Earlier this year my friends in the band Dumb Waiter asked me to record an album for them. i had seen them a live a few times in the months previous and i knew a bunch of the guys from the other bands that they had played in, so i pretty much jumped at the opportunity since, for one they had been writing totally insane music (and i love insane music) and two that ideally their level of musicianship should make for a really solid and fun session, The other great thing about it was that we decided to record it in the upstairs space at Gallery 5, which i knew fairly well from recording Lobo Marino's Kite Festival last year. It's a large untreated room with ridiculous natural reverb, which lent itself well to Kite Festival with all of it's spaciousness, audience participation, and folky vibe, but i wondered if there would be too much reverb doing a full on loud experimental rock band. but within the first hour of moving mics around and getting drums sounds my slight fears were lifted because everything sounded brilliant, totally huge and with the kind of character you can't even get in a lot of "real" studios. Sure it's noisier, and you might catch a stray siren going by out on the street in the middle of a take, but i've always found the pros of recording in non-traditional spaces out weigh the cons. The space can leave a unique sonic imprint on the music, almost as if it's another member of the ensemble.
This session ended up being insanely fun, and we knocked out all the basic tracks for the 7 song album within about 8 hours here and there across 2 days, and sporadically did a small amount of overdubs, layering into the already dense mix or drums, sax, electric bass and guitar and even had some guest spots with violin, upright bass and vocals as schedules allowed over that week before sorting out all the takes and taking things back to the cave for mixing/mastering. My ballet schedule was insane at the time, and it took me a while to finish up the mix, but that was good as it allowed me to have quite a bit of perspective on the mix, which is invaluable when you're doing everything yourself. They just released the final product not too long ago and i am quite proud of the way it turned out, and most importantly i still love the songs, these guys managed to write some killer material that's all at once a facemelting, spazzy, jazzy, mathy, funky, dubby, experimental but super listenable auditory experience. AND even though i've heard it a million times, i'm still not sick of it. CHECK IT OUT BELOW:
tour has been really amazing so far, it has totally exceeded my expectations. having previously only done one off out of town shows in the last few years, this is the first time i've really been on a proper tour where i am playing to a new city and a new audience every night, bringing the music of the dulcitar to the unsuspecting masses. the funniest thing, especially considering my first tour blog is that i've had to strip things back equipment wise since playing in Shepherdstown. i haven't been upset about this at all, and it really has been nice to get back to the simplicity of dulcitar > loopstation > PA or guitar amp.
so it all happened when we rolled into Baltimore on Saturday. we arrived in the midst of the Artscape festival, and due to street closures and tons of people around the venue, we couldn't get anywhere near it to unload, and ended up just having to park quite a few blocks away in one the event parking garages. so after checking in at the wonderful Bohemian Coffee House, and finding that they had a couple PA powered speakers i just decided to keep my setup light, which was nice. it took me back to where i started with this whole solo music thing in the first place with no excess, forcing myself to play music where the most important part of it is the melodies and how well you play them, and not how many crazy effects you can layer on. Seeing as how no one in these cities had any expectations about what i was going to do, it still turned out to be thrilling for the audience, i was beyond floored by the amount of feedback i got from people, and have been lucky to sell quite a few copies of my album. plus you can't complain about only having to make one trip from your car to the venue with your instrument, merch, and your cables and whatnot.
In both Phily, and Worcester, i ended up doing the same thing, due to limited stage space and the need to do ultra quick changeovers, so the giant pedal board of death just stayed in the car. hopefully i'll be able to get it back out at some of the rest of the stops we have but if not, i'm glad to have a setup that i can adapt to wherever i am. it mirrors the music i get to play in a way. when i improvise i just try and make music that works for where i am, for whoever is there, and i can't be tied to a specific set of equipment to make it happen. being flexible is the key to killing it on tour.
hitting the road in a little bit, i'll update again soon.
Well folks i'm finally out on tour, just for 9 days, but it's still going to be a hell of a time (and has been thus far). you can see all the places i'll be on my shows page. massive thanks to LOBO MARINO for having me out with them, it truly means the world to me. knowing this tour was coming up was a a great incentive to finally finish up my live rig, and after building pedals, pedal boards and an electric dulcitar i finally have a fairly portable and super versatile setup to play shows with. still getting used to it at this point but everything is intuitive enough that i can just go out and make music happen it's like a foot controlled recording studio.
The first out of town show in Shepherdstown, WV was killer last night. we played to a packed house and everyone was lovely, thanks to Blind Language and the Thirty 6 Prime for having us! we're off to Baltimore tonight to play at the bohemian coffee house! onward.
Blowing minds up the east coast for the next week, I can't tell you how stoked i am. i hope to make some tour blog posts here and there when i have internet (still don't have a smart phone) so keep an eye out, and i'll be all over facebook a twitter.
I'm always slow to update this blog but i've got so much going on, as some of you are aware i have been building and rebulding and tweaking instruments and equipment for use with my live set. back in January and February i built an electric dulcitar, and that has opened up a new world of possibilities! for now i'm going back into the shop and studio to finish things up and develop some speakers and so forth but i will be. returning to the stage in June, to start performing again with all this crazy equipment. get stoked. i hope to post some more insight behind the making of the new live rig soon, stay tuned.
here is a little something from me to you. it's called Lonely Spaces / Lonely Sounds and it is a collection of field recordings i've made over the last couple years. each one these pieces are one take improvisations made up mostly on the spot in the locations where i recorded them with no overdubs and just a bit of processing here and there. this is about as stripped down as i get. you can listen to the whole thing as one long track right below, or you can download it from my bandcamp page. Enjoy!
So once the music end of things was done on the new album, i had to figure out how i would package the physical version of it. i wanted to do something a little different, so i opted for a packaging option from Stumptown Printers in Portland, Oregon made from recycled paper rather than the typical boring jewel case. It's actually designed to be the same size as a typical plastic DVD case and my thought was that it would be great to use it in a landscape orientation, as i hadn't seen a lot of releases done up that way before.
I've always dabbled in the visual art world, but with everything else i do, i just don't have a lot of time for it, so i really wanted to take advantage of this album release as a chance to do something special. and it all started with a photo i took when leaving the studio as the sun was rising after a crazy all night recording session:
This Image really just captured the feeling of everything i was working when i started the sessions at the top of 2009 that would eventually lead to the release of this album. i had just gone through a breakup a couple months before, i was working long hours, and was a bit disenchanted with life at the time. and i basically just realized that i wasn't doing enough with music, which has always been my biggest passion and the only things i've every really been able to count on. it was time to get things back on track. so sleep be damned, even after long days at work i ended up staying up and playing and writing and recording sporadically through the rest of 2009 and 2010, and then after composing music for Octavo, i had finally accumulated enough music i felt strongly enough about to release an album. The music on the album was pretty much always born out of the small hours, and i became sort of obsessed with feeling like i was the only person awake in my little corner of downtown Richmond. So many times i'd leave the studio as the sun was coming up, as construction workers began parking on the 4th street bridge, there was a certain romanticism to it. That spurred both the title of the album and the cover artwork.
So with the concept in mind and knowing what packaging i was going to use, i was off to figure out how i could print it, and i really wanted to figure out a way to get this thing screen printed. Initially i though about doing two different halftone gradients to achieve the sunrise effect which would be cool, but when i sat down with my friends at Triple Stamp Press to talk about it, my buddy Wil had a number of other ideas about how to pull it off. We ended up deciding to go with a split fountain technique thanks to Wil, and it turned out amazing! The coolest thing about this technique is that you are pulling two colors of ink across the screen at once, which allows the colors to mix, and consequently every single print ends up being slightly different because of it. with me doing a run of 300, this makes things really special, everyone who gets a physical package will end up with a one of a kind art piece as well. below you'll see a slideshow of some of the more interesting covers that turned out during the printing process:
Now on both the cd and the insert in the package i ended up doing my own take on the design aesthetic from the United Artists Ultra Audio Series of records. I first ran across these records in high school, i had always loved the style and wanted to do a bit of a tribute to them. here's some various shots of the rest of the packaging from the assembly process:
I'm really happy with how this whole thing turned out, i wanted to create something that i felt as strongly about as i do with the music, and i really think this does it justice. Massive thanks again to Triple Stamp for the screen printing work, and also to Revolve for printing and duplicating the CD'S!
the new album is finally out! you can preview it and download it below.
as with my previous full length releases, the download is available for whatever price you like including FREE! the only catch in that regard is that you sign up for my mailing list. however, if you do pay, it goes right back to helping me make more music and going on tour and such.
the physical edition will be available for the first time this thursday at the camel during my official release show, i am also going to be selling this strictly on a donation basis, at this point it is more important for me to get the music out there and gain listeners than to loose a listener cause i'm selling a cd for $15 or something, but do know that you are going to get something really special for your donation should you decide to get a physical copy. this is a limited run of 300, all of these feature artwork i designed and had hand screen printed by triple stamp press, and the nature of the technique they used to make the sunrise gradient image on the front means that every single one of them is ever so slightly different. inside, these things are hand numbered and signed by me and you will also find an insert that i printed plus a wonderful compact disc made by revolve that has a collection of music on it that i am truly proud of. that's the deal, i want people to be as stoked as i am about this album, and if you are, please tell your friends, tweet about it, facebook the world, embed the album player in your blog, get crazy! i will love you forever! as always, thanks for listening! tomorrow i will have another post with photos of the packaging and some info on various influences i pulled from for the design.
*there will be brief pauses in between songs if you listen to the whole album through the bandcamp player. downloading the album and playing it in itunes or what have you will allow for seamless playback as there is no silence between tracks on this recording*
my new solo album "when no one else is here and everyone is asleep" comes out next week on church hill records. i am beyond stoked about this.
you will be able to stream the entire record here for free on the second. there will also be the option to purchase a digital copy as well.
the physical package, will be available for the first time on august 4th, at the camel. if you are are in richmond or near by you really should come by and get the full blown package as it is going to be beautiful. i designed the art and triple stamp press is screen printing it. also huge thanks to revolve for the cd duplication and printing.
you should also come to the release show because it's just gonna be an amazing time, lobo marino, nelly kate, and to all my dear friends (from gainesville) will be playing so it's simply going to be a night of mind blowing music. 7:30 at the camel.
if you can't come out thursday you will have another chance to pick up the album on friday at first fridays in the courtyard (304 n Adams). i will be doing a set with the colloquial orchestra, but i will have some copies on hand for purchase.
for my out of town friends: i am hoping to have myself a little mini road trip/vacation/tour thing in mid august and hopefully i'll be coming thru a town near you, but if not you can always do the digital copy or i can mail you a copy as well, i'm going to figure out more details on that soon.
that's all for now, be sure to stop by next week for some surprises, and as always, thank you for your support, and thank you for listening.
"Everyone carries a room about inside them.
This fact can even be proved by means of the sense of hearing.
If someone walks fast and one pricks up one's ears and listens, say at night,
when everything round about is quiet,
one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall."
i am super excited as tomorrow is opening night for Octavo, a new work by choreographer Gina Patterson for Richmond Ballet. this piece has been in the works for a while now, and really heavily for me over the past two months. it features three original movements that i composed and recorded and the rest of the music is by Max Richter from his Blue Notebooks record (which is devastatingly gorgeous by the way). so suffice to say this is an honor i am truly excited to talk about.
The Richter music had some of it's inspiration from The Blue Octavo Notebooks, a collection of writings by Franz Kafka. i Had read this years before i'd ever heard the Richter music and had always wanted to do some sort of theatrical piece based on it, so when this opportunity arrived it was perfect.
So i set out to create music with Kafka, Richter, and Gina and the dancers i'd be composing for as my major influences and then to get even crazier there is an entire movement in the ballet that features the dulcitar! i may be out of line saying it, but this could be the very first dance piece to feature the dulcitar, if it isn't i'd love to hear about others that have.
so i've recorded real piano, fake piano, piano with lots of effects on it, all sorts of dulcitar madness, and some percussion and even a little fuzz bass... it's subtle, but it's there! all in big rooms and small rooms, and did some field recording to boot. these songs are exclusive to this ballet at the moment but will be included on my upcoming solo release on Church Hill Records. get stoked for that!
anyway here are some videos about the creation of the piece for your viewing pleasure:
an interview with choreographer Gina Patterson:
and an interview with me:
the ballet opens March 24 and runs through April 3, 2011 get tickets at www.richmondballet.com
as always, thanks for listening (and watching)
i haven't fallen off the face of the earth, i have just been super busy and have always been bad about blogging consistantly, but here are some things i have been up too/things you should be stoked about:
-actively fighting a battle (and finally winning!) against computers generally not wanting to work
-being my own IT consultant & recovering/cloning hard drives and replacing components and such.
-working on a new solo record
-working on music for dance pieces
-projection designing for one of those dance pieces
-working on the long lost ptfckp album (it's almost done i swear)
-running sound for shows i play and shows i don't
-planning on doing a colloquial orchestra ep soon
-getting old ptfckp material online for your amusement
-designing artwork and packaging for the new solo record
-plotting and scheming about touring in the summer to support the new solo record
-ballet, lot's of ballet...
-fixing an old 71 raleigh grand prix
-constantly tinkering with my surly cross check and getting some serious winter riding in too
-getting ready for another tour de cure with team hamberger time
-taxes! yeah! give me my money back!
-and i'll probably spend my tax return on duplication and artwork production for my new solo record.
-and as much as possible; having fun, hanging out with friends and family, and listening to and playing as much music as possible, cause that's what truly matters.
in other news, i am super excited (and you should be too) to have had two records i worked on come out in January. The Low Branches just put out their first EP "Sinking, Rising" on Churchill Records, i mainly acted as assistant engineer and provided recording space and generally just enjoyed hanging out while this was being made. it's a lovely record. check it out!
the other record is Lobo Marino's "Reincarnation EP" which i did all the production work on. From the outset we planned for it going to 7" vinyl (which it will be available on soon) which made for a slightly different approach on my end, but most importantly it was a blast to record and it sounds awesome, it'll definitely be one of the most epic 14 minutes of music you've heard in awhile. you'll be able to play it on your turntables soon, for now you can hear it on their bandcamp page.
and that's the news! i will hopefully write some more about stuff on that list up there as projects reach their end, i'm in a pretty good spot motivation wise right now, so i'm stoked to finally knock some of this stuff out.