About the album, from the Bandcamp description:

This Experimental music album's foundation was pure unadulterated joy to create. It began with an array of unexpected instruments laid out around me, which I enthusiastically played with seamless chronology for hours. It's really all about sharing the intense fun with you of that moment by moment experience playing creative percussion and acoustic instruments. 

The addition of the keyboards and sometimes acoustic instruments later adds poignant melodic explorations. 

Creative Percussion: 

At the center of it all was a large broken cymbal on a stand, with a condenser mic aimed inches away from it. I sometimes moved a few different sizes of little crotales around its surface. Crotales are miniature cymbals made of brass. I could lift a side of a crotale up a bit as I slid it around the larger instrument, which reverberated wonderfully. I ended up spinning things a lot. 

I used many objects over the course of this album to strike the cymbal with in unusual ways. For example, I bent down and blew into a harmonica while at the same time hitting the cymbal with it. 

I trailed the complex edge of a wooden Greek double shepherd's flute across the cymbal's edge. And speaking of flutes, I even played a silver flute WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY USING IT AS A PERCUSSIVE ELEMENT. I struck the cymbal with the flute in rhythm. 

There was a cajon on the floor next to me with a bodhran lying on top of it, or sometimes I traded that out for a snare drum on top of the cajon. I used many inventive methods to get sound from these such as banging the bodhran in ways that rocked it back and forth, lifting it on one side, nearly making it fall off the cajon. I also put objects inside the upside down bodhran and angled the drum around as they moved. 

Also next to me was a waste basket full of percussion instruments such as drum sticks, animal skin shakers, etc. Yes, I used those things individually over the course of the recording, but most notably, I picked up the basket full of them and shook it side to side. Having the attention to subtle movement to move all these odd things in nuanced rhythm without ever skipping a beat the whole time made me happy. 

There were many other creative uses of percussion instruments, but let's move on. 

Other Instruments: 

Also next to me to grab at will were my pungi, khaen, Greek double shepherd's flute, silver flute, pennywhistle, slide whistles, boatswain's pipe, dulcimer, harmonica, etc. 


Besides the obviously non-traditional uses of percussion and acoustic instruments, the structures, harmony and dissonance, progressions, etc are unconventional, even though they are done on a keyboard. 

Background of the Title: 

The idea for the title of the album, some of the song titles and art came from a dream of living wild with the creatures. First, I'll tell you my background. 

After teaching in universities for six years, I voluntarily lived a significant part of my life in a semi-feral way. As an activist, I didn't want to depend on a society I critiqued. I wanted to be self-sufficient in a way that honored my animal nature. Remember, humans are officially listed as apes. I don't believe we should by default just go by the expectations of our culture. Instead, I did many things differently, generating almost no waste, using very few artificial things, having a small impact on the earth. 

I lived as a free part of nature at places like Bureau of Land Management land and National Parks for example. I lived outside in the wilderness without a tent when possible, only using one when necessary. I slept on boulders, in caves, on blankets in the forests. I ate uva ursi and juniper berries, chanterelle mushrooms, bark, pine needles. I drank melted snow water or from streams. 

I lived alone with black bears and sea lions. You could say I lived like a wild horse. I'd much prefer to see horses left to do what they want rather than be tamed and made to do what people want them to do. 

I've become comparatively domesticated these days out of necessity to teach consistently with a university year after year, but my untamed nature is obvious in Sound Animal music. The rhythms of this music are like one would find with a horse running where it wants to go for enjoyment rather than being raced to death, or converted into a transportation vehicle. 

In the dream, I was living outside again and I made friends with a small herd of wild horses, getting close to one in particular. I was thrilled to learn from their natural ways, which I respected, rather than to tame them. I was also outside human boundaries, so we understood one another. I ran with them along the water. My rhythms were similar to theirs, not automated, not regimented, not predictable, but pleasing. 

My harmonies and melodies most often avoid human rules -- beyond what simply sounds good, such as carefully sticking to playing only the notes in a key or mode, portraying emotion, developing an idea, repeating motifs, staying cohesive within a song, and so on. I don't naturally accept whatever rules people have laid down. 

The self-protective edge in the theme shows up beyond the animal references, even in the "Cymbal Armor" title.

This album reminds me a bit of the early Swans style of banging on things without the encumbrance of what is OK and what is not. Gira decided, as I do in this album and others that are similar, that hypnotizing primal clangs can be expressively compelling in a way that resonates with people on a level beyond paraphrase.

The album could be considered Experimental Ambient, as long as we don't make a rigid distinction between light and dark ambient. I don't think life is divided in that way. My ambient music includes the raw fuzzy natural DIY rough textures that would normally be associated with dark but the mood can be joyous.

Releases April 15, 2023 on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, etc.

Credits -- 

All made by SA (Rosemary Bensko)

Art copyright Rosemary Bensko