Season 4, Episode 8

Archival interviews:

- Bill Kreutzmann & Bob Bralove, Grateful Dead Hour #169, 1991.

- Jerry Garcia & Howard Rheingold, 1990.

JESSE: Here’s a Grateful Dead trivia question that’s not actually that trivial: What was the last album of original Grateful Dead music? True, the Dead put out Built To Last in 1989, but the answer to the question—and the subject and springboard for today’s episode—is Infrared Roses, released in 1991, 30 years ago this fall, and now streaming for the first time. Here’s some of the title track.

AUDIO: “Infrared Roses” [Infrared Roses] (0:42-1:14) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: The Grateful Dead, of course, kept writing songs after Built To Last, but they also kept developing in other ways, and Infrared Roses was a progress report from their improvisational group mind — created at the cutting edge of technology, just the way Live/Dead was more than 20 years earlier. The music on Infrared Roses emerged from the part of Dead shows labeled “Drums/Space,” the point about halfway through the second set when they left the songs behind. A punchline to some, but a nightly cosmic portal to many others, it was where some of their most inspired music occurred. Grateful Dead archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux.

DAVID LEMIEUX: That's the moment when the Grateful Dead, with their big label of being an improv band, truly got to improvise. And every night was different in “Drums/Space,” dramatically. Whereas if they did “China”/”Rider” three times on that tour, they're not identical, the energy would be different. But on a performance level, it's an orchestrated piece of music, as is everything they do, “Wharf Rat” and everything.

JESSE: This is Jerry Garcia talking to Howard Rheingold in 1990.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: We want to maintain some areas absolutely unstructured — absolutely, totally unstructured.

JESSE: But it’s also pretty hard to hold space for genuine chaos.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: It finds structure, it finds expression if we're lucky. If not, then, well… it's it. Again, this is one of those things — it's a totally subjective kind of experience. There are times when we feel like we're really clicking into something here. But it definitely has to do… you have to be alert, in a certain way. You have to be ready, and also you have to discard notions that are fondly held by a lot of musicians, about sequences of notes and about scales and about musical systems as a whole. We think of music as a language; the space part of it is where you throw out all the syntax.

JESSE: In the late 1980s, the Dead—the whole Dead—embraced MIDI technology: Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It allowed the musicians to make their instruments sound like anything they wanted. A guitar could sound like a flute, a choir, a translucent light-fish, a bowling ball in a petting zoo, a pan-dimensional five-cornered ice-gong, or anything else. It pointed towards new dimensions in the Grateful Dead. Infrared Roses was the result. Our friend Steve Silberman is a fan.

STEVE SILBERMAN: It still sounds like music from the future to me. And so Infrared Roses was kind of the last group of music that will really look toward the future of not just Grateful Dead music, but music itself.

JESSE: Dave Harrington of the band Darkside is a Dead freak who uses MIDI extensively in his own music.

DAVE HARRINGTON: I really dig it not as a curiosity, but as a musical document. Just the fact that they were like going to the edge of what was possible with the technology they had — to me, that's enough. That's worth the price of admission. The spirit of the thing, of being like: “[These are] the new pieces of gear — what can we do with this? This is interesting, let’s see how it inspires us.” That’s a cipher for the whole endeavor, really.

JESSE: Infrared Roses wasn’t just a dalliance, but the most official and visible representation of an entire period, lasting more than a half-decade through Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. “Drums/Space” provided a pressure-free platform that resulted in many of the band’s most creative moments over their last half-decade. Through their very last shows, that truly open territory was a portal back to the formlessness of The Psychedelic Experience and the Acid Tests. In our “Dead Freaks Unite” episode, we discussed surveys conducted by sociologist Rebecca Adams in which respondents frequently reported moments of realization occurring during the deepest part of the Dead’s second sets. A point to consider here, as well. The music on Infrared Roses comes from a fairly contested part of Dead shows, well into the weirding.

DAVID LEMIEUX: I'm a huge fan of “Drums/Space.” I always was. To me, and as I've gotten older, I wish I appreciated it more at the Dead shows I saw live in concert back in the day. I was taping, so I’d be concentrating — usually “Drums/Space” was where you’d flip your tape. So you’re concentrating on that, or maybe it’s when you sit down, just take a breather and look at the crowd.

STEVE SILBERMAN: Something that I think is important is when I started listening to “Feedback” on Live/Dead and stuff, one of the things that was so compelling about it is that most of the time when you listen to music, it's not that hard to figure out what emotion they're going for. Is it a ballad? Is it a love song? Is it an excited party song? “Feedback,” “Space,” and then the MIDI “Space”s evoked emotions for which there was no name. You couldn't attach it to any known emotion because it wasn't falling within the standard lexicon of musical language. It was outside of it — outside of the coded emotions that [are] in almost every music that anyone listens to.

JESSE: But for people who felt the Dead’s psychedelic pull, these moments were the reason to go see the Grateful Dead, and in some senses, Infrared Roses is an album-length collection of those moments.

STEVE SILBERMAN: Psychedelic shamanistic initiation is part of Indigenous cultures all over the world, in different forms. I feel like Dead Heads kind of stumbled on that at the same time that the band kind of stumbled on that. If they deconstructed their music—which started with Feedback in the late 60s—if they deconstructed their music somewhere in the middle, or towards the end of the show, it would be amazingly appropriate for an audience that was turned on to psychedelics. I don’t use hyperbolic phrases like “ego death” or anything, but something happens; you're no longer imprisoned in the cage of your personality as much, and there's a moment of open space when you feel like you can become anything, and where you can see anything. I feel like “Drums/Space” was that. Because it started with “Drums,” and because Mickey was so tapped into the history of percussion in various Indigenous cultures, to me, it was like going back to the very beginning of music. It was like going back to the Big Bang, every show of music. You would start with these very “primitive” sounds and then you would get into, eventually, once they started using MIDI, kind of the orchestra of the imagination.

AUDIO: “Space” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 2/21/95] (3:32-3:57)

JESSE: That was a “Space” segment from February 21st, 1995 in Salt Lake City, released on the 30 Trips Around The Sun box set. Today we’re going to hear the story of how the Grateful Dead dreamt an orchestra of the imagination from the musician who helped them turn it into sound. Please welcome to the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast, Bob Bralove.

BOB BRALOVE: I was getting a master's degree in composition at San Francisco State, and I needed to work. I had done some word processing and stuff and then got a job working in computers. I ended up with a company called Osborne Computers, who made the first transportable computer. It fit under your airplane seat — no batteries, you had to plug it in. It had this huge case, and the front of the case just sort of flopped down and the keyboard was in it.

I had a friend who happened to have been a huge Dead Head. Really awesome guy. He was in customer support and I was doing international stuff, translating software into different languages. He had this big Cadillac with these two huge Pete speakers in the backseat, and we used to drive around and he played Dead music for me. One day, he came up and he said, “I just got a call from Stevie Wonder's chief engineer.” And I had always said—because I got the sense right away from using the machines—I said to him, “If anybody calls about music, let me know.” Because I sensed the power of these machines — this will get me back into music.

JESSE: Originally hired to help Wonder create a voice-controlled phonebook, he soon moved on to creating voice controls for Wonder’s synthesizers.

BOB BRALOVE: In the process of doing that, I had to learn the synthesizers. I was coming in as a computer guy, not as a musician, so I would work the synthesizers when he wasn't there. I’d come in late at night to record or something, and he'd hear me. He’d come in, I would have headphones in. He'd hear me operating ‘em, and he'd say, “Well, why don't you stay for the session, Bob? I think I could use you.” So then I’d spend all night there, crash, come back and learn the synthesizers. He kept asking me, and one day he said, “We’re going to Europe this summer. Do you want to come?” I said, “Sure.” I joined the tour, and then it was eight years of nonstop touring and studio work and television shows. It was wonderful.

AUDIO: “Go Home” [Stevie Wonder, In Square Circle] (0:10-0:40) - [Spotify]

JESSE: That was Stevie Wonder’s “Go Home” from 1985’s In Square Circle, for which Bob received a programming credit. It was around that time, too, that Bob came into the Grateful Dead’s world through another keyboard player.

BOB BRALOVE: Merl Saunders. I was doing a Grammy show and Merl was very involved with NARAS, the Grammy organization. I was doing a Grammy show in LA, this big synth thing with Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Herbie Hancock. All had #1 hits that year with heavy synth stuff. Merl comes up to me afterwards, looks at me, looks at the stage, and says, “You know how to operate those things? I say, “Yeah, I do that for Steve.” And he goes, “You ever want to do television music?” And he invited me to work with him on The Twilight Zone, which was the CBS remake of The Twilight Zone in the ‘80s. Merl had the contract and he was bringing in the Grateful Dead as part of that.

AUDIO: “Intro & End Credits Music” [The Twilight Zone, 1985] (0:12-0:37) - [YouTube]

BOB BRALOVE: The first thing I started doing with the band was recording them in a room. I remember we had this really strange isolation room in Front Street. Just a tiny room — tiny for the size of the warehouse, but totally padded and totally isolated. I don't know if you're aware, but Front Street was not a sound isolation kind of environment. It was just a big warehouse that they set up structures, depending on what was going on. The control room was not isolated. This was the room, and I had Bobby in there. I had this list of ideas that he should play. I would record them and the idea was to use them in the show, even when they were away or if they didn't feel like coming in. They were things like: “Alright, play ‘first view of the coffin,’ or ‘you realize he's still alive.’” And Bobby would go — first you do the coffin and Bobby would do his quintessential [mimics guitar sliding sound], and you just placed that in the right place. It was magical.

AUDIO: “Suite From ‘Nightcrawlers’” [The Twilight Zone, 1985] (1:22-1:45) - [YouTube]

BOB BRALOVE: Mickey got very involved in sound design. We would record on tracks and send them to LA. Mickey and Merl were having territorial issues over the soundtrack, and I was working with both of them. They would fight over my time. It was really kind of funny, because I was the only one going to both sessions. So it was a wonderful introduction to Mickey, because those kinds of sonic worlds that he lived in — totally Twilight Zone. For me, there’s that aspect of 1950s, 1960s and, through the 70s, of that sort of classical avant garde that was very idiosyncratic to instruments. It was a tradition to use an instrument in the only way that instruments spoke, in the John Cage way. George Crumb, all those guys were pushing the envelopes of these things. And so here was Mickey, using waterphones and Tibetan prayer bells and pitch-bending them. So I just dove right in — we saw eye to eye right away on that stuff. And so we made a good connection.

JESSE: A few years later, when the Dead were getting to work on In the Dark, they remembered Bralove.

BOB BRALOVE: I was brought in to sort of orchestrate Brent or Mickey. Most of In the Dark, the guitars are all more traditional guitar stuff. But Mickey and Brent were pushing some envelopes. I was bringing in new piano sounds for Brent —

AUDIO: “Touch of Grey” [In the Dark] (1:31-1:53) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Did pretty well.

BOB BRALOVE: They invited me to go on the [Bob] Dylan tour. And at the end of the Dylan tour, I went to the office, and there was a band meeting. I went into the band meeting and I said, “Well, this is the end of my contract. I'd love to stay and work with you guys, but if you want to end this, that's fine.” And they all went around the room and said, “Well, I want to use you. I want to use you, I want to use you.” The last guy was Billy, and he said, “Well, I'm going to use you too. So, hang out, as long as you're having a good time.” And that was the only job description I ever had.

JESSE: So in 1987, Bob Bralove started outfitting the Grateful Dead for the 21st century and beyond.

BOB BRALOVE: First [assignment] was to update Brent. That was the priority. But of course, Mickey always wanted something new and fresh. Billy is, in many ways, less technological than Mickey and his thinking. But his playing is so soulful that it doesn't matter what you give him — he's going to make some magic out of it. And so he was just in. It was just quite amazing. Everybody was just game.

AUDIO: “Drums” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 7/3/88] (6:46-7:16)

JESSE: That was the “Drums” segment from July 3rd, 1988 at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, released on the 30 Trips Around The Sun box set. Steve Silberman was a fan right away.

STEVE SILBERMAN: For me, the thrill of MIDI began when Mickey started using loops in the drum section, and using sort of more melodic elements in a strictly percussion-based performance. I felt like I was hearing music from the future, once Mickey started using loops. It’s not like he invented it; Teo Macero, he was producing [Miles Davis’s] In A Silent Way — I mean, In A Silent Way is loops and samples basically, based on jams in the studio, and it's one of the top five records ever made. So it wasn't that the idea of loops and samples was new. But Mickey brought it into a live performance context that broadened the palette of what was available to the band, particularly in “Drums.”

BOB BRALOVE: It was a constant learning thing. In the early days, before I fully understood the way Mickey wanted to hear things, he would sometimes say, “No, you need to do something,” and he'd go up and tune the reverb on a drum sample. Because he could have those huge, long reverb, hit a drum and it [mimics drum reverb sound] washes over the audience. And that's a uniquely Mickey vision, and anybody who does that now heard it from Mickey first.

JESSE: Suddenly the drummers could play notes. Here’s Billy Kreutzmann talking to David Gans on the Grateful Dead Hour in 1991.

BILLY KREUTZMANN [1991]: It’s still drummers trying to be musicians. I'm not lying, that’s a fact. We’re percussionists involved in sounds, and neither Mickey or I have learned the 12 scales perfectly. We don't know how to be free in all of the scales, so when you put all this stuff in front of us, it's still…. god forbid me for saying this, but it’s still the monkeys on the keyboards going at it. I don’t care! That’s what we do, and it works out cool some nights.

BOB BRALOVE: I remember there was one day we were at a soundcheck and Mickey, he could get relentless about needing. He could need something, he was going for some sort of perfection. It was like, soundcheck, you know? You couldn’t have come up with this yesterday? I could have worked on it. It was worth doing, always worth doing. But Brent saw me over there, and he called me over and said, “I got something I need right away.” I went over to Brent and he said, “Oh, Mickey just looked like he was giving you a hard time, so I’m giving you a break.” [laughs] It was like having many bosses, but at the same time, they were used to having a band, so they could surrender things. That's somebody else's part; this is somebody else's role. I realized pretty quickly that there is a unified vision of the band, but everybody's role in that is very individual. Everybody had their own world, their own sense of control over their instruments. They weren't putting a part in there, they were finding an instrument to be expressive with.

Jerry was waiting for something, I think he was waiting for me to get through everybody else. So I'd get my Grateful Dead chops together. The technology, it was a Roland GR something, that tracked — you had a MIDI pickup, so it tracked fairly well. When we put that on, I remember Steve Parish said to me: “Maybe he'll use it here, but he's not going to use that in the show. He'll never use that in the show. Just don't worry about it. He's not gonna use MIDI in the show.” So I thought, Okay, well, he still wants it, so I'm gonna keep working. And of course, within two months, he has it in the show.

JESSE: By early 1989, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia all had MIDI pickups attached to their guitars. At first, Garcia’s MIDI rig was confined to a black Stratocaster he’d switch to during the “Space” segments. By the summer, it was attached to Wolf, the custom Doug Irwin guitar he’d played between 1973 and 1979, and would soon return to active duty.

BOB BRALOVE: Especially with Jerry, the issue became for me: how do I make this synthesizer respond to Jerry's fingers so that Jerry feels like it's him? Not that he is playing what a horn player would play, but what Jerry feels like playing. One of, of course, the most important things became the translation of the pitch bend for his vibrato. You can always tell Jerry's playing one of the synths by the vibrato. He'll have that vibrato on a trumpet or something, or on the flute. It sounds like his hands. When that sort of fell into place and he became happy with it, then he started using it a lot.

JESSE: By the fall of 1989, Wolf was Garcia’s full time guitar again and things were about to get surreal.

STEVE SILBERMAN: I have a kind of a singular attachment to ‘89 and ‘90. For me, basically the height of the MIDI era coincided with the last great Himalayan peak of Grateful Dead music. I'm not saying that there weren't good shows in the ‘90s — there were. I'm not saying that after Brent died, everything went bad… although it kind of did, sorry. But what I'm saying is that ‘89, ‘90, those shows were as good as they had ever been. I still remember the night coming back to my house to 12 voicemails or something, about the breakout of “Dark Star” at Hampton [Coliseum]. That was a big moment.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [Formerly The Warlocks, 10/8/89] (0:00-0:30) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: With the name on the marquee reading “Formerly The Warlocks,” the October 8th and 9th, 1989 shows at Hampton Coliseum in Virginia probably would’ve been legendary even if the band hadn’t brought back “Dark Star,” “Attics of My Life,” and the full “Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower” suite. But even beyond that, it opened a tour that heralded a new era for the Dead, and some legendary shows. Here with us is Tyler Roy Hart, who you may know from such Twitter accounts as Mr. Completely. He was on tour in the late ‘80s and did all of the shows in fall ‘89, watching the emergence of the new Dead.

TYLER ROY HART: I think I remember hearing about it even during summer ‘87, during “Drums” segments with weird samples. Someone had explained that it was MIDI triggers, and it was a computer thing. As a computer guy—I was already a computer kid at that time—I looked it up and was interested in it. I was impressed by it because of the computing power that it would take to do it because, at the time, running just lossless audio in real time was something that would be considered difficult. There were people I knew who worked at the very early virtual reality lab at UNC Chapel Hill. They were moving very low bitrate video around in real time of about equivalent bandwidth, and it was a hard problem. So this was another case of the Grateful Dead technical crew taking something that was difficult in an academic setting and doing it live on the road, rock and roll. It seemed to be a little inspiring. I immediately associated with like — this is why we got “Dark Star.” Jerry's into this, it’s inspiring to him. He got this toy, he wanted to play “Dark Star” with it, and now here we are.

STEVE SILBERMAN: To me, them bringing back “Dark Star,” them turning into a cosmic orchestra of the imagination with MIDI, and then just being really tight — there was something about the whole organism of the Grateful Dead, in the best shows of ‘89 and ‘90. It's just cooking.

TYLER ROY HART: There was already a sense of — okay, this is creative, it's a source of new sounds. But I don't think most people thought of it as anything other than another stompbox gizmo, or the thing that Jerry uses that other guitar for, the black guitar for a little while during “Space.” I heard fall ‘89 as this progression of kind of weird tension and release, of them trying to push against the limits of habit and find really new ways to use the new tools. And then finding that.

STEVE SILBERMAN: Jerry was such an exquisite craftsman. Everybody outside the Grateful Dead community is like, “Oh, they were so sloppy.” Even they admitted that they sucked half the time or whatever. Hello! Jerry Garcia had such exquisite control of his tone, or even microtones, that when he was using MIDI to play like a wind instrument, he would play lines that were appropriate for a wind instrument player. So he wasn't just blasting his usual guitar lines through a different voicing; he was actually adapting his playing approach to the sound that he was making. I’m sure he probably felt a personal thing he was doing for his own art,but I really appreciated that.

JESSE: That fall, Garcia told Blair Jackson: “If you produce a sound that’s convincingly like, say, a French horn, you start to think French horn ideas. They just tumble into your head. I don’t have the discipline to sit down and learn how to play French horn, but if I can make sounds like a French horn, I’ll find ’em. [Horn sounds] are the ones that are most playable for me right now. I go on how much my touch can be transferred to the MIDI realm. What’s interesting is that if I play harder on the horn things, I can actually overblow it, just like you can with a horn. So what I’m looking for is some of the expression you get from a horn, except on guitar. I look for things that are most interactive and that I can affect by my touch. But I’m still on the ground floor of this.”

The MIDI began to emerge in other places. This is “Let It Grow” from October 16th at the Meadowlands, now Nightfall Of Diamonds. You can hear Garcia in traditional shred mode, like almost any version since the late ‘70s, before switching into MIDI and immediately altering his phrasing and attack.

AUDIO: “Let It Grow” [Nightfall of Diamonds, 10/16/89] (6:03-6:33) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

TYLER ROY HART: Miami was where that broke all the way open.

JESSE: The fall tour that began with the stealth shows at Hampton made a pass through the Northeast before bouncing back South and ending two-and-a-half weeks later in Miami, on October 26th.

TYLER ROY HART: The last night of tour, I was with a friend who hadn't done the whole thing, and I had done the whole thing. There had only been two “Dark Star”s, so there was sort of this feeling of “Come on, you got to get one more in,” so maybe tonight’s the night. That was my last time I ever washed out the bottom of a tour vial, and my friend and I did that. It was really something. By the time set break happened, we were floored.

JESSE: And a few songs into the second set, they got it.

TYLER ROY HART: Then it starts with a soft piano intro, and you could feel it coming through Brent. And it was like, “Okay, here we go.” It's a very beautiful start, and then it eases in — the opening part plays in the room, everyone's happy, obviously. Some of that is just because, for me, this is all I'm equipped to handle at the moment, is “Dark Star.” You can’t just relax into it, just let it wash over you.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun,10/26/89] (2:41-3:11)

STEVE SILBERMAN: I used to talk to Dick Latvala about that Miami “Dark Star,” and we agreed that it would have been a Dick’s Pick if Jerry’s throat hadn’t been so shot. I’ve often thought Grateful Dead history would have changed if someone had had a Sucrette for Jerry in Miami!

JESSE: The October 26th, 1989 show from Miami Arena was eventually included on the 30 Trips Around The Sun box set. The first jam has a little bit of MIDI and colors rolling in from the edges.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 10/26/89] (10:26-10:56)

JESSE: Lovely, no? But then comes the second jam.

TYLER ROY HART: Right after the second verse, it goes straight into the deep end — there's no screwing around. It's like the middle jam in some old-school “Dark Star”s, where as soon as they finish singing the first verse, it's like, okay, no beat, no anything — let's just go and see what happens.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 10/26/89] (18:18-18:48)

BOB BRALOVE: The sounds are coming from the same places in the mix, in the stereo image, that their sounds are coming from. So if something's coming from Brent, it's over on the Brent side of the image, and if it's coming from Jerry, it's over where he's at. Try to keep that in mind so that the images open up the key to who's playing what.

JESSE: In other words, if you get confused, imagine the music playing in 1989. From left to right: Phil Lesh, Billy Kreutzmann, Bobby Weir, Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland. Bob was nice enough to annotate some of the sounds heard in the “Dark Star” segment.

BOB BRALOVE: They've clearly dropped the changes at this point. Bobby's got some piano sounds behind his guitar. Everybody else is using their standard instruments. Jerry's added some electronics to his, it's sort of a fat distorted sound. Brent's using that kind of choir sound with pitch bends.

TYLER ROY HART: One of the things that I had never really seen from the Grateful Dead is fangs out — like claws, like we're coming for your brain. And they did that that night. That was new and different — iit was a little bit of “careful what you asked for.” As I can talk about, it was not an easy thing to get through, actually, in the moment.

BOB BRALOVE: Jerry's got a trumpet sound on his guitar now. Jerry's just moved to a bunch of percussion sounds. Bobby’s still in that little funky groove.

STEVE SILBERMAN: There's a word in Norse mythology, a phrase in Norse mythology —ultima thule, which means the far point of the known universe. To me, that Miami ‘89 “Dark Star” is the Grateful Dead’s ultima thule. People say, “Oh, well the Grateful Dead, they screwed around with jazz and musique concrète and stuff. But listen to Ornette Coleman’s done it…” But I'm telling you, man, that ‘89 “Dark Star” — there’s no Ornette Coleman performance I've ever heard that’s as out there as that. It is really out there, even by the standards of very knowledgeable “out there” music experts.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 10/26/89] (25:00-25:30)

TYLER ROY HART: My memory of the latter half of the “Dark Star” is actually from out of my body — it's from floating above the floor. I don't remember leaving my body; it didn't feel like an out-of-body experience. But my mental image of it is that I'm kind of looking down at the stage from above. The music somehow had embodied myself. That's a beautiful thing — it's not the first time that had happened, but it was kind of a dangerous night to do that. I don't remember hearing it as music. It was just that experience of falling into the singularity and being stripped apart.

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 10/26/89] (25:40-26:10)

TYLER ROY HART: It's the absolute kitchen sink: it's every sound, everyone's got something to add. It feels like total chaos, but it has a structure to it that builds to a peak. At one point, Brent throws piano chords in there that, just because it’s a natural musical instrument sound, is almost jarring — just to hear something that is like normal human music for a minute.

BOB BRALOVE: Mickey on the “doo” sound; Jerry on the high-end metallic percussion. Bobby howlin’ in the wind, beautifully.

TYLER ROY HART: But it was incredibly liberating and felt very old-school; it felt very ‘60s or like Wall of Sound meltdown kind of, where they're really trying to fuck with the audience in a serious way — people who are on the edge, holding on, just stomping on their fingers and kicking them off. It’s all for the best because you want to break through, you want to be in that space. Some of that’s obviously just my experience. There is no show that it’s more of an in-room bias than this one, for me.

BOB BRALOVE: That’s Jerry on a synth, little bells. Phil on that helicopter-y sound.

TYLER ROY HART: One of the funny things about this show is that my friend and I had this incredibly intense psychedelic experience of being overwhelmed musically and dragged through it. But at the time, and in the years immediately after, even online, even on the early Internet,, the show didn't get a lot of attention.

JESSE: By 1989, there was already a quite active Grateful Dead newsgroup,, but there wasn’t a single review posted of this tour-closing show in Miami.

TYLER ROY HART: You read from the archive comments and you talk to other people who were there — it turns out it was a very common experience, that it was a very heavily dosed room, and that a lot of people had really intense trips that night.

JESSE: “I wasn't the same for days after THIS night,” reads one comment. “It was more than just good sid and good Dead. This show was terrifying. I can remember all my friends asking me if I was ‘alight’ for hours after this show. Truth was, I wasn't. Over 20 years later, and it might as well have been yesterday. The spirits the band conjured up this night defied definition. Formless reflections, indeed.”

Here’s another: “We watched many a pastel colored yuppie suck down frozen mixed drinks, oblivious to the seriousness of the first set. By the time Drums was hitting us, these poor folks were literally crawling up the aisles, covered in their own sick, trying to get out of the cauldron.”

And one more: “I was dosed outta my mind but to hear this 2nd set was a grateful treat. At the tail end of a killer Fall Tour this was the icing on the cake so to speak, this 2nd set was a monster,...the Dark Star was really DARK and scary!!!! …. All I know is I wound up in Key West the next day still tripping my balls off and swimming with dolphins..ahhh those were the days!”

AUDIO: “Dark Star” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 10/26/89] (26:46-27:16)

TYLER ROY HART: The reason I think in retrospect that Miami is important is that it was the moment for me, again, outside of just the constraints of “Space” itself — it's when MIDI went from being a new effect, used in existing ways, to being new music.

JESSE: There were new worlds to explore. Bob Bralove’s role continued to expand.

BOB BRALOVE: I was feeling that the end of all of [Mickey Hart’s] the Beam solos were exactly the same. They would just have this long drone; it seemed to be going emotionally to the same place. So I started creating these pads, playing these pads that could give Mickey another emotional place to go, that he could then play. There’d be some sort of drone going on, and he could play the rhythms against it and still feel like he was initiating the transition to the “Space.” And he loved it, so he kept encouraging me to do that. He would walk off the stage and let me keep playing a little bit. I was quickly getting out of the way. The frontline guys would come out — I was ducking out, I didn't want to step on their toes. I could barely see them from where I was playing behind the drums. So I didn't want to mess that up. Nobody was here to see me, they were here to see them. I knew it, no question about it. And so I kept pulling back fairly quickly. Then one day, I had this thing going on: I'm facing the audience, behind the drums. Jerry's tent is to my left, bass is to my right; Phil's coming out from Jerry's tent, where they've just discussed the second set. He's passing by me, and I'm doing this on headphones, not to add more sound to the stage that's already there. Phil pulls my headphone out and he screams in my ear: “Keep playing!” Drops my headphone out and goes out to get his bass on.

AUDIO: “Space” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 9/10/91] (3:26-3:56)

JESSE: That was Bob Bralove putting the “and” in “Drums” and “Space,” September 10th, 1991, on the 30 Trips Around The Sun box set. That fall, the band released Infrared Roses, Bob Bralove’s album-long edit of “Drums” and “Space” segments.

BOB BRALOVE: I went around to all the band members and said, “Would it be alright if I did an album?” I looked at doing an album of “Drums/Space,” and I went to them individually. And they all said yes. Once I got their approval, Dick Latvala kept giving me tapes of the Drums and Space stuff, isolated. So it’d just be Drums and Space. There were a couple of decisions that I had to make. The first one was, I wasn't going to use anything that I wasn't there for — I wasn't going to research opinions about what I needed to use for this record; I needed to have experienced it to feel it. The other thing was to use as much of John Cutler's multitracks, because he'd been multitracking a lot of the shows for a while. But that didn't do everything for me, so I had to vary from that. Part of the pitch, when I asked if I could do that, it was like — “I'll mess with it a little bit.”

JESSE: The album is structured in four movements, the first of which begins with a track called “Crowd Sculpture.” Slip on your headphones and time travel back to Shakedown Street.

AUDIO: “Crowd Sculpture” [Infrared Roses] (0:00-0:30) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

BOB BRALOVE: It's outside the Spectrum, the Garden, Henry J. Kaiser, I think about three more. Also the parking lot of Club Front. I took tapes of shows, put them in the ghetto blaster and walked by with a recorder as though it was moving past this thing. I’d several samples of that, and then whenever I felt like it was time for somebody to walk past the sound of a show, I’d lay that in. There's a very strong story for that “Crowd Sculpture,” from wandering in, to offering tickets, to getting a ticket, to the crowd.

JESSE: And then, give or take a little bit of a warbling nitrous tank interlude, you’re inside the show.

BOB BRALOVE: Instead of just twos, “Drums” and “Space,” I wanted to have three movements per section. And that first movement would explore something different each time. The first trio is crowd, parallel and acoustic drums and electric instruments — no MIDI in the first one, because I wanted to establish where this was coming from.

JESSE: Infrared Roses wasn’t merely live Dead, it was truly a Grateful Dead album, the music sculpted and presented carefully. And though Bob Bralove was at the helm, it was a full family project. The album and its tracks were named by the Dead’s writer-in-residence, Robert Hunter.

BOB BRALOVE: Somebody suggested that I do that, and I gave him the tape over the weekend, came back at the end of the weekend with that fucking list. They’re visual too, they’re incredibly visual.

STEVE SILBERMAN: Hunter’s titles are just so wonderful. “Magnesium Night Light”? Who knows what that means… but you know exactly what he means.

AUDIO: “Magnesium Night Light” [Infrared Roses] (2:58-3:27) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Concluding the first trio of tracks is “Little Nemo In Nightland,” referencing Windsor McKay’s surrealist cartoon.

AUDIO: “Little Nemo In Nightland” [Infrared Roses] (1:48-2:18) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

BOB BRALOVE: When I started listening to all the material, I felt like I was seeing a trend of certain themes begin to come out in a certain tour. It may come out at the end of the tour, but the next tour, they’re exploring those themes a little bit. The first statement, a clear first statement of a musical idea, that it’s explored over the time of a tour — that first statement has a certain energy the first time it’s explored. The second time, it may not be so good. But the response of the second statement, in that same vibe, might be there. So I started piecing together this kind of fantasy version of that tune that was being developed. This is what I would think of them doing. At the end, I had to play the record for everybody individually and get their okay to release it. Jerry used to like to listen in his car. So we got in his car, he turned on this gorgeous stereo in his car, and blasted the record. At the end of “Little Nemo In Nightland,” I said, “Just to be clear, Jerry, this comes from a lot of different shows,” this performance. And he turned to me and said, “I know that! We can’t play that good!”

AUDIO: “Little Nemo In Nightland” [Infrared Roses] (2:29-2:59) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

BOB BRALOVE: There's the falling apart of the “Uncle John's Band” that I wanted to [capture] — that sense of the tune falling apart into “Drums.”

AUDIO: “Riverside Rhapsody” [Infrared Roses] (0:00-0:30) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: That’s “Riverside Rhapsody,” beginning the second movement of pieces. Beginning the third is “Silver Apples of the Moon,” a reference to both WB Yeats and likely Morton Subtonick’s pivotal piece of electronic music of the same name.

BOB BRALOVE: “Silver Apples of the Moon,” which was Bruce and Vince, is somewhat created. Bruce's track is pretty much as he played it in London I think, he played it in the middle of a “Dark Star.” And Vince's track comes from various “Dark Stars” that he played and pieced together to work with Bruce.

AUDIO: “Silver Apples of the Moon” [Infrared Roses] (2:08-2:38) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Dave Harrington of Darkside digs Infrared Roses.

DAVE HARRINGTON: Every now and then I'll hear a patch and I'm like, Well, there's the Casio trumpet — okay, that places it for me. But the thing that blew me away on my first listen was how ahistorical it sounded. One of my favorite tracks is the one that's just Billy and Mickey, that's got a ton of beam on it. That could be from any film score that has come out in the last 20 years.

AUDIO: “Speaking in Swords” [Infrared Roses] (0:30-1:00) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

DAVE HARRINGTON: The level of atmosphere in some of that is pretty mind-blowing, the kind of thing you simply can’t get to with just playing conventional instruments. Whatever the instinct is that they’re chasing has pushed them over a ledge to a place where they're working, in a lot of these songs, in a way that is not just wacky sounds. [It’s] this totally otherworldly palette. It's a long way around, but it's kind of a different way of understanding whatever those internal musical dynamics are — whatever is happening on that deep listening level.

BOB BRALOVE: And then “Sparrow Hawk Row” had that amazing stuff all from Healy tapes. There's a little cry out that he sampled from the audience, and then processed back into the show. I liked it so much [that] I captured it and laid it back in a couple of times, so that it became thematic.

AUDIO: “Sparrow Hawk Row” [Infrared Roses] (0:15-0:45) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

STEVE SILBERMAN: The track that gives me that tingling feeling on the back of my neck every single time I hear it is “Sparrow Hawk Row,” which Bob Bralove credits on the album to Dan Healy’s mixes during “Drums/Space.”

AUDIO: “Sparrow Hawk Row” [Infrared Roses] (0:51-1:21) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

STEVE SILBERMAN: There's something about the shimmering quality of that track that basically triggers a psychedelic flashback for me. You know how when you're coming— [voice pivots suddenly to lower register]—well, I don't know if you know. [Voice returns to usual register] You know how when you're coming on to LSD, when you're coming onto LSD, there's that moment when you say to yourself: [Voice becomes wavy] “Wow, this is kind of intense. Like, I guess I'm okay.” [Voice returns to normal pace] You sort of have to ground yourself because you're shooting up through the roof. “Sparrow Hawk Row” gives me that awe, in the ancient sense. It’s not just like oh, this feels really good. It’s like: [Voice becomes wavy for a second time] this is scary, but it’s interesting…

DAVE HARRINGTON: To me, it’s not to be underestimated and not to be taken lightly that they’re doing this, Infrared Roses, in stadiums and coliseums. Incredible! They commit to this as part of their experiential beginnings, and then it stays. And not only does it stay, but it changes and it develops over time. They find new ways, constantly, to investigate this particular zone of the music. The desire for searching and improvisation, that long into any career, into any level of success — I mean, look, it's inspiring.

JESSE: The music wasn’t the only place they were pushing themselves. The cover art was by Jerry Garcia – the only cover art Garcia contributed to a Dead album. In a way, it’s iconic Dead cover art for the ‘90s.

BOB BRALOVE: I remember being at his house and discussing it and saying, “[We’ve] gotta come up with something.” I think he sort of filled the empty space in the conversation by showing me stuff. It was an image that was floating in nothingness. There was no background or anything. So I grabbed that image, and then Jerry coached me through creating the checkerboard floor, creating the background and floating the emblem in the back, the ghosted Steal Your Face in the clouds. He was happy with the way it ended up. Mickey turned to Billy at one point, and pointed at the album cover and went: “Look, Billy — it’s us!”

JESSE: In recent years, Garcia had reconnected to his roots as a visual artist and, in parallel to his explorations with MIDI, had hopped fully into the digital art world. The tech critic Howard Rheingold conducted a really fascinating conversation with Jerry Garcia in the summer of 1990. Thanks so much to Howard for letting us use this recording, and—naturally—to David Gans for digitizing it. In recent years, Garcia had been getting deep into computers. His main digital ax in the early ‘90s was a Mac IICI.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: I'm not a keyboard person. The mouse is better, but I use it mostly for graphics.

JESSE: The conversation takes on a new dimension when one of Jerry’s friends arrives.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: Do you guys know each other?

OWSLEY STANLEY [1990]: People call me Bear. My name is Owsley Stanley.

JESSE: Oh hey, what’s up, Bear. Jerry talks about doing graphics with a mouse, and Bear expresses some skepticism.

OWSLEY STANLEY [1990]: It’s like drawing with a cake of soap.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: That's right, that's a good metaphor for it. But they’re ever-increasing — there’s a new digitizing pad that works with a pencil, a stylus. It also has the thing of the harder you press, the wider the line is. Sometimes you get a dynamic line, which you never used to be able to.

OWSLEY STANLEY [1990]: It’s hard for me to relate to drawing on something that comes out in little jiggy-jaggies.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: Well, that has to do also with the resolution of what you're looking at. There’s lots of things that have sort of anti-biasing now, so that when you make a line, if the line is a little out of true — you know how it splits up into bullets? It doubles the line, kind of fuzzes it. So you get a curved line that doesn’t have little sawtooths around it, and so forth. It’s much smoother. Yeah, the graphic stuff is way better than it was even last year.

JESSE: It’s a delightful futurological conversation all around. (We’ve posted a link to the transcript.) Just like with music, Jerry was a serious gear head when it came to graphics. In another interview reproduced in the Collected Artworks book, he described his setup. “I use the [Fractal Design] Painter program a lot, but I also have two or three other I use: [Fractal Design] Sketcher and [Electronics Arts] Studio 32. Each has a few effects the others don’t, so I import and can mix and match… I have a lot of extra memory, a million color graphics card, and so forth and so on. It allows me to play around pretty freely.”

The conversation with Howard Rheingold took place in 1990, almost three years before the launch of the first web browser, with the future of the Internet very much open to question. “Cyberspace” was the hot new buzzword, and most people thought it would take the form of some hybrid of modems and virtual reality. That same year, Garcia even got an early VR demo at AutoDesk, long before the technology was ever available publicly.

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: One of the things that's attractive about cyberspace is that it doesn't seem… I mean, it can’t be construed as no threat. If you see it through the video game keyhole, in the amusement keyhole, the entertainment keyhole, it's no threat. If you see it through the LSD keyhole, the consciousness-expanding keyhole, it’s like electronic drugs.

JESSE: They don’t get everything quite right, but that’s not the point.

HOWARD RHEINGOLD [1990]: Can you see a Grateful Dead concert 10 years from now taking place in cyberspace?

JERRY GARCIA [1990]: Absolutely, are you kidding? Sure. I think it's an ideal place for it. Part of the whole Grateful Dead thing is that there is no dogma: there isn't anything about how the universe works, and people are free to hear it as they want. They're free to experience it as they want, and we don't push it around. It's an open-ended experience, and I think in cyberspace is ideal for that. If anything, it requires more participation —


JERRY GARCIA [1990]: On the part of the observer, so that the uniqueness of their particular experience remains that way. Not only the event itself—with the Grateful Dead, each show is unique—but further within that, each person's experience of each show is unique.

JESSE: Nobody in the conversation draws out the point that I feel like is right there, about the Dead’s far-out and deeply imagistic MIDI explorations being the musical equivalent of virtual reality. But with Garcia’s cover art for Infrared Roses providing a visual representation that looks a whole lot like a virtual reality landscape, it was clearly part of the same early 1990s discourse. Just as they were in the era of Alembic and the Wall of Sound, the Dead surfed the newest tech.

BOB BRALOVE: There was one tour when I got this story that was an interactive story. Everybody had computers at that point and it was an interactive story. You loaded it on CD — it was called “Victory Garden.” And the way the preface talked about it is that you should see this as a museum. This is a thing for a while — it was a very brief thing, but it was really interesting. You should look at it as a museum, go and wander around the rooms and check out what’s in that room. So I gave it to all the band members, and we were all reading the same book. But you could pick a word and it would take you down a path, and pick another word and take it down another path. So you were scripting the story out of all these options. We would talk about it and we’d find ourselves all in different times in history; we were all in different countries; we had all different characters. Some would share characters, like: “Oh yeah, I followed that person until this.” It was a fascinating thing.

JESSE: Hypertext fiction, far out. “Victory Garden” by Stuart Moulthrop. The last few years of the Grateful Dead were pretty rough by all accounts, but the musical place where Bob Bralove resided remained a font of creativity and inspiration. It was a six-year musical period with plenty of evolution inside of it, and it continued to evolve all the way through 1995.

BOB BRALOVE: With Candace [Brightman], the lights were amazing, in terms of feeling like they were part of the music. She could anticipate and, at the end, I was sending her MIDI feeds from each of the band members. You can tell in some of the last couple of years of the lights, during “Space,” there were sections of the lights that were dedicated to each performer. And as they played, each note would move — they're called chases in lighting, which is like a sequence of lights. So each note would be another step in the sequence. So their instruments themselves were driving the lights. These moments—which I was, of course, completely enthralled with, because my stuff was going out there—[were] these very organic interactions of sections of light that are being driven by each instrument. It’s like a light Wall of Sound. Each person is driving their own set of lights. It felt like, Oh, I've just spent all this time separating everybody in their own worlds, and now this is the first time going from… everybody was going down this one MIDI cable to the lights, and then separated out again. It started making me feel like, oh, the next step here is not to have to run around the stage, but have everybody come into a central place that both they can control and I can control. I think that was the next step.

JESSE: The music itself had reached a pristine level.

BOB BRALOVE: I had a 32-input board, just for electronic drums. I ended up sending it out with a stereo mix of everything and sub mixes — two sub mixes, I sent it out four channels. Of course, I was enjoying the stereo-ness of it; I was using that, so there were stereo rich options for Dan [Healy]. But how it moved was either he was leaving it move as it is, or he was playing with it. He had that amazing box that John Cutler made: it did panning and you had control over the depth on a pedal, and the speed on a pedal. It was just magical. It would do anything you put through, it sounded fucking great. And Dan's agreement was, “You send anything you want down those lines, and I'll do anything I want with it.”

JESSE: The recordings made by Dan Healy and then, from spring 1994 on, by John Cutler, have an almost studio-like quality.

AUDIO: “Drums” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 2/21/95] (3:30-4:00)

JESSE: In 2021, that could be an experimental artist from anywhere in the world found on the reaches of Bandcamp or Soundcloud. But in 1995, it was Grateful Dead in an 18,000 capacity arena in Salt Lake City — February 21st, to be precise, now on the 30 Trips box. On the Workingman's Dead and American Beauty seasons of the Deadcast, we charted some of the ways Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter channeled traditional American music, a link in the chain for songwriters to come. But the music the Grateful Dead made in the 1990s has been influential and anticipatory in a different way. Joining us is Doug Kaplan, co-founder of the Chicago label Hausu Mountain, one-third of the trio Good Willsmith, and a huge fan of the Dead’s MIDI years.

DOUG KAPLAN: A lot of people that were Dead Heads may be familiar with jazz, and some may be familiar with free jazz. But this was like free music, being played at a stadium level. It's really, I think, the most like experimental music to be played in a stadium ever, night by night. It incorporates so many of these traditions that are so un-Grateful Dead — it’s electro-acoustic improvisation; free music, devoid of jazz; there’s ambient drone minimalism; maximalism influences. There’s this sort of… I’ll use the word “fourth world,” because that’s what it sounds like to me, but there’s a sort of John Hasel imaginary international music vibe. And they’re all at odds with each other. And the other thing is horror soundtracks come into this in a big way. The February 21st, [1995] “Space” starts in a totally creepy, very John Carpenter-like, slinky zone. It’s so different than the country rock that they really were playing.

AUDIO: “Space” [30 Trips Around The Sun, 2/21/95] (0:00-0:30)

DOUG KAPLAN: In the recording sometimes, you'll hear crazy stereo panning, because they're trying to make this like 360 experience into a stereo experience — especially on the soundboard, you'll hear it. That's something that must have been so massive that just doesn't translate at all into my experience as someone that was seven when Jerry died and never got to see it in real life. That there was crazy multichannel swooping happening around the arena also harkens back to this early experimental, quadraphonic music, but doing it up at the stadium level, to the maximum degree..

AUDIO: “5MEO-FBI” [Good Willsmith, Snake Person Generation] (0:22-0:47) - [Bandcamp]

JESSE: That was Doug’s band Good Willsmith, their track “5MEO-FBI” from Snake Person Generation. They’re part of a generation of musicians who take a different kind of influence from the Grateful Dead beyond guitar jams or songwriting. They often release their music on cassette. The art on their recent Sleeping Village 4/25/2019 tape is inspired by the art on Dead cassettes, a first generation audience recording. Shout out to taper Joel Berk.

DOUG KAPLAN: My sort of Grateful Dead history is that, like a lot of young Jewish boys, I got into them through summer camp — camp counselors playing “Ripple” and “Friend Of The Devil” at campfires. As a teenager, I got really into the ‘70s stuff. Went to college, I got into the noise radio station. I completely rejected being a hippie for a long time. When I really got back into them in the 2010s again, I dove straight into ‘80s, ‘90s, because I was just like:, I already know all this ‘70s stuff. In that time between fandoms, I had gotten super into electronic music, which I didn't listen to in high school. I was really seeing the similarities between like krautrock and Mickey Hart — seeing how oh, they're doing a Tangerine Dream segment in the middle of the show. That was when I got super into it, once I combined the Dead fandom with my indie label time.

In this period, I was very active with the band Goodwill Smith, which is myself, Max [Allison] and our friend, Natalie [Chami]. I’m not gonna say we were using MIDI because we were all just using more analog gear. But it was very, at least from my estimation, very “Drums/Space” inspired: long-form, 40 minutes structured compositions with lots of open space, all droning in D, lots of textural elements. We had some small hand percussion instruments to kind of have the “Drums” vibe, and it was very much in line with a “Drums/Space” segment.

JESSE: In some ways, Bill Kreutzmann wasn’t too far off when he compared the drummers to monkeys banging on keyboards, but it wasn’t always the monkeys’ fault. The technology has evolved enormously since the early ‘90s. These days, musicians like Dave Harrington and Nico Jaar of Darkside have MIDI’s orchestra of the imagination at their fingertips, with control down to the thickness of the virtual strings. The technology is just another tool in the electronic musician’s palette, but still an incredibly powerful one.

DAVE HARRINGTON: The main feature of Nico's touring rig was this gigantic custom-made MIDI controller that allowed him to have that tactile thing. It allowed us to jam and to not be a plug-and-play kind of electronic band. Nothing against that, but it’s not something that the two of us were interested in doing. Being able to use MIDI, he could control the tempo, the pitch, the timbre, the color, the sequence, the drum arrangement, the bass line, the keyboards, the effects, the dynamics. He had all of that at his fingertips in a very hands-on way that allowed him… part of the language that we developed was really a result of that — that we could get to a point where we were doing the thing: we were listening and reacting and making choices together in real time because he had made that his instrument.

AUDIO: “The Only Shrine I’ve Seen” [Darkside, Psychic Live - July 17, 2014] (6:15-6:45) - [Bandcamp]

JESSE: That was “The Only Shrine I’ve Seen” from the Darkside album Psychic Live - July 17, 2014. They also have an excellent new album called Spiral.

DAVE HARRINGTON: I do have guitar player friends who are big devotees of the Roland guitar synthesizer. I have something that's very rudimentary that I do exactly what you describe, it just converts pitch information to MIDI. I’ve just actually started using that in last couple of years. I'll plug my guitar right into it, and then I'll plug it into my Moog or a [Roland] Prophet synthesizer, and then use the guitar as a controller in that way as well.

JESSE: Out in the vast electronic weirdo underground, the sounds charted by Bob Bralove, Mickey Hart and company in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s are now a world of music unto themselves. We’ve posted links to music from Darkside, Hausu Mountain and a number of other of jumping off places for modern MIDI music. Bob Bralove has continued making music too, continuing the mission he began in the late ‘80s with the Dead. He’s gearing up to release a new album with Dose Hermanos, his duo with 1969-ish Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten. The future keeps beckoning. This is “Smoke Rings of My Mind” from 2014’s Batique.

AUDIO: “Smoke Rings of My Mind” [Dose Hermanos, Batique] (3:08-3:30) - [Bandcamp]

JESSE: In 2009, Bob recorded an album with the great guitarist Henry Kaiser, who we spoke with during our “Playing Dead” episodes (part 1, part 2), building on the “and” transitions from the “Drums” and “Space” segments, perhaps his most literal continuation of the mission. This is “Spectral Refractions” from 2009’s Ultraviolet Licorice.

AUDIO: “Spectral Refractions” [Henry Kaiser & Bob Bralove, Ultraviolet Licorice] (0:43-1:13) - [Bandcamp]

JESSE: The Grateful Dead’s MIDI years are unlike anything else in the history of rock music. At an age when most bands were settling into greatest hits sets, the Dead were deconstructing themselves yet again. Infrared Roses stands as one the more beautifully weird albums of the 1990s. The album closes with source music from the March 29th, 1990 show at Nassau Coliseum with Branford Marsalis — edited a little.

BOB BRALOVE: If you listen very carefully, Branford moves a little too quickly from soprano to baritone…

JESSE: It’s called “Apollo at the Ritz.”

AUDIO: “Apollo at the Ritz” [Infrared Roses] (5:34-6:04) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]