Frank Garvey & DeusMachina
House of the Deafman

Frank Garvey & Deus Machina – “HOUSE OF THE DEAFMAN”: “Goodbye” – “Tweedledee-dee” – “Nightsounds” – “Deaf on Hollow Winds” – “Hunky Dory” – “Three Fates” – “Deafman 1” – “Bonedance” – “Nada” – “Fat Chance” – “More-a-the-Same” – “Deafman 2” – “Compulsion” – “Strawman” – “Red Cloud Rise” – “Guernica / Goodbye
Participants: Riffat Salamat Ali Khan [vox] – Shafqat Ali Khan [vox] – Daniel Berkman [kora, tabla] – Dwayne Calizo [vox] – David Earl [keyboard] – Aaron Edsinger [soundscape] – Frank Garvey [drums, keyboard, soundscape] – Warren Leming [banjo] – Richard Michos [guitar] – Salar Nadir [tabla] – Diana Trimble [vox] – Jeff Weber [soundscape]
Innova 538. Duration: 61:12.

OmniCircus website:

Center for Robotic and Synthetic Performance website:

The booklet on the CD:

House of Deafman is a musical-dramatic dance-ritual about the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The action takes place in a magical, endless night during which Goya gets drunk and contemplates suicide. His nightmarish Black Paintings come to life in the play in the form of OmniCircus robots and virpets (virtual digital puppets), and the painter is visited by the ghost of his great love, the Duchess of Alba.

Francisco Goya: "Incantation"

On OmniCircus (from booklet):

The OmniCircus is an interactive installation and performance space at 550 Natoma Street in San Francisco. It is home to the OmniCircus Ensemble led by composer-artist-writer Frank Garvey. This innovative group incorporates live acting, music and dance with state-of-the-art robots and real-time computer-animated virtual puppets, forming a unique industrial-surrealist theatrical experience.
The resident music group at the OmniCircus is DeusMachina, whose ranks include some of the most powerful performers in the Bay Area and beyond. This recording includes three amazing singers – vox artists Diana Trimble, Shafqat Ali Khan and Dwayne Calizo – and the multi-instrumental genius of Daniel Berkman, here featured on the beautiful West African Harp, the kora.
The Robotic Ensemble of the OmniCircus is an ever-growing mechanical Red-light District, a group of sophisticated robotic performers who appear in OmniCircus productions and on their own in the streets of San Francisco and elsewhere. This ensemble is the creation of a powerful team of robot artists and engineers, with Garvey as sculptor and artistic director, including Carl Pisaturo, Jeff Weber, Aaron Edsinger, Todd Camill and Eric Kenyon, as well as (more recently) the formidable machinists at the Carnegie Mellon University Mech-E machine shop.

Painting by Frank Garvey

Light children voices in nursery-rhyme innocence immediately shift into a sticky, elastic, rubbery dream-world of demons and ghastly shapes in the corner of your eye, and you’re plagued by persistent flash-backs of painful moments – and suddenly you’re in a percussive organ-ic stereo play that promises – and is – relief!

This is an hour of ever-changing soundscapes, sonic environments, geographical hints, emotional inklings, cultural diversity and stylistic havoc in a rarely experienced richness of invention!

An African kora, treated like an acoustic guitar, blends in with a desert feel, dunes and all, in a Westerner’s corrupt notion, watered down to fathomable dimensions by big city streets and corner laundromats of the Americas…

Slight electroacoustic deployments – really slight, fingertip sensitive, careful on the verge of elusiveness – renders the scape a dreamy, vaguely off, sub-real touch, which is very attractive to any dreamer…

A flute, sounding just like a Persian nay (a wondrously simple reed flute), is in fact a keyboard, and layer upon layer of sub-reality shift like mirages across West Texas highway asphalt.

An American singsong Tin Pan Alley voice secures some Western Hemisphere security in all this, in a folksy, bluesy downtown 1970s New York manner; Essra Mohawk revisited in a dream toward Battery Park, trying to catch the Staten Island ferry!

Percussive prisms, pearly pantomimes of sound, again – through sly electronic shadings wringing reality out of your grasp – enter the Bardo of the hereafter, wherein the scarecrows of your mind confront you with karmic horror.

Out of a sudden silence a hunky-dory story arises, in black magic Burundi whispers, which soon grow into a gloriously funny and loudmouthed Harry Partch mimicry in the courthouse park!

A more dense, ominous, saliva-dripping underworld of sewer electroacoustics sweep past, pulling at your sleeve – pulling you down -, but the sad Judy Collins voice reappears out of the binaries of the crazily outwardly rotating – spiraling! - six kilometer CD track, albeit in a more medieval, Hildegard von Bingen (that’s a long-shot!) guise, or perhaps in the vein of a late 1960s Joan Baez ballad…

A dhrupad singer emerges out of the shadows, in a peculiar mix of North and South India traditions, in vocal expressions, which nonetheless lead on into Pakistan and strict qawwal singing in the style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The Bonedance” is a Stonehenge rhythm of many summer solstices, as the rock ages and new generations pass on in procession, life after life, birth after death – and all illusory!

Nada” is nothing, but here it is something, with – of course – a Latin flavor. A Mercedes Souza voice and twanging Latin acoustic guitars sparkles soften the view. The melody is a real melody (!), with a recurring pattern of a dream.
Vibrant and dynamo-like electroacoustics sweeps the song off track, as the music suddenly hints at African lamellaphones and Indonesian gamelan… and a koto spreads Japanese incense and a furious technical industriousness across the horizon…
The music gets downright magical and devastatingly illusionary right about here. Stockhausenesque vocal permutations – ring modulations like in “
Mixtur” – paints the scenery in fluorescent colors which glow in the silence…

Distant choirs of humming monks or demons threaten your security in the frail safety of your listening room.
The Pakistani singing commences on a backdrop of a minimalistic, repetitive series of soothing chords; beautiful, consoling.

The music conjures up all its magical might and embraces you in a dream that elevates you into a surreal sensual sensitivity.
Liturgical vocal sequences with Iberian fragrances open up the hills and valleys in a splendor of white monasteries and flowing rivers.

Layers of musical, historical, cultural styles shift like breaking ice in spring, and you see right through the transparency of vast epochs. Magnificent! Inspiring! Like nothing I’ve heard!

A swirl downward, inward, closes the set in a Saami rite by the fire in the snow, coffee brewing, as shamanistic ecstasy covers your skin with sweat…