A story about musical vision

Recently, I had a band. My first band in years. A band I assembled mid-pandemic; no small feat. It lasted for about two months, mostly because I’m not a great band member and lack the ability to compromise where vision is concerned. Some, who are inspired by leadership books, might think this is admirable. Some others, who aren’t, might just think that I’m challenging (to put it nicely) to work with. I’ve been around long enough now to know who I am and I’m not above change, but when it comes to musical vision, I have a stubborn and uncompromising streak that’s very unZen and frequently has me getting in my own way. We live, we learn, we evolve. That’s the journey.

In an effort to communicate that musical vision, I drafted the story/note below. It’s not impertinent to my musical journey, so I thought I’d share it here:

Several years ago, when several of my longtime collaborators relocated, geographically or temporally, I started looking for other musical likeminds. My interests could be jazz, rock, jam bands, country, folk, what have you, but at the core was group improvisation. 

I stumbled upon this art quite by chance when I was sixteen. I was hit with a sudden moment of deep and profound awareness. I remember it very clearly: A dark and dingy basement. A gang of lackluster, wannabe, punk musicians trying to make art, trying to begin a journey of musical exploration by going in any direction, knowing only that the call was real and palpable, but otherwise clueless as to how to proceed. 

We were trash, mostly from broken homes. A couple us played in school band, but mostly we knew nothing about assembling a band, making music as a group or even making a go of such a thing. While we were trying to be punk, thinking that that was a skill level we could meet, we all loved and bonded over Pink Floyd. One night we decided to try and do “a Pink Floyd kind of song” – Whatever the hell that meant. We had no real effects, just a bass, drums, two guitar situation, so we got to it. It started with some cymbal washes and I played a droney bass guitar line. The guitar players tried a two guitar harmony thing. Neither of them knew their scales so after a series of wrong notes that didn’t help the vibe, they telepathically and mutually agreed to stick with the couple notes that they had learned through real-time trial and error and were in key. We jammed on this vibe for about forty minutes – We were stone cold sober as a deep harmony and resonance took us over. What we lacked in technique we made up for telepathically, each player knowing where the other player was going to go; playing, blending, truly in concert until we were musically one. Our connection to the music, the moment and each other was deep and palpable. After the jam, nobody spoke, nobody made eye contact, we just looked at the ground in awe. Silent. A couple of us lit up cigarettes and just let the vibe sink in. Finally, somebody made a joke to ease the awkwardness of such a vulnerable experience. We laughed, but shit had changed; we had just taken a ride on some celestial plane. 

For me, music would never be the same; it became a readily-accessible, substance-free, vehicle for transcendence and for thirty years, my life since that point, I’ve been driven by the pursuit of solo and group musical improvisation.  

Sunset Crest Out Now on Valley View Records

Matt Borghi Ambient Guitar
Hey Friends,

I’ve got a new full length recording out: Sunset Crest. Links to Bandcamp and most major services here: https://valley-view-records.fanlink.to/Sunset_Crest/

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been releasing a lot of longform works on Bandcamp and mostly “singles” on the streaming services, all of this due to the nature of how folks listen to music on these services. This varied approach to releasing music sometimes makes my head spin, but I want to try and put the music in the best possible situation to be heard, otherwise, what’s the point.

This is what makes Sunset Crest different and interesting – Sunset Crest is probably the first full-length recording of individual, shorter tracks, I’ve released in over a year and there aren’t any other full-lengths like this in the works. In fact, I would say, that Sunset Crest is, in many ways, the follow-up to Music for Meditation and Sleep – Short Forms, Vol. 1. I’ve had to stop using terms like “meditation” and “sleep” in my titles due to keywording guidelines (read: censorship), which is pretty lame, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Additionally, Valley View Records out of Australia is doing an amazing job with the sonics (mastering), artwork, promotion and the release of my work, so check out the latest, Sunset Crest: mattborghi.bandcamp.com/album/sunset-crest


Navi Motion Out Now on Valley View Records

It’s been a while since I’ve sent an email, but I wanted to let you know about my new release, Navi Motion – mattborghi.bandcamp.com/album/navi-motion

This is the first in, what I hope, is a long and fruitful relationship with Valley View Records and Matthew Tondut. Matthew did an amazing job shepherding this release, sequencing and generally presenting a vision for the work. Benjamin Lincoln at Middle Mastering really equalized the sounds and made the collection sound great. And Clayton Popa’s excellent artwork brought the whole thing together, adding a visual that really emphasized The Expanse, Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey state of mind I was in when I created Navi Motion.

You can listen to the music here:

Apple Music

Huronic Minor 2021 – 20th Anniversary Remaster

Huronic Minor was originally released in 2001. The original release was completely mono, while the source recordings were all stereo, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing. Over the last 20 years, however, I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my sound and my audio skills and I feel like the 20th Anniversary Remaster brings out the drones and tones of Huronic Minor in all their subtle nuance and sonic brilliance. If you’re familiar with the original Huronic Minor, you will hear things in this new version that you never could have heard before, I know that was the case even for me.

This will be released exclusively on Bandcamp here: https://mattborghi.bandcamp.com

If you’re interested in a hardcopy CD, let me know here, maybe I’ll do a run of those.

Huronic Minor after 20 years…

Recently, I found myself listening to Huronic Minor. This is by far my most “popular” recording. It’s had millions of streams and before I went exclusively digital, I had sold several thousand CDs. Huronic was released completely mono, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing, whereas the source material was all stereo. I was after the sound of the drones and their creation, something that was totally new to me. I did four complete iterations of Huronic Minor, trying to get those drones just right, for what I had in mind, sonically. After several months, I achieved it, but totally overlooked the idea that the final master recording was completely mono. Nobody corrected me, initially, and people seemed to really like it. I say initially, because I remember a conversation a year or two later, with Dino Pacifici, where he kind of mused “Why did you record it in mono?”. Good question. I’d never really thought about that.

Recently, though, as I listened back, I was somewhat embarrassed. This is not uncommon for artists when they review to their earlier work, but the really disappointing thing as I listened with fresh ears, having not listened to it in probably, well, 20ish years, was that there was so much brilliance and sonic nuance lost in the mono recording. As somebody who has spent years cultivating their approach, vision and process, I listened to this and thought, I can bring those things out with my current audio workflow.

As I became a better music producer, refining my ear to match my audio engineering and production abilities, my expectations for sonic experience have changed. When I did Huronic Minor, originally, I was interested in the content not the fidelity or perhaps I enjoyed the noise-oriented grit of the soundscapes, as they seemed quintessentially, sonically, Detroit – A goal of mine for a very long time. Now, though, I want the balance of content and fidelity, so with that in mind I have decided to revisit this collection and see what I can do with the mixes and the mastering of these recordings to bring out the sonic nuance of this recording.

This is a work-in-progress, but initial run-throughs have been very good and I anticipate a release of this new collection of remastered tracks in the months to come.

An Entering – For Harold Budd and Tony Rice

I created this track as part of the mourning process for two artists who passed away recently, Harold Budd and Tony Rice. Both of these artists, in different ways, have inspired my work significantly. Both of them spent their lives committed to their craft and bringing about their musical vision. Both of these artists were mostly unrecognized outside of their respective genres. Their commitment, however, made great and long-lasting contributions to the world of music, the likes of which more will come to understand in the years to come.

For years, I’ve  wished that I could bring a Harold Budd-like sensibility to my work with the acoustic steel string flat top guitar, using it the way he used the piano. And of course, Tony’s playing, touch, feel and general virtuosity, but never just for virtuosity’s sake, was a guidepost on the path of being an acoustic guitar player and flatpicker. I’ve tried to capture this hybrid sound many times and many times I’ve fallen short. This time, however, I feel that I’ve gotten quite close. Perhaps the spirit’s of Harold Budd and Tony Rice were riding shotgun with me as I composed this track, as their work has been with me so many times when I’ve been trying to grow as an artist, musician and composer. 

This track, “The Entering”, isn’t part of a larger recording. It’s a snapshot of a feeling and a moment in time. I was going to call the work ‘Departure’, but I wanted to look on the bright-side: We’re entering into a new phase, where many of the souls who’ve defined our world have been lost due to a mis-managed health pandemic. Those elders who helped us navigate based on their experience and wisdom have moved on from this plane. They’ve prepared us, mostly, and how we have to stand our two and be the guideposts for the years to come.

I hope to do more work like and I hope that you enjoy this track, but also take the time to listen to Harold Budd and Tony Rice. At first blush, they might seem like they’re worlds apart, but true and timeless artistry knows no boundaries, least of all by some mind-made genre categorization.

Matt Borghi on Insight Timer

For folks that use Insight Timer, I’m now posting music there. You can access my profile and the music here. The entire Insight Timer system works on donations and it’s a great tool for meditation, relaxation and stress reduction.

I’m considering doing some guided meditations there, along the lines of the group meditations that I lead. Please comment on this post if that’s something that appeals to you.

Ambient Soundbath Podcast #92 – Eye of God in Infrared

Ambient Soundbath Podcast #92 is dedicated to the memory of Harold Budd. Harold Budd has been featured many times on this podcast and has played a prominent role in my musical life. I believed that Harold Budd was America’s greatest living composer; and now he has passed on to the next plane. Thank you, Maestro Budd, for sharing your work with us. Rest in Peace – Harold Budd (May 24, 1936 – December 8, 2020)

Program note – The title of this work – ‘Eye of God in Infrared‘ refers to a feature of the Helix Nebula known as the ‘Eye of God’. Additionally, the title of the work has a cadence that reminds me very much of Harold Budd’s titles and poetry.

November 2020 – Email Newsletter

November 2020 – and The Lost Year 

Matt Borghi Michigan Songwriter The Lost Year

Hey there,
It’s been a couple months since my last email. I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy.
I haven’t been feeling very promotion-oriented lately, but with the release of The Lost Year and the release of the first three Dronearium series (123) recordings over the last couple months, I decided that I should probably send out a note.I am really excited for the release of The Lost Year. This is a recording that I’ve been working on intermittently for the last year. If you liked Consciousness of Light, it’s the follow-up that I promised would be out in early 2020 but, when COVID hit, work crawled to a halt. The Lost Year brings together two things I’ve been trying to successfully merge for years: My deep love for textural, ambient drone music and the other side of my artistic self, my songwriting. I’ve gotten close to merging these at times, but never quite hit it in a way that lasted, for me. Consciousness of Light marked a change in my process, formula and approach; The Lost Year continues what started there. For me it perfectly merges what Brian Eno talked about with ambient music – ‘a music that be listened to as easily as ignored’ but also a music that comes from a deeper part of my artistic self. A quick bit about the Dronearium series:
“Dronearium is a series of long form musical soundscapes that takes listeners into an array of ambient soundworlds, all anchored in resonant drones and treated with texture and melancholic nostalgia. Inspiration for these works come from science fiction, archeoastronomy, pre-Columbian peoples and myths, as well as landscapes, seascapes and the natural world, imagined and reimagined.”
The Dronearium series (123), for me, started when I wanted to take a break from the songwriting work and just make drones, sounds and textures of a sci-fi or otherworldly nature. The Dronearium series is different than my other ambient music, of late, because music for meditation and sleep has been the focus. With that music, I avoid sharp tones, dissonance, rhythms, etc. things that I enjoy in other music, Stanley Kubrick’s soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey comes to mind. All told, the Dronearium series is still very ambient, but the intention behind it is different.
That’s all for now.

Enjoy the new music and let me know how you’re doing.