the listener is often not going to be able to tell what was intentional and what was happenstance, what was “live” and what was manipulated, or in what sequence parts were recorded. in dadala what sounds intentional was probably serendipity, and what sounds random was probably played that way on purpose.
dadala began in 2004 with the album recycles, which remixed and combined earlier materials from rdunlap’s archives (solo projects and collaborations recorded 1985-1996). the project was and is a continuation of rdunlap’s long history of exploring alternate routes to music and audio-art, going back to the 1980’s when he bounced recordings from one cassette deck to another, performing overdubs on the fly. with the second dadala album the project also began to incorporate other material from a growing list of eclectic and experimental artists encountered online by rd. at that time only already-existing recordings were used.
by 2007, when the sixth album candy fish barrel was produced, a new, more band-like dadala emerged which had begun to settle into a core group of contributors and also started to incorporate new material recorded specifically for dadala.
around 2009 loopy c (chris r. gibson) became an important and regular part of the project. gibson (who was a member of the band jesus wore dickies, among other episodes in a life-long involvement with music both as an artist and on the studio/engineering/software side of things) brings vast amounts of raw material to the dadala table via his blog as well as private contributions, including material processed from earlier dadala tracks and member recordings. this new relationship resulted in the eighth dadala album spaghetti wall (2011) and introduced another new incarnation of dadala which has continued to include loopy c material in every track.
by 2014 with some new members coming aboard, dadala had evolved into an international ensemble blending improvisation with digital alchemy, collage and serendipity. as of early 2016 the current active members (in addition to rdunlap and loopy c) include roger sundström of Sweden (aka erocnet – guitars and various other stringed instruments, drum kit, soundscapes and more), the ensemble’s newest member paul mimlitsch in colorado (aka r369improv – bass and contrabass clarinets, contrabass recorder, guitar, electronics and more) and andré darius of france (basses, vocals and more). frank wilke of germany (aka brass-lines – trombone, trumpet and more) is a featured guest on many tracks. these contributors are active in online communities involved with improvisation (for example sound-in.org) and also performing at real world venues. darius, mimlitsch and wilke can be found in various collaborations on numerous releases from a long list of netlabels.
the way dadala tracks come together varies widely. improvisation occurs not just in the instrumental performances but also in the mixing and production process. unlike conventional and intentional composition, dadala is an exploration of coincidence and synchronicity, including arbitrary elements and chance along with careful craft and manipulation. all the members of dadala get to enjoy novelty, surprise and new perspectives on their work in the process.
the members contribute a wide variety of recordings ranging from unprocessed acoustic instrumental solo improvisations to elaborate digital experiments created with sophisticated cutting-edge software, equipment and techniques. founding member rdunlap uses these recordings as raw material to arrange, combine, remix, edit, layer and otherwise manipulate to produce dadala. pitch shifting and/or speed changes are sometimes employed and individual notes or phrases may get moved around in the editing process, but nothing is ever automatically quantized or locked to any grid, nor is any sort of “auto-tuning” applied. everything is done “by ear” and intuitively.
members sometimes perform overdubs to mixes in progress. other times completely unrelated recordings are combined. sometimes overdubs end up being used in a different mix than they were recorded to. sometimes material is used pretty much “as is” and combinations are left to play out as they will. other times there is extensive editing and manipulation. it can be like building sculpture as an assemblage of disparate parts or like chiseling a statue out of a block of material, sometimes both.