Cloud Shadows is the third album by the American gamelan composer, Daniel Schmidt. The pieces in Cloud Shadows, which are quite varied and more current than the work represented on his first two albums In My Arms, Many Flowers & Abies Firma, mostly came about each in their own way. For example, the cloud shadows on the mountains of central Nevada, unimaginably old, invited Daniel into their realm, resulting in the opening composition ‘Cloud Shadows’. The composition ‘SEOR’ developed from the daily repetitions of radiation and relief from his cancer treatments. Also, the death of a close friend plunged the composer into deep emotions but ultimately nudged him over a compositional hump, leading to the creation of the ‘Sandy Suite’. ‘A River in Delta’, dedicated to Lou Harrison and John Cage, utilizes chance operations and a poem written by Cage for Harrison’s 60th birthday.
Under the direction of Schmidt, these ten pieces were performed and recorded by Gamelan Encinal and students at Mills College between 2017 and 2019. They unveil a compositional evolution, most noticeably the weaving of voice and poetry with gamelan. The lyrics were written by poet Deborah Bachels Schmidt (Daniel’s wife), often sung in the style of 19th century lieder. Recital presents Cloud Shadows as a celebration of Daniel Schmidt’s 80th birthday, a rich album that continues the exploration of “American” gamelan music via one of its creators.
“Starting at perhaps age four or five, I would sit on the top step of our front porch, just under the overhang of the roof, and look at the rain. I was transported. I remember quite clearly the transcendent state I would enter. But I learned early to keep my experiences with the rain to myself. At church I would hear references to the “spiritual.” It seemed to be defined as something beyond everyday life, and that puzzled me, because it sounded much like my own experience when watching rain. I ask you, as you listen to this album, to imagine the rain as I felt it as a child. Please allow this music to flow into you.” -Daniel Schmidt