carriage house in Mpls
The Carriage House Mpls MN; circa 1987 [photo : Melne]

Filmscores For Ramón

improvisational soundtracks for films

Minneapolis, MN
The Carriage House
circa summer 1987

J.Free: electric guitar, kalimba, keyboard, bass
Ramón: bass, autoharp, acoustic guitar, bongos

These pieces of music were a collaborative effort to improvise music for independent films. Ramón and I had been introduced to one another by a mutual friend who knew Ramón as a film maker, and was aware of my interest as a musician in creating soundtracks for film, as well as for dance. As I had primarily worked with rock bands since 1975, I had no real understanding of what went into actually creating music for film or dance, although I had blindly attempted both in the past, and would continue to do so.

Ramón was a young film-maker I met through a mutual acquaintance at MCAD. He was associated with The Smik Smak Theatre, which was a space operated by a theatrical group which had moved from Czechoslovakia to Minneapolis, with the intent to sustain themselves as artists. I had performed at that space years earlier, with Dancing In The Dark v.3.5, and a duo version of Borrowed Time, also sharing a bill with The People’s Joy Boy Squad. Although the Smik Smak Theatre was allegedly zoned out of existence due to its’ location in a residential neighborhood, the space later became the home of the original Patrick’s Cabaret. The space still exists at 506 East 24th Street in Minneapolis, and is currently the home of the Open Eye Figure Theatre.

My own naivete regarding theatrical composition had occasionally proved to be problematic for people in those fields, who often had their own perceptions and expectations with regard to the creative process of musicians, generally speaking. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this particular session of improvised music, and cleaned up the sound quality a bit (but not too much!) for its’ debut on the world wide web. Although Ramón showed me a few short snippets from his films, these pieces were improvised independently of the films themselves. None of these tracks previously had titles, so the de facto names provided here came about as these tapes were being digitized for the first time.

Filmscores For Ramón

technical errata:

[01] Sleep Deprivation Chamber:
1st pass: drum machine; Ramón: bass; J.: keyboard
2nd pass: Ramón: autoharp; J.: e-bow guitar

[02] Tongue Stem Two Step:
single take: drum machine; J.: kalimba; humming; Ramón: bass; humming

[03] Ellipsis Beam:
1st pass: Ramón: acoustic guitar; J.: keyboard
2nd pass: J.: treated bass; Ramón: bongos

[04] Fortuitous Arrival:
single take: drum machine; Ramón: acoustic guitar; J.: e-bow guitar

Recorded at the carriage house with two cassette decks and a 4-potentiometer pass-through mixing device; circa 1987 [?]. All tracks were improvised and recorded live, in a single take, direct to 2-channel cassette deck. A second pass was added to tracks 001 and 003 by playing the cassette of the first takes through the mixer, and into a second deck.

Azimuth-optimized analog-digital 24-bit transfer from 1st-generation master cassette; .mpeg conversion: October 2009. Additional mixing, minor editing and treatments applied by J. in 2009.

all tracks: © Ramón / J. Free; 1987; 2022