From Analog Tape

Smoke & Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble


Also available on 180g 45rpm Vinyl here, or bundled together, Download & Vinyl.

Original Recording Format: Analog Tape
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Smoke & Mirrors is a percussion spectacular from the Smoke & Mirrors Ensemble on Yarlung Records.

Our album opens with Steve Reich’s already classic Nagoya Marimbas, written in 1994 and premiered in December of that year in Shirakawa Hall in Nagoya, Japan. Steve writes that the work is “similar to my pieces from the 1960s and ‘70s in that there are repeating patterns played on both marimbas, one or more beats out of phase, creating a series of two part unison canons. However, these patterns are more melodically developed, change frequently and each is usually repeated no more than three times, similar to my more recent work. The piece is also considerably more difficult to play than my earlier ones and requires two virtuosic performers.” Our two virtuosi are Joe Beribak on the left and Katy La Favre on the right.

Next follows Lou Harrison’s Canticle No. 3, written in 1940/1941, and premiered in 1942. Essentially a concerto for ocarina and percussion ensemble, Canticle No. 3 uses the haunting primitive sound of the ocarina (a Mexican terra-cotta flute which looks a little like a knobby sweet potato or cuddly sea creature) and a steel string guitar, both a strong contrast with Harrison’s creative assortment of percussion instruments. Joe Beribak plays ocarina and Derek Tywoniuk plays guitar.

We experimented with our musicians in many different locations for this recording, since we used one stereo AKG C-24 microphone and no mixer for all of our takes on this album. As Joe reminisced, “some instruments (like tom toms and snare drums) were designed for use with a modern orchestra, while other instruments (like the ocarina and teponaztli) are ethnic instruments designed to be played in intimate settings. So we adjusted our setup to create the balance and tone quality we wanted. We brought the ocarina closer to center, and we actually rotated the toms 90 degrees counter-clockwise in order to balance these two voices properly on the recording. As a result we needed to modify the way we cued each other, since our relative positions were radically different from the way we stand when we perform this piece live. As with everything we did in this Yarlung recording, each challenge gave us a new perspective that enriched the musical experience and made it even more fun.”

Featured in blog post Notes on Recent Finds, No. 9 – Endless Bounty from NativeDSD by music reviewer Rushton Paul.


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Nagoya Marimbas
Canticle No.3
Sonatine, Mov I. Modere
Sonatine, Mov II. Mouvement de menuet
Sonatine, Mov III. Anime

Total time: 00:31:21

Additional information





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Mastering Engineer

Steve Hoffmann, Bob Attiyeh

Mastering Equipment

Yarlung recorded this album directly to two tracks of RMGI 468 analog tape running at 15 ips, with no mixer.  We used the Hapi converter and Pyramix software from Merging Technologies in Switzerland to make these transfers to DSD.  Our sincere thanks to Merging Technologies for making this quartet of releases possible    


AKG Tube microphones

Original Recording Format


Bob Attiyeh

Recording Engineer

Bob Attiyeh

Recording location

Zipper Hall, Los Angeles

Recording Type & Bit Rate

Analog to DSD256

Release DateFebruary 11, 2015

Press reviews


“Yarlung Records newly recorded and released Smoke & Mirrors walked away with this year’s top prize! …Each track is a musical and sonic spectacular with perhaps Lou Harrison’s Cantitcle No. 3 with its hauntingly, primitive feel punctuated by the ocarina (a Mexican terra cotta flute that as described in the notes looks like, “sweet potato”) interspersed with John Cage-ish percussion segments being my favorite. This recording’s huge dynamic range (this is not a piece for the weak willed amplifier), instrumental colors and especially cornucopia of percussion instruments including bass drum and tam-tam will give even a thoroughbred audio system everything it can handle and even a bit more.”


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