Sunday, March 25, 2007

Black Thirteen - Knock it off

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Here is an interesting album for you. If I remember correctly this was Black Thirteen's first attempt at what might be considered a more traditional "band" setup: one with guitar, bass, drums, and keys. This is also, I believe, Travis "TK" Knowles' first Black Thirteen appearance. For those of you who don't already know Travis is an incredible musician whom I have had the pleasure of playing with in many different settings and bands, his music can be found here.

So all in all this album features Black Thirteen regulars Simon Sharp, Wesly Rose, myself (Ben Collins) and TK. With the expanded setup we chose to play in Wesley's garage, going on the idea that his parents "wouldn't give a shit". A half hour into the session we found out how much of a shit they did in fact give, (an exchange that can be heard at the end of the second track) and we decided to take a few instruments and go into the woods where we hopefully wouldn't bother anyone.

As a recording engineer I apologize for some of the sound of this record, it was a new setup that I had never tested and in some cases the levels were not what I expected them to be. As a player however I think this record is very rewarding. So often we talk about improv music putting us in spaces that we are unfamiliar with and so often this is not exactly true. And although I had played with all these dudes before this session, this exact group had never played together before and I really don't think any of us had any real idea of what it would sound like.

As a listener I will say that probably the most interesting aspect of this record is how the changing location effects the music being played, specifically in how when we are in the garage we are playing more instrumentally and when we move into the woods we resort to more vocal driven music.

So, if you will, join Black Thirteen on this improv journey, see if you are as surprised as we were when you hear where we arrive.


Simon Sharp: guitar tracks 1, 2; Lead Vocals and stuff tracks 3, 4
Wesley Rose: bass track 1; guitar tracks 2, 3, 4; vocals 3, 4
Travis Knowles: keys track 1; bass track 2; keys and vocals tracks 3, 4
Ben Collins: drums all tracks, vocals and other stuff tracks 3, 4

recorded by: ben collins, all music freely improvised by the four players.


SFCD - The Brood

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Hello again,

This is another of my Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey albums. And again on this one it is me by myself playing acoustic guitar and singing a little bit. I don't really remember much of what was going on when I played this one, based on the slate info I guess I was back in Fayetteville for thanksgiving, but other than that I can't really tell you what was going through my mind at all. I do remember that I titled it "The Brood" because I thought it was maybe a little more moodier than some of the other records I had done around that time.

Once again all music freely improvised by myself, recorded at my father's house in fayetteville, GA.

1. Can't Find it
2. Someone Else's Guitar
3. Enough Anger
4. Slate nov. 20 (28)


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Black Thirteen - Winter's Sun

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There are basically three different types of Black Thirteen albums: 1. The trio of Simon Wesley and myself 2. Any members of the trio with other friends of ours who may or may not have ever played with us before and 3. Simon and I as a duo. Types 1. and 2. have gotten play on this blog already so I thought it would be nice to offer one of the duo records.

To be fair though, this record is somewhat of a departure from the norm as far as duo records go. Usually simon and I duo on accoustic and sometimes electric guitars, but on this night we thought it would interesting to change things up a little bit. So I played electric bass and simon played electric guitar. Also, rather than breaking it up into pieces we chose to play for one solid half hour, the resulting session is "Winter's Sun".

I am happy with this record for a few reasons. I don't usually get the oppertunity to play bass and enjoyed doing it quite a lot. But also, with me on bass Simon was left alone on the guitar which gave him more freedom than he usually has on the instrument. Simon is a very interesting guitar player and his playing definitely benefits from the freedom he is given here. Usually he takes a lead or solo role with Wesley and I as chordal backing but with this he really had to step out and find the music himself, where I mostly provided rhythmic structure and textural additions to what he was already doing.

The record is mostly instrumental but in the last minutes Simon's vocals emerge from the mix, as though they had been hibernating and were ready for spring time. It is a trick that maybe we pull too often, but honestly I never tire of it, bringing in vocals so late in the performace has a way of imbuing everything previous with a certain amount of importance that you didn't know was there when you listened to it at first, as though everything was building up to this.

All in all Winter's Sun maintains a fairly somber late night, reflective tone, something which Simon and I appreciate greatly on many Loren Connors albums. I hope you enjoy it as well.

As usual this was recorded by me, live and freely improvised by Simon and myself. We played in a room at my father's house in Fayetteville GA.

Winter's Sun

Simon Sharp: Electric guitar, lead vocals
Ben Collins: Electric Bass, backing vocals


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cat People - Lost in Magnus

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This Cat People album is, in many ways, very different from the previous one I posted (The Collective Memory of the Future). For starters, I do play guitar on this record, but instead of a Ray Russell free jazz skronk I do a subdued Ebow thing that serves as ground water for my fellow cats to drone on top of. Speaking of fellow cats this is the first time anyone other than Jessica or myself has played on a Cat People record. And who is this mysterious player? Why none other than Unsolved Mysteries mastermind Jon Lynn.

As I recall this was recorded after Jon, Jessica and I had a day-long adventure into the wilderness of middle Georgia. As with many of these records this was recorded by me, at my home in Savannah, it was all collectively improvised by the three people present.


Jessica Calleiro: Clarinet, loops, vocals, cymbals
Jon Lynn: Organ, electronics
Ben Collins: Guitar, vocals

1. Magnus Major
2. Magnus Minor


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey (SFCD) - You Don't Need To...

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Hello again,

This is another of my albums which features only me. It is called "you don't need to," which is something I think I remember somebody saying to me.

This album is one of two dozen or so that I have recorded, late at night, by myself with a guitar, and completely improvised. So in all honesty I can't remember too much about what was going on when I did it, or else I would tell you. In fact, I can't even remember what city I was in when I recorded it, I think it was Atlanta, but the emotions and tone of the room seem more Savannah to me.

The nice thing, for me, about these improv records is that when I listen back to them it is the closest I get to becoming you. See there is no way I could ever remember all of the stuff I play. It's totally free, I'm not even trying to remember it. So After I record it, it may months later before I hear it again, when I put it into the computer. And by that point the music is about as distant from me as it can get. Sometimes I will say, "Wow, why on earth did I play that?" or "How on earth did I play that? I don't even know what's going on here." At the end of each of them I always "slate" them, I record myself saying what the date and time was during the recording, so that I at least have some idea of what's going on. Recently I have been adding what tuning I am playing in on the guitar, so that I can at least try and imagine what it was that I was playing.

Anyway, all that said, I think this record is pretty good. I can sort of remember not thinking so much of it when I recorded it, but when I heard it for the first time I thought it was at least interesting, which is the least I can ever really ask for.

So yeah, no track titles.

All played and recorded by me: Ben Collins

Download Here

Monday, March 5, 2007

Cat People - The Collective Memory of the Future

Cat People is a Power Duo consisting of Jessica Calleiro and Ben Collins. This is the first Cat People Album, it was recorded live at Auntie-Em studios by Ben Collins

1. Dancing Music (Jess: Guitar, Ben:Drums)
2. Teeth Sinking (Jess:Drums, Ben:Guitar)
3. I love the Drums (Jess:Drums, Ben:Guitar)

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The cat on the cover is named Doyle.

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photo from cat people's recent show in savannah at the desoto row music space

download album

SFCD - How St. Francis Tamed the Very Fierce Wolf of Gubbio


Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey (SFCD) is basically just me, sometimes other people play, but most of the time I get my musical ideas when nobody else is around. This album is no different than usual except that I am using loops and amps feeding back and drums and stuff so even though it was recorded live in one take it sounds more like a band is playing it.

This is the second album I've made in this mode that I have called "metal" any of my friends who have listened to it tell me that I am not in fact playing "metal". They are probably right, so I am wondering if the compromise "noise-metal" can be reached.

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