Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sounds upon more sounds

     It's been way too long since my last blog entry, but no big deal I guess it's a new year right? The holiday season proved a productive one, made a limited run of hand made Claymation 'The Dolphin Key' cd's (which I still have a few), began demo recordings of my band Yoma and got the wheels turning on some new Claymation material. The previous few months saw the development of my collaboration project Wired We Were with the Montreal based musician Red Fog. We will be working on new material in the next few months for a release later this year.
     In the meantime I'm looking forward to getting out and playing shows (hopefully) with both Claymation and Yoma. I'm also going to be doing another series of field recordings in the near future for a few of the 2012 releases I have planned (if anyone in the Albany area wants to join me for these sound explorations just send me an email). Last but not least, I should be getting my custom guitar in the next few months (about an 8 month wait) which I couldn't be more excited about. It's an Electrical Guitar Company all aluminum guitar and I'm sure it will be making its way onto a bunch of recordings later this year.
     One last note, Claymation 'The Dolphin Key' got a nice end of the year review by my friends over at The Upstate Soundscape Blog which you should go check out and support!! That's about it for now, 2012 begins!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From Deep to Steep We Travel

     A lot of good things happening in the past month, recorded my first full length record The Dolphin Key for my solo project "Claymation" at Warming Room Studios, one of my new tracks got some air time on hosted by Needles Numark (great radio show out of 91.3 in Buffalo NY 10pm-12am on tues.), been getting some great feedback and networking with fellow artists on with some future collaborations in the works. I also got a nice mention today from as well as an invitation to have one of my tracks on an upcoming comp. Needless to say I'm really excited about how things are going with Claymation and I already have my next two records planned out.
     The follow up record to "The Dolphin Key" is going to be a collaborative effort with some local and non-local musicians. I will be working on these tracks over the next few months with the guest musicians who will each be contributing to separate tracks. I'm hoping for a fall/winter release for this record but timing and coordination will dictate how quickly things get done.
     I will also be working on a series of field recordings over the next few months that will be used for another record, possibly an early 2012 release or even closer to the collaboration release. I did some field recordings a few years back at the Rensselaer train station and under the 787 under pass down by the Corning Preserve. They both yielded decent results minus the Police interference at the train station, someone thought I was a terrorist pointing a gun at the train so they called it in and kept the train from departing. The cops and I ended up laughing about it in the end and the train finally pulled away giving me the sounds I'd been waiting for in the first place.
     In the next few months I'm excited to get both of these records in the works, as well some online collaborative material. I think I will be busy, but that is a good thing. In the meantime, stay tuned for the release of The Dolphin Key by Claymation, my first full length, and get lifted!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Things move fast even when they are bolted to the ground!!!!!

     Hey guys, it's been a while since my last post, I'm probably going to be doing a new one once a month for a while. I just wanted to keep in touch here and let everyone know what's up. I've been so busy between school and music that, unfortunately, the blog has suffered a bit. I'm okay with that though =) because writing and playing music is where my heart is at anyway. Over the past month I've had some good musical experiences: Floor live in Providence, an improv recording session with some great local musicians at Warming Room Studios in the North Albany Studio complex, new material with my grindy face slam band Disappointment, writing and working on new material for GreatDayForUp which is coming out AWESOME, and last but not least, working on my set for the first live performance of my solo project, Claymation, at the end of this month. All this, with the end of my semester and graduation, has made for an insane month; it feels good to be relaxing for a bit.
     On a quick side note, this past week I had the wonderful opportunity to visit 2 amazing outdoor sculpture parks: Storm King Art Center and The Sculpture Fields at Omi. I encourage anyone who has a love for art of any kind to pay these places a visit, it is so worth it. Both places were very meditative and creatively inspirational, I can't wait to channel it into some new music!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Uncomfortable becomes the Comfortable

     Life has been a bit hectic the last couple weeks with moving and all, and I haven't been able to work on the blog. Things are finally starting to settle back down, so I'm excited to get back to posting. Speaking of moving, it was actually the inspiration for the title of this post and it might also be why I've started exploring and writing some new music beyond my normal comfort zone.
     I've always struggled with change but good always seems to come out of it. Recently I've started listening to Grindcore (very fast, abrasive, noisy metal most notably recognized by blast beat drumming) which has also inspired me and pushed my guitar playing completely out of the box. If you want a good example of what Grindcore is, check out the band Brutal Truth. I don't really know why I suddenly have this craving for Grind, but I'm embracing it and having fun. I've been doing a lot of speed exercises, pushing my abilities to the limit and it really amazed me how quickly my playing jumped leaps and bounds for the better. It's been years since I've practiced this much, so I guess all this stressful change crap is actually for the better. I'm still working on all my other music projects, but I think this new outlet will just enhance my creativity and make me a better player. There isn't anything wrong with staying in your comfort zone, but breaking out of it can be so beneficial.
     I urge you to break out of your mold and explore some new sonic frontiers. Be brave and listen to/play some music that you can't stand or maybe even hate, and find something good in it. It's a lot easier said than done, I doubt I would have done any of this if my life didn't get turned upside with moving and such. Change is vital, allowing us to draw outside our own lines while gaining new perspectives and keeping creativity fresh. DO IT!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sound as Images

     I was having a conversation with a friend a while back, and he happened to bring up the fact that I'm extremely visual in my interpretation of sound as well as my approach to writing music. I guess I've always been aware of this to a certain extent, so it wasn't a surprise. What did surprise me however, was the fact that I've almost taken it for granted and never really embraced it.
     We were actually talking about how creativity and artistry gets passed on from one generation to the next and, in my case, both of my parents are artists in the visual medium (painting, pastels etc.). I guess it makes sense that even though my art has developed in the form of music, it still has a very strong visual context. This also helps me understand why I enjoy some of the music that I do, especially a lot of  the ambient and more noise oriented artists. It leaves more to the imagination and it's a lot more accessible for creating mental landscapes and imagery. All kinds of music evokes different imagery, but there is a big difference when we are actually able to mold those images.
      I have always looked at vocals as being one of the strongest forces in directing visual interpretation due to the presence of words and our associations to them. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but I do think it can limit how we visually interpret the music. Don't get me wrong here, I'm by no means saying there shouldn't be vocals in any music. In fact, I think it's a wonderful experience to be visually carried by a vocalist. I'm just saying, we can be open to more creative levels of visual interpretation if we want to.
     Challenge yourself the next time you listen to something, be creative and try to interpret what you hear visually. Try starting with something very vocally driven if you've never experienced music this way, really dig into the words and use your imagination. The greatest thing about listening to music this way is, each one of us will create something different even if we are all listening to the same thing. Not only does this allow us to become more intimate with the music, but we are also able to explore our own creative process. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What, When, Where, Why and How!!!

     Well, this can be a very complicated approach to music, BUT I can't help going there. Of course we all like different music for different situations. Whether it's spacing out to Tim Hecker, grooving to Dub Trio, having back spasms to Knut, pummeling your way through traffic to Torche or simply enjoying a catfish burrito to Coltrane, we listen to certain kinds of music in certain situations. Yet, most people dismiss the kind of format (MP3, CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc.) they listen to music in and never consider it adding to the experience.
     I know I spend more time in my car listening to music than anywhere else, simply because of commuting to and from school. Luckily, I have a decent stereo and I love sound blasting my way down the highway. When I come home however, my choice listening format is vinyl through headphones. I'm not going to get into the whole digital vs. vinyl debate, but I definitely experience less ear fatigue this way. Vinyl is the "warm fireplace on a cold night" of audio formats, I love it. Of course if I had the ideal living situation I would play music loud at home too, but thats not the case. Probably like the majority of people, I  spend most of my time listening to MP3's. But, when I really want to sit down and enjoy something, out comes the vinyl and the headphones.
     It almost seems like, for the vast majority, low quality MP3's fit the bill, even for me. I just want to encourage people to not be afraid of exploring "obsolete" technology when they take the time to sit down and enjoy an album. I can listen to the same album and, depending on the format, have a different experience each time. Go find your parent's vinyl, dig out old cassettes and hit up a few garage sales, see what you can find. Don't be afraid to be an active listener!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Less is More!?

     I've always been a fan of both minimalist and extremely dense music. One of the first minimalist projects I was exposed to, years ago, was Mick Harris's Lull.  I wasn't nearly as open minded of a listener then as I am now and dismissed it. The Lull records I've listened to could best be described as low frequency drones. Only recently have I started to revisit some of these recordings with a new found appreciation. Through re-exploring some of these more spatially rich recordings I gained a new perspective on writing and approaching music.
     The first thing that I really discovered about my own writing process was, how dense and harmonically rich I would try and make everything on guitar. Part of the problem was my complex and dissonant chordal voicing's that made some of the material inaccessible to fellow musicians. There is always a time and place for this and of course there is nothing wrong with doing it sparingly and tastefully. But, for me, I wasn't able to make this distinction because I would always unfairly judge my own incomplete material against a band or artists finished product. I ended up trying to recreate as much of the full spectrum a band is capable of with just my guitar. Needless to say, it doesn't leave much room for other musicians to add their own flare and creativity to the piece and can even be somewhat intimidating to get into.
     This brings me to texture, and really where I'm heading presently as a musician. I can still accomplish these dense multi-faceted elements but in a linear and layered fashion. Lets say I create an extremely simple melody as a foundation to build upon, not only can I add as many layers as I want, to achieve this same desired effect, but each layer is based on simplicity and the original melody. Any amount of layers can be added or removed to make room for other instruments or musicians still making it accessible. So I guess less is more, more or less.