Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Mooninites - Let's Melt Snow and Rebuild New York City (2003)

The Mooninites, yes The Mooninites. Ah the follies of youth, naming one's band after silly cartoon characters from a silly cartoon show for stoners. You can really only do that with credibility before you are of drinking age, which is okay because when this track was recorded on the day after thanksgiving 2003 the members were 19 (Travis and I) and 18 (Zach), so I hope you will forgive our frivolities.

Anyhow, this track was recorded on that day because, since we all attended separate colleges, it was the only day we would all be in Fayetteville to record. We had already recorded our (as yet unposted) first record over the previous summer and planed to record our second album that Christmas. This track was a sort of preview/single or something and now, six years later I think it is one of the best things I've ever worked on.

Back then we were fully trying to sound something like a post-rock, experimental, Yes meets Neu! supergroup. The songs were neither collectively improvised nor pre-composed and each part was recorded separately on one of those old Boss digital eight-track recorders(I think it was this one). I mixed it that day and burned it to CD and what you hear now is exactly as it has always been.

Note the three distinct movements, we were really psyched about that.

Note all of the additional and perfunctory post-rock "knob twiddling" that we all thought was so avant garde at the time.

Note how sloppy my drumming is in the first part (we never used a metronome and drums were always recorded first) and yet Travis still plays his bass to it perfectly.

As far as what everybody played and/or what exactly all of the sounds are, I can't exactly tell you that but as best as I remember:

Zach Smola: plays most, if not all of the guitars and probably the wammy-pedal stuff and some of the percussion.

Travis Knowles: plays bass, probably some kind of keyboard and delay pedal or something as well as percussion.

Ben Collins: plays drums, sounds like theremin, probably some other kind of pedals

Produced by: The Mooninites

Or download HERE

Post Script: the photo is from the only Mooninites live show to ever occur, at WUOG is Athens Georgia. There is a recording, but I will need to clean it up a bit before I can post it, someday I swear.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Late Night LA


Last night I was playing around on the guitar and I worked out a series of melodies that I liked. Jessica encouraged me to record it real quick and I did. So here it is. It's sort of demo-ish quality and I wouldn't be surprised if I revisited it and expanded it at some point. Really i should probably try and do a whole album of guitar compositions like this, if I can.

Well I hope you all enjoy it, I'm pretty happy with it myself, it's sort of an ode to the autumn that we aren't having out here in Los Angeles.

you can also download it HERE

Post Script: that picture of my cat has nothing to do with anything, but in the absence of an appropriate picture expect a cat photo every time.

Jessica's physical release debut

So you all know that under the name Uncle Owen Aunt Beru Jessica released a numer of digital albums, two on the Birdsong netlabel and (I think) two on this very blog. Well she's moved on now. She has cut the name down to simply "Beru" and our good friend Lars has just released her physical album debut. "What would I do without you" is a cassette featuring a 20 minute collage on each side, actually you know what I'll let Lars give his take:

"On her cassette debut as Beru, Jessica Collins unravels a new American folk. What Would I Do Without You is both touched and untouched by tradition, mending the pieces of the world around her in collage. I first saw her destroying drums in the skronk-prov band Cat People, took a photo, and she unknowingly became the logo for TRHP. But as Beru, the LA-via-Georgia songwriter disembodies dub-noise, haunted gospel and improvised folk in loving, sinister ways. Her pastoral drones journey heavenward and pull the silver lining to Earth, collecting songs in the chaos. Limited edition of 100 pro-dubbed and imprinted c48 tapes with artwork by Kevin Phillips printed on vellum paper."

That's what it says on the label site and I won't disagree with any of it. Lars is a great guy and has better taste in music than either you or I, so we should trust him. And really what could I tell you that would convince you that you needed to hear this? That I think that Jessica is one of the most vital, under-appreciated artists working in any field, in America right now? Or that I've known her music longer and more intimately than almost anyone, (We're married in case yr new here.) and I am still consistently surprised and amazed by the directions she goes?

Obviously I don't have this one up to download, so I'm suggesting that you go to the Thorr's Rubber Hammer site and order it. It's a limited edition art object with cover art designed by Kevin Phillips, who directed that Mum video I posted a few weeks ago.

Go to the site, buy it and if you don't like it I'll personally refund yr money, double the cost of the record. how's that?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two Gents - First Set (Live at Mountair)


In California, In LA, there is a place called Tujunga. And in this place there is a house venue called Mountair. It's run by a nice guy named John and frequented by bands commonly including his friends who are also very nice. Jessica met these guys on Myspace at some point and they invited her to play there. She did and we had a good time and recognized these guys as being pretty cool.

One of the guys is a multi-instrumentalist known, mysteriously, as Jarrod W. After seeing him play the drums I thought it would be fun to play with him so I asked if he would like to do an improv duo thing and he accepted. A month or so later we met for the second time and played this set.

This was my first improv performance in a while and my first in a long time where I played with a near total stranger. It was Jarrod's first improv performance period.

So especially given the circumstances I am happy about it. But even despite the context I think we did a pretty good job, and I am looking forward to playing with him more in the future. It's short, it's sweet, I suggest you check it out.

Recorded by Jarrod W.
Mastered by Ben Collins and Jessica Collins
Photo by Jessica

Ben Collins: Guitar

Jarrod W.: Drums

Download it HERE

Or stream it Here:

Post Script:

I forgot to mention, if you hadn't already noticed, that this is not a full album. Rather it is a short ten minute set. But who knows perhaps we will have an album at some point. Also I forgot to mention that Mountair maintains a youtube page where they post various videos from the performances. I highly recommend you take the time to check these guys out and hopefully I will post more from them in the future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

News and stuff for this week

Múm "Sing Along" from Team G on Vimeo.

For starters if somebody somehow missed it, (Joe) here is the music video, directed by Kevin (member of Dolphin Beam for those familiar) and starring my wife, Jessica aka Beru. So there's that, it's awesome, you don't need me to tell you, just watch it.

Additionally, this Friday I am somehow, actually, really going to play a show. Details can be found HERE at the venue's site. It's basically a dude's house and he has shows there and Jess played there a few weeks ago and we met all of these awesome local guys who play music and this one guy Jarrod W. was an amazingly energetic drummer and I just couldn't shake the feeling that I should play some kind of improv thing with him. So I asked him and he was cool with it and so we're going to play together on Friday: he on drums, me on guitar, we've met only once before and have not discussed what we will do. It should be interesting and if all goes well then maybe I will play some more shows.

Also this week Jess is doing something where she tries to record an album in a week. I lack the details at this moment but she'll do it and it will be rad. She already made two songs just tonight and they are awesome.

Also her tape will be available to purchase on Lars' site soon, so I'll give you the details when that happens. And I'll post a new album soon, if anyone (yes, you Joe) has any requests I wouldn't mind...

till next time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cat People+Wesley Rose - Aztec Knife


This has taken way to long to be posted and I'm sorry. At this moment I cannot recall the date this was recorded although I will figure it out when Jess gets home from work... I only remember that it was a very rainy day and that it was recorded in Joseph's old studio space in the house Jessica's family used to live in. At this point the house had been sold and was empty, but the studio was still there so we got in and recorded for an hour. My guess is maybe November 2008?

Correction: Jess just called and she says it was July 2008, that was a long time ago...

Anyhow, this is Wesley Jessica and myself playing loud, electric, improv stuff. Basically Cat People with Wesley added on bass, and a wonderful addition he is.

I dig this stuff, I listen to a lot of stuff like this, in fact if you wanted to you could mock me for this record being basically a showcase of how badly I wish I was Matthew Bower. But if yr like me and you love that kind of Skullflower, Fushitsusha, free type stuff then maybe you can dig this too.

Really, I think I love this album because it's me getting to play loud music with two of my favorite musicians on this planet. And I guess it does get me a little wistful about the fact that Jess and I now live on the other side of the country, making it impossible to have this trio play together regularly. One day I'm sure we'll have a documented reunion, but for now there's this record.

Ben: Guitar
Jess: Drums
Wesley: Bass

Download it HERE