Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year That Was

Wow, has it been a long time since I've posted anything.

Now that I'm starting work on a new album in earnest, it's time to reactivate the blog. So, let me begin with a short recap of my busy musical year that was 2010.

  • I completed two albums, The February Project and The Structure Creates Itself. These are available for streaming and download at my BandCamp web site.
  • I acquired a ridiculous number of additional guitars. Too many. My studio looks like a guitar forest. Expect selling in the near future.
  • I conducted my first recorded forays into guitar synthesis and substantial keyboard work, and I acquired an electronic wind instrument to be used in the next phase of Getting Beyond Just Guitar.
  • After completing The Structure Creates Itself in April, I spent the remainder of the year successfully expanding my guitar chops through incessant noodling, and I also began rethinking my lead guitar sounds, focusing on a somewhat less distorted, but fatter, sound. Expect new music in 2011 to sound considerably different than previous Council of One albums.
  • I had a hell of a lot of fun exploring the deep recesses of 1970s jazz and funk. I'm now regularly listening to artists I had barely heard of, or was completely unaware of, a year ago, such as Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, Bobbi Humphrey, David S. Ware, Bennie Maupin, Joe Chambers, Julian Priester, Roy Ayers, Bobby Hutcherson, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. I also started listening seriously to certain legendary funk and soul artists whose music I hadn't fully appreciated before, such as Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan & Rufus, Rick James, and the Temptations.
  • I stopped listening to rock and metal almost completely by mid-year. However, the sad loss of Ronnie James Dio, one of my musical heroes, put a lot of his music into rotation in my media player. Otherwise, my new rock acquisitions were few: mainly new albums by Joe Satriani, Black Country Communion, and Eric Johnson, as well as expanding my Jimi Hendrix collection. Rock and metal just don't inspire me much at the moment.
  • Way too many cool concerts to list here.
On the negative side, my old habits of procrastination roared back during the last half of the year. While I played a lot of guitar, I wrote a grand total of four bars of music during that period. I set aside time over the last two weeks of the year to begin working on new material, but I didn't accomplish much, since my studio is a bloody mess at the moment. That will change, I promise. In fact, that sounds a little bit like a New Year's resolution, doesn't it? More on that tomorrow.

I hope your year was as creatively bountiful as mine was, and that you have a wonderful 2011, however you choose to spend it.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Structure Creates Itself

Have you checked out my new album, The Structure Creates Itself? It's available for free download and streaming at my BandCamp site. It's been done for awhile, actually, but I figured that just maybe I should finally note that fact here.

It's another (mostly) free improvisational jazz/rock album, sort of like 2009's Saturation but with bass and occasional rhythm guitar added to the drums and screaming lead guitar. I'm quite proud of how well it turned out, and the listener response so far has been far more positive than I'd dreamed it would be. In fact, this album has garnered way more positive interest than the more "normal" The February Project did back in February.

I've now released five albums of new material since activating the Council of One project in late 2007, and this blog not too long thereafter. I'm sort of making up for lost time, since I managed to accomplish very little musically during the entire decade of the '90s.

The next album will be a radical departure. I'm interested in the Kosmigroov genre, which is spacey, early '70s electric jazz. To that end, I'm sharpening up my keyboard chops and cleaning up my guitar sound a bit. The results won't be any more mainstream, but will almost certainly be more interesting texturally, with more room to breathe than the frenetic work I've done recently.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blog reactivated!

Wow, I didn't mean to go this long without posting, and I've had plenty to write about. It's actually been a fairly eventful 2010 so far in the world of Council of One.

First, I wrote and recorded an entire album during February, as part of the RPM Challenge. My album, The February Project, (which you can download for free in high-quality form at my BandCamp site) turned out to be an instrumental grab bag, featuring all manner of jazz, fusion, blues, and rock stylings, highlighting an increased use of keyboards and guitar synthesizer.

Ah yes, guitar synthesizer. Did I even have one of those when I last posted in December? I don't recall. Anyway, I recorded some fake "violin" and "saxophone" solos on The February Project using a Godin Freeway SA synth-enabled guitar and a Roland GR-33 guitar synth module. Turns out that the GR-33 is only moderately usable for involved playing like mine.

Since finishing the album, I've acquired an Axon AX100 Mk. II guitar-to-MIDI converter, which allows me to control real synthesizers from my Godin guitar. It tracks much faster and more accurately than the GR-33, but it still has plenty of quirks and glitches and is a pain to set up.

Enter the You Rock Guitar, which is a new product that is due to start shipping in May. It's both a controller for Guitar Hero/Rock Band and a MIDI guitar, which is certainly an odd combination. Given how cheap it is, many of us MIDI guitar junkies are ordering them, despite the promotional campaign that is heavy on its usability for kids and not so heavy on its use as a serious MIDI tool. I'm getting one. We'll see. Since it's not an actual guitar with strings, pickups etc., it pretty much has to track better than traditional pitch-to-MIDI converters do.

Perhaps inconveniently, at the same time I'm getting into guitar synthesis, I'm also reacquiring a love of playing keyboards. I'm no Chick Corea, but it seems easier for me now to come up with good keyboard parts for my music, and this has opened up vast new dimensions for me to explore. The album I'm currently in the process of finishing, The Structure Creates Itself (which I was working on last year also, but got side-tracked by the RPM Challenge), is all free jazz weirdness featuring just guitar, electronic percussion, bass and a slight amount of guitar synth--no keyboards.

My next album after The Structure Creates Itself will be a hardcore fusion project featuring prominent use of keyboards, as well as my new Roland JD-990 and XV-5080 synthesizer modules. Lots of great sounds to explore. It will be a bit more 'composed' than my recent work, with hopefully lots of crazy guitar work thrown into the mix.

In a final bit of exciting news, I just learned today that I recently sold a CD copy of One Week in December to a random gentleman in Nagoya, Japan. I'm big in Japan, just like Spinal Tap!! :) Frankly, I have no idea how he found out about my album, since I haven't promoted it for over two years, and in fact offered it up for free download at BandCamp when I decided not to be even a small part of the music industry. Certainly brightened my day, though.

I plan to post more often from now on. Hopefully I have interesting things to say.