Saturday, October 29, 2011

Meeting The Band: The Magna Experience

A couple days ago I had a great conversation with Magna and during the end of the conversation it hit me, "Ooooh, this would have been great recorded!!" However, at the same time I scoffed at myself for even thinking such a thing. The conversation was between three friends just sharing their passions. It wasn't an interview. I had played around with the idea of travelling around and interviewing smaller bands, and posting the interviews. While I'm very passionate about exposing these smaller artists, I don't want to diminish my own experiences. The last thing I want happening is my friendship with these artists to turn into that of a press person and a musician. So, since then I have dismissed this idea of recording artists that I meet and decided to create this new section of my blog I will call, "Meeting The Band." I'm not entirely pleased with the name I have chosen because it still seems to be creating this "press" idea, but I'm terrible at thinking up names and "Meeting The Band" just seemed simple and direct. (Plus, I already created the post and am too lazy to delete and spend hours thinking up a better name.) This will not be an interview format. This will be my story behind my experiences with these people. Some will be most recent experiences (within days), and some will be just reminiscing upon past experiences. And I may do follow-ups to the same bands if I feel like it. So, welcome to the very word-y first installment of Meeting The Band.


The first time I saw these guys was in the guitarist's living room after they had been pushed out of a venue because of overbooking. Only seven people showed up, and only one person was not connected to them through friendship or relation. The show is still, to this day, one of my favourite shows. It was intimate and very relaxed. No ear plugs were needed. The seven audience members were sitting and relaxing, drinking some beers Ryan (guitarist, owner of the house) offered us. Clay (bassist) was probably more relaxed than everyone else, just chilling back on the couch while playing. (Hah hah.) It was truly unique. It had not dawned on me that these guys were really that small and that my trudging through the rain to see them play had impacted them as well. For me, I was just browsing through looking for concerts to go to one weekend and stumbled upon their event posting. Since then they had treated me so well, inviting me to experience things that would end up being very influential to my passion in music. Two weeks after that very intimate show I was invited to experience a recording session. And before leaving Los Angeles to go back home in February of 2010, they threw me a two hour private farewell show. I was touched.

September 2011, I return to Los Angeles for a few weeks. Frantically I attempt to contact the guys but to no avail. As I depart from Los Angeles to head to New York City I was fairly bummed out. I receive an apologetical reply. Things were hectic with one of the members' marriage, and they hoped we can get the opportunity to meet again. As my trip to NYC came to a close, hope comes in the form of a phone call. My client wants me back in Los Angeles for a few more weeks. "NICE!!!" Within a week of my re-return to Los Angeles I get invited to see Magna practice some new material. It was interesting to experience the creative process behind the creation of music. Of course, every band has their own process, and I was experiencing Magna's. Although tedious and repetitious, I enjoyed it a lot. And as usual, it was great seeing the guys again!

Soon after I get another invitation, this time to see them mix. Well, mixing didn't happen that night. Instead I got to experience one of the most amazing music-related experiences, and quite profound to me.

It was just the three of us, Morgan (drummer), Ryan, and me chilling in Ryan's home studio (which he put approximately two weeks into designing to create acoustics he was pleased with) drinking beers, talking, and listening to some of the finished material. The conversations were just amazing. I'm very passionate about music, but I am in such a way as a listener. But to feel the passion of a musician is awesome. My time hanging out with Gábor (Marionette ID's former bassist), sharing our music-related history with Phil (guitarist from Caspian), eating a slice of pizza and discussing influences with Tom (bassist of The Non) have all been great experiences. And each have just reinforced why I love music the way I do. That night with Magna was no different. In fact, it was probably one of the most engaging conversations I have had about music. "When I listen to music, I see colours... this song is red... this one, green... this one I see the colour purple, and the letter W" I have heard of people that do have the ability to mix senses, but hearing Ryan describe this was absolutely intriguing. They also expressed the amount of care and time they put into each song and each album. I had to make the comment, "you guys are like the Tool of instrumental rock," in the sense that it takes so bloody long for an album to be released. They had informed me that their three track EP was in the works for approximately two years, and in those two years they all refused to play live. It was two years of exploration and recognizing their own selves. This kind of intimacy with their own music seems only to have gotten stronger throughout the years. Each song is crafted with thought and care, and each album is composed together just as such. Echo Location had a progression to it, and even sort of a story through each track from beginning to end. Now, what really amused me the most out of this is as much passion and intensity they have toward their music, for their song titles they decided that whoever utters the first thing that they thought of for the title, that is what it will be named. Some have really interesting and very personal stories. Taforalt was written on a chalk board in Ryan's dream. Watermelon-Sized Grape was the song Ryan saw as "purple with the letter W," Dan (guitarist) blurted "Watermelon-Sized Grape." And then there are some others that are inside jokes and have kind of goofy stories. But there is no long, drawn out process in making the names. They're just made. Hah hah, such a contrast to the amount of thought and work put into the music itself. But in the end, it's just a name... the music should speak for itself.

Now, what made the night so profound to me wasn't the conversation, as awesome as it was. No, it was listening to the new tracks in a setting that I can be comfortable calling "the purest, most flawless way of experiencing a studio recording." I was sitting there, listening to music uncompressed, two high quality speakers aiming at me at an arm-and-a-half distance, in the exact studio room used to mix the music I was listening to at that very moment. This music was mixed to the acoustics of that room, to the specifications of those speakers, using Logic Pro (which was used to show me the new material). Listening to a studio recording cannot get any more perfect than that. Even now I cannot believe I experienced such a thing. It was such an intensely profound moment beyond many things I've experienced. As a musician this is just an every day thing. But to me, a mere listener, not a musician what-so-ever... it was truly intense.
There are moments that emphasize your passion, and then there are moments that are so profound that it defines your passion. When I listened to Caspian the first time, my passion was revisited and defined. When I experienced my first concert outside of the US, a band that I specifically went to see (Képzelt Város in Budapest on April 1st, 2011), my passion was further defined. When my entire being broke down from listening to Arvo Pärt - Silouans Song, my passion was yet even further defined. And the night I got to experience music at its purest... oh, this was very much a defining moment.

How is the new material? Lets just say, I'm really, really excited about Awake Ancient. It will have a lot of different sounds compared to the prior two albums. Sadly, my favourite, and currently unfinished, song will not be on this next album. But hey, in 50 more years when the third LP comes out... hah hah hah.

To me, this is the essence of my passion, to experience music beyond the stage, beyond my CDs, vinyls, iPod, or iTunes. And when I get the opportunity to experience such things, there is absolutely nothing that can compare.
As a good friend once said...
"The music never ends."

Look for updates on Awake Ancient's progress and its eventual release on their facebook page. And by all means, check out their prior albums!

[] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]
(The page is shared with a Pennsylvanian electronic artist. The albums this Magna has produced are Echo Location and Magna EP. Magna EP is a free download on and their site. Echo Location can be purchased on iTunes.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

//orangenoise - Clipped

Okay, two posts in one month? This is getting ridiculous! I'm going to start making a schedule now. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday I'm going to make a new post.

I hadn't talked to Talha in some time so I thought I'd follow up with him on the going-ons of life. He informs me, "we have a new song!" and links this. This excites me! //orangenoise, is back in the studio!! I'm really looking forward to what they'll come out with next.

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook]
(Albums are freely available on Bandcamp.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aussitôt Mort - On a qu'a se dire qu'on s'en

So, it has been a long time since I made an update. It has been a combination of slacking and being extremely busy, leaning heavily on the latter. My last post was while I was in Los Angeles. Since then I had to travel to New York for a wedding, stayed in the city and did some hostelling and couchsurfing... blah blah blah, I'm just making excuses. Anyway, now I'm on a complementary Google Chromebook given to me to play around with on this five hour layover at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport waiting for my flight back to LA. It may not be something I would ever buy but YAY COMPLEMENTARY STUFF.

I haven't been able to do some music exploration during the crazy hecticness of the past few weeks. So I scrolled through some notes I made on artists I discovered before and came across this one. It was a while ago since I made that note so I don't remember how I came across these guys, but I will say... damn!! I'm glad I made myself a note to feature these guys!

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Website]
(Albums are available for free on Bandcamp.)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Poor Colour Palate - Pause Breathe Scream

I was listening to the Carlos Cipa similar artist radio on a week ago. (That has to be my new favourite station.) Every artist that came up was amazing. But then there was one that stood out even among the phenomenal artists, one that made me feel compelled to have a temporary break from what I was working on to really listen to the song. This was Poor Colour Palate. Later that day another amazing song comes up. Again, Poor Colour Palate! I finally got around to listening to his discography and as beautiful as some of his songs are, I'm most blown away by his more ambient pieces. Next to post-rock, ambient is among my favourite of music styles. But often times I think of electronics and ambient tones for ambient music. To hear just piano played in this style of music and played so, so well just blows my mind. This has opened my mind to a different aspect of ambience, which I must delve into!!

[] [Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Blogger]
(Albums are available for free on Bandcamp.)