an open or closed circle, the former relating to the Zen idea of wabi-sabi, or the beauty in the imperfection of all things. The latter represents a sort of transitory perfection; not that the practitioner has reached perfection, but that the moment was perfect.
This philosophy has greatly influenced my worldview and my artistic practice as a guitarist and composer. Since I began seriously composing music in 2012, I have been tethered to the idea of ritual and the creativity one benefits from adhering to them, whether that ritual is waking up at the same time every morning, eating the same meal for breakfast, or wearing the same outfit.
Cognitive science suggests that ritual, such as the aforementioned, gives the practitioner more creative “bandwidth,” that more decision making power is left to creative practices rather than everyday, trivial decisions.
This sort of austere lifestyle and schedule, certainly experienced in phases throughout my life, has provided me with a focus and attention that I needed to create the music I wanted.
Musically speaking, I find ensō to be a perfect representation of what I find the musical journey to be; a practice that allows the mind to be free and the body to create, to experience the moment in an honest way, not corrupted by self-consciousness or self-doubt. Of course, we get in our own way, we experience set-backs and frustrations. But the reminder that it is a lifelong journey reorients us to the idea that there is no arrival, only a journey.
The music on this record, ensō, is a culmination of a very challenging time in my personal and professional life, where I was very reliant on my rituals to help get me through the months and years of unmanageable schedules, financial troubles, existential crisis, and anxiety. One of the few things I could hold onto was my daily commitment to writing and practicing, at the same time every day, in the same room of my apartment, on the same brand of manuscript paper, with the same brand of pencil.
The songs range from themes of nostalgia to spirituality to stretching beyond limitations. Circa 1999 is an homage to a time when I was enamored with guitar heroism and Bellingham is reminiscing about an extremely awkward run-in with an ex-girlfriend. Monastic is a portrayal of what the creative life sometimes feels like, that being physically and emotionally isolated from people around you. Mu Meson is a personal milestone for me in how the piece was constructed and how the material was developed, which was a real revelation for me.
I first and foremost hope that people listening to this record enjoy the music, that they get some feeling from it (whether they attribute that feeling as “positive” or “negative” I think is irrelevant; I think feeling anything anymore is a blessing.) If anything, I hope that it serves a reminder to care more for the process and not the end result.
released October 2, 2020
Recorded by Michael Coleman at Figure 8 in Brooklyn NY USA
Mixed by Luke Bergman in NYC
Mastered by Dana White in Portland OR USA
Produced by Gregg Belisle-Chi and Luke Bergman
Album Art/design by Andrew Nicholl
An album of tunes by Tim Berne played on acoustic guitar is not a thing that I realized I needed. Gregg Belisle-Chi (produced by Berne and David Torn) does something remarkable and organic on Koi, simultaneously distilling Berne’s compositions to their essential elements and imbuing them with a new kind of life. accordeonaire