American Carnage

The Chamber Music of Ken Walicki

Ken Walicki composer

Release Date: February 10, 2023
Catalog #: RR8086
Format: Digital
21st Century

Ravello Records is proud to present AMERICAN CARNAGE, an album of chamber music by composer Ken Walicki. Well traveled and well versed in an array of different genres, Walicki shares numerous personal experiences and influences in these pieces, from blissful moments of natural beauty to musical reflections on his formative years and beyond. Masterfully performed by members of the Los Angeles-based Divan Consort, AMERICAN CARNAGE offers exuberance and zest from start to finish, a satisfying and equally authentic listening experience.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Milli Piyango: Movement I Ken Walicki Divan Consort | Rachel Mellis, flute; Charles Tyler, cello; Füreya Ünal, piano 3:53
02 Milli Piyango: Movement II Ken Walicki Divan Consort | Rachel Mellis, flute; Charles Tyler, cello; Füreya Ünal, piano 4:02
03 Milli Piyango: Movement III Ken Walicki Divan Consort | Rachel Mellis, flute; Charles Tyler, cello; Füreya Ünal, piano 3:30
04 Letting My Freak Flag Fly: I. I find a place inside to laugh Ken Walicki Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 2:10
05 Letting My Freak Flag Fly: II. It increases my paranoia Ken Walicki Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 4:18
06 Letting My Freak Flag Fly: III. I’m not giving in an inch to fear Ken Walicki Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 4:51
07 Kelebek Ken Walicki Noah Chang, Sarah Thornblade - violin; Esra Irena Arin, viola; Charles Tyler, cello 12:10
08 Warner Bros.: Bugs Ken Walicki Sarah Thornblade, violin; Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 5:41
09 Warner Bros.: Wile E. Ken Walicki Sarah Thornblade, violin; Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 4:19
10 Warner Bros.: Elmer Ken Walicki Sarah Thornblade, violin; Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 4:40
11 Warner Bros.: Daffy Ken Walicki Sarah Thornblade, violin; Charles Tyler, cello; Andrew Edwards, piano 6:30
12 American Carnage Ken Walicki Divan Consort | Rachel Mellis, flute; Gaby Castro, clarinet; Sarah Thornblade, violin; Charles Tyler, cello; Füreya Ünal, piano 15:07

Recorded August-November 2020, and July, September, December 2021, at California State University, Fullerton Recital Hall in Fullerton CA
Recording Session Producer Ken Walicki
Recording Session Engineer Joris Hoogsteder
Editing and Mixing Ken Walicki, Joris Hoogsteder (track 7-12)

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Ken Walicki


Ken Walicki is an American composer who is widely recognized and acknowledged for his dramatic, and engaging music.

Because of his unusual and interesting background, his sound world has evolved into a unique combination of Art, Pop, Jazz, and World music. Walicki was one of the first composers to use turntables in his music and the first composer to have turntables as a regular instrument in a standing ensemble.


Milli Piyango was written in 2006. It is a three-movement piece, performed without pause between the 1st and 2nd movements. The impetus for the piece is various genres of pop music, ranging from ballads through Heavy Metal.

“Milli Piyango” is the name of the Turkish lottery. It was inspired by my time living in Istanbul. Everywhere there are colorful kiosks selling lottery tickets.

The title for Letting My Freak Flag Fly, and the titles of the individual movements, was taken from the lyrics of a song off Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young album Déjà Vu. I grew up listening to, amongst other pop groups, CSN&Y, and especially loved the David Crosby song Almost Cut My Hair. I find the lyrics to be so ironic and tongue-in-cheek that they border on profound. While “I find a place inside to laugh,” “It increases my paranoia,” and “I’m not giving in an inch to fear” were perfect labels for each separate movement, Letting My Freak Flag Fly was just the right title for the whole thing.

The first movement, “I find a place inside to laugh,” is a humorous short piece that never fulfills, but sometimes extends, a short bass line common in many rock songs. “It increases my paranoia,” the second movement, is a calm, tranquil, slow movement that someone from the 60s, enhancing their life through chemical supplements, might perhaps find threatening. The final movement is a virtuosic display of digital fortitude for both the cellist and the pianist. The title “I’m not giving in an inch to fear,” I felt, was an apt designation for a movement that must be played fearlessly if it’s going to be played at all.

At the Bronx Zoo in New York is an enclosure called the butterfly garden. The day following my return to New York after living in Istanbul for a few years, I went to the Bronx Zoo, one of my most favorite places in the city. I had never before bothered going into the Butterfly Garden. My time at the zoo had always been taken up with animals that I considered more interesting. This time though for whatever reason, I decided to visit the Butterfly Garden. It was truly a wonderful experience. After not moving for a few minutes, I was covered in butterflies. It was fantastic and remains a brilliant and wonderful memory to this day. Since living in Istanbul was also a brilliant and wonderful experience, the close proximity of those two events, returning to New York after years in Istanbul, and being covered in butterflies at the Bronx Zoo remain mingled in my mind.

Kelebek, which is the Turkish word for butterfly, is a piece that is delicate, but can be at times harsh, a combination of how butterflies are perceived by people and what their character truly is in nature.

Warner Bros. is a deranged attempt to capture the personalities of four of my favorite characters from the WB cartoons of my youth. When I was growing up, some of my earliest memories are of Bugs Bunny shaving Elmer Fudd to Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Classical music was fun for me. I didn’t find it formal, stuffy, or any of those other pejoratives. I thought it was the coolest stuff in the world, so recently I decided to compose a tribute to some of my earliest heroes.

The first piece composed was the last movement “Daffy.” Out of all the Warner Bros. characters, Daffy Duck was my favorite. He’s simply crazy. I wanted that in the music. When “Daffy” was finished, it was obvious that he needed company. I decided to write three more movements caricaturing Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, and Elmer Fudd. Bugs was first, after all it is his show. Wile E. Coyote is second. While many people will disagree with me, I found Wile E. Coyote to be much more interesting and poignant than the Roadrunner. Elmer Fudd is next. He is such a sad character; I decided to have him be the slow movement.

I hope that these pieces bring back memories of characters from your youth, your current Saturday morning preferences, or simply make you smile.

American Carnage is a piece that emphasizes timbre and rhythm. The essential pitch elements are a pentatonic scale with occasional deviations. The piece is essentially a Blues. Traditional playing of the instruments is simply one of a variety of textures and timbres that can be created. For example, a cello can play behind the bridge, beat out rhythms on the body of the instrument, play between the fingerboard and the nut in contrast to playing between the fingerboard and the bridge. These are only three techniques that have traditionally been called “extended techniques.” My belief is that if an instrument can perform these techniques, then it is not an extended technique, but rather they are simply part of the repertoire of that instrument. Combining that with the concept that rhythm, not pitch, is the driving force in music is the philosophy behind American Carnage.