Thursday, November 30, 2006

Frustration

Well I auditioned a drummer last night for my doom metal band and the guy had no fucking clue how to play doom metal. I guess I didn't make it clear enough to him that the music I am writing is primarily doom metal and requires a drummer who can keep a steady beat at an extremely slow tempo. Perhaps the dude thought he could handle it but much to his surprise, playing accurately at tempos below 60 BPM is more difficult than one would expect. He told me that he had never heard music like that before and thought that he could learn how to play it. I tried to count off the tempos to him before I started playing the riffs but he seemed to want to go twice as fast as I wanted to go. Maybe I am being a little too picky but I want a drummer who knows the style from the get go so that the band can quickly mobilize in the creative process. The last thing I want to deal with at this point is teaching someone how to play this type of music. I need talented musicians who can quickly adjust to this style if they haven't already played it in the past.

So I am back at square one again. I am thinking that I will probably just become the drummer because I doubt I will be able to find any percussionist in the area who can faithfully play this kind of music. That leaves me with trying to find a bassist, vocalist, and guitarist. If any of you knows any talented musicians or are a talented musician yourself who plays these instruments and live in Minnesota, please let me know. I am going to make a poster to hang up in local music shops and on campus. I will use the following criteria. The following qualifications are of utmost importance:

1.)Have a developed understanding of music theory including chords, scales, modes, time signatures, and song writing ability.

2.)Possess previous experience as a member of a rock or metal band.

3.)Have a good attitude and dedicated work ethic. Egos are NOT welcome!!

4.)Own equipment and have a means of transportation.

5.)Encompass an open mind and can work democratically with other people.

6.)Are willing to set aside 2-4 evenings a week to rehearse plus weekend and night time gigging.

7.)You must be at least competent on your instrument. Virtuosity is not necessarily required though it will make you a better candidate.

8.)Most importantly, you must have some sort of prior knowledge of heavy metal and must be a fan of Black Sabbath. If you do not like Black Sabbath than please do not apply.

I feel like my quest to form a band is becoming completely futile. I hope that these posters will turn up some people who want to make this kind of music. If not, I guess that the project will have to go on the back burner until Sasha and I move to Seattle in 2008. Then maybe it will come together.

As for the other band I am currently working on with Aaron, we have completely changed direction once again. Aaron decided that he did not want to reunite Enshrined but rather try and work around Chris's schedule with Cult of the Undead. Personally I do not foresee this working out and the outlook for this project is even more grim than the doom metal band I am putting together. I don't see how it will be possible for Chris to work with us when he is already in a band that plays 3 days a week and gigs almost every weekend. That does not leave very much time for him to work with us.

I am now considering backing away from this band to focus my energies on forming my own band. I am extremely frustrated right now and need some time to reflect on the current situation to figure out what I am going to do. If any of you have any thoughts or ideas, please give me your two cents. I would much rather do the doom metal band but getting people together to accomplish this task will be difficult. At the same rate, I am not as excited about the band with Aaron, however, it does have a more steady line-up though it is still not complete. I am stumped as to what I should do. As the great doom metal band Buzzoven wrote, "I am at a loss."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Traditional Doom Podcast

This is the podcast I did on traditional doom metal. It is only part one of a multiple part series that I plan to continue early next year. On this podcast you will here musical examples from the legendary doom metal band Saint Vitus and cult doom band Pagan Altar. Listen and doom your ass off to some great tracks!


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Good News!

I just got off the phone with Aaron and we have come up with a possible solution to our lacking a band problem. We are going to try and reform Enshrined by picking up some of our old members. The line up we are discussing involves Aaron on rhythm/lead guitar, Justin on drums, Chris on rhythm/lead guitar, and myself on keyboards. With this set up we will only be lacking a bassist. All of our other parts will be covered. We do have a few ideas for a bassist and we are hoping to get someone within the next couple of weeks.

Our plan is to use two or three of the old Enshrined songs and write the rest of the material from scratch. Aaron is in the process of discussing this quasi-reunion with the other guys. I am keeping my eyes peeled for a bassist. Essentially this would be the third re-vamped version of Enshrined, minus the two weakest members of the old band line up. I think that if this all goes through we will probably start gigging and recording demos sooner than I initially expected.

We are not entirely sure if we will go under the name Enshrined or not. Personally I would rather go by that name than the one Aaron currently has picked out for us which is The Light's Demise. I think it would be in our best interest to come up with a completely new name since the style of the music is different than what we were making in Enshrined. We will ultimately decide this as soon as we complete the line up.

It is all up in the air at this point. I am hoping that the reformation of Enshrined will be completed by the end of this week so that we can start rehearsing and writing new material. I will continue to post with each update I get. These are some very exciting and uncertain times for me and my musical career. I hope that it will all work out for the best.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Updates

Well I have a few updates regarding my life and musical activities. The band that I had blogged about earlier is still in the process of writing music. We did suffer a huge set back last week as our drummer decided to abandon ship and rejoin his old band, Cult of the Undead. We are now currently in search of a drummer in addition to a bassist. Aaron and I have decided that we will continue to write music and search out musicians to fill the band line-up. As of right now I do not expect much progress to be made until early January at the earliest. We still hope to have the group fully functioning and performing live before the end of this coming summer. Things are moving slowly but it should eventually pick up.

Lately I have been very busy composing music to possibly start my own doom metal band. I am currently working on four songs, two of which are near completion. I want to try and write 8-10 songs and then assemble a band to perform with. This band would happen concurrently with the other band I am working on with Aaron. My goal is to have two active bands that will keep me busy as a songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist. Besides, I have the need to get some of my own original material out in the clubs. This area could use a good doom metal act anyways. Look for future posts regarding this doom metal project in the next few months. As soon as I have some tracks recorded from either of these projects I will post them on here for you all to listen to and comment on.

In other music related news pertaining to my life, I received an e-mail back from the folks at doom-metal.com and I have made it into the final round of selection. I probably will not know if I got the job or not for at least two or three weeks if not more. I will make another post as soon as I hear something about that position. I hope I get it!

On a non-musical side note, I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota with my family and girlfriend today to see the Body Worlds exhibit. This is an exhibit featuring real human cadavers dissected to show the different tissues, organs, nerves, vessels, and bones of the human body. It was an interesting exhibit. The downside was that there were 500 people in the exhibit at the same time so it was hard to see each specimen. The large number of people made it difficult to read the side notes to each part of the exhibit and the lines were ridiculously long. I think that the exhibition in and of itself was very cool and I probably would have enjoyed it more if there would have been only 50 people there rather than 500.

We are right around the bend and there are only a few weeks left in the semester. I will continue composing and working on my heavy metal projects throughout the next couple weeks before finals start and I have to focus my time and energy on that. I will also be performing The Nutcracker Suite on Saturday, December 2, with the university Orchestra as principal trombonist. This concert is happening a mere two and a half weeks after our November 18 concert in which we performed the Jupiter movement from Gustav Holst's The Planets. We have a very active schedule and we are playing fun music. A week later I will be performing Christmas carols as a euphonium player in Merry Tuba Christmas. My performing schedule is getting a little more active. Hopefully I can maintain this pace until I get a fully functioning band. I will post more updates as soon as things start developing. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving

I am writing this post just to say that I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving, that is if you celebrate it. It is a time of year to be with family and friends and enjoy each other's company. Oh yeah, and don't forget about the food! I feel that thanksgiving is by far the most universal holdiay in the USA. It is completely secular so anyone of any religion can celebrate it and it unites families. Other holidays may do some of the same things but none, at least in my eyes, are as special as thanksgiving. So whatever you may be doing for this long thanksgiving weekend, keep in mind those whom you are close to and cherish this special time of year. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL!!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Possible New Job

I applied for a position as an album critic for www.doom-metal.com, the premiere site on the internet for information on and promotion of the doom metal scene. My job would be listening to new albums from doom metal bands and writing reviews to be posted on the website. I just sent in my "resume", essentially an e-mail with my qualifications and a sample of my reviews. The job wouldn't be paying, however, I would get to keep the albums I review. I would also be working with the top people who have an inside to the doom metal scene. I hope I get the job. I want to do this very badly. Wish me luck. Below is a link to the site.

www.doom-metal.com

Monday, November 20, 2006

Proto-Doom Podcast Pt. 2

This is the second installment of my two part podcast on the founding fathers of doom-metal, Pentagram and Black Sabbath. Last week I discussed Pentagram and their importance in the doom metal scene. In this podcast I discuss Black Sabbath and their importance. This is the longest podcast I have done thus far. Unfortunately I feel that it still does not do Sabbath justice in expressing how important they were to the doom metal scene and the heavy metal scene in general.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Concert Review

The concert review below was written as a critical and technical assessment of a recital that took place on Tuesday, November 14, 2006. It featured the music of composition student Jon Woods. Below I have provided my reaction to five of the pieces performed at the concert.

Wind and Water This was a piece written for a woodwind trio consisting of a flute, clarinet, and soprano saxophone, accompanied by piano. The general melodic contour of the music was in a legato style with few large intervallic leaps. The harmonic form of the music varied between moments of 12 tone serialism in the vain of Schoenberg and functionally tonal harmonies in the style of Richard Struass and other late romantic composers. Each instramental line was soloistic, yet supplemental to the music intertwining with it. This was due in part to some ingenious contrapuntal voice writing. The overall soundscape of the piece was extremely beautiful. The flute and clarinet melodies were especially helpful in making the music sing gorgeously. The soprano saxophonist had some trouble with her parts which in turn jepordized some of the beautiful music making that was happening amongst the group. The piano part was fairly simple and sparsely written though nevertheless expressive and musically effective. Some points of the music had repeated thematic ideas that created a trancelike musical atmosphere and completely relaxed the audience almost into a nirvana of sorts. Overall the piece was extremely well writen and performed equally as competently. The choice of instrumentation for this piece was perfect and captured the artistic intent of the composer effectively.


Shade From A Lone Tree This was an improvisatory piece of music in which the performer, an electric guitarist, was to look at a piece of graphic notation (ie. pictures) and play the feelings that each picture provoked. The sound of the guitar was then manipulated electronically by a computer program and redistributed through one of four speakers set up in each of the coners of the recital hall. The style the guitarist used to display his emotional interpretations of the graphic notation was primarily in a blues style with heavy use of a metal slide, quarter-tone bends, and minor pentatonic scale runs. The interaction between the guitarist and the computer manipulated sound was one of call and response with the manipulated sound serving as the response to the intial thematic statement made by the guitar. This music was very interesting to listen to, though a little challenging at times. The improv session lasted way too long and quickly became tedious after the 7 minute mark. Overall, I thought that this was an interesting venture into the realm of electronic music, though it was aurally overbearing and much too long.

Tough Love Tough Love is a Russian influenced unaccompanied viola solo in the vain of Shotakovich, Prokofiev and other early 20th century Russian composers. This piece was by far the most traditional piece on the program, both in harmony and form. The solo lines were very lyrical and the tempo was around an andante with lots of rubato and accelerandos. Large intervallic leaps and heavy vibrato were other characteristics that made the music sing like an operatic tenor voice. The performance itself was moderately successful. A few out of tune notes did detract from the overall quality of the performance though the dynamic contrasts and phrasing were excellent. The expressiveness of the music came out beautifully and Jon's choice of writing these melodies for solo viola was a good one. Despite a few minor technical difficulties I was able to deduce that this was a well written piece of music and it was quite enjoyable to listen to.

Around Around was inspired by a ceramic artist who convinced Jon to write a piece of music that involved pre-recorded tape sounds interacting with the process of throwing a pot. The goal of the piece is to have the actions of the ceramicist line-up and be reflected on the tape. This was a very interesting concept and was very effective. It was mesmerizing to see just how closely the sounds of the tape lined up with the actions of the ceramicist. The sound of trickling water and the turning of a wheel corresponded very closely to the ceramistic wetting his hands in a bowl of water and turning the wheel at different speeds. I found this to be a fascinating piece that effecticely mixed visual art with music.

Growth of a Glass Plate This piece was written for three percussionists making use of timpani, marimba, and vibraphone. The dynamic of the music was very soft and stayed soft throughout the entirety of the piece. Musically this piece displayed overt indeterminate thematic ideas much in the vain of composers like George Crumb and John Cage. The timapni was used as the time keeping instrument of the ensemble and played basic rhythmic patterns underneath the vibraphone and marimba. The melodic material of the marimba and vibraphone consisted of short indefinate phrases that employed heavy use of acro (bowing the bars with a cello or double bass bow). Musically I found this piece difficult to follow and the thematic material to be abrupt and disjoined. Ultimately the poorly thought out indeterminacy of the phrasing and choppy melodic material made the piece unsuccessful in stirring any sort of interest for myself or the audience.

CONCLUSION:
Overall I felt that this recital was very good. Jon had a lot of different musical ideas and styles incorporated into his compositions. He effectively displayed his ability to write music in many different mediums as well as solidify the fact that he has gift for writing gorgeous melodies and wide musical soudscapes. Out of all the pieces that were performed that night, I felt that there was truly only one bad piece and that was Growth of a Glass Plate. Mr. Woods' other compositions were of par excellence and provided a variety of musical experiences that pleasured as well as challenged the auditory senses of the listener. This was a good concert. As his style grows and becomes more personalized, I believe that Jon Woods will have a successful future in music.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Proto-Doom Podcast Pt. 1

This is the first part of my two part podcast installment on proto-doom metal. This podcast is a discussion of the music of the legendary doom metal band Pentagram. I also included two tracks recorded by the band in the early 1970s.


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Friday, November 10, 2006

My New Band!!!

That's right, I recently started jamming with some musicians and we are trying to form a heavy metal band. I am working with the guitarist from my old heavy metal band, Enshrined, and the former drummer from the band Cult of the Undead.

Our style is in the black metal vain of bands like Dissection, Arsis, Immortal and Emperor with technical death metal elements in tribute to Necrophagist mixed with progressive rock influences including Rush, Into Eternity, and Yes. I guess you could say that we are very comparable to Borknagar though a little more agressive and up-tempo.

I am currently in the process of writing keyboard parts to accompany the riffs that we have written thus far. I am really enjoying playing with these guys and music is starting to come together quite nicely. We are still trying to fill out the line-up and are currently in search of a bassist and possibly a second guitarist. We also are still trying to name ourselves. We have a few ideas floating around, one of which the is The Light's Demise. The other two guys seem to like the name a lot though I think that we could think of something better. If you have any ideas let me know!!

In the mean time we are writing music and trying to solidify a song list. I have a good feeling about this band and I hope that it turns out to be a better band than Enshrined was. At least I know that the musicians I am working with on this project are more technically proficent as well as more dedicated than my former Enshrined band mates. I will continue to post on our progress to keep you all updated on how things are going with the band.

Five Concert Reviews

Review of Wagner's Lohengrin This is a concert review of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin's opera as performed by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Apparently the musicians and actors did a magnificent job performing the five hour long opera. The director and costume designer were violently booed for their poor interpretation of the legendary Wagnerian opera. From reading the review I pretty much gathered that if it weren't for the wonderful performance of the orchestra, the conductor, the chorus, and the solo singers, this opera would have been a complete disaster.

Jazz Vibist Stefon Harris This was a very positive review for a live concert put on by jazz vibist Stefon Harris. The author was extremely impressed with Harris' technical proficiency, arrangements, and overall musicianship. The programming of the concert was an even mixture of jazz standards and original compositions. The author writes that Harris has a keen mastery over many different styles of jazz and has mastered the art of jazz arranging, making note of the performer's excellent rendition of Duke Ellington's New Orleans Suite. Obviously the author thought that this was an excellent performance. The author only furthers this implication with in depth musical analysis of a few pieces from the performance.

Iron Maiden Concert Review This was a short review giving credit where credit is due, in my opinion. The only complaint the author had with the concert was that Maiden decided to play all the tracks off of their new album, A Matter of Life and Death, before launching into their classic songs. He did say that Iron Maiden actually managed to make this unconventional approach work. I am not surprised. It's Iron Maiden for fuck's sake! They are one of the greatest heavy metal bands ever. Need I say more?

Rave Rush Review This was a rave review for a live concert Rush did on their Vapor Trails tour back in 2002. The author was extremely excited to see the band having been a fan of their's for 21 years and never attending a Rush concert. Needless to say he was more than impressed with the band's live performance. The technical proficiency of the band never ceased to impress as they blazed through a 3 hour set with only one 15 minute break. I myself remember seeing Rush on this very same tour and can honestly say that my experience was very much the same. I was blown away by the band and became even more of a hardcore fan after seeing them live. This was a very accurate review and well detailed, though a little lacking on in depth musical discussion.

Folk Concert Reviews This site offers many short reviews of west coast folk concerts, specifically in the California area. Almost all of the reviews are positive and do not offer a whole lot of reflection into the musical aspects of the performances being discussed. This site probably functions better as an informational site than it does as a site for concert reviews. A lack of critical musical assessment detracts from this site's credibility.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Death Doom Podcast

This podcast discusses some of the characteristics of death/doom metal. I also clear up the confusion concerning what sorts of bands qualify as death/doom. On this podcast you will hear examples from death/doom legends diSEMBOWELMENT as well as a track from up and coming death/doomsters Roanoke. Listen if you dare!!


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Funeral Doom Podcast

Okay. I have returned to doing doom metal related podcasts. This one is about funeral doom and features the music of Torture Wheel and Pantheist. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.


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Enshrined Podcast

This is the podcast I did discussing the music of my old heavy metal band Enshrined. I played keyboards and sang black metal vocals for the band. I hope you enjoy the music and the podcast. It was an important part of my life for several years and I think that it best describes where I am coming from musically. Listen to the music and enjoy!


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Overwhelmed

I have been extremely busy as of late. Between getting all of my homework done, keeping up on my work study hours, and practicing my instruments I am swamped. It certainly is not an uncommon thing for most college students. I think that everyone who is in college or who has gone to college knows exactly what I am talking about. I call it the "not enough hours in a day" syndrome. You know the feeling you get when you have a lot of things to get done and literally do not have enough hours in a day to get it all done. It is most certainly an uncomfortable feeling. I could try not sleeping but that would definitely do more harm than good. I have to sleep at least five or six hours a night to be fully functional the next day.

I guess my main beef is that I have no clue how to get everything done in the limited amount of time I have in a day. I think slowly but surly I will get it done though it may mean sacrificing some of my social life. Oh well, I have been dealing with this for the last four years so another semester and a half is manageable. I guess compared to some people's schedules I do not have a right to complain, but hey it is my blog so I will complain anyways. Wish me luck with the rest of my semester. Hopefully it will end soon.