Month: January 2017

dig.

calvin-and-hobbes

i’ve been slowly getting back into that remastering thing. i think i’ve got about 30 songs done now, with another 140 or so to go. yikes.

one of the most interesting things about doing this has been uncovering little bits of things i had no memory of — ideas and false starts hidden between the keeper tracks. did you know “purgatory waltz” on MEDIUM-FI MUSIC was once meant to begin with an insane discordant a cappella waltz? me neither! i don’t remember recording that at all. but it’s right there, mixed down and everything. makes me wonder what else is hiding between the cracks.

those surprises have carried over to non-solo music. i thought i’d dump a few of the ideas steve and i came up with during the AFTERTHOUGHTS sessions onto a CD — things we didn’t develop beyond initial rough recordings — just to have them all in one place. i knew there were at least a few of them.

combined with a few garageband demos i made of songs that did get fleshed out but didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, those ideas take up almost an hour of CD time. that’s bonkers. squirreled away on various backup CDs are a dozen or so sketches i can’t even remember us recording. what’s more, i think almost all of them are really good, and well worth returning to.

never have i been happier about the impulse to throw a microphone up in the middle of the room every time one of us comes up with a random riff that feels like it might someday have the potential to turn into something. if i didn’t make a habit of doing that, almost all of these ideas would be lost. instead, we’ve probably got a decent chunk of a new album here in embryonic form.

the lesson is simple: donald trump’s hair will one day become self-aware and autonomous. and then we’re all in trouble.

one more thing that isn’t as much of a surprise, though i guess it can go here too: i think i’ve probably mentioned before that i feel like it takes me at least a good year after an album is finished before i can unplug from it enough to hear it semi-objectively and form some idea of where it fits into the bigger picture. it’s still as true as it ever was.

about a week ago i threw STEW on and listened to it all the way through for probably the first time in six months or so. i knew i was proud of that album before, but i think this was the first time i was able to hear it as more of an impartial listener, and not so much as “the guy who recorded it and is always on some level listening for things he could have done better”. and man…i think we did good.

one of the great things about there being such a long break between KISSING THE BALD SPOT and the work we’re doing now is the way it throws into very sharp relief just how much we’ve grown. with my own work, especially when i’m in the middle of one of those “putting out several albums a year” phases (which hasn’t happened in a while, but i have a feeling another one is around the corner), you tend to hear things shift in a more incremental way. here it’s like going from beat-up old VHS tapes to blurays in one shot.

i feel like STEW is going to be hard to top. when all the dust has cleared, that one might go down as the best papa ghostface album there ever was. but i dig where the next one is heading too. with greg on board to make the cover art again, at the very least it’s guaranteed to be visually striking. i really like the idea of making his art a running theme with this grownup papa ghostface music.

sound the alarm.

fire-alarm-2

dave konstantino’s revolution rock radio show and its companion blog have both been around longer than this blog of mine, which is coming up on its ninth birthday next month. dave just posted some thoughts about AFTERTHOUGHTS, along with a funny story about a renegade fire alarm forcing the entirety of the album onto the airwaves in one shot. a sly cosmic joke directed at its absence from the charts, or a simple fluke? you be the judge.

thanks to dave for the kind words. and thanks to the fire alarm for apparently being a fan.

i now know why the album failed to chart. it had nothing to do with a lack of airplay. it’s a bit of a strange feeling when you find out a twelve-year run of being a mainstay in the top 30 has ended with some of the best music you’ve been involved in getting shafted because one specific person didn’t care enough to place it in the on-air library at any time in a span of more than three months (and counting), rendering it ineligible to chart.

and that’s all i’m going to say on that subject.

elsewhere, zara’s album is finished, assuming she’s happy with the way it sounds. now i can finally get back to work on making slick, game-changing pop music like this.

the ongoing adventures of a humble, sex-starved dishwasher

2016, you elbowed my spleen.

boxing

i’m not sure how it’s 2017, and yet another year has gone to the graveyard of years.

2016 was another one of those years in which i didn’t get as much accomplished — or finished, at least — as i hoped. but looking back at it, maybe it was a little more productive than i thought. at least three major projects saw the light of day: natalie’s album (which i recorded and played a lot of things on), the first O-L west album (a tag-team effort with steve), and ron’s new album (which i got to play a small supporting role on). and a good amount of meaningful work was done on other things that didn’t hit the finish line.

i think you’re supposed to outline your goals at the beginning of each new year, and then you’ll be visited by three spirits in various stages of undress. at least that’s what the fortune cookie told me. so, some goals for 2017:

  • finish YEAR OF THE SLEEPWALK. i think i’m in a place now where i can finally take that one off the back burner and give it the attention it deserves. there are a few more people i’d like to try and get over here to contribute some playing or singing, but most of the work that’s left now is just stuff i need to do on my own.
  • finish THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. yeah. i know. but i need to finish that beast someday, and it’s not an impossible job.
  • compile a second volume of out-takes and misfits. there’s a ton of material for a collection that would pick up where the last one left off, stretching from CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN to the present.
  • finish off the next papa ghostface album. that one’s coming along pretty nicely and shouldn’t be too difficult to tie up in the next twelve months.
  • take care of the rest of that whole “remastering a bunch of albums that were mastered too loud the first time” thing i started with good intentions and then abandoned when all the protracted construction noise got to be too much.
  • maybe make good on the occasional threat to write an album that returns to the “avoiding repetition and rhyming at all costs” approach.
  • never trim the beard again (this won’t happen, but still).
  • contemplate the mysteries of life.

i think most of that is doable.

the ideal thing would be to get at least four albums finished for the year, two of which have been a while in the making. of course, as we all know, announcing your plans is a good way to hear several giant pastries laugh at you.