Dark Spaces - new album for 2016!

Here is the new album for 2016 (that's two so far this year - I'm crankin' em out!)

Dark Spaces is the title.  Once again, I'm diving into the synth-rock world occupied by bands like Zombi, Goblin, Celldweller, and other similar bands.  Lots of  percolating sequences, sweeping atmospheres, rock guitars and heavy drums.

1 Galaxy Rotation Curves
2 Velocity Dispersions of Galaxies
3 Galaxy Clusters 
4 Cosmic Microwave
5 Baryon Acoustic Oscillations
6 Redshift-Space Distortions
7 Type 1A Supernova
8 Lyman-Alpha Forest
9 Structure Formation

The synths are a bit more melodic this time, though they are mostly improvised and tracked as a first or second take, and the guitars are doubling the synth melodies, or harmonizing with them.

You can go to the download page at the Internet Archive to listen and or download the album by clicking HERE.  You can also download it directly from THIS LINK.

BTW, here's the actual link to the Internet Archive page:

I also did the art for the CD covers at home on my own simple computer setup - NO Illustrator or Photoshop used.  I only used open-source software (Paint.net and Inkscape), just to stick it to Adobe and their new Creative Cloud Suite.  You don't need to fork over the big bucks to make decent art files, folks.

I really love working with the synths and guitars together.  Synths don't just have to be used in wimpy pop songs.  You can make them rock if you use them right.  I'm not even sure what the next album will be.  More synths, or will I go back to putting the guitars up front and make another metal album?

I actually have a few more "metal" songs on my computer somewhere that I recorded just before I did my "Plagues of Aegyptus" album last year, and I never got around to completing them.  Maybe I'll get them mixed and mastered, and then upload them.


Brain Tree Split - the new album for 2016

Here it is y'all. Sorry I said "Y'all".  Been watching too many episodes on TV of that couple in Texas who revitalize old homes.

Anywhoo, ... here's the new album.

Brain Tree Split.

It's very synth oriented.  I've backed the guitars off a bit, and let the synths take over to create some expansive, spacey atmospheres and even some melodies here and there.  But fear not, there are plenty of crunchy rhythm guitars, riffing, a few solos, and some weird effects.

It's at the usual place - the Internet Archive - click HERE to get to the page so you can stream/preview it.

Or click HERE to directly download a ZIP file with the MP3s and the Art files.

You may be wondering about the title.  If you're from New England, you know what it refers to, but to those of you outside the New England area, Braintree is a town in Massachusetts near Boston, and the Braintree Split is "the interchange of Interstate 93/U.S. Route 1 and Massachusetts Route 3 located along the city line separating Braintree and Quincy, Massachusetts." (from Wikipedia)

I just thought it sounded cool.  Brain. Tree. Split.


New Dimaension X album for 2016!

It's nearly complete - the New Dimaension X album for 2016!  This one is a straight up rock album, not very metal or doomy.  It's more like my much older music from the early 2000's.  Lot's of atmospheric and "percolating" synths, some guitar riffs, rock drums, a few guitar solos.  Actually, if you like the band Zombi, it's probably right up your alley. All original tunes based on a 12-tone row series of notes.

The kind of interesting thing for this album is the equipment used.  I recently took the plunge and bought myself an actual USB audio interface - a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.  It's a very simple, easy-to-use interface, with two inputs that can either be used for 1/4" jacks, or 3-pin mic jacks with phantom power.  Direct monitoring of what's going into it, and either 1/4" out monitor jacks for high-quality studio monitors, or a simple headphone out (which is what I use - I send the output to my trusty Logitech computer monitors).

I also bought a new guitar pedal - a Tech21 RK5, with is the Ritchie Kotzen version of the FlyRig.  It's a Sansamp with a built-in analog Delay, Reverb, Boost, and a modified version of the Ritchie Kotzen OMG distortion pedal.  All analog (except the reverb?), no programming, no MIDI memory, just dial in your tone, plug into an amp or direct (which is what I did for the new album), and it sounds great.  This is not a "metal" pedal, but it has plenty of gain for heavy rock stuff, which is more my thing anyway.

I opted to use only one guitar - my trusty red Yamaha SJ-550 HR, which I've had since 1987, loaded with DiMarzio pickups.  That's all the guitar stuff I used.  Very simple.  Standard tuning.  No drop-tunings, no alternate tunings, just plain old E standard.

Everything else on the album are various free synths I've acquired.  I also decided to NOT use EZ Drummer at all.  All the drums are a combination of free drum samples I've collected and loaded into ReaDrum, which is a series of the Reaper software called ReaSamplomatic 5000.  Each "instance" of the Sampler has multi-layered samples of the drums loaded.  It works very well, except for a few minor glitches and drop-outs here and there, but considering it's all free, I highly recommend it to my fellow recording artists out there who don't want to pay for a boatload of drum samplers.

The other neat thing about the guitar equipment used to record this album.  It's all red.  The guitar, the RK5, and the Focusrite interface.  Red.  Shiny Red.

I'm pretty happy with the results so far.  The new equipment is VERY simple to use and sounds great.  I'm looking forward to doing more recording this spring.  I need to work on writing some new music, but for now, I'll be listening to the new album a few more times, maybe work on a few mixes of the songs, mastering, album art, and then I'll post it at the Internet Archive.  I may also decide to take the dive into the Bandcamp pool and post it there.  Maybe try to see if anyone wants to pay me actual money for it? We'll see.

Any suggestions for the next album?


"the blackest gift" by SUNset TZUnami streaming on YouTube

You can now stream the whole "the blackest gift" album at YouTube.  Note these are very unsophisticated and simple videos, done in a similar fashion to Dimaension X's "Plagues of Aegyptus" videos.

Note that I do not claim rights to any of the images in the videos - all are property of their original owners/creators.  Especially the very clever Dr Seuss-styled parodies in song number 6 - the Secret Bonus Track.

These very clever illustrations were done by artist R. J. Ivankovic, AKA DrFaustusAU at DeviantArt.com


Tritones? Yeah, tritones! (a long blog entry - sorry)

I love playing music, but as much as I love playing music, it has never been easy to do. Though I started playing guitar at age thirteen, it really wasn't until I was well into my twenties that I began to fully understand the fret-board, scales, tunings, gear, etc.

Creating and composing music is also extremely hard for me. I can't just sit down and write a song. My brain doesn't work like that.  I need inspiration. I need an idea to grab me and throw me across the room. As I just said above, I can't just write a song.  I need to create a concept. Complex context in which a whole series of ideas form. I'm fascinated by other musicians that work like that.

When Jack White started the White Stripes, it was more than just a band playing songs.  It was a whole concept.  Only two people playing guitar and drums and singing, dressed in simple color schemes of red, black or white, using vintage equipment, recording to tape, sounding as raw and intense as possible while playing songs that sound like they were chosen from the old 1950's Chess Records collection.

Get it?  Before he even started playing a note, Jack White had the whole concept of what the band would look like and sound like.  Not only that -  he knew what he wanted it to "feel" like. He had a vision in his head to follow.  A goal to realize.

That's how my brain works.  I need to know what I want a music "project" to "feel" like long before I even start working on the music itself. So here's where we bring in ...


I have a new project in my head.  Now I have to realize it. I've been fiddling around quite unsuccessfully for a few months now after finishing my "Plagues of Aegyptus" album.  Just can't quite come up with the next idea.  I've tried different tunings (Open C, Drop D, good old E Standard) and just can't get the snowball rolling down the hill yet. However ...

I've stumbled upon a band from Switzerland that I am fascinated by called Sonar. They are an instrumental quartet that play very minimalist music similar to King Crimson's late 1970's-early 1980's output.  Lots of interlocking clean arpeggios, harmonics, deep bass-lines, poly-rhythms, etc. Most people would listen to them and get bored in about a minute, but I can't get enough. And their whole existence is based on a few concepts.  Here is text taken directly from an interview published by Igloo Magazine (09/19/2015):

Thelen :: Before our first rehearsal, I sent the other guys a list of ideas and no-goes that I thought should be an important part of our concept: 1) No effects (except reverb). After many years of playing with all sorts of gadgets and effects, I was kind of tired twiddling knobs to make music. I wanted to concentrate on our instruments and try to produce new sounds just by using our hands and imagination. 2) No sequencing or loops. After often playing with sequencers, I felt that I had enough and wanted to re-experience the joy and the spontaneity of playing in real time with real people. 3) A minimal „less is more“ esthetic « Make the most out of a minimum of ideas » is the best advice you can give to a composer. Very often, creative people have many ideas and cram them all into one piece, to the point that it all sounds random. For me, the best pieces of music are the ones based on one simple idea that organically leads to complex results.

4) Be small & mobile and use a minimum amount of equipment. 5) The guitars and the bass should play harmonics whenever possible and use the tritone tuning exclusively. 6) The music should have a raw, strong and intuitive energy to balance the obvious cerebral and intellectual concepts. 7) No standard 4/4 rhythms, no common phrasing. The key to Sonar’s music is its polyrhythmic and polymetrical nature. I believe that most of the music of the Western world is rhythmically underdeveloped. Harmonically, the step from monophonic to polyphonic music has long taken place, but a similar step in rhythmic and metrical complexity is still to be taken. A piece like « Orbit 5.7 » (track 3 on Black Light) is a good example of the kind of rhythms I wanted to explore: basically, Bernhard’s guitar and the cymbals play in 7/8, while the bass drum, snare and bass guitar play in 5/8, and the lead guitar plays in 3/8, 5/8 or 7/8. But the important thing is that it still has a very compelling multidimensional rhythmic flow and still really grooves.

8) No solos, no virtuosity. This was important. I think we live in a society where music is far too closely associated with the idea of a virtuoso or star performer. I rarely enjoy listening to a virtuoso because the focus is automatically on their calisthenic abilities, not the quality and content of the music. For me, it was important that Sonar would play together like an orchestra without a conductor. You said it very nicely in your Static Motion review: “This quartet is not into empty technique displays and endless pointless solos. These guys are not here to show off or impress anybody. These guys are all about playing together as a crystallized unit that generates deadly wholes by equally combining its members’ strengths. They don’t outshine each other, they intensify each other.”

Okay - now that's a concept. So now I'm trying my own concept loosely based on the above.

1) My guitars are tuned to a slightly different version of tritone tuning - D, Ab, D, Ab, Ab, D

2) Minimal effects.  I still like to use a bit of overdrive in my playing, and since I don't want to just copy Sonar's approach, I plan to "rock it up" a bit with some heavier distortion.

3) Poly-rhythms.  I don't want to completely avoid 4/4, just minimize it a bit, but if I feel like just flat-out playing a straight rock beat with palm-muted chunky guitars, it's going to happen. But I'm throwing a lot of odd time signatures.

4) Re-arranging Deadside Manor.  Yes, I'm using the old Deadside Manor songs as a "base" compositional foundation.  Then I'm turning them upside-down, inside-out and every-whichway. I want the riffs to resemble the original songs, but then become something completely different.

5) Two guitars, bass, drums. And maybe a few extra layers of some ambient background synths, or heavily effected guitars that I want to sound like synths.

6) Solos?  Maybe, maybe not?  Depends how I feel.  The tritone tuning really changes the notes on the fretboard, so any "improvised soloing" is going to sound unusual.  Which is good.

That's it for now.  I already have sketched out a few of the songs on the computer, and it's working so far.  The creative juices have begun to flow as the snowball rolls down the hill and gets progressively bigger and bigger.