“Uncharted Faith,” the new recording by the duo of Jason Kao Hwang and J.A. Deane is set for release Oct. 1, 2022. The way the project came about, and especially the way in which it was finished, and the circumstances of its completion, provide lessons in friendship and fortitude that are difficult to come by in times of national tragedies and world pandemics.
Jason Kao Hwang and J.A. Deane: a likely duo in unlikely circumstances
The sad fact of “Uncharted Faith” is that it was completed before J.A. Deane could see it finished. He revealed the state of his illness to Hwang before they were finished with the work of the album, but Hwang finished the project.
Deane, also known as “Dino,” to his friends, had suffered the loss of his life partner, Colleen Mulvihill in 2019. After that tragedy, he left Denver to live in the woods of rural Cortez, Colorado with his two dogs. There, he finished a book, titled “Becoming Music, Conduction & Improvisation as forms of QiGong.” He sent Hwang a copy in 2020. Hwang responded by sending Deane copies of his musical recordings. The two decided to collaborate on a musical project – – despite the pandemic.
On “Uncharted Faith” Hwang plays a Tucker Barrett solid-body violin. Deane contributes electronics such as Sensei Morph touch controller, Spacecraft granular synthesizer software, Akai MPC Live Digital Audio Workstation. The equipment sounds high-tech, but the themes the instruments are used to create are timeless.
In six songs, and almost 50 minutes, the Hwang and Deane create enthralling soundscapes that become more poignant considering the duo’s backstory. Of particular interest are “Parallel Universe,” one of the shorter songs on the recording that sets the tone for the “futuristic” feel of the recording. “Uncharted Faith,” the title track, is the longest song at almost 20 minutes. It elevates and engages listeners. For some audiences, there may be more than one moment of “How did they do that?”
On July 11, Deane wrote to Hwang: “I have been avoiding this because I didn’t want it to negatively shade your contribution to what is probably going to be the final project of my life. I am honored that it will be with you. I have stage four throat cancer.”
According to Hwang, Deane had a “concrete belief in the spirit world,” and had been in touch with Colleen several times through a medium. He decided not to receive treatment, and instead stated that, “I am making a conscious journey to transition.”
While the end of Hwang and Deane’s partnership is sad, a listener cannot help but hearing triumph in the moods and movements provided on “Uncharted Faith.”