Alibi V.26 No.21 • May 25-31, 2017 

Aural Fixation

Wizard of Wulkan

Local sound engineer rocks sustainability

Howard Wulkan
Like many other creatives who came west at the start of the new millennium, Howard Wulkan saw Albuquerque and its surrounding environment as a perfect solution to a life fraught with the stresses and dangers of living in the big city. Interminable schedules, work that was often expensive to undertake and usually thankless, combined with the crush of a recording industry hell-bent on describing itself by the number of parties or the amount of drugs one could tolerate unnerved the longtime artist and recording engineer.

So Howard made the same choice that others have made. He abandoned the bright lights and a city founded upon principles that no longer spoke to him or his art. He came to Albuquerque and began again.

The result of that re-examination, of that re-booting of one’s creative agency is Cinder Cone Media World Wide, a spiritually-conscious, globally-aware creative center in the middle of the Duke City.

Wulkan began his mission in Albuquerque by reaching out to some of this town’s most notable—and recordable musicians—crafting studio and recording experiences that speak to the depth of his artistic concerns while also raising the stakes for the local music community. Wulkan brings his formidable knowledge and practices into the studio to shape honest, affirmative and highly listenable documents that reflect the beauty and depth of the music found in these parts.

Weekly Alibi chatted with Wulkan over lunch, touching on his belief that music is not only a healing force, but one which, when properly applied, can lift the idea of sustainability out of rareified discussions and into actionable reality.

Weekly Alibi: What are you currently working on, Howard?

I’m the creative director and producer behind a project called Music to Heal the Earth. It’s a music collection that I’m curating. I am also contributing to the project as a composer and producer. A film by Elizabeth Galen Baker, called We Know Not What We Do, inspired the project. It’s an award-winning documentary about what’s happening to the Earth and why that needs to stop.

What needs to stop?

Everything from fracking to the development of more oil pipelines, to the continued destruction of the natural environment for short-term or consumer-related needs.

That sounds like a rather important message. How is that message affected by the fact that our current government is in denial about climate change?

It’s scary, I feel like they’re pulling us back toward the ‘50s. There’s really not a way back to gas and oil, they’re finite resources.

Well, given the fact that the Trump administration wants to roll back many environmental protections, how can your project get the message out?

We’re in the early stages of development right now. I’m reaching out to artists all over the world from here in Albuquerque. Regardless of genre … these are people that are high-vibrational—for lack of a better term—and have had careers in the music business, at all levels. We share common ground. I plan to work with a lot of local artists, as this is a point of origin for a lot of sustainability issues. Right now, for the next month or two, it’s about gathering content. The content gives us a platform … and it’s not just the energetic content of the music, it’s the words and ideas that these artists want to share with us in interviews and other formats that are an intrinsic part of the project.

So is this project going to be presented as a series of live concerts and recordings? What shape will it ultimately take?

The recording will be available digitally in a multiple CD set as well as on vinyl at the end of the year. I have a couple of partners coming on board, but the collection itself will consist of a wide range of musicians like Peter Jarvis, who has worked with Wes Andersen. Klaus Flouride [of the Dead Kennedys] has given me two songs to work with, they’re both bombastic instrumentals.

What else are you going to do to get the message out?

There’ll be performances of course. Also, extensive liner notes, artist bios, contact information about the groups we’ve enlisted for support as part of the final product. The packaging for the project will be 100 percent bio-degradable and environmentally friendly.

What sort of local support have you gotten for the project?

I’ve had the studio here in Burque for about five years and have been working with bands like Wild Humans and Still Closed for Repairs, a blues outfit. These artists are interested in spreading the word about sustainability. James Whiton, one of this town’s best bassists, is helping out with the project—he’s doing a collaboration with Eraldo Bernocchi, an Italian ambient and dark metal artist, for the project.

It sounds like you have a real connection to the music community and the issues that are affecting this Earth and its environment. How does that make you feel about the future?

I feel hopeful. I feel that music can and will be a force that can change things for the better. Being able to undertake this project in a place like Albuquerque makes it seem much more heavy, yet more attainable.

Amy Owens/Howard Wulkan: Haethor