February 28, 2005
I did something really crazy last night. I went to see a band instead of watching the Oscars. And on top of that, I almost stayed up until midnight.
It wouldn't have taken much to be worth it as I am not a fan of awards shows of any sort, but even if I was, the performance Rachel's put on last night would have been worthwhile. I was quite skeptical of seeing Rachel's at the Middle East downstairs because the sound is usually so crappy down there. Rachel's plays music that is practically classical; it is quite dynamic and gets soft and beautiful often so the pounding bass of the inevitable band playing upstairs would surely be a problem. This did turn out to be somewhat of a problem, but the band was able to transcend all the other issues I imagined they might have and put on a truly wonderful performance.
What struck me most about the show last night was how incredibly well Rachel's was able to combine a whole bunch of disparate instruments and styles into something that didn't sound at all forced or unnatural. I had been impressed with their studio recordings for this very reason as well, and was curious to see how they were going to pull it off live. And to be honest, I figured they wouldn't really be able to do it. I figured they would give it a valiant effort though ultimately succumb to certain realities of transferring music from the studio to the stage. They did rearrange their music somewhat, but not due to restrictions and inabilities, but rather in order to optimize it for the live performance.
They used a bunch of standard 'rock' instruments as well as classical instruments and then threw in some electronics just for fun. I got the impression that they have been doing this for a while, are very cognizant of exactly what they sound like, and have discerning ears. Everything was thought about. Even the drummer (and we all know how stupid drummers are!?) used a concert bass drum for his kick, tuned his snare loosely for an open feel and played predominantly with timpani mallets. Whenever he started playing it felt like a completely natural appendage was added to the music, not some pathetic attempt to get classical musicians to rock out. In this way, I was reminded of seeing Sigur Ros a few years back. They figured out this delicate balance as well, though in an entirely different fashion. I think the fact that they brought their own sound guy helped a lot as well. Don't know how he did it.
This performance gave me hope for the popular music scene. The opening act was a string quartet called Invert who played fairly upbeat original music, and then there was the oddity that was Rachel's. At the Middle East, of all places. Yes, there was thundering bass from the upstairs band bleeding into our ears, but there was something so refreshing about seeing such original acts in a place so often dominated by the common and banal.
February 26, 2005
Music, Marketing, and Word of mouth
I can't quite figure out what the deal is with Medeski, Martin and Wood. Their talent, both individual and as a group, is undisputable, though they seem to occupy this strange space somewhere between a jazz trio and a jam band. As far as I can tell they actually are and jazz trio - experimental for sure, but jazz nonetheless - though their audience seems to think otherwise. I can't imagine seeing anyone who was at Avalon on Thursday at Regatta Bar or any dark underground jazz bar in New York. They would have been at the Phish show instead. Or maybe Widespread Panic. Was this some sort of calculated marketing brilliance or did it just sort of happen this way for them? Clearly playing for this demographic is much more profitable than the typical jazz crowd. Somehow, sometime way back when, MMW was deemed to be super cool for the young, pot smoking, concert-taping masses and this reputation has stuck. They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves playing for kids who probably have no idea who Miles Davis and John Coltrane are, let alone Elvin Jones, Charles Mingus, and Thelonius Monk.
I think it is fantastic how MMW broke through the barrier between jazz and rock because, well, I just love seeing barriers broken. I wish I knew how it happened and whether it was by design or by happenstance.
February 24, 2005
off to the presses...
yes, the final proof looked good. I can't believe that I can no longer obsess over every tiny detail. Well, I guess I can, but it won't do me any good!
They should be done next week, all 1000 of them. My nerves are still mildly wracked.
February 23, 2005
kitty cue cat
Who ever would have thought that those silly feline shaped barcode scanners that were sent out en masse five or so years ago to the readers of Forbes and other reputable magazines would ever come in handy? If I recall correctly they were intended to provide some sort of link between the print world of magazines and the digital world of the web. By scanning a barcode on an ad in a magazine, you would instantly be brought to a related place on the web. Of course, you could alternatively type in a url like the rest of us.
No matter, the cue cat has finally found a use in my life: cataloging my cd collection. There are a few really cool cataloging applications that allow you to scan a upc and then they automatically go to Amazon.com and download all the pertinent information about the cd like title, songs, performers, year, cover art etc etc. Then you can search through your whole collection for anything you want. This is helpful when you have enough cds that knowing them all would be impossible.
This is still an incredibly lengthy process given the sheer volume, but it's a hell of a lot better than typing everything in manually. I'm curious as to how many cds I currently own. In five years, when this process is done, I'll let you know.
February 22, 2005
this is halsey burgund of aesthetic evidence...
and you are listening to...
I must be a rock star now because I have been asked to record a 'radio cart' for a radio station down in South Carolina. In my normal annoying fashion, I was unwilling to just record something standard, so I made a few in the ae style. Lemme know what you think:
Radio Cart #2
Radio Cart #1
the best thing about making these was that I got to use some of the material from BYOV #1 and I have a good idea for a song that I finally will have time to actually work on.
February 21, 2005
thank you, Presidents
for giving me this day off. I am in the middle of doing a major reorganization, cleaning, and streamlining of my studio space. For the past two months, my recording equipment has been in my living room to facilitate the mixing of the album. But that is now over and I can't do any recording outside of the studio very easily. So I am taking this opportunity to make the studio more conducive to my processes and to get everything back up and running so I can actually start writing some more music! That is one of the real bummers about putting out an album; that you have to stop creating new stuff. I hope I haven't lost the inspiration; I doubt it.
I've been in the mood for choral pieces today. Right now, I'm listening to Brahms 'Ein Deutsches Requiem' (which contains one of the most wonderful timpani and bass drum parts ever written) and earlier I had Arvo Part 'De Profundis' on, which was, in fact quite profound. And in honor of a certain photographer, I listened to Wagner's 'Der Fliegende Hollander' in totality this morning. Nothing like good music to inspire this sort of work. I must get back to it.
February 20, 2005
now taking pre-orders!!
Be one of the first to place an order for words and voices!
Somehow, that will make you extremely cool.
I guarantee it.
now taking pre-orders!!
Be one of the first to place an order for words and voices!
Somehow, that will make you extremely cool.
I guarantee it.
February 19, 2005
I don't know why they call it minimalist music. I guess perhaps it's perceived simplicity is what led to this label, but it sure doesn't feel minimal to me. I went to see BMOP's Minimalism concert last night and this was the best concert I have ever seen them give. The performance was excellent, in my humble estimation, but the real reason it was so good was because of the program. It started with some John Adams, moved into Philip Glass, ended with Steve Reich and also included a piece written by the BMOP composer in residence, Elena Ruehr. Adams, Glass and Reich are for sure the stalwarts, inventors, if you will, of minimal music, so it is no shock to see them on this program, but is had been a while since I had heard any of their music live.
What I like about this music is that in some ways it makes so much sense, yet in other ways, you can't believe what your ears are hearing. Much of it is very mathematical; simple motives repeated over and over in common tones and scales. Nothing totally crazy until the layering happens. One line upon the next over and over until this mass of pulsating sound is just oozing throughout the concert hall. You begin to hear rhythms that aren't actually there, it seems. At least no one single musician or group of musicians is playing the rhythm necessarily. It is the interaction between the layers and parts that becomes so exciting. I guess the cliche of the whole being better than the sum of the parts holds true here.
I could hear everything so clearly and seeing the musicians moving to the music was an added benefit. There were layers of long sustained strings countering syncopated clapping. There were vocal and instrumental layers; loud and soft ones. One time I nearly fell out of my chair at the shock of an additional bass part. The music was so full that I had forgotten, or maybe didn't even realize, that there was a whole range beneath what was being played that was silent. And then when it entered, the bottom dropped out and a monumental shift had happened. I can still feel it in my chest, re-living the moment in my memory. It was a deviously wonderful trick to play on us listeners.
But through all this, the pulse just kept on going. The pulse was where the music lived. It came out to show itself, but the roots were in the never-ending, steady pulse of life being attended to collaboratively by each and every musician on that stage.
It must be so fun to play this music. You have your own little part of the whole, diligently counting like mad and repeating repeating repeating while the entire world, it seems, flows around you and over you in a mollasses landscape of geologic shifts. Things change without you even knowing how, though the why seems perfectly clear: because it sounds good; because it *is* good. And here you are, doing your part. I wonder if any of the musicians ever feel like they are just along for the ride.
I left the show with reinvigorated interest in these three composers and have scoured my own collection for a few cds. They are not enough, though, so I have re-discovered how great our public library system is, and have ordered a few more cds to be delivered next week. I am incredibly excited for the ten cd set of Steve Reich's complete works. My god, this is going to be fun. Listening to his music at night in the rain in your car is the best way to listen, I think. I don't know why.
February 17, 2005
This percussion cd actually says on the label in big red letters: "WARNING! Contrary to established practice, this recording retains the staggering dynamics of the ORIGINAL performance. This may damage your loudspeakers, but given first-rate playback equipment, you are guaranteed a truly remarkable musical and audio experience. Good luck!" How cool is that? They wished me luck! This music is so crazy, it might just break my speakers! Now that's good stuff.
February 16, 2005
to share or not to share
well, that isn't really the question because I am going to share no matter what. I suppose the real question is how much to share.
I re-designed the front page of aevidence.com to announce the coming of the album, post the song list etc. etc. I have been debating what the best thing to do regarding song downloads is, and I could use some more input. I used to have all my songs posted, adding each new one as I completed them. These were the rough mixes, though they were complete songs. Now that I am going to actually release an album - with professionally mixed and mastered versions - and try to recoup some of the costs I have put into its development, I think it makes sense to not share the entire album anymore. I guess I'm feeling that no one will actually purchase the thing if they can get all the music right from my website for free. But I really want people to hear my music, and at the end of the day, I will do almost anything to spread it around regardless of whether or not I get compensated.
So my current decision is to share half the songs; five out of the ten. What do you guys think? Is this too many? Too few? Enough to give a taste of my music, but not so much there is little incentive to make the purchase? Which songs would be best to share? Help me out here!
February 15, 2005
So I got my first proof yesterday. I was a bit underwhelmed. I slept on it and felt better in the morning. You see, it was directionally fine, but there were some color issues and just the shock of how different the printout was from the computer screen took some getting used to. The resolution was good and the paper was nice, but the color issues were bothering me. The whole thing was too magenta. I am told that this often happens with high-end digital printing and that it can be easily adjusted out, so this is what they did for me today.
I went back to see my second proof today around 3:30 and lo and behold, they removed the magenta. It is remarkable how obvious these subtle changes can be to the eye when you focus on them. It's hard to compare these printouts to Tanja's prints (BIG difference between those two words!), and it really is an unfair comparison. That said, they have done a pretty darn good job all things considered. I'm gonna sleep on it, cut it up and fold it and put it into the real vinyl packaging and see how it looks. Then I'll put in a mock-up of the cd and see how it feels.
What does this mean now? Will I be able to go to print? Will I actually give my final approval and let my baby off into the wilds of the world, forever frozen and multiplied in it's current state? I need to let go.
February 14, 2005
February 13, 2005
I used to be organized, but now, I start doing one thing and get distracted by something else and then move on to something else and then forget about the first thing I was intending to do. It's weird, but I don't really mind it so much because things seems to get done anyway, just not in a straight forward manner. Perhaps this is my circuitous path.
Finally some time has opened up for me and it has been a remarkable experience. Yesterday morning, I was rummaging around my house in typical above fashion, and one of the things I got pulled into was finally working on the music for my sister's wedding. I'm not writing music, just pulling together stuff to put on the hi-fi during the processional and the reception etc. So I was looking at my cds pulling out ones I thought were appropriate all the while trying to organize them a bit. And then I began to just browse through all the amazing music I have, some of which I have listened to, and some I have never heard. I began pulling out stuff I wanted to hear and in no time I had a stack a foot high of stuff I am excited to check out. I felt butterflies in my stomach. This is so cool! Unheard music to dive into! I put on the soundtrack to 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, and the excitement in my stomach settled in nicely. The world is full of so much stuff to explore, and I am lucky enough to have a bunch right in my own house. It's nice to be able to always have something new or something familiar to listen to at any time.
I need to make more time for myself to do this exploration. It makes me happy.
February 11, 2005
OK, so I have been a little bit remiss in posting lately. But it is for good reason, I promise.
Yesterday and today were big days for progress on the album front. Yesterday I decided to change tracks with my printing strategy and go with a local printer who should be able to provide me with multiple proofs and more flexibility overall. I was getting extremely worried about the translation from computer screen to print. Having a printer who will let me insert myself physically into the process rather than sending it off to upstate New York and hoping I get 1000 of what I want in return, feels like the right move. Of course, I pay the price for this added peace of mind and improved output. The more I have been working with Tanja's images and the more invested I get in the whole design, the less willing I am to risk not getting exactly what I want (within reason, of course!). There are lots of subtleties in my design and they could go from being totally cool to totally crappy with a slight shift in the wrong direction from computer to print.
So I finished up the artwork files last night and took a trip to the printer this morning. Proofs will be ready on Monday. Let's hope for the best. Let's also hope that I can reach agreement on the pricing with the printer. I'm working right now on the assumption that they'll be coming down on their price quite a bit for me. Hell, this is more exciting than company brochures, right?
I also took a trip to the cd manufacturer. I picked my pantone colors for the on-disc design and paid my deposit. In ten days, I should have 1000 cds on spindles delivered by the men in brown to my doorstep. Did any of you say that you would join me at my cd assembly party?
Maybe I'll be able to relax a little bit this weekend. Ha!