I mentioned on Tuesday
a “creative project” I planned to “publish” this week. Today’s the day -- I’ve made live my Bandcamp page
where I’m sharing a bunch of music I recorded over many years.
As a youngster I learned guitar, and during college and grad school played a lot with others while also doing a lot of home recording on a four-track cassette recorder. Over the course of nearly a couple of decades I amassed a ton of material -- mostly instrumental songs although some include vocals with original lyrics.
I would compile these into “albums” and share them with friends and others via cassette. Some of it got played on college radio stations and in other contexts, but it was mainly just a very small, mostly private thing done for fun. And once the poker thing started in earnest during the early 2000s (along with my full-time teaching career), the music-making slowed down considerably. I still play guitar, but haven’t recorded anything of note since, well, this blog started back in 2006.
The Bandcamp site enables DIY-types (or former DIY-types) like me to share music easily, and so after a lot of archival work I’ve reconstructed seven “albums” and am releasing all of them today. Streaming is free and I’ve set it up to allow folks to download the albums for free, too, only paying if you’d like. I’m obviously not looking to start a career or make any cabbage from this, but rather just want to share.
The number of hours I put into these recordings is kind of staggering to think about -- it really is the product of years of creative activity. All the songs are original, and there’s a decent mix of styles throughout. Six of the seven albums are entirely instrumental, the exception being Welcome to Muscle Beach which I’m calling my “pop album” containing vocals and original lyrics.
Here is a little bit about each of the seven albums:
These are the earliest 4-track experiments -- 10 tracks, eight of which are (mostly) guitar-based with the other two centered around keyboards. The initial, title song multi-tracks lots of guitars playing an arpeggio melody that kind of signals the thematical style of most of the music throughout the seven albums, with percussion done by hammering away on a manual typewriter.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Eleven more instrumentals, kicked off with a short one featuring a melody spit out by an effects rack following minimal input by me on an electric guitar. Mostly guitars with some keyboard here (plus a toy piano cameo), this might be the “quietest” or most ambient of the seven LPs.
Just two tracks, both of which involved me collaborating with my friend Ash Bowie
of Polvo fame. The first is a two-and-a-half-minute piece with Ash on guitars and me on fretless bass. The second is a nearly 26-minute opus I spent months putting together, with Ash coming in for a ripping three-minute solo during the second half -- a crazily ambitious experiment in layering guitars, keyboards, and piano that I’m kind of dumbfounded looking back ever got completed.
The Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator
The first seven songs comprise “Side 1” with more guitars, keyboards, some synth and drum machine, ukulele on a couple of tracks, and one song with sampled vocals (that sound like an alien children’s choir). The last 21 songs (“Side 2”) comprise a long suite that was called “Dominoes” when it was released on cassette. Here I get into a lot of midi sequencer stuff, which continues through the rest of the albums.
Kind of follows the same style of OBR
with guitars, keyboards, and more sequencing, as well as some samples and sound effects. One track called “Repeating Then Is In Everyone” samples Gertrude Stein reading from The Making of Americans
, kind of delivering a kind of oblique summary of the musical style both of that track and a lot of others.
Welcome to Muscle Beach
Features 13 “pop songs” with lyrics, plus one instrumental (the title track). I’m jokingly referring to this one as my Revolver
or Another Green World
, and in fact the Beatles and Brian Eno are probably obvious influences. There’s a Stevie Wonder/Earth, Wind & Fire homage (or spoof, depending on how you look at it). There’s a song about a customer comment card, another about Thomas Edison, and another evoking Robert’s Rules of Order
and parliamentary procedure. Toward the end comes a three-song suite describing an illness (“Medicine”) then a doctor’s visit (“Waiting Room,” then “The Physician”). The cover features a picture of me aged 10 (I’m on the right). (You can click on all of these covers to view larger sizes, btw.)
Ten more instrumentals, almost entirely done on a midi sequencer. Most are relatively short, although the last one, titled “Infinity,” goes on for more than 12 minutes and represents an earnest attempt at something like Steve Reich or Philip Glass, though probably veers into a different, less minimalist kind of composition.
Like I say, I’m sharing all of these “albums” mainly for fun and with the hopes that someone might enjoy them. Would love any feedback anyone has, obviously.
Also, while I’m at it, let me throw this out there. If you’re someone who enjoys shooting and editing videos for fun -- say, abstract ones of nature scenes, time-lapse stuff, or anything at all, really -- and would like to match any of my music with a video, let me know as I’d love to do it. I will eventually do some of that myself, I think, if only to have a few short vids on YouTube that I could point people to in order to hear some of the tracks. But if you have something and would like some music to match with it, get in touch.
Like I say, it’s all free, so go get the whole seven-album box set, if you like! And if you do listen to any of it and have any thoughts about it at all, let me know.
Labels: *the rumble, Bandcamp, music