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about

The Office of William Gilbert
Chairman
North American Bureau of Magnetic Innovation

The word larum means, “sound of warning or danger; a commotion”. You probably don’t know it -- I know I didn’t. But if I point out that it is an early, archaic form of the word “alarm“ it becomes more recognizable, doesn’t it? I thought so.

I know all this, and you are about to know all of it, because of Micah Frank, Chet Doxas, and project Larum. They taught me this through their music, which is a rare mix of the archaic and contemporary, the analog and electronic, the accessible and atonal. Larum is the product of two people who came together by chance, in a strange place, and have gone on to discover their own new place and sound. Fortunately for me, they’ve shared their discovery with me-- now, I get to share their discoveries with you.

The architects of Larum -- Micah Frank & Chet Doxas -- met in deep Brooklyn, working at the Brooklyn Amalgamated Magnet Concern. One of the leading magnetic research facilities on the east coast, BAMC was established during World War II and for over 70 years has attracted people from around the world for its top secret research and development. It’s a revered part of Brooklyn geography and history, though it remains one of the great mysteries of this borough.

In many ways, BAMC still operates as it did during war time. A whistle blows each day at shift change, and those in employ gather each day for lunch at the company automat. It was in that room where, on a working day like any other, these two met.

Doxas, who had recently been hired to work in the Department of Alloys & Alchemy, sat down across from Frank. His department, Magnetic Malleability & Manipulation, is on the opposite side of the facility from Doxas, and it’s unlikely they would’ve crossed paths anywhere but in the automat. But as they unwrapped their lunches, a conversation began about their lives outside of work. That conversation became more heated as they continued talking, spiraling into an argument: how could their work in magnets be used in communication? Doxas envisioned an analog broadcast array, using sound waves and metallic transistors. Frank’s vision was more digital, based on repetition and patterns.

Despite their different backgrounds and visions, these were two of the most innovative people working in their respective fields. They proposed a new direction and collaboration to me through the Bureau of Magnetic Innovation, which was approved in short order, letting their audio work commence. This memo is my way of saying their discoveries are some of the most exciting we’ve heard in some time.

Magnets are as intrinsic to our lives as the Earth itself, and any innovation in the field is both difficult and noteworthy. As these two began their work together, they faced the same challenge of every artist, scientist, and explorer: how do we do this work together, while also making something new? Hence the name Larum -- it conveys the urgency and ancient roots that these two were after.

And that, in my mind, they found. The collection of work they have returned to us, in the form of their album “All the Roads”, is a breakthrough in the field of audio and music. Combining the digital, through Frank’s series of tape loops and homemade software processing, with the analog work of Doxas’ saxophone, these two have discovered new soundscapes and directions in audio that we will be enjoying and studying for years to come. It is music that explores space through repetition and improvisation, with an array of sounds that stretch from the basic dots and loops of a processor to the post-bop sounds of a horn. It’s a combination that left me asking: why haven’t we done this before?

This result shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and it’s why their work was approved and, frankly, so anticipated within our walls. These two have worked with luminaries such as Carla Bley, Youth, Rufus Wainwright, and Jah Wobble before they began their work as Larum. Doxas has eight prior albums to his name as a band leader or co-leader, and is a mutli-Juno Award nominee. Frank brings his own accolades to their partnership, having recently been named 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in music and sound from The New York Foundation for the Arts. Clearly, we shouldn’t be surprised that these two were able to find something as exciting as they did in “All the Roads.”

Each year, we seek out the best and most innovative people to make breakthroughs in our name. They don’t always succeed, but we learn something from each attempt. The good news? In overseeing project Larum, we have found one of the great successes that works for us as both an innovation as well as, dare I say, entertainment. I look forward to seeing-- nay, hearing-- what they discover next.

Sincerely,

William Gilbert

Chairman
North American Bureau of Magnetic Innovation

credits

released October 10, 2019

All tracks written and produced by Micah Frank & Chet Doxas

Sound design, tape loops and synthesizers performed by Micah Frank

Saxophone and clarinet performed by Chet Doxas.

Artwork by Dan Meth
Mastering by Taylor Deupree at 12k

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Micah Frank Brooklyn, New York

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