Play the Earth’ album: A true family affair

  • Written by Madeline Coats

Epaminondas Trimis has a collection of about 200 musical instruments, most of them made by hand. Each instrument pairs up with a specific song and element of earth in his “Play the Earth” album. Courtesy photo


Fingers tap on a typewriter in an upbeat rhythm. A jazzy tune flows in the background. Eventually, a woman’s voice begins reciting words. Heartbeats join the mix, revealing a mysterious theme. This continues for over six minutes in just one of 11 songs by a local artist.

Musician Epaminondas “Nonda” Trimis said the typewriter belonged to his mother, now 83, who used to write poetry in the ’60s. The heartbeats belong to the mother and son since she was pregnant with him while composing the poetry. 

“The album is an extension of her work,” Trimis said. 

The family dynamic continues with the release of Trimis’ album “Play the Earth.” The album is co-produced with his son, Chris Trimis, who also released an album of his own in 2017. 

Both albums were based and recorded inside his home studio in Woodinville. He said they completely engineered the album. 

“There’s a Woodinville- ness to the album,” he said.

The collection includes a series of poems based on different elements of earth, written by Michaele Benedict, his mother. Trimis said each poem celebrates a specific element of the planet.

“It’s an invitation for everyone to get in touch with the earth,” Trimis said. “And play the earth, understand it, and work with it.”

He said one song is composed entirely of bamboo instruments, which relates back to the theme of ecology. Another used only skin instruments throughout the piece.

One reason for the album’s success stems from a friendship formed randomly at a salad bar. Trimis said he met Johanna Cireneo in 2018 and loved the sound of her South African accent. So, he asked to use her voice for a few of the poems. 

She recited the poem “Droplets,” which focuses on the element of water, and “Skin,” with reference to people and race. Trimis said Cireneo felt like she could personally relate to racism and the “precious nature of water in South Africa.”

Benedict compared skin to a wrapper in “Skin.” He said the song focuses on “what is really inside,” especially pertaining to racism.

“Droplets” features a faucet of dripping water recorded by Benedict on a cassette tape in her farmhouse 50 years ago. Much of the album includes everyday noises compiled into beats and rhythms. 

Trimis owns a collection of about 200 instruments, a majority of which are homemade by himself. He said the album had no budget and no pressure from a record company, so there was plenty of time to find unique and distinct sounds for each layer of the track. 

“Play the Earth” is his first album released under his own name. Trimis said he has worked on 60 different albums throughout his life, including the soundtrack for the Ken Burns film “Louis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.”

Trimis studied music and percussion performance, just like his son, Chris, who now teaches with Seattle Public Schools. Chris has been in various bands since he was a kid and participated in the battle of the bands at Woodinville High School and the University of Washington.

He released his first album “A Lot of Me Melted There” in 2017. It includes vocals, guitar, piano, vibraphone, marimba, synthesizer, drum set, djembe, surdo, doumbek, guiro, tambourine, cajon, electronic drums, and an assortment of bells, shakers, and rattles—all played by Chris. 

Benedict is still writing and teaching music in Montara, California. 

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