On The Subject Of The Upcoming Album

the great day_album template cover

Well, I said I would get this done by Christmas but it nearly looked like I was going to have to push back on that due date. In the end, however, I managed to get the recording phase of this project done on December 23, two days ahead of schedule.

So, what next? Well, after I make a few changes to a handful of songs on the album it’s off to speak to some folks about getting their participation.

In the meantime, enjoy a cut off the upcoming album.

On Releasing A New Album

IMG00677-20110303-2326

So here we are on the eve of a new album release (my first solo worldwide available album) and if it weren’t for the Paxil the doctor recently put me on I think I’d be more of an anxious wreck than I am now (which, by the way, the Paxil is doing a great job of squelching.)

I put out albums and singles for the sheer joy of it. I long ago gave up any pretense of being a rock star in favor of releasing material that people might like.

It worked out okay the last time.

I also understand what it takes to make a good album from start to finish – at least I like to think I do.

I also enjoy my autonomy free from contractual obligations from a record company. This way I can put out material because I want to and not because I’m legally bound to. This way any moneys I collect are mine and I own my work.

Do I make money doing this? Eh…not as much as I’d like to but I figure that sometime in the future I’ll put something out there that enough of you out there would dig enough to buy in great quantities.

You see, I operate from a different principle: I let the listeners decide. I don’t try to impress anyone with a slick ad campaign, I don’t try to hype my work. Some would point out that I really don’t have the budget for that and they’d be right but I’d counter with the fact that even if I had that kind of money to throw around I wouldn’t.

I want my work to stand or fall on its own merits. You listen, you like,  you buy, it’s honest and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Music, indeed making albums, was never a choice for me. This was something I always had to do. Oh sure, I tried NOT being an artist making records and I have to tell you that I was completely miserable the whole time I wasn’t doing it. I found out the hard way I could no more not do this than I could not eat.

It was living a lie and I can’t be anything other than who I am.

Do I think my album will sell? Sure. Will it sell big? I don’t know. Am I ready for such a contingency? No, but I figure if it does happen I’ll do what I always do – adapt to a new situation.

One of things that weighs on my mind is live performances, should it come to that. I haven’t quite worked out how to play this material live given the conditions I recorded it under and it only leaves me two options: do I use sequencers and loops on stage (which would defeat the purpose of having made this album in the first place) or do I hire the musicians to carry it out?

I’m actually leaning toward the latter. I recorded this album to prove to myself and the world that you don’t need a lot of technology to do electronic music but should it come to doing live performances I’m going to need money – lots of it.

Tours are expensive and a logistical nightmare to boot.

Well…maybe I should have went with a record company?

Nah.

So tomorrow (Saturday at the latest) the new album comes out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

On The Subject Sub-Aetha – The First Ones

the first ones_COVER

In 48 hours, my debut album under the name “Sub-Aetha – The First Ones” will be released across the planet in those places that have access to iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.

Again, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the members of Harmonium for inadvertently taking their name and to say I hope I haven’t caused them any harm by doing so.

I’d also like to issue an apology to their fans. Sorry, folks – had I known I would never have done it in the first place.

I recorded this under three extraordinary conditions:

1. Only monophonic synthesizers were to be used.

2. No sequencers or loops (arpeggiators and tape loops are the only exception). All the instrumentation is done in real time, including the electronic drum parts.

3. I am limited to 8 tracks to record with. If I want more, I have to bounce down to another track and I’m only allowed to do that 4 times (though I tried very hard to avoid it whenever possible).

When you hear it, you can totally tell it’s an old-school kind of electronic music album. At one point, I actually had my hands on an old Sony reel-to-reel (that broke down several times during the making of this album) and was splicing tape for the tape loops – and reel-to-reel recording tape isn’t easy to come by these days.

With one notable exception, who does that anymore?

Would I do another album like this again? Maybe. It was quite the challenge to limit yourself in this fashion and still deliver on a full length album. It was a lot of fun to make and I especially enjoyed the challenge of keeping time against an old-style click track.

For the record: I did everything on this album from the writing, composing, recording, mixing, producing, mastering and the cover art.

This was, for all intents and purposes, a DIY project.

The album will be up on iTunes in about 48 hours from an hour ago when I uploaded all 12 songs to my distributor. Give it a listen, buy it if you like it and recommend it to your friends.

On A New Album Project I’m Working On

harmonium_the first ones

I’m currently working on a new album project called “Harmonium – The First Ones” and it’s a foray into a genre that I’ve never done before – electronic music – something I’ve had in mind to do ever since I discovered electronic music and synthesizers about 30 some odd years ago.

Yes, I realize I’m coming late to the game.

About the name: I know a harmonium is an instrument but every time I hear this word it evokes a different image in my head, one of being that harmony (be it spiritual, mental, physical or emotional) is rare and hard to come by and about as rare and valuable as the other “-oniums”, if not more so.

I realize there’s a glut of electronic music artists out there today. They’re all really good though I confess to only having bought a handful of singles off of iTunes (I stopped buying electronic music albums back in the mid eighties).

Some people regard electronic music as soulless and I can’t say I blame them much. With the advent of sequencers, samplers and looping the technology today makes electronic music seem like you don’t have to put hardly any effort into it – just tap out a few notes, program a rhythm track, throw a cool beat on top of it and you’ve got a complex sounding piece of music for not much work.

That’s not quite accurate I know but that’s the perception among folks I talk to when the subject of this genre comes up and if any electronic music artists feels slighted by this assessment I assure you that 1) it’s not mine and 2) I do apologize.

I decided I was going to do something different. Or, rather, I was going to do something that’s been done before but hasn’t been done since Robert Moog rolled out the first Moog synthesizer back in the late sixties.

To create this album I have (to the best of my ability and with the tools available to me right now) given myself a challenge, one that was unique to the early electronic music artists by imposing three rules on myself:

1. I am limited to only monophonic synthesizers (and, by extension, contemporaneous electronic music equipment). If I can hold down more than one note and get those notes to voice then I will not use it to create this album. This means, at a minimum, if I want to create synthesizer harmonies with the same synthesizer voices I’m forced to do quite a lot of multitracking.

2. No sequencers or looping is allowed on this album, tape loop being the exception and since I don’t have a reel-to-reel tape machine at my disposal this means I will not be doing any looping at all and any instrumentation I record is going to be done in real time.

3. Recognizing that I have a distinct advantage over the early electronic musicians with unlimited multitrack recording capability I have imposed on myself 8 tracks and allowed myself no more than four generations of bouncing so I have to choose what I record carefully and I’m forced to keep my arrangements as simple as possible.

So far I’ve managed to record four songs in the last four days , or a song a day. I don’t know if this is some kind of record or not.

Perhaps someone can look it up for me.

At the rate I’m going I should have this album completed in the next four days and I’m planning to release it around Christmas on iTunes and other online music retailers – this being the advantage I have of owning my own record/distribution label.

In the meantime, here’s a cut off the upcoming album “The First Ones” called “Enlightenment For Dummies”.