Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The title is literal, and maybe a little too emotionally on-the-sleeve, but oh well. These "two songs" are slightly less improvised than most of my recordings are, but still pretty loose. They are more song-like than most anything I've done in a while, in that they have normal chords and lyrics. Both tracks were done live with a guitar and a distortion pedal, a loop pedal and an amp, and recorded into the built-in microphone on my macbook pro in garage band. The recordings are are understandably crappy, but I guess if garageband is the new four-track then the sound of spinning hard drives is the new squeaking tape wheels.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I somehow doubt that I really need to introduce anyone to Jessica Calleiro and her musical pseudonym Uncle Owen Aunt Beru (or UOAB), but just in case, here goes: Jessica Calleiro has been making music for awhile now, since 2000 or 2001, and as far as I remember she first used the Uncle Owen Aunt Beru moniker sometime in early 2002.
In 2006 she became incredibly productive, posting at least a song a week on her myspace page and eventually getting her first album released by Israeli netlabel Birdsong.
She has recorded more than one hundred songs in the past two years alone and has a new album due out on birdsong any day now.
This record is a collection of songs that was under-heard at the time and thought to be lost forever due to Jessica's computer crashing a few years ago. But when I was going through all the old music in my collection I found the two discs that comprise this album. As the title implies these recordings are from 2003, when Jessica was only eighteen years old. Fans of her music now will be surprised to hear that even five years ago, at this early stage all of the main elements of her sound are present. Including early use of electronic beats, which haven't reappeared in her music until 2007.
Also included in the folder are two songs from Candace Calleiro (Jessica's Sister) from the around the same time. Candace records music under the name Marie Byrd Land.
Me, Jessica and Simon 2002
Jessica on Marta
Okay, I am very pleased to tell you all about this album. If any of you have heard this before then I'm sure you have fond memories and if you haven't ever heard it then you have fond memories ready to be made.
Oh but before any of that:
POP, POP MUSIC, THIS IS POP MUSIC
NOT drone, noise, improv, folk, metal or any of it.
POP POP POP
I just wanted to draw the distinction, because it is very different than much of the other music that I have given to you on this site.
I am calling this an album, but actually it was originally given to me by Will Melton as a random collection of music he had made that he was happy with. I don't know that the track listing or thematic shifts were really in the forefront of his mind when he sequenced he whole thing, but over time, the more I listened to it in this order, the more I started to think that there was a sort of "Faust Tapes" or Guided By Voices "Bee Thousand" charm to all the short, possibly unrelated songs.
So what this collection consists of are various recordings made between apx. summer of 2002 and I think summer of 2004. All of the music is basically written by Will Melton, who plays all of the piano and midi elements, he also write sthe lyrics on many of the songs and frequently sings lead and backing vocals (listen to the track "Tomorrow Girl" to hear him doing everything). But often, as you will hear, there are guest musicians guest vocalists and guest lyricists. I'll go and a limb and say that the most notable of the guests are Luke Piotrowski and Stephanie Clayton.
Luke sings lead vocals and writes lyrics for roughly ten of the songs, his are the songs frequently about monsters and marvel comic characters, (listen to "fairy brothel" for his crowning achievement.)
Stephanie, some of you might know, is half of the thought-entity known as Telenovela. I think she plays or sings on five of the songs here and I'll tell you that I think all of her stuff is pre-Telenovela, (but still not the earliest Stephanie recordings that I am aware of.)
Other guests include: Joe McNeill playing acoustic guitar (AND SINGING!) on a few tracks, Simon Sharp singing on a few tracks, Travis Knowles playing bass and possibly drums a few places, myself playing drums on one track and guitar on another, Missy Piotrowski singing backing vocals and Rachel Nelson singing on one track.
This is fun music, it is sad music, it owes a big debt to They Might Be Giants and any piano-pop you can think of. It is a good introduction to the rich musical world of Will Melton and I urge everyone to give it a few listens.
A note from the editor: I think I was reaching a little with this album cover, if I find a way to improve it I will take this one down and post up a better one.
Friday, February 8, 2008
And here is another of my SFCD albums. This one is fairly recent actually, it was recorded at my old house in Savannah in the summer of 2007 and was edited and mixed here in Fayetteville around Christmas 2007. I'm not exactly sure why I am only just now posting it, but whatever.
The album consists of two tracks, one recorded outside the house in the daytime (the scene on the cover is from this event) and one recorded inside my house at nighttime. All the sounds are made by guitar drums and vocals all played by me and layered on top of each other to give the illusion of synchrony.
The music is very free, the drums rarely keep any kind of consistent beat and often the guitar is frantic, noisy and atonal. The second track features some more melodic playing and singing with a healthy dose of free-noise spattered on top.
Two of my big heroes on the electric guitar are Ray Russell and Keiji Haino, so I'm sure that their influence can be heard throughout the record.
All sounds played and recorded by Ben Collins
I failed to mention in my previous posts that Zach Smola (of the mooninites) is also, and primarily, the front-dude of Telenovela who were voted fifth best unknown band of 2007 by NPR, (check it out).
At any rate this record is Zach and I both on effected electric guitar setups. Zach is playing a Fender Jazzmaster through a bunch of pedals and a roland sampler and I am playing a Fender Jaguar through a bunch of pedals including a line six looping pedal.
It drones and stretches out in long noisy passages slowly evolving and changing. Fans of Robert Fripp, Growing, Rafael Toral, etc. will find these sounds familiar.
1. Guitar Heaven
2. The Caveman and the Motorboat
recorded at my dad's house in Fayetteville, GA sometime in 2007 (maybe January?)
I had briefly forgotten about this one. I think this is from October 2007, it was recorded at TK's parents' house one afternoon before he went to work. I don't remember too much about what we did, except that I think TK played most of the electric stuff and I played most of the acoustic stuff.
To describe the music I would say that it is fairly dynamic, energetic, noisy, free improv. When TK does this stuff he has this whole rig with keyboards, broken microphones, and a mixer and stuff. So there are a lot of indeterminate electronic sounds, feedback and the like. Also in the room was an old out of tune upright piano, which I played for some of the time. I also seem to have played an acoustic guitar and some bongos.
It is instrumental and largely atonal with aspects of free-jazz and minimalism.
So again: Played by: Travis Knowles and Ben Collins
(cover photo by Travis Knowles)
I could have sworn that I already uploaded this album, but I guess I didn't...
Anyways, this is a composition I did a few months ago (July, August, 2007?). It is performed here by four Sine Waves. It is a very linear piece with six distinct movements, which is where the track breaks have been placed. It marks my second solo electronic piece to be posted, and as opposed the other one (which I thought of as a primarily night-time record) this album, I think can be enjoyed on a calm morning (as well as at night).
Made by: Ben Collins
Thursday, February 7, 2008
In my previous post I made mention of unfinished mooninites records. After I thought about that I checked and saw that I had on hand some of that material and it was ready to be uploaded. So here are four tracks of long improv synth jams the mooninites recorded at the now defunct Atlanta College of Art.
I've also been thinking that one of my failings as a blogger thus far has been that I don't adequately describe the albums I post, so as to further entice one to listen to them. So here goes.
This record is a collection of four long, free-form jams. The longest is twenty-one minutes and the shortest is eight minutes. Fans of the Black Dice, Fripp & Eno, and the crazier seventies Sun Ra records will find many of these sounds welcome. The sounds are mostly derived from vintage analog synthesizers, although digital keyboards, electric bass and guitar are present as well.
The music is performed live, collectively improvised by only three people, (myself, Travis Knowles and Zach Smola) but often times there are more sounds being heard than three people could normally produce. This effect is derived by having all of the instruments plugged in at all times, which made it easy for all of the players to move around the room and play multiple instruments at once.
Although the tracks are all longer than standard pop music length they are all very linear and frequently go through several movements in the course of a single piece. Sounds and instruments, some recognizable and others pure noise, appear and disappear seemingly at random, giving the music a very dynamic quality.
This record is, in many ways, one of my favorite things I have ever played on. The biggest reason for this is that the setting allowed for total improvisation, without the sonic sacrifices one often has to make when recording improvised music.
I think this record can be a very rewarding experience if it is given a fair chance.
Played and produced by the Mooninites
mixed by Ben Collins
Zach Smola, Travis Knowles and Ben Collins played all of it and it is hard to distinguish who did what except on "part 6" where Zach played keys, Travis played bass and Ben played guitar.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Continuing with this series of records from a few years ago I bring you the second Mooninites album.
I guess I should first explain that the mooninites were a band formed during the summer of 2003 by Zach Smola, Travis Knowles and myself. We recorded intermittently, (as each of us attended a different college in Georgia) completing three albums in a year, playing one show at the UGA radio station, and leaving at least three albums unfinished to this day (which makes me think I should cobble those together at some point). Due to the atmospheric nature of the music and its lack of vocals, many of the tracks were used by fellow art students I knew at SCAD to score various video projects they made.
The mooninites never officially broke up or anything, we just all got busy and stopped going out of our way to make time to play together.
In any case, I like this record. Travis and I were nineteen years old at this time and Zach was only eighteen. We did it all at my Dad's house in Fayetteville Georgia during Christmas break that year.
Composed, Produced and Recorded by the Mooninites
Mixed by Ben Collins
-Zach Smola played most of the guitars but also other things.
-Travis Knowles played most of the bass parts and many of the keyboards and other things
-Ben Collins played all of the drums as well as some keys, tape manipulation and noise and other things
Featured on the last track are Joe McNeill on Trombone, Jessica Calleiro on Clarinet and Mike Flemming on strings
1. Luke Song Title Go!
2. Battle Royale pt. 1
3. Luxury Travis
4. Burning Cars
5. Teeth, Wisdom
6. Deaf Jam
Oh yeah, there is a very old and barely updated mooninites myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/themooninites
Oh and again if anybody actually downloads any of these albums, please leave a comment or something just so that I know if I truly am writing this to no one (I am).
Monday, February 4, 2008
Yesterday's post got me nostalgic for other times where TK and I have jammed as a duo. So I decided to post this unheard gem. This half-hour long session was done in the same day that most of the LIGHTSNAKE material was recorded. This is basically us doing a kind of DJ set, I'm operating a minidisc player and a delay pedal and Travis is messing with filters and effects and stuff.
It's very loud and noisy and features a wide array of popular songs being mutilated live on the spot.
recorded in May 2006
It's very loud and noisy and features a wide array of popular songs being mutilated live on the spot.
recorded in May 2006
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Shortly after purchasing my four-track cassette recorder in the summer 2004 I had a very strange weekend where I traveled to Savannah and then to St. Augustine Florida and purchased two upright organs. My good friend Travis 'TK' Knowles was vacationing in Florida and called me to tell me about a thrift store with several organs for sale, each with a price tag of $50. He wanted to purchase one but had no way of driving it back to Atlanta. He sheepishly asked if there was anyway I could come to St. Augustine and drive the organ home in the back of my Ford Ranger. Looking back I can only say that it must have been 'just that kind of day.' So I drove there, met TK and we went to the store. The proprietor recognized Travis and saw the opportunity for a sale, he saw me and decided it could be a double. "Two for $75," he said. "Sold," we said. We strapped the organs into the back of my truck as best we could and I took to road. Under constant threat of rain, I gritted my teeth through what turned out to be the worst drive of my life. After several failed attempts at covering the organs I decided the best course of action was to constantly rebuke the sky, in full shout, with no one to hear but me and God. Eventually I arrived safely at home and with both organs intact.
A few days later we recorded this album.
It is all improv, Travis is in the right channel and I am in the left.
As often seems to happen to people who record music, today I came across a box of tapes that I had not seen in a while. It contained mainly tapes of weird stuff that was recorded three and four, sometimes even five, years ago.
As to be expected, some of this stuff is so embarrassing I dare not even speak of it, but some of it is surprising to me.
This tape was the first one I made when I purchased my tascam four-track back in 2004. It is an odd collection of random stuff I recorded. As far as I can remember I am playing all of it with the exception of the viola at end which was played by my friend (and former member of the now defunct band "I Would Set Myself on Fire for you") Lindsey Harbour.
I am pleased with the discovery of this tape and if you listen to it I hope that you will be as well.
Post Script: I will likely continue with a few more of these "Archival" posts. I have some other stuff from 2003 and 2004. Expect at least "Dixieland Teenbeat Spiritual Waltz" the dueling organ record Travis Knowles and I did, and probably the "last tape" from Homeless Joe Navarro, the dead free-folk, stoner improv band I was in during my freshman year in Savannah.