Most of us approach music through a learned set of cultural filters. We are anticipating melody, harmony, a sequence of chord progressions structured and arranged around twelve notes separated by semitone intervals spaced with rhythmic regularity.
Killick bypasses all that with Imbricate. I love the surprise.
It may be useful to reframe his music in context of visual artists. He is possibly most similar to Jackson Pollock, in intention to avoid conventional structure. Splashes of texture and color created with appreciation for coincidences inside improvisation.
There is the deliberate meticulousness of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. Use of natural materials, organic acoustic sounds, placed within form-following human intervals of breathing and pulse. Sudden changes of direction, of attention, bird flocks responding to air currents.
Sometimes shiny kitschy repurposed cultural artifacts like Jeff Koons. Atari guts cross-wired to dismembered Buzz Lightyear, bleeping MIDI and following the main action, commenting arcade-speak.
Imagine if you will, an internet epoch before Facebook. Before Meta, even. MySpace was dying. Blogs and forums dominated the web. Tribes of kindred souls clustered around comments and responded to threads. Preppers shared weed-infused hot pepper pickling recipes and cork-sniffers waxed endlessly poetic about vintage guitar pickup winding methods.
Anarchist’s Cookbook collected dust without irony on your gf’s bookshelf. She was probably the only person you knew on an FBI watchlist.
Humans communicated using words.
So long ago, yesterday.
This website was originally built on TypePad software, sometime around 2005. In internet pre-history, TypePad was host to marketing expert Seth Godin as well as high-volume/rapid-update global blogs including BBC News. All of the hosting details and software updates were managed by TypePad, plus they offered excellent customer service support. I could focus on creating content.
A decade later the internet had become increasingly mobile and TypePad was unable to provide commercial site performance. I transferred key content from www.ricktoone.com to Squarespace™ in 2018 and started over.
This lesson was expensive and dangerous.
Essentially ten years of content and link traffic was erased in the transition. I also quickly realized Squarespace™ is not optimized for blogging. Problem. Because. Self-publishing is my direct connection to you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An emerging additional concern is the increasing censorship by providers, as many who have built content on proprietary platforms are discovering. WordPress seems most protective of First Amendment rights, therefore www.ricktoone.org is now hosted by WP.
Let’s bring the past into the present.
As an ongoing new feature, I will be revisiting some key builds from the original archived website. Doing so will provide continuity to the timeline. Provenance for these instruments will increase the financial value for their current and future owners.
The first is: Starfish 6-string guitar.
Built in 1993.
As a newly graduated English major, my first full-time professional employment was (naturally) as an apprentice cabinetmaker. If one intends to put ink to paper, perhaps begin by first milling trees?
Cabinetmaker Robert Schultz (Cinnaminson, NJ) kindly allowed me to use his professional tools after hours for the claro walnut neck. Most importantly, I am grateful to Robert for helping instill discipline to machine material consistently no matter what the environmental conditions. Apprenticeship with him taught me how to be precise, even with difficult wood species. Thank you, Robert.
Furniture maker George Nakashima (New Hope, PA) provided aesthetic inspiration. I met his widow a few months after he died. His shop was gathering dust…a quiet door in a magical back alley of the riverside town. I had discovered his work via a table he’d created for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Starfish was my fifth instrument build, a personal build, completed almost fifteen years before entering lutherie as a profession. I knew I wanted a guitar to be comfortable — before ‘ergonomics’ was a term. Every contour was shaped to fit a lean 25-year old rock climber’s body.
In the future if one were to x-ray the guitar’s neck, a surprise discovery might be two pieces of aircraft grade aluminum in an epoxy matrix forming the truss structure. Another first foray into alternative design concepts. There are several other identifying characteristics but those details will remain confidential until Sotheby’s.
Frustration with the Floyd Rose caused me to eventually stop playing this guitar. I switched to hardtails and never looked back. Recently that attitude changed however — the year ahead in 2022 will introduce my new tremolo system.
I should mention Starfish was sold to a buyer in Sweden in 2005-2006.
Ken, deftly threading rush hour traffic in his silver Prius. Sequence of aggressive moves in the Long Island afternoon sunlight, an environment where turn signals are a sign of weakness. He attended Hofstra. Which is what you need to survive here: local knowledge, local attitude.
Bart is in the passenger seat behind me. White knuckles in his sly humor, as a dozen tail lights flash simultaneously and Ken cuts right, working the shoulder.
I don’t look up.
Sketch™ 7-string guitar is on my lap, and setting intonation via the Peterson strobe tuner requires full attention. We are meeting Tosin in 20 minutes.
Side door, back stage. “Here for Tosin.”
Bouncer in faded black indicates across the club through the open door.
Second time meeting Tosin. Handshake. “Let’s see the guitar.”
He holds it cautiously, a dangerously unfamiliar machine. Everything is so different — except for strings, there is no frame of reference. And no time or place to play it now…sound checks are in progress for the evening performance. We step back outside onto the patio where it is quiet.
I take photos with the Nikon 35 mm DSLR. There are no smart phones yet. Every aspect has been coordinated via email.
He is not yet a rock star but soon will be. At this moment he is shy almost, absorbed in the instrument, intent. I am unsure if he wants to keep it. “It’s pretty radical.”
I stuff earplugs into my skull and we head inside. Tosin vanishes into the dressing rooms. Ken, Bart, and I look at each other. There is no protocol for this. Floating in a venue with time to wait too long. It’s a professional work space where we are not integral to the machinery.
Tosin reappears with Sketch. He is excited now and wants us to meet Evan Brewer, soloist. Evan will mesmerize and destroy the audience with his two-handed simultaneous tapping on dual basses later this evening. But for now, he is Leonard Nimoy in a flannel shirt, with human emotions overflowing any semblance of Vulcan control. Evan vibrates on a different plane, animated and intense, overflowing with ideas and wanting to speak bass to me.
Tosin graciously introduces Evan as his mentor, a kindred spirit who helped him develop two-handed harmonic tap technique. Tosin on eight string guitar. Evan on basses.
Things are getting interesting.
I can see they both are realizing connections I do not yet understand. Their world is music, and mine is tools. I have created a new type of tool…and already they are turning it into music.
I’m writing to you about the possibility of buying the Wingspan™ 8-String guitar. I’ve found out it is available for purchase on your website. As a person who has made the instrument you must know exactly its future owner, the one you can entrust your guitar. My newest musical project may help you learn more about me: https://scarasaton.bandcamp.com/releases/
I care about ethnic music in modern arrangements, and your guitars combine in them all the essential elements – from esthetic till technical ones.
It’s going to be a great inspiration and happiness for me to play your instrument. I’m a great fan of your guitars. I remember how impressed I was by the guitar for Tosin Abasi – it’s something incredible.
I’ll be waiting for your reply. With respect, Kseniia
I love her music. Heavy and powerful, with touches of incredible lightness and speed. I am honored Kseniia is choosing to play this build.
Thank you very much! I got a guitar!
I am overwhelmed with emotions! Unfortunately my English is not good enough to convey all my happiness!
It was passed exclusively from hand to hand, only as hand luggage. It is hundreds of times better than I imagined! It exceeded all expectations. The instrument with incredible energy, inspirational and soulful. Amazingly packed with all the screwdrivers, extra strings, bolts. This is the most comfortable guitar I have ever held in my hands. Very comfortable and slim neck, amazing lock system. Its sound covers all the necessary ranges. The tree itself is excellent, beautiful texture and color.
Once again I want to thank you for this incredible communication experience and ease of cooperation. Thank you for entrusting your creation to me. I want to wish you new creative ideas, inspiration, grateful and happy owners.
“This book might interest you,” prefaced my visitor. “I’ve read your recent writings. This Journal and Remarks chronicles some related thoughts of my own. For historical context, at the time we sailed, the sun never set upon our empire.”
“182 years ago,” I noted. “You, more than any other human, at any point in time, shaped how we currently understand biological life. I am deeply honored to meet you, Sir.”
His handshake was warm and kindly. “Please call me Charles.”
“I’ve contemplated your observations for all of my educated life,” I continued. “May I combine your hypothesis — with recent fossil and forensic genetic research, contemporary explorations in the field of Psychology, and the teachings of Aristotle?”
Evolution selected for us to use our senses to perceive the world around us: physical objects, other living creatures, relationships. (stimulus)
Evolution also selected for us to have emotion, which is a near-instantaneous chemical survival mechanism triggering flight/fight/freeze/fuck reactions. (response)
Evolution also selected for logic, which is the introspective tool we use to determine if our internal perceptions match external conditions. (cognition)
If our internal perceptions match external conditions mostly consistently, then we learn to trust our own judgment. (meta-cognition)
Because, ultimately, each of us is a potential DNA replicator responsible for our own personal survival and decisions. This is the evolutionary purpose for autonomy.
“Precisely!” Darwin exclaimed. “There have been many instances in history when only a small cohort, or sometimes just a single individual, survived a mass extinction event and lived to contribute genes. Consensus is not analogous to safety, at any scale. Autonomy is an evolutionary failsafe.”
My mom has been doing volunteer work with dogs on the Warm Springs Reservation. She met him while building a fence and he made me the flute as a thank you.
I think you’ll especially enjoy The Destruction Of Words — I used Wingspan 8 and my Guild acoustic for the chord playing layer, Walnut Jazz Skele for the lead playing layer. You can also hear Wingspan 8 on tracks 2, 10 and 11.