I’m neck deep in projects and work, so while I don’t have much time to blog I’m happy to be able to at least point to a couple of new things to listen to and watch.
Namgar preview track
new centrozoon videos
Whitney Leary, the visual artist who has already produced two videos for centrozoon’s Boner MF (Mauls of Reclining and The Yeah Winces) and two for Fire (watch and read Whitney’s statement about them in this blog post), has released another two for Boner AB.
By Us (AB version)
Weak Spelling (AB version)
Markus Reuter interview
Mark Ashby of ProgTopia podcast has interviewed my friend and collaborator Markus Reuter. The interview touches on centrozoon’s way of approaching music among many other of Markus’ activities. Very recommended listening.
Older Than God
Markus’ many activities are also the subject of Lee Fletcher’s documentary feature film “Older Than God”, which is being released in monthly episodes. The first two are now up at www.olderthangod.com.
Further reading and listening
If all of this is not enough, I’ve updated the Press page of my website with a few recently arrived reviews and articles. Also still fresh: this radio chat with Bernhard Wöstheinrich, Erik Emil Eskildsen, Lee Fletcher and me.
We’ve been sending it out to people for a couple of weeks already, but today May 9th (or yesterday, since it’s already past midnight here) is the official release date of my band centrozoon’s new album “Boner”.
As with many intense projects, while it is still new it has also already amassed quite a history: Almost two and a half years have passed since Bernhard, Markus and I met up in Gütersloh, Germany for the initial recording sessions on November 5 and 6, 2009 - only our second time playing as a trio. Here’s a quick run down of what happened since then.
We approached the recording session with the intention to cut up the improvised recordings later. While the group is usually known for its long, flowing pieces we wanted to arrange sections of these improvs into dense, short arrangements, possibly with song-like structures. Listening back to what we had recorded after two days and with the “song” structures in mind, we classified the material from the first day as catchier “chorus” material and the second session as less defined, more calm “verse” material. We also set markers to indicate where significant changes were happening in the improvisations.
Markus had by that point brought up the idea of using pre-existing song structures as templates for our compositions, and after a little back and forth we decided to use his iPod’s randomize function to choose a selection of interesting, unique pop songs.
On the train home and over the next couple of days I analyzed the form and structure of the chosen pieces and created template projects in Ableton Live. There I set markers labelling sections such as “Intro”, “Verse 1”, “Instrumental Bridge”, “Chorus 1”, “Break Section” and so on. In April 2010 I visited Markus at his home in Innsbruck, Austria to mix my “Backup Aura” album. We made very quick progress with that, so that we had two spare days to work on the “Boner” arrangements. We now had to decide song by song which kind of sections were to be filled with either “chorus” or “verse” material from our recordings, and come up with a rule that defined which improv section would be copied into the song section (and shortened or prolonged accordingly). What’s more, for sections with the same name, e.g. “Chorus 1” and “Chorus 2” we would use the exact same recording excerpt to create a song-like sense of repetition.
Over the following couple of months we all spent time listening to the structures we had created, recording or programming overdubs here and there. It took some time to “familiarize” ourselves as listeners with the moods and structures evoked by these alien blobs of sound. Markus, writing today from Tucuman, Argentina where he is playing with Stick Men, is speaking for all of us in the band when he says: “‘Boner’ is just amazing. And it’s crazy that I’m involved. I didn’t think that ‘professional’ musicians could create something this far removed from anything I have ever heard before. It’s a true milestone for me.”
In November 2010 we met up twice for a couple of days to finalize the arrangements, export tracks for mixing and upload them for Austin, TX-based musician/engineer Adrian Benavides. We also composed a short announcement that we then posted on our website in early 2011, saying that we were looking for various people to mix the album so we could possibily release more than one version of it. Quite a few people got in touch to work on a song or two, but only one other person handed in a complete album mix in the end: Marziano Fontana from Lucca, Italy.
When I asked Adrian Benavides for a short description of how he approached the extremely dense and layered music, he replied: “My overall approach to mixing ‘Boner’ was essentially no different than what I have done with other records. However, my means of getting to the final mix were quite unique to this project. Two main rules applied: 1) spend no more than an hour mixing each song, and 2) create no presets or means to recall any treatments from song to song.” This, so he says, allowed him “to document a pure, real-time reaction to the material.” Here is a two part video he recorded where Adrian demonstrates this in some detail, using the track “Bright Meowing” as an example.
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Mix
In addition to mixing the album, both Adrian and Marziano also separately sequenced their version, creating the track order they thought fitted their mixes best. In September 2011, both album versions were finally mastered by Devon, UK-based producer Lee Fletcher. Artwork by Bernhard and physical production was scheduled for early 2012 and plans were made to start raising the money necessary for this.
In November and December 2011 we embarked on our 11 date tour of Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Austria. In between concerts we worked on what would become Bonestarter, our fundraising campaign for the album. Announced on November 18, 2011 and since running at www.centrozoon.de with a selection of special packages priced from 10 to 100’000€, Bonestarter is a fundraising campaign without a set termination deadline. As of this writing, 36 supporters have raised over 1400€, almost reaching the point where we will have recouped the physical production costs, and where further income can go towards paying Marziano, Adrian and Lee a small fee for their excellent work, all of which they have provided free of charge.
Reviews have started to come in lately (I’m collecting them here), and they’re as varied as the sounds on “Boner”. We take this as a sign that the album is challenging and puzzling listeners in a good way. We’re very much looking forward to where this album will take both us a band and you as a listener.