I initially wasn't sure how to follow up last year's emotionally heavy album Profit and Loss, so I just started working on some guitar improvisation pieces, inspired by Frank Zappa's seminal Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar (one of my desert island discs).
2018 is also the 10th anniversary of the release of the first Council of One album, One Week in December, so I also thought it would be nice to hearken back to the early CoO releases that were heavily improvisational.
Alas, as often happens with CoO, what was supposed to be simple and easy-to-finish turned into something else.
Because my life now revolves around raising two kids when I'm not at the office, I had to record this late at night, an hour here and an hour there. I ended up staying up late and going without enough sleep when it was time to mix and master it. I'm tired!
I also put in a lot of effort to do a professional-sounding mix and master, and I'm quite proud of the results. A big sonic upgrade over my previous work, and a huge learning experience.
The "concept" around this EP is that the entire thing was written and recorded during my 50th year. A snapshot of where I am musically at this momentous point in my life. Sure enough, I'm releasing it just before my 51st birthday. Deadline met.
On offer are five tracks. I completed two more, but they turned into fully composed pieces that I'm saving for further projects.
- "50" Written and recorded on my 50th birthday and the day before, when I took a couple days off work as a birthday present to myself. I had the house (and the studio) to myself and just wanted to see what I could develop in that time.
The initial inspiration was "Five-Five-FIVE" off of Zappa's Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar, but it somehow turned into a Rush song. Go figure.
- "Sons of Phrygia" Slow, heavy shuffle revolving around the phrygian mode. A Tony Iommi feel crept into this one, somehow. I'm also developing this riff set into a composed piece for a future project.
- "Early Traveller" One of the two unused tracks for this EP is a disco song, and I recorded this one afterward to try and get something dance-ish onto the EP. I'm also going to use the rhythm section parts to develop a largely unrelated composed piece.
Dig the Earth Wind & Fire vibe going on at the end! I love strings and horns, and I'm glad I was able to work in a simple arrangement here.
- "There's a Blue Light Glowing in My Pants" Fusion number that starts with a slow funk feel and transitions to an uptempo Santana-type thing. The second solo is one of the very best things I've ever played.
This song and "Early Traveller" both have a Neal Schon vibe in the solos, which is odd because he's not a direct influence on me. That may be because these songs feature the two-chord vamps Santana favors. Neal is sort of an "evolved Santana," and that's the mode I go into when I'm playing over that type of music.
- "Love Is Free" This is a solo jazz improvisation that literally took 15 minutes from conception to completion. Two major-7th chords with a bunch of noodling around them. Turned out surprisingly good, for that.