Demos Series Introduction

The "demos" series started in 1989 with an album of improvised Ragtime and Stride piano instrumentals, a suite which developed from 1989 to 1994.  Throughout the 1990's I wrote mostly instrumental music, using recording techniques I'd been slowly developing since 1968.  It resulted in three albums of solo piano music, and three albums of contemporary classical and electronic music. I called it Demos of David Larstein Part I, Past as Prologue, Vol. I - VI.  

By the turn of the 21st century the multitrack workstation had developed into the most sophisticated recording/composing keyboard ever devised.  The sounds on these instruments were high enough quality so that I could write, arrange, perform and produce albums by myself without any input from any one else.  It was a complete reversal of the whole nature of music production I had learned in the 20th century, but it suited me better than anything I had ever done.  It converted me from being a songwriter/composer in the traditional sense, to making the recording studio my "instrument."  

The recording studio is now my pen and paper.  The work is more like poetry or painting.  I have attempted to eliminate all outside influences on the production process in order to create the most honest and true representation of the music itself.  This includes recording engineers, producers, record companies, and any audience other than my own ears.  I wanted my music to be what Eric Clapton said about Robert Johnson's voice, he was "singing to himself alone, or to God."   

So this series grew out of an imagination unencumbered by commercial considerations.  And this recorded series of song cycles, is only the beginning of a process of potential collaboration that has the capacity to create many different forms, from rock band and symphony orchestra, to ballet, opera, and theatrical performance art.  Out of my own private "demos" - the community of my own mind, I can make the sonic prototype that can be used by others to make performance works.  In this way, I am like a traditional composer, my own recordings being simply my version, available for others to interpret their own way.  

From 2003 to 2013 the Demos series expanded to include parts II, III, IV and V; altogether, a nineteen volume song cycle, split into four parts.  Part II is called "American Demos 1949-1963," a six volume homage to the Anthology of American Folk Music edited by Harry Smith. Part III, titled "Edges of the City, 1964-1967," is a four album homage to the cultural revolution which started in the San Francisco Bay Area during the mid-1950s and '60s.  In 2014 I completed Part IV, "Epilogues Vol. I: 1968," and "Epilogues Vol. II: 1969: Headless Corpse."  These two albums were the final act in my four part homage to the 20th century.  

In 2016 I began my next project, called Blue Mystic Vol. I-III.  I have, at last, completed all three albums in the series. The first is called "Blue Lazuli," a complex exploration of the divine feminine and the end of toxic masculinity.  The second, "Blue Guitar," is an album of gentle improvised instrumental melodies.  The last album in the trilogy, "Blue Dream," is a dark conceptual cycle of love and death.  The Trilogy begins a new phase in my musical life, one which is just beginning to open up to me.     

I believe that my responsibility as an artist, as a composer and songwriter is to bear witness to my limited time here on this planet, and to open to the universal spiritual perception available to all those who seek true reality. If my contribution is worthy of the world, the world will find it sooner or later.  In any case, that issue is really none of my business.