Jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas's new album Dark Territory comes out tomorrow, April 16th, as a special release for Record Store Day. It's a follow-up to his 2015 release, High Risk, which is described by Douglas's record label, Greenleaf Music, as "an album where avant-jazz and electronic music met in a spacey atmospheric middle ground, delivering something new in the world of genre. Melding traditional instrumentation and modern electronic music production challenges the ideals of both the traditional term 'jazz' as well as the modern term 'electronic music.'”
“Dark Territory follows up on this area of risk, going into new, as yet unexplored musical spaces," Douglas says. "The title was suggested by the writer Fred Kaplan, whose new book Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, talks about the similarly mysterious, murky waters of underground activity. In a way, we’re playing through a similar territory without rules where the dangers and challenges of technology are much greater than normal."
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kaplan is the "War Stories" columnist for Slate and the author of several books. He also blogs about jazz at Stereophile. Published last month, Dark Territory traces the history of cyber war from the earliest days of the internet half a century ago through the role that "information warfare" has played in tilting the outcomes of conflicts in Haiti, Serbia, Syria, the former Soviet republics, Iraq, and Iran.
The liner notes to Douglas's album include an extensive excerpt from Kaplan's book that explains the shared title Dark Territory. It is attributed to Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense in both the Bush and Obama administrations. In conversations with colleagues about cyber espionage and cyber war, Gates would say: "We're wandering in dark territory." In the book, Kaplan reveals the origin of the term:
It was a phrase from Gates's childhood in Kansas, where his grandfather worked for nearly fifty years as a stationmaster on the Santa Fe Railroad. "Dark territory" was the industry's term for a stretch of rail track that was uncontrolled by signals. To Gates, it was a perfect parallel to cyberspace, except that this new territory was much vaster and the danger greater, because the engineers were unknown, the trains invisible, and a crash could cause far more damage.
Full disclosure: We played an active role in promoting Kaplan's book (beyond this modest blog post). So we're wandering in some dark territory of our own.