Douglas Lee is an accomplished performer, composer and sound artist based in Los Angeles, California. Or rather, a multidisciplinary artist primarily inquiring the world through the sounding arts.
Noted primarily as an international television performer and featured soloist on the musical glasses (an instrument made of wine-glasses tuned to pitch with water and played with fingers), Lee performs mashups of heavy metal, classical and contemporary pop music in venues and live productions around Los Angeles and the world. Lee can also be heard in The Douglas Lee Quintet, playing obscure versions of instrumental jazz standards on musical glasses, musical saw, saxophone, piano, upright bass and drums. As a multi-instrumentalist who specializes in rare instruments, Lee has worked and performed with a number of artists including Metabolic Studio Sonic Division, Gwendolyn and Peculiar Pretzelman.
His debut album, Themes for Falling Down Stairs is an aural treat that takes the listener to remote place in their imagination. Sounding like a mash-up of Nino Rota, Angelo Badalamenti, Niklos Rosza and Carl Stalling, Themes is equal parts 40s Film Noir soundtrack, Romani gypsy music, Shibuya-Kei Japanese pop, 60s Italo-western soundtracks and 30s Shanghai cabaret. Fleshed out with postmodern arrangements incorporating electronic noise, live manipulated electro-acoustic sound effects and various exotic devices to produce rich soundscapes, the album sounds as if somewhere in time, the muslin gauze has been pulled off the concussed head of a transfixed toy doll as a child to reveal the world’s strangest down and out performance of all time.
Written and arranged by Lee, Themes for Falling Down Stairs features him performing an array of instruments including the musical glasses, koto (a thirteen string traditional Japanese zither), shamisen (a traditional Japanese string instrument similar to the banjo), guitar, gong and chime orchestra, Baschet sound-sculpture, marimba, vibes, electric organs, analog synths, wild noisemakers and soundscapes.
Produced by Michael Rozon (Ministry, Bastard Noise), Themes utilizes nine musicians performing a range of diverse instruments. Woodwinds, brass, string and analog synths carry melodies through an ever-changing experimental electro-acoustic collage of glass, Koto, marimba, and shamisen. All supported by a rhythm section of upright bass, piano, organ, ambling guitar and drums. Mixed with field recordings, locational performances inside a large silo and live-manipulated sound effects it’s like nothing you have ever heard before.
An entirely instrumental album, Themes for Falling Down Stairs goal is to create a “place” that can be visited distinctly separate in time and space from the location of the listener. It’s an audible cognitive illusion of a euphoric destination, rich with detail and immersive imagery.
Lee is currently working with the Metabolic Studio Sonic Division, assisting in research and development of sonic tools and practices that work to promote living systems and give them agency through sound and vibration. He continues to compose music and perform on the musical glasses, shamisen, koto, guitar, musical saw, piano and Theremin. As well as researching and investigating various methods and modalities for producing and enjoying sound including experimental instrument building, sound art, sound sculpture and inspired electro-acoustic sounding-devices.