Roam and Spy

This piece was created in collaboration with guitarist Steve Tibbetts for his CD entitled The Fall of Us All, released on the ECM label in 1994. This was the first time I had worked with Steve and I very much enjoyed the experience. Here's how we put the piece together: First, I sequenced a bunch of percussion on my computer and generated a stereo audio mix of that material. I then brought it over to Steve place, where he laid that audio down onto two tracks of his multi-track tape machine. He and I then got together – me with my Minimoog and Steve with his guitars – and started experimenting with playing a variety of sustaining gestures against the faster paced percussion material. Steve's long time collaborator Marc Anderson heard what we were working on, and express an interest in participating, which was something both Steve and I welcomed. Marc added his own very tasty, very acoustic hand drumming, and Steve then mixed all of this material into it's final form. Bearing in mind that this was the old analog tape days and we only had eight tracks to work with, I thought Steve did an exemplary job of pulling it all together.

One interesting anecdote about my experience working with Steve on this project had to do with how he would monitor while laying down electric guitar tracks. In our first session together, we started out with me laying down some Minimoog gestures. Then when Steve was getting ready to fire up his electric guitar, he turned to me and said . . . "This is going to be very loud. You wont be able to hear anything". I was sitting there with some headphones on with the intention of listening to what Steve was about to play against the material that was already on other tracks on the tape. I kind of waved him off, telling him that I had played in a rock band before and I knew what to expect. He then made eye contact with me and reiterated that he would be playing very loud and that I would not be able to hear anything else, even with headphones on. Again I nodded and told him to go ahead. He said OK, rolled tape and proceeded to blast me into oblivion. I placed my hands over my headphones, pressing them tightly against the sides of my head in an attempt to hear the prerecorded material, but all I could hear was the sound coming from Steve's massive Marshal stack. He had to have the amp cranked up as loud as he did in order to get it to sound the way that he wanted it to sound.

After the obligatory "oh my God" moment following this first take, Steve showed me how he was able to monitor the prerecorded material and play along. He had taken a pair of ear protection type headphones, (the kind you would find at a rifle range) and built little speakers into them, turning them into a pair of audio headphones. These cut out enough of the audio in the room to allow him to hear the feed from his tape machine. He only had one pair of these, so I was not able to hear anything while he was tracking. I could only hear things in context during playback. But the next time I came in for a session, he had constructed a second pair of these headphones so that I could hear what was going on. It was a classic case of necessity being the mother of invention.


Steve Tibbetts
Marc Anderson
Mike Olson


Synthesizers and Samplers

Roam and Spy is available for purchase on Steve Tibbetts' The Fall of Us All CD.


Brian Eno Likes My Music!

I've always been a big Brian Eno fan.  So, it was a real thrill when Steve gave me a copy of a letter he had received from Brian, wherein he states in reference to The Fall of us All CD . . .

"Thanks so much for sending on your CD. I'm really enjoying it a lot, (current favorite is Roam and Spy)." Hurray!  That really made me feel good.  I've actually got the letter framed and hanging on the wall. 


Rollingstone - October 1994 - David Fricke

"In "Roam and Spy," he shifts with graceful elasticity from revving-motorcycle growls to pitchy dot-dash transmissions and laserlike beams of scream."

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City Pages (Minneapolis) - April 13, 1994 - Will Hermes

"Meanwhile, vocalists Rhea Valentine and Claudia Schmidt, along with bassists Jim Anton and Eric Anderson and synthmeister Mike Olson, add still more textures and patterns to a disc that grows musically deeper on each spin.

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Colorado Daily - April 8, 1994 - David Kirby

Tibbetts' band, especially percussionist Marc Anderson, tablist Marcus Wise and synthesist Mike Olson provide Tibbetts a perfect foil for his broad stroke.

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The $ensible Sound - July 1994 - KWN

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Tibbetts and his cohort, including longtime collaborator Marc Anderson on percussion; Claudia Schmidt and Rhea Valentine, who provide vocalese; Marcus Wise, tabla: Jim Anton and Eric Andersen, bass; and Mike Olson, synthesizers, seem to really be involved in the making of music -- not the packaging of music, or the selling of music, but of the real making of music in the most fundamental, elemental, sense."

Roam and Spy also made and appearance in the film, Kaaterskill Falls.  This film is a remake of Roman Polanski's "Knife in the Water". It was directed by Josh Apter and Peter Olsen.