New Album on the Way - Maybe ...

Been working on and off on a new album since last year some time, and I'm almost at the point where it's ready to be released.  Maybe.

It's sort of another "tribute" album to the most kvlt of all the kvltiest of trvv kvlt bands ever.  Sort of.  But different.  Instead of going classical / symphonic, this time I'm going electronic space rock.  Lot's of bubbly phase-y sustained synths with very simple rhythm guitar parts, and no guitar solos.  It's mainly a synth oriented album, with guitars playing a minor accompanying role (i.e., just to "rock up" the synthy bits). And of course, all instrumental.  It will probably sound more like Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind jamming with Zombi.  Very repetitive and hypnotic.

You probably won't even recognize the songs at all.  That's the point.  Maybe there's one where the riffs are played almost exactly as on the original album, but in a whole different context.

I just have to give the album a few good listens, maybe do some re-mixing here and there, maybe add a few more guitar parts, and then I'll release it as usual.


New album - The GWEN Towers

Yep, I finished a new album, comprised mostly of improvised-on-the-spot tunage.

The title track is created using the same technique I did for my Improvisario album, along with a bunch of the unused notes that were leftover.  I recorded about 7 short snippets of songs (about 20-30 seconds long), and spliced them together.

The rest are just a bunch of songs that were done as free-improvs that were then "sketched out" a bit, overdubs added, and that's it.  I wanted a very free-form, experimental feel for the music here.  Just sit down, and record whatever comes out, whether it's all just guitar, synths, drums, etc.

I also mostly used the Big Mono Analogue drumkit samples ( they're free! - http://www.analoguedrums.com/details-bm.php ).  It's a pretty versatile drumkit sample set, especially when you put the multi-sampling to work.  Reaper (my main Digital Audio Workstation) now has a clever method of loading multi-level samples to get much more realistic sounds.

I think my music is continually flowing in this direction - I like free-form improvisation, and then trying to make it into an actual composition.  It doesn't always work, but it seems to be how I play.  I'm still listening to the usual rock and metal, but I also appreciate free improvisers who incorporate more traditional compositional methods into their music, a la Mary Halvorsen, Nels Cline, Joe Morris & Marc Ribot.


Here's the song titles:

1.  The GWEN Towers
2.  Synthro
3.  Don’t You Hear the Drums?
4.  Tower of Blue
5.  TGT-13
6.  Shortly, Simply
7.  A Sense of When, Pt 1
8.  A Sense of When, Pt 2
9.  A Sense of When, Pt 3
10. A Sense of When, Pt 4
11. A Sense of When, Pt 5

I'll be adding it to my Discography page soon. That's all for now.


Voila! Two albums for your listening displeasure!

Ta daa!

Excited?  Yeah, not so much, but just in case you actually are, here are the two new Dimaension X albums! Go to the Discography page!  Right now!  Nah, wait a minnit.  Why dontcha read about 'em first.
The first is Improvisario.  This one is really unusual, but then again, if you've listened to either of the Burn Without Me albums, or my Bryson's Universe album, it has similar origins.This is the first original project by Dimaension X in quite a long time.  This one is a bit interesting - I took a 12-tone Row Matrix, further scrambled those notes (by starting in the middle and going out in a spiral pattern), then limited myself to improvising a short piece of music (between 20-30 seconds) in the key of that note (major or minor), and then would splice them together into longer songs afterwards. And nearly every note was played on my new Agile AL-3010.

I really just wanted to let go and play whatever came to mind when I was creating these short snippets.  Not a lot of thought went into it - just, "okay, key of Ab.  Here's the scale.  Ahhh, Marshall-y tone? OK, go!" That's it.  Plus I really wanted to get some cool clean tones with the Vintage-wound Alnico V-style pickups in the Agile Les Paul-copy. And I did some tapping. Yup, tapping is not something I tend to do a lot of, but I wanted to just do some really "out-there" sounding riffs.

The second is Industrialisimo what happens when you dose yourself with just a bit too much Godflesh? And you manage to find some nice Alesis HR-16 Drum Samples (which is what Justin K. Broadrick used on most of the early Godflesh albums).  Yep - this is what happens.  I wanted to create some "industrial-metal", but within the context of Dimaension X.  I don't think it actually turned out to be a stereo-typical "industrial" music album, but rather a Dimaension X interpretation of what I think industrial music is.  Sort of. 

There's some ambient synth atmospheres, odd effects, ... AND a big element you will immediately hear are some very creepy samples repeating odd numbers over and over for no reason whatsoever. I thought these samples just fit the atmosphere, so I used them in everything. They really contribute to giving an "off-kilter" feel to the album.

So there you go.  Each is about an hour long.  Go on over the the Discography page links and either go the the Internet Archive page to stream/listen to them, or download directly.  I hope you enjoy,

Now onto other news.  I've recently gone from doing very little musically to diving into a whole bunch of projects simultaneously.  As noted below, I'm working with my old bandmate Clint from Deadside Manor and the singer from The Great Escape ( a fantastic Journey Tribute band).  We've thrown some ideas around for some original tunes that Jason has begun writing, so Clint and I will do the recording and adding our instruments.  Should be interesting.

AND ... here's some other neat related news ... another former Deadside Manor member, singer Dan Flynn has been visiting Clint and also wants to do some new songs.  Back when the band was first breaking up, I had given Danny some new material I was working on, and he wanted to add some vocals, but we just never got around to it.  Which is what we're going to do now.  The songs are in the heavy-rock-almost-but-not-quite-metal genre, nice big heavy drums, crunchy guitars, etc,. that should go with his voice quite well.

So, yeah, I've been busy all of a sudden.  Looks like it's going to be a fun summer. 


TWO new Dimaension X albums almost ready

Yep, I've been a busy little bee lately, and have almost completed the two new Dimaension X albums I mentioned in my posts below.  I'll let y'all know when they're posted and ready for download.  These are the first releases of all new music for a very long time, so I'm a bit psyched to get them out there.

In other news, ... I've been making new music again with my neighbor and former bandmate Clint (now-the bassist-with-Blue Steel) Mitchell.  He works his day-job with Jason Paulino, the singer from The Great Escape (a very good Journey Tribute band - www.thegreatescapemusic.com), and brought him down to the Deadside Manor Studio to write some original tunes.  Which means I have to "up my game" if I want to work with this guy.  He is an extremely good singer.  Watch the videos of The Great Escape on YouTube from one of their gigs at Mohegan Sun (yeah, Mohegan Sun!).  Now close your eyes, and you'd swear you were at a Journey concert.

We helped him add some additional vocals and a guitar solo to an existing song, and then started work on another song which only had chord changes and lyrics.  So Clint and I added some drums and some basic guitar strumming.  Then I went at it on Saturday morning fixing the guitar strums, added bass, more guitars, a solo, and edited the drums a bit.

Clint just has to replace my scratch bass tracks with his own fretless bass, and Jason has to do the final vocals.  I think it's going to turn out pretty good.

Jason's style is VERY DIFFERENT from my usual heavy rock and metal.  Much lighter and melodic, and downright catchy.  I could really imagine some of his songs showing up on some of the more pop-oriented radio stations.  So this has been a real challenge for me.  I don't consider myself just a rock and metal-head.  I'd really like to consider myself a well-rounded musician and producer, which means being able to tackle any style.

It's going to be interesting to see where this goes.  


New music, and an album for sale!

I've really got a jump an a few new music projects (finally!).  The first is my "12-tone"-based project: I have about 30 or so minutes of music so far.  I plan on adding a few more tracks, then it's time to mix it all together and release. Tentatively titled, "Improvisario."

I also got a start on another project that started out inspired by the heavy doses of Godflesh that I've been listening to.  I managed to find some samples of the classis Alesis HR-16 drum machine (which is what Justin Broadrick used on the early Godflesh albums), so I programmed some very "mechanical" and heavy industrial-sounding beats and came up with some harsh, repetitive guitar riffs (and some other odd synth sections, solos, etc.), and voila, new music.  I also used some sound samples from "number station" broadcasts (look it up on the Internets), which add a really creepy and robotic atmosphere to the whole project. I've got about 50 minutes completed, so I think that's an albums's worth.  I just need to start some art for the two new albums, and I'll post them at the Internet Archive.

I also got some news that a "secret" project that has been in development since 2007 is finally going to see light!   In collaboration with comic illustrator and innovator Matt Howarth, there is a Dimaension X album for sale! I did the music and Matt wrote and illustrated a comic to go with it. Here is the writeup at his website:

A fierce music/comics collaboration by DIMAENSION X and MATT HOWARTH.
Howarth offers a twisted tale of a time traveler who visits the future to find the Earth has become a desolate wasteland, but the survivors confuse him with conflicting tales of what kind of holocaust destroyed human civilization. Dimaension X offers an hour-long intense soundtrack of industrial heavy metal music full of searing guitars and haunting electronics.

Click HERE to get there!

(PSSSSST!   The link is:   http://www.bugtownmall.com/New_Matt_Howarth_Stuff.htm )



I finally got the "12-tone" project started this past weekend. It's not "strictly" a typical 12-tone row style project, though there are elements of 12-tone music involved, including a 12-tone row matrix.

Rather than the typical 12-tone row rules, I've made up my own, starting with the general length of the project, which I'd like to be just about 1 hour.

Instead of using the 12-tone row matrix like you usually do, I am starting out in the middle, and going out towards the edges in a spiral pattern. And instead of "notes", the notes in the matrix are used as a "tonal center" or key. Major or minor is totally up to me.

There are 144 notes in the 12-tone Matrix, divided into 60 minutes, gives us about 24 seconds per note. Huh? Yeah. Dimaension X logic.

So I am taking on the task of composing 144 pieces of music (each at bout 24 secs). Each one will be in the given key, major or minor to be decided spontaneously, along with what I am going to play. Clean, dirty, loud, soft, fast slow, all up to me at the time.

Then once they are all recorded, I'll splice them together into more "normal" length "songs".

Hah! Huh? Yeah.

Explanation? Sure.

The given note at the very center of the matrix is A#. So my first "song" will be composed in A#, and will last for about 24 seconds. What I play is to be totally made up on the spot. Maybe I feel bluesy, jazzy, metallic, etc. Fiddle around in A# (major, minor??) and see what happens. Once my fingers are flying around the fretboard a bit, figure out what tempo I'm playing in, set it, and hit record.

Now, add drums? Bass? More guitars? Flavor to taste.

Dat's dat. next Note? G. Rinse and repeat in a new song file.

And the "splicing"? Once all the songs are done, I'll grab each mixed MP3 file, and begin dropping them together in a separate Song File in my DAW, and put the clips together so that there is a smooth transition from one "song" to the next, so it sounds like one longer song. Each song will be about 3 to 6 minutes or so, depending on how many MP3 clips are used.

After all 144 clips are used in however many songs, I'm done.

It's most definitely an experimental approach, but I tend to work well with short "bursts" like this. IN fact, several of my older projects were done as smaller "clips" like this. The two Burn Without Me albums a just a bunch of clips that were pre-recorded by me, and then arranged and spliced together as longer songs. Same with "Bryson's Universe". A bunch of short "songs" spliced together.

So far, it's all guitar, bass and drums. No synths or keyboards used so far. I'm also only using my new Agile AL-3010SE fro the guitar tracks. I want to show how versatile it is. Bass is all live bass played with my Squire P-Bass. And the drums are all EZ Drummer samples. If I want "keyboardy" or "synthy" parts, I may try to just use my guitar thru effects. I want to try to keep it all "played" by me if possible.

But then again, I've been fiddling with some piano-based things here and there, so maybe just some piano. No obvious "synths", though.

I have quite a project ahead with this one, and I think I've got a good start. More to come.


What's Nex' for Dimaension X?

It's high time I got my stuff together and started recording THE Progressive Rock album of the Century.

A lofty goal, you say?  Well, I've got to set the bar high and force myself to buckle down and work on some new music.  I've been fiddling with cover tunes and tributes, bought some new pedals, and recently even purchased a new guitar (an Agile AL-3010SE Tribal Green - google that and you'll see what they look like).

Now it's time shut up n' play guitar.  N' keyboards.  N' bass n' drums.

I've been listening to just about everything I can get my hands on - jazz, blues, prog, metal, ambient, and am trying to fit it all into my own musical genre.  I have too many ideas, and very little actual material prepared, so it's going to be a challenge.  What I really need is time, and that's coming soon.

For now, though, here is a cover medley I recorded this past weekend to put the new guitar to the test.  No other guitars used, it's all the Agile AL-3010SE.  I also tried to avoid any hi-gain settings for my amp sims.  Since the tunes I mashed together for a short medley are all classic rock songs, I tried to stick to lower-gain tones.  I used my Line 6 POD XTLive on the Marshall '67 Plexi, with the MXR "Red" compressor pedal sim in front, but that's really about all.

Sticking to one basic setting really shows the versatility of tone that the Alnico V pickups are capable of.  I'm not planning on modding this guitar at all.  This guitar is really a great knock-off of a classic Les Paul, and the stock pickups capture a "vintage" feel, not at all harsh or high-gain metal output, though I'm sure I could (and will) use this for some metallized tunez.

So for now, here's my classic rock medley ...


To Drop-D or not to Drop-D ...

... that is the question.

Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Strings and Frets of outrageous E Standard Tuning,
Or to take a Capo against a Dsus chord
And then by tuning to Drop-D end them?

So I've been going back and forth with weird tunings (DADAD), my favorite tuning, which is Drop-D, and E "concert" or Standard Tuning.  I keep trying to go back to E Standard, because sometimes I feel like Drop D is cheating (at least according to some of the guitar and musician forum pundits out there), but I really love using it.

Drop-D does make barre chords much easier for me, with my little "girlie-sized" hands that barely fit around a guitar neck as it is.  And Position One barre chords have been just a bit more difficult since I had my wrist surgery back in 2009.  Sliding Barre Chords and open-string pedal tone chords are also much thicker and heavier sounding in Drop-D, and just easier to play.

So is it cheating?  Dunno.  Don't really care. But, I do try to play some stuff in E Standard, and some things are much easier in E Standard.You can obviously play a full Position One Barre Chord across all six strings for nice full-sounding chords.  You can't do that in Drop-D, where you are limited to a three-note Barre Chord in Position One.  Open Chords also tend to sound better in E Standard.  And quite honestly, I think my bass guitar likes the low string tuned to E, rather than D.  The low E is less "floppy".  Even with new strings, the low D tends to be a bit "saggy".  It doesn't stay in tune as easily.

I've learned how to play several songs that are E Standard in Drop-D, and sometimes it's easier, sometimes it's harder.   Thin Lizzy's "Boys are Back" is easy in either tuning.  My former band, Deadside Manor played parts of Black Sabbath's "Fairies Wear Boots" when we played live, and we did it in Drop-D.  It was a real workout, but do-able.  Kiss' "Detroit Rock City" works better in Drop-D, since you can play the opening riff with one guitarist.

I think the last album I recorded in E Standard was "Gothambia Redux", which was back in 2009. Everything else since has been in Drop-D or other tunings (CGCGCD, CGDGBE, DADADE, DADAD, etc.). Yeah, I like to use weird tunings just to shake things up.

So I'm just not sure which way to go with my next musical project.  I wanted to try "re-making" the whole Public Image Limited 2nd Edition album as a spacey instrumental jam session in standard tuning. I also wanted to try composing some original 12-tone row music in DADAD tuning (just 5 strings!). I was thinking of trying some very Zappa-esque originals complete with vibes, horns, etc., or maybe some more classical stuff?

Way too many ideas, not enough focus.


Orchestral Maneuvers in the Darkthrone

Lately, it seems I am the Cover Tune/Tribute Album King.  My last project was my tribute to the late, great Frank Zappa, and now I am in the midst of posting my newest project, which is my re-arrangement and orchestration of Darkthrone's classic 1994 album, "Transylvanian Hunger".

Yep, I've gone insane.

This is not a Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth style orchestration, rather a much more traditional, orchestral work.  More of a small, symphonic ensemble or Chamber Orchestra performing the music. No heavy guitars, cavernous bass guitar, or screeching, demonic vocals.  Just a few instruments (strings, horns, percussion) performing the basic melodic themes as interpreted by yours truly.

Probably a bit more similar to Jaz Coleman's "The Symphonic Pink Floyd", or "The Symphonic Led Zeppelin".  With me waving the little stick around.

All rights to to this music belong to Ted Skjellum (Nocturno Culto) and Gylve Fenris Nagell (Fenriz). Go buy the original albums for a taste of Norwegian Black Metal History (though I don't recommend the album to anyone who is not a fan of extreme metal).

The album will be available at the Internet Archive at the following link.


Or download the whole album, covers, etc., in a zip file HERE!

Give it a try.  You might like it.

BTW, you realize there's no "real" chamber ensemble here, right?  It's just me on Keyboards, MIDI instruments, etc.  Didn't want to give the wrong impression to anyone that I'm trying to pull a fast one here.


More Zappa, now on Youtube!

This is my first real attempt at posting one of my songs (actually a cover/tribute song) on YouTube.  No real video, just some pics of my guitars, amps, etc.

The song is "Chunga's Revenge", the title track from Frank Zappa's 1970 album.  The solo is "okay".  Listening back to it, I definitely messed up some notes, but I wanted it very spontaneous and live.  It's a first take run-thru solo, flubs and all.

Overall, it sounds pretty good.  Yeah, I've been in a bit of a Zappa mood again.  It's officially just over twenty years ago that we lost him. So go out and buy some of his albums.  I recommend "Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar", "Joe's Garage", "Bongo Fury", "Make A Jazz Noise Here", "Guitar", "Apostrophe", Overnight Sensation".  There's so many, and now you can hear samples of most of them on YouTube, so dive in and pick what you like.

Howzabout my guitar tone?  That's my Xaviere XV-870 "Darkside Edition", with "Lil Killers" pickups (the bridge and middle setting), thru my POD XTLive set on the Aggro X amp (is that right?), with a bit of simulated Tube Screamer as a booster.

The guitar is not easy to play.  Medium size frets, and the action is all over the place, but I really like the "sound" of it.  And it's very lightweight.

So there you go.  Still trying to figure out what my new music will be, but I think I will include this one, perhaps a bit remixed.