Monday, December 31, 2007

Man Behind The Curtain

man behind the curtain
volume 3 number 2

as with last week's entry this is a composite of versions of the song. it begins with light banter concerning the size of larrie londin's foot. this is on the day man behind the curtain was written. at the bridge it switches to being the "demo 1" version with larrie on drums. after releasing man on our first record we wanted to do a re-mixed version for the second record. it is called revisited. the end of this download contains an unused re-mix from revisited complete with saxophone from the fifth bear bill janssen.

guitar and vocal: rob fetters
bass: bob nyswonger
guitar and vocal: adrian
drums on "demo 1": larrie londin
drums on "revisited": chris arduser
saxophone: bill janssen
"the day it was written" recorded to cassette at Pogo Studio in Champaign, Il. on May 5, 1985
"demo 1" recorded at Fifth Floor Studio in Cincinnati, Oh. on June 2, 1985
engineer: gary platt
"revisited" recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis. on Sept. 2, 1987
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
length: 6:22

Friday, December 28, 2007

I can't seem to pose..

this painting
through the lenses of the camera.
so I've given it some trial and error
and trialed again.

I like it!

no, my blog is not clogged...

just taking a few days off while the family loafs at grandma's and the house is as quiet as a mouse. time for reflection, reading*, guitar playing, and yes, even a new christmas painting! like me, I'm sure you've worried over the scarcity of good modern christmas paintings. this one, just finished last night, is 30" by 40" done in acrylic, pencil, tape, wrapping paper, Sharpie, and christmas bow on canvas. as you can see I'm having trouble lighting the wrapping paper correctly, this is the best I could do. I'm a newbie photog.

unlike my friend Sarah Webb who is an absolutely brilliant portraiture artist and who does everything perfectly right, I do everything wrong. I don't use an easel. I prefer to lay the paintings on the floor. nor do I have a palette. I like to mix the paints on a paper plate, then I can throw the plate away when I'm done! I've become adept at guessing how much paint to mix up.

one of painting's many mysteries is in the mixing of paints and the additives you use to create different paint effects. these are called mediums. the main reason I chose to work in acrylics is because of the mediums available. for example, the red part of this painting looks grainy. that's because I mixed a medium called "coarse pumice gel" with the red. the gray border has "flow aid" mixed in which helps to thin out the paint. and so on. it's so much fun. it's like being an alchemist.

and few things entertain me as much as shopping for paints and mediums.

*rob fetters sends me a great book to read each year for my birthday. this year's title is no exception, an engrossing account of the life of billionaire Warren Buffett.

Monday, December 24, 2007

thank you...

for all your birthday wishes. I did indeed have a fine birthday with family and friends.
ava made me a Lego menagerie (a bird in a tree, a lion, a giraffe, and of course an elephant).
58 going on 18. not bad.

happy hollandaise everyone.


volume 3 number 1

here's an interesting mash up.
on march 3, 1985 The Bears were born when rob fetters and I met to write songs. superboy was our first effort. by april we had enlisted "bad bob" nyswonger as co-writer and bassist. we chose session giant larrie londin as our drummer. the bears were founded on the idea of a writing co-op with each member contributing songs, and writing together. we quickly had a nice pile of songs to demo. the four of us met in cincinnati with our friend/engineer gary platt and recorded five? songs. as the idea of the band expanded into a touring band larrie realized he could not make that kind of commitment. larrie loved the bears but at nearly 300 pounds he wasn't physically able to stand the stresses he would need to endure for the kind of back-breaking touring we had in mind. and boy, did we ever tour!

chris arduser was the logical choice for the drum throne, and a great songwriter as well. with chris we basically had The Raisins plus adrian. the raisins had long been my favorite "unknown" band. I loved their songs and energy. we were old friends by then. after all, chris and bob began playing together when chris was 11 years old and rob and bob had played together all their lives to that point. they still do.

now to the mash up:
what you first hear on this version is a "home demo" of the three bears rehearsing our brand new shiny superboy in my bedroom. this turns into the "studio demo" with larrie on drums, and amazingly just as larrie hits his drum fill leading to the last chorus, the real bears arrive in a "live tape" version of the song. what was amazing was the song transitioned perfectly with chris playing the same exact fill. even the tempo and key of the song matched perfectly.

guitar and vocal: rob fetters
bass: bob nyswonger
guitar and vocal: adrian
drums on "demo 1" : larrie londin
drums on "live version": chris arduser
"bedroom demo" recorded at adrian's home in Urbana, Ill. on April 9, 1985
"demo 1" recorded at Fifth Floor Studio in Cincinnati, OH. on June 2, 1985
engineer: gary platt
"live version" recorded to cassette at Jake's in Bloomington, In. on April 11, 1988
live engineer: rich denhart

Saturday, December 22, 2007

vinyl thoughts...

this band can do anything it wants. a little madness or beat box guitar seem to be our forte but the songs like young lions or of bow and drum are every bit as important. bottom line:
I can't wait to do more. it will be interesting perhaps to release more live tracks in the future to watch how this trio of terror evolves.

which it already has.

could it be?...

when I looked at the back cover and the painting of the fishhead it dawned on me:
I think the painting is upside down from the way I intended it!
fishhead, the painting, is the fourth painting I ever did way back in 2002 and I can't remember for certain which way it faced. as I walked through the studio last night I saw fishhead sitting in a pile of paintings propped up in a corner and it was upside down to the way it appears on the back cover. and I think that might be the way I painted it!
when you see the painting from that angle (see above) it looks as though the fish is more asleep than dead on a platter with flowers, which is what I intended. dead asleep as they say.

oh, well. you decide for yourselves.

obvious things escape me...

that's why I was so taken back when, looking over the cover artwork and credits, I realized two big oversights!
oversight #1:
listening to the record it's obvious there is one person I should have thanked but did not.
Robert Fripp.
there are several moments on side four (live) which are nothing less than a tribute to my pal robert. so much of this music would not even exist if it were not for robert. I know robert sometimes reads these meanderings and if you happen to read this one pal, please accept my apology for leaving you out of the "thank you's" which should have included you.
doh! I'm an idiot.

Adrian Belew Reviews The New Adrian Belew Record.

by the time I finish a record I've likely heard it a gazillion times. it is at that point I put it away and stop listening to it. for a long time. that's the only possible way I might enjoy it in the same fresh way as someone who just purchased it. well, somewhat. if I've waited long enough I can at least have an initial response, though I can't be totally surprised.

it had been what? two months? since I last heard side four (live) and the time seemed ripe when last night I donned headphones in the serenity of my studio and listened to our latest release.

"Ladies and gentlemen put your hands together and welcome adrian belew's power trio..."
first thought: wowee! the energy and excitement is palpable! I feel as though I'm in the front row! john sinks (live recording) and saul zonana (mixing) certainly did their jobs well. it's a visceral experience and does not have that annoying hole in the middle that so many live records have.

second thought: eric and julie are simply sensational. as the record flows along I keep coming back to this one notion: eric and julie both play exactly what I would like to play. their tastes are so paired to mine and to their own abilities (which are stunning). this is powerful stuff.

which brings me to my only criticism of the record: the guitar playing! there are indeed times when I (the guitarist) seem to lose control of the flying Parker and nearly go airborne. at first I thought maybe that knock on the noggin I received jumping on stage really did affect me. but as I listen further through the record I realize not as an excuse but as a fact, one of my pedals was giving me problems that night (what's new) and in the couple of places I note where the guitar goes off it is because of that same pedal problem. c'est la vie.

from the beginning I envisioned this as a true live experience, warts and all as they say, and so left things the way they actually happened. most "live" records are so doctored as to be more "live in the studio" than "live on stage". it is worth noting that eric and julie never lose control, playing flawlessly throughout. (yow! I better start practicing!)

something which slips by easily unnoticed are the vocals. that's a good thing. the vocals are right on, not an easy thing to do live. and biff's harmonies add a sense of perfection usually found only in the studio.

did we use too much reverb on the drums? that thought occurred to me at some point, but NO, I think it is exactly as it should be. rarely do I listen back to my own recordings and wish I'd done something different and side four (live) is for me a perfect time capsule of the band in February 2007. it was a good evening despite the thick snow outside and the trio did what it always does. excite.

my last thoughts have to do with the krimson material. krimson music of the 80's and early 90's has now become so imbedded as to create a kind of benchmark. either you can play the stuff or you cannot. I'm very proud of the fresh intensity the power trio brings to this music and thankful to the years of hard work and sacrifice it took king crimson to make it. songs like thela hun jingeet or three of a perfect pair stand the test of time remarkably well. and dinosaur has found new life in trio form. which brings me to a very important point I want to make...

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Tale Of Trentsville (part two)

dinner I had alone each night. who says you can't walk in L.A.? I walked to several nice establishments, dined well, and was comfy in my Chamberlain bed by 10:30 each evening.

one of the highlights of each day was the four-handed guitar romp. this happened when alan would join me in the recording room, and like a chef with a tray of diodes and capacitors, he would cook up a fine stew of sound while I wailed away. alan would add in a variety of spicy wild pedals with crazy names* to my guitar set-up and then squeeze their knobs with delight. crazy things erupted from the speakers in what became a kind of performance art piece. some of you may have seen the video trent took of the al and adrian show, but for a true appreciation you would have had to have heard what I was hearing in my headphones. nuts.

on my last day there trent had a surprise. he had ordered in an array of strange ethnic stringed instruments for me to dabble in. it was the first time I had ever even seen a real sarod. but after much wrangling I was able to tune its' primary strings and enough of the sympathetic strings to actually play the beast. and sympathetic is is not. it's a very unforgiving and unwieldy thing even to hold in your lap. eventually I found a few bits which were turned into loops to be tortured later.

all in all, it was an inspiring visit. I hope we do more in the future. speaking of the future, I have no idea what may become of any of this. what I do know, is that I heard incredible music being made and can't wait to hear it again someday. trent is a master of the mysteries of sound (no one makes better sounding records) and with his excellent crew in tow there's no telling what may happen.

thanks again trent, alan, atticus, dustin, and brett.

* like bit mangler and fuz fabrik. studiotrent has an enviable collection of oddball and vintage pedals including many I had never seen before. what a toy store!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Still Life With Dobro (reduction)

still life with dobro (reduction)
volume 3 number

the sound of the metal-bodied dobro guitar has always reminded me of the sound of an upright piano in a ballet rehearsal room. perhaps that's why I write pieces on the dobro in the fashion of a pianist like say, gershwin. (no, I'm not comparing myself to gershwin, don't be silly). on the dobro I've always used an altered tuning (DADDAD) which makes me think more in piano terms. chord shapes and habits are instantly thrown out the window, leaving me to fish for music in a more pure sense.

along with tracks like tango zebra, laughing man, and neptune pool the dobro pieces comprise an entirely different area of my work. I have forever wished I could have them played by a proper small ensemble using the correct orchestral instruments (piano, string bass, clarinet, oboe, and so on) in a small hall. in the same manner I orchestrated neptune pool.

presented here is the dobro only version of a track I gave to the Guitar Speak III record put out by I.R.S. in the late 80's.

dobro: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
sometime in 1986
length: 5:26

Saturday, December 15, 2007

trent's keyboard laboratory...

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

trent's veranda...

can you spot the Coca-Cola in this picture?
it's mine...

and so, and be whole...

dropping the faux fab british bit now,

the next 3 days would go this way:
arrive at the studio @ 10 am.
listen in the control room.
...small talk
about a certain track...

place headphones on
stretch out!!!

man, what FUN to play over these tracks! YOW!

once a day two things happen:
alan joins me for a 4-hand guitar freak out!
(alan adding freaky electronic modifiers
to the micro notes I'm wailing...)
I begin a new thought loop
which trent then adds to
and passes back to me to add to.
& so it goes.
pass after pass over track after track.
at 8 at night, it's time for me to leave.
I've been playing ten hours!
trent and crew stay behind to eat
and work deep into the Nght.

brett drives me down the winding snake roads
to Santa Etcetera Boulevard.
back to the Chamberlain.

time for dinner.....

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Tale of Trentsville (part one)

so, lo and behold I boarded me one of them starships, like, set sail for Galleyfornia.
and there I was met at ye inport by a man in a black club car who took me to what looked to be Ngland.
called the Hotel Chamberlain.
"adrian belew
, is it?" the hotel manager said.
oh dear, you don't suppose they've mistaken me for a teabag.
(happens all the time with the name)
turns out it's a good thing, all the other patrons seem Ngl-ish.

it's a very comfy dorm. with a nice bistro. and a good night's rest.
in the morning I'm met by Alan Moulder, producer extraordinaire
and all round gentlemen englishman and scholar.

9:45: bright and cheerful we set off to Trentsville, somewhere in the hills eventually arriving at a modern sculpted white picture window bungalow with a stunning view of the windswept hills overlooking the city of tiny lights.
large wooden electronic gates open toward us.
first to greet me is the master of the house, Master Trent.
and a good bout of chit chat ensues. lovely man.
then I'm shown round the premises, including a breathtaking view
out back of the ocean and the perfect spot for a sunset.
the house is being remodeled with all manner of offal underfoot,
but the charm is undeniable.

the one room finished is naturally the studio.
beautifully done in dark curtains and computer screens.
no windows but the glowing lights of a hundred machines beat like the galaxy.

Master Trent has always kept an ingenue of experts.
first I meet a young american Brett, a man with a mission to please.
then Dustin, tall, and master of all things electronic.
if Dustin is the keeper of the incense.
Atticus (another englishman) is the keeper of the insane.
ingenious twists are his calling.
a computer magic performer, I enjoy watching him work.

StudioTrent is positively swimming in all the latest mechanized ballyhoo
as well as no shortage of vintage keyboards, stomp boxes, and by my count,
no fewer than 9 computer monitors.
there is at this time a small outer room
which warmly accommodates my widgets and the golden fly.
following generous support from Brett and Dustin
my set-up appears to be happy by about 11:00
and the rollicking fun begins.

to be continued...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

congratulations (part two)...

to martha and adrian's spiritual lovechild rob murphree for his continued success at making my career seem interesting. and thanks to rob's new cohort scott abernethy for all his help in providing all of us with a new baby website to ogle over. thanks guys, it looks great!

congratulations (part one)...

15 years ago today martha married me in a beautiful sweet ceremony at Rose's Bed and Breakfast* in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in front of a group of 20 close friends and martha's mother (also a close friend). I'll never forget that day. it truly moved me. ohhhh my, the shenanigans and absurdities she has endured since! how does she do it?

congrats to me, I'm a lucky boy!

*owned and operated by our dear friends Steve and Kim Davidson.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Poor Eric...

our uberdrummer whiz kid just had his appendix ripped out at the roots by some terrible mean doctors in a cold starkly-lit hospital. bad appendix! he is now uncomfortable but safe in the womb of his family. I spoke with eric last night. he seemed pained and a bit slurry. but never fear, he has big doses of love from all over the world and julie's cooking to lift his spirits. I have no doubt he'll be in super-form come february when the fabumous power trio returns to stages everywhere! I suggest those who have it put on side four (live)* in eric's honor and send our thoughts of love and admiration to the ailing young pup.

get well soon eric. we love you.

*gary slick told me he put on side four in the operating room for the nurses and doctors to listen to while they operated on eric. gary said they loved it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dvorak's Spaceport Cantina

dvorak's spaceport cantina
volume 2 number 10

here in the States it's mostly frowned upon for an "artist" to appear in a commercial. it's just the opposite in Japan. it's considered "honorable" to be a spokesperson and attracts people like Robert De Niro or Angelina Jolie, actors who would never be seen in an american tv spot.

the japanese company Daikin makes a dizzying array of products from air conditioners to parts for NASA. naturally I was surprised and honored when they approached me to "star" in a japanese television commercial. the shoot took one whole day to film and included a menagerie of animals. as each animal would appear in a scene with me I would make an appropriate animal sound on guitar. seagulls fly over, I make the sound of seagulls, an elephant walks by, I trumpet. there was no product in any of the shots and I never said a word. at the end of the tv spot there was a simple graphic which said "adrian belew...always unique". then the company's logo. very tasteful, in my opinion.

that first commercial for Daikin turned into something of a hit (in tv commercial terms). for once I had done something popular! so they asked me to do another. the idea for the second spot was adrian as one man orchestra, something I felt very comfortable with. the Daikin representatives asked me to do a version of Dvorak's New World Symphony in which the sounds of an orchestra would be played entirely on guitar. then they filmed me in multiple exposures playing all the parts of the orchestra (even the tympani) and conducting myself.

the New World Symphony comprises the first minute of this download, followed by a quick musical sketch of Mr. Dvorak's real meal ticket: bandleader at the Spaceport Cantina.

all instruments: adrian
engineer: rich denhart

recorded at home, dates unknown

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Lone Rhinoceros (original demo)

the lone rhinoceros (original demo)
volume 1 number 6

to know the history behind this song you need only to read the blog
Anecdote #404 The Birth of The Rhino from february 24.
there you'll find out I wrote the song with ringo starr in mind
one night while staying at david bowie's house after having
dinner at the charlie chaplin mansion in switzerland.
phew...never were so many names dropped in so few words!

the melancholy ringo english voice as I called it
is exactly what I'm affecting on this early Cwazy Wabbit demo.
I have two distinct memories of this session:
a) playing a set of orchestral chimes borrowed from the local school band
and b) playing the rhino guitar sound at the very end of the track.
it was such a moment!
I had no idea it would happen, it just came out!

even though this demo was made on cwazy wabbit's
low-fi 7-track tape recorder (one of the 8 tracks rarely worked)
I was so afraid I'd never be able to capture the rhino
quite the same way ever again so
we lifted the ending guitar from this demo
to use for the master recording found on lone rhino.

piano: christy bley
bass guitar: clif mayhugh
guitar, drums, chimes, and vocal: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
recorded at Cwazy Wabbit Studio in Springfield, Il.
sometime in 1979
length: 4:13

Sunday, December 2, 2007

those are my parting shots...

until my return saturday the 8th.
cheers, everyone.


this one reminds me of the painting fishhead.

bon appetit..

some french postcards.

Accidental Art?

two paintings sitting in front of one another.
the one in the front is missing the space that became
the cut-out of the loving sneakers in adidas in heat.
the one showing through never had a name.

to me, it looks like a type of postcard I used
to collect when touring france in the 80's.
I found a whole run of "recipe postcards"
which looked positively inedible.
they had bizarre photos of dishes on the front
and their recipes on the back.
I collected probably 40 or more before I lost interest.

Flyin' Fishheads!

if you have ordered your copy of side four (live) from StoreBelew rest assured it is now flying your way. following a late-week flurry of signing little round plastic discs and stuffing them into brown mailers (I feel like one of santa's elves) all the orders to date have been fulfilled and are winging their way to happy people, just in time for me to board a plane to trent reznor's home in beverly hills.

your comments are welcome (I hope), so feel free to post them right here.

the above painting fishhead was my fourth painting ever.
acrylic on canvas measuring 40" by 30", it was done july 26, 2002.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Adidas In Heat...

is practically guaranteed to look good in any closet in your home.
this original adrian painting called adidas in heat
was finished today november 27 at 3:30 p.m.
acrylic and spray paint on canvas, it measures 40" by 30".
this painting will be awarded to the winner
of our SMARTIEs contest on january 10.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adidas In Heat (live GaGa)

adidas in heat
(live GaGa)

volume 1 number 7

manager stan
had already
three batches
of demos for
the amusement
of many A&R departments of New York and L.A. labels when it was decided a new approach might be required.

what was needed was a "showcase" in New York City. I was advised to borrow enough money, $700 in fact, to afford for GaGa to drive 20 hours to stay a couple days in New York City (on the cheaper Jersey side, of course.) we ended up doing 2 showcases with a disappointing turnout of record moguls (none) and their lackeys. somewhere along the way rich denhart's van was broken into, things were stolen, and he was forced to spend most of one day in the police station filing paperwork. it was all for naught, as no record label took the bait and there were no offers of stardom.

however, one very good unexpected thing did come from the trip. after our show at Irving Plaza I was asked into a nearby stairwell where david byrne, jerry harrison, and brian eno stood waiting. they told me about a record they were in the process of making and asked if I could stay an extra day to record with them. I conferred with the rest of GaGa who didn't seem to mind hanging around New York. so the next day I headed for Sigma Sound in Manhattan. there, in one day, I played all over the talking heads record remain in light, and drove 20 hours home the next morning.

this live version of adidas in heat offers only a hint of the wackiness GaGa's live shows were known for; a melding of visual humor, costumes, and rock vaudeville.
and the drums were on tape!

piano, vocals: christy bley
saxophone, vocals: bill janssen
bass guitar: rich denhart
guitar, drums, and vocals: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
recorded live somewhere sometime in 1979
length: 3:35

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Side Four's Thanksgiving Menu

here are the delicious treats awaiting you
when you sit down to feast on side four (live)

writing on the wall
young lions
beat box guitar
matchless man
a little madness
of bow and drum
big electric cat
three of a perfect pair
thela hun ginjeet

the pumpkin pie is optional.
happy thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Calling All SMARTIES*

if Fall gets your creative firepit stoked like it does mine,
you're ready for our SMARTIE songwriting contest.
here's the object:
complete any of the "unfinished" songs we've been releasing as downloads**
by adding your own melody, vocal, and/or words.
then send your completed masterpiece to webmaster Rob Murphree.
please send MP3s or CDs.
entries will be based on creativity,
so feel free to add whatever you want.
keep in mind it's not a shredding contest but a creative assignment.
there will be 3 judges including yours truly.
entries must be sent to Rob by December 31.
the winner will be announced on January 10th.
the winner will be awarded an original Adrian painting worth 6 cents!!
and the winning masterpiece will be a free download for all the other
SMARTIEs to, enjoy.

Good Luck.

*Singer-songwriterMusicianArtistRecording-typeIndependent Entities.

**firm recommendations include
dust, hawaiian cowboys, spies,
yoli yoli, p type, happy guy, and happy birthmark.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Side Four (live) Alert

just to let everyone know, please don't expect to see your side four (live) before the second week of December. the pressing plant has let us know they are running at least one week late, meaning we'll receive them no sooner than the end of November. then to have them signed by eric and julie will require another week's turnaround and we'll send them out as quickly as possible. thanks for your patience.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Momur (original demo)

the momur (original demo)
volume 1 number 5

this is where the solo work
really began. along
with a
of songs that
included lone rhino and buy that face this demo was manager stan's first real attempt at landing the elusive record deal.

there were many skeptics. one infamous A&R man asked stan "is this the guy who plays guitar for bowie? well, tell him to keep playing guitar for bowie and forget about making his own records."

understandably no one expected the latest flavor "stunt guitarist" to offer songs about peas, rhinos, and adidas. humorous music was a hard sell at a time when the new york cognoscenti were so head over heels with new wave. in fact, despite stan's best efforts over the next two years no record label ever signed me by the normal channel of accepting demos of my music and liking what they heard. no record label ever signed me by the common means of hearing my music played live, though GaGa played our share of showcases. no record label ever signed me because of faith in my ability to be more than sideman.

my destiny was through the back door. eventually it was a chance meeting with visionary music mogul Chris Blackwell* at his home in the Bahamas which gave me the chance to make my own music.

* chris blackwell was the same visionary who first signed king crimson in 1969.

piano: christy bley
saxophone: bill janssen
bass guitar: rich denhart
guitar, drums, and vocal: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
recorded at Cwazy Wabbit Studio in Springfield, Il.
sometime in 1979
length: 4:21

Thursday, November 15, 2007

and the whole day just got better...

when I received a call from Trent Reznor
asking me to work with him on new music
in L.A. for the first week of december.

trent has always championed my playing.
he once said in Guitar Player Magazine
"adrian is the most awesome musician in the world."
I've always joked that it was a typo
and that he really said the most awful musician.

but it is seriously a mutual admiration.
in my opinion, no one makes better sounding records than trent.
I love what he does and I'm happy he feels the same.


Side Four (live)

it's here!
starting tuesday, november 20th.
go to StoreBelew.

let the good times roll!

photo by mark colman

Michael Clay Plays the Music of Adrian Belew and King Crimson

a few years ago when our dear friend Ian Wallace was alive and well and living here in Nashville, he and Margie and Martha and I had dinner with a mutual friend from Dallas, Michael Clay.
the restaurant was The Capitol Grille* located in one of downtown finest old establishments, The Heritage Hotel, a completely refurbished art deco wonder. the chef of the restaurant, a friend of Margie's, prepared for us special tastings of various amazing dishes. served one at a time, each entree was appetizer size and ran the gamut from meat and fish to pasta and deserts. bite by bite, it was a fabulous meal.
there was a pianist playing classic rock songs rendered in a psuedo-classical fashion. I commented on how interesting the music was and how certain pieces took a minute to identify. I thought out loud how nice it would be to have a song of mine done that way. Michael is a fabulous concert pianist among other things. he said, "I can do that." and indeed he can.
that is how the two of us began a project of adrian pieces and adrian/krimson pieces played by Michael on concert piano in a fashion befitting wine and delicacies. over the last two years many MP3s have been passed my way by Michael and I've enjoyed every note. I love hearing the songs in such a "high-art" context. this saturday we will meet here at StudioBelew to take a look at what's needed to complete our collaboration.

then we hope to share it with you.

*the Capitol Grille in Nashville is a top notch restaurant
but is not to be confused with the small chain of Capital Grilles
(spelled with two A's) in various major cities which happen
to be my favorite fine dining establishments anywhere.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

live in a tree?...

sometimes I feel like I do.
this is the view from my breakfast table.

I love it here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


volume 2 number 1

June 1980, a full year before the making of lone rhino,
and the making of king crimson's discipline
and the tom tom club's hit song genius of love
having just toured the world with frank zappa,
then again with david bowie,
and yet again with the talking heads
and with no hope in sight for a record deal of my own,
I spent an afternoon in a small studio in Illinois
experimenting with backward tapes of log drums
recorded at various speeds to create overlapping rhythms,
playing the insides of the piano with drum sticks,
and creating a strange snake-charmer-like modal guitar
plugged through a Foxx Tone Machine.

percussive piano, log drum, drums, guitar: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
recorded at Faithful Studio in Champaign Urbana, Ill.
sometime in June 1980
length: 4:17

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Most Maddening Thing About The Music Business

has to be the way artists are paid (or more commonly not paid).
for example, take a look at this portion of a check pictured above.
I just received this in the mail from a certain "collection agency"
responsible to track my royalty shares and send them to me.
this particular agency sends me checks like this frequently,
which normally would be a good thing except they are always
for embarrassingly low amounts such as this one for 6¢.

the collection agency mindlessly spent 39¢ to send me 6.

is this a torture device meant to remind me
of how invaluable my life's work has been
for the needy hearts of a barren culture,
or someone's poke in the eye with a sharp stick
to say pointedly, "look at you, you piece of dookie"?

either way it does not inspire.

but it does reinforce my belief that I would have to
make music and art for my sanity's sake even if no one cared.
but I'm glad someone does.
thank you all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

life is a carnivore...

"when you're on tour eating is the only thing
you can do
that isn't immoral or illegal."
a. belew

if it seems that food and drink
rule our world of creativity
that's only because: they do!
eric and julie are vegetarians
(I'm more of an octogenarian)
but all of us appreciate the dining experience
perhaps a bit more than the average person because
so much of our lives revolve around 3 things:
traveling aka the work
dining aka the pleasure
and performing aka the reward.

musicians are forced to be social creatures.
the work we do (creating) is often a group effort.
the pleasure of breaking bread is all important to our bonds,
which may explain why food and in particular dinner
has always been so important to me personally.
many people have commented that I seem obsessed with it.

martha once discovered a letter
from my mother Louise
from a time when I was still an infant
in which my mother revealed
that I had actually been starved
for the first two weeks of my life.
evidently breast feeding didn't suit me
back then

so the doctor switched me to feeding formula
and I've been a happy boy ever since.

my family rarely, almost never, ate in restaurants.
in fact, the first time I tasted steak I was 27 years old!
when we did dine out it was at a little place in Covington, KY.

the Anchor Grill was a real treat,
a true slice of Americana.
the dining room walls were crimson red.
mounted on the walls were large stuffed fish,
swordfish and marlin covered in nets,
and there was a light ball which made
slow revolving rings of light float around the room.
in one corner of the room there was
a toy bandstand, about two feet wide.
it was enclosed in glass.
inside was what looked like a big band jazz band
with figurines playing instruments
while swaying from side to side.
each booth had a small jukebox,
(we always sat in a booth)
the kind with buttons with letters and numbers
and a full list of current (and not so-current) songs
like love letters in the sand and beyond the sea .
when you put money in the jukebox
the little band would start up,
when the song finished they'd magically stop.
my parents would feed me coins,
causing the little band to sway
and with the rings of light floating around
the crimson fish-covered walls...
I felt like I was in an underwater heaven.

the Anchor Grill still exists today,
a bit tattered and greasy
but the little bandstand still hangs in the corner.

starving for the first two weeks of life,
never having tasted steak until my late twenties,
these things could explain my dining obsession
but I prefer to think it's the lifestyle I've chosen.
since the Anchor Grill I've been fortunate
to eat some of the best and most varied food
from all parts the world.

and now to be served great delicious food each evening
by the bass player in my band seems full-circle-fitting.
I'm thinking of putting up some netting
and getting out the old disco ball...

a little madness...

looking over the color proof for the artwork for side four (live)
eric commented on the name change I've made
for the song madness from side one.
on the live record the title is now a little madness.
there are two reasons why:
first, on the live version I say "a little madness" over eric's drum intro,
but second and more importantly it's a money saving device.
how so? you might ask.

when I was writing madness I considered singing a lyric
about a young musician who believes he is being "visited"
in his dreams by aliens, who are teaching him ways
to do incredible things with the healing sounds of music.
he believes he is learning to cure certain diseases
just by playing specific sounds which radically affect
and alter the listener's molecular makeup.
the problem is:
it's driving him crazy!

as part of the lyric I had written a speaking part as an intro
before the massive blast of music begins.
fittingly I remembered a scene in the movie
2001: A Space Odyssey
the music in the scene had a profound effect on me.
it was a piece by Katchaturian.

so for the intro with the spoken voice
I decided to play a small portion of the
Katchaturian piece on guitar
with a bed of synthesizer "space" sound beneath it.
the whole bit was 50 seconds long.
the song was nearly 7 minutes.

eventually the vocal/lyric idea didn't pan out.
I guess I'm not a good enough actor.
but martha was convinced the music was my masterpiece.
whether or not you agree with that assessment
trust me, it is much better without my vocal idea.

I dropped the vocal but I still liked
the 17-second guitar intro so I left it that way.
I didn't even think the Katchaturian music
might not be public domain.

just before side one was to be released
we received a call from the dead
Mr. Katchaturian's publishing company.

it was too late just to leave off the 50 seconds of
Katchaturian (the record was already mastered)
so we had to bow to their demands for
of the publishing
on my seven-minute masterpiece
for the privilege of 50-seconds of the dead Mr. Katchaturian's music.
evidently the afterlife must be an expensive place.

and that is why there is a new piece on side four (live) called
a little madness.

morning calisthenics in the key of e...

finds brave young eric at the piano while we attempt to decipher some last minute notation for the counter lines in e

there are indeed a few tricky bits but eric has now written the parts into his computer using a program called finale.

this has clarified what julie and Iplay against each other as well as how that will sound against the running chromatic line I will be looping. madness ensues.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

happier notes...

are being played here today.
julie arrived in at 8:05 this morning, eric yesterday.
we began with a new piece I've spent considerable
time on which I am calling
there are very awkward chromatic movements
and counter lines throughout so I've asked
boy genius eric
to help notate the parts I have in mind.
this has taken the two of us all day.

e is not easy but it is the logical brainchild
of beat box guitar and will afford us a lovely
new improv platform just as beat box always has.

so meanwhile chef julie has prepared amazing foods.
for lunch we had her Caesar salad
with julie's homemade dressing
(a fabulous concoction of creamy Dijon, shallot, and thyme)
with pita bread and red pepper hummus...yum.
but just now it's dinner time...
julie's own creation:
incredible edible homemade raviolis
with asparagus, mushroom, and four cheeses
(ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, cream cheese)
julie said it's a creamy leek and mushroom ragu
adorning four cheese ravioli,
but we just called it delicious!

fresh toasted baguettes
with garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
and crisp Pinot Grigio wine.
phew... life is tough.

as one young brave once yelled:

a final irony...

of having to fight to wear my hair long-ish
at Boone County High was our school team name:
the Rebels.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yoli Yoli (marimba duet with Tony Levin)

yoli yoli
volume 2 number 6

in honor of T-Lev's recent Lifetime Achievement Award, here is an improvised duet from 1983. tony levin is the consummate musician.
one who amazes those who work with him with his unique ability to discern perfectly the notes to chose (or not to chose) and to do so with such creative flair as to re-invent the instruments he plays.

one afternoon tony and I discovered a full-sized marimba tucked away in the corner of the Marcus Studio in London. he commandeered the low side (of course) while I attacked the high end. we improvised a nice little piece based on a variation of the waiting man rhythm. we perfected it in a quick pass or two then asked our recording engineer Brad Davis to record it. I remember frequent sideway glances between tony and myself to get the changes correct. it was just a serendipitous moment of fun in one of the many pauses so common to record-making, but a satisfying one.

later I tried to make something more of it by writing words and melody. I envisioned a kind of follow-up to waiting man. the return of the waiting man was called yoli yoli. I recorded the vocal. it was an abject failure. no one liked it. eventually that included me and the idea was dropped.

but I still like our cozy little improv.

low marimba: tony levin
high marimba: adrian

engineer: brad davis

recorded at Marcus Studio, London, England

on June 7, 1983

length: 3:04

Sunday, November 4, 2007

training in Japan...

in the top photo you see me casually lounging aboard the Super Bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. in the lower photo you see me and bill bruford playing the electronic drum duet for waiting man. somewhere between those two distant moments here's what transpired.

bill slid comfortably into the Bullet Train seat next to me
and began tapping out a rhythm on the arms of the seat.
"ade?" he asked, "is it possible you could learn this?
there's a little tricky bit to it, but I'm sure you could handle it."
he began patiently showing me the rhythm over and over.
the left hand and right hand each played the exact same pattern,
but an eighth note apart from one another.
that in itself was a challenge, but I soon learned the tricky bit
had more to do with the way the bass drum part
fell so oddly against what the left and right hands were doing.

what started as the thrill of a free lesson from a master
quickly turned into the task of perfecting
coordination one step beyond my ability.
though I play drums for fun on most of my solo records,
never has my background in drumming been more useful
(or better tested) than in my work with Krimson.

periodically bill would stop at my seat
to check on my progress or I would have
to ask him to demonstrate some part
of the pattern yet again,
but before we reached Osaka I was playing it
with some measure of confident fluidity.

bill complimented me by saying I had learned
to do it quicker than anyone he'd ever shown it to.
then he showed me how to add a variation which made
the pattern into what he played in waiting man.
the variation actually made the part much easier
because it evened out the pattern into something
more natural feeling.

for our next tour, this opened the door
for bill and me to play waiting man
in harmony live on stage as pictured above.
I have since used variations of that double-sticking
pattern in many things including this week's download.

thanks billy b.

*photos by tony levin from his book road photos.

Friday, November 2, 2007

two significant things...

happened yesterday.
a) the 9-foot 48-channel Neotek Elan console was successfully moved out of the control room and into storage for eventual sale to some lucky new studio owner. (I have thoroughly enjoyed it these many years and have fond memories of music made and time spent slaving over) and b) the parts for side four (live) were sent to the pressing plant to begin the manufacture thereof.

in two weeks we will begin accepting orders.
I'm told they will make lovely Christmas gifts
for unsuspecting, friends and relatives.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Mighty SRT-6

I sold the Mercedes 300 SL replica to buy this, the only new car I own. the SRT-6 is the high performance version* of the Crossfire, made for only one year, which may deem it a future collectible. built in Germany by Mercedes. fully loaded with everything from navigation to overhead floor mats. in Sapphire Silver Blue. the hand-built 330 horsepower supercharged Mercedes engine propels this beast from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. less than a second later, you're over the speed limit. thanks to the very nice people at Thomas Chrysler Dodge Jeep in St Clairsville, Ohio (hey Tracy, hey Robert, hi everybody).

*the SRT stands for Street Racing Technology,
the same people who brought us the brutish Dodge Viper.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

our high school tragedy...

the "memory board" at the class reunion included pictures and dates of deceased classmates. apart from Diane Warner, another picture caught my eye. Jim Gray died in 2004. he was another of the small circle of social miscreants I befriended.

Jim was mostly outcast because of his weight. his elephantine physique conspired to keep Jim out of most social functions, so he stayed to himself. we shared a couple of classes. I liked his quiet humor and we became friends. Jim had very few friends, but his best friend was Mike Patrick, a fellow "Class of '67" graduate and older brother to Sharon Patrick.

both Mike and Sharon Patrick were shy soft-spoken kids. both were gifted, good-looking, and athletic. Sharon had amazing eyes which only fed her elusive manner. she was truly a "strange little girl". sometimes quiet, sometimes bubbly. the Patricks lived in a nearby subdivision close enough for me to walk to after school. I spent many afternoons at Sharon's house. more than once I would arrive to find her nursing a sick baby raccoon or saving a bird fallen from its nest. she loved animals and nature just as I did. we were never an "item" but we were close friends. Sharon Patrick was the self-appointed President of The Denims Fan Club and rarely missed a show.

her brother Mike Patrick was an athlete. I seem to remember him being in track and also pole vaulting. who decides to be a pole vaulter? I admired Mike's physical ability almost as much as Jim Gray did.

one night Jim and Mike were riding in a car near Mike's neighborhood when they happened upon a car wreck. they were the first on the scene of the crash. being good kids they tried to help before the police arrived. there was a power line down across the road. Mike feared it might be dangerous for passing motorists. he tried to move the power line. if Jim hadn't somehow pulled Mike off the power line Mike would have been killed. as it was, both his arms were burnt off.

as if the perfect example of life's most ironic cruelty were needed, a super-nice soft-spoken bright athletic young man lost both his arms just trying to be helpful.

The Denims eventually raised $5,000 for Mike's battle and our whole school joined together in support. I have never seen Mike Patrick again and have lost contact with Sharon as well. but sometimes I re-live the horror.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

50 year-old plumbing...

this past weekend martha and I drove the Mighty Crossfire SRT-6
to the Holiday Inn Airport in Northern Kentucky for our
Boone County High School class reunion. Class of '67.
I was 17 when I graduated and as you can see I looked like I wore a squirrel on my forehead.
those were the days.

my classmates certainly are some of the nicest people. after all, we were the "summer of love" kids. it was great to see everyone. my best friend kenny nevels (and his long-suffering wife christy) were our companions for the evening. kenny and I began sharing classes in the sixth grade right on through high school. (see the blog "Ludlow Marching Panthers" from April 26). we had so much fun growing up together.

apart from kenny and a few other friends, in my high school daze I kept mostly to myself. the friends I had were social "outcasts" just as I was, but because I was in The Denims and because The Denims were such a popular band in our school, I was tolerated. many years later I found out my classmates actually respected me.
they called me "the quiet revolutionary".

I was in the first year firing line of kids who were in trouble for having their hair "over their ears". I was always in trouble for my bizarre clothes, beatle boots, and "long" hair (which barely crept over my ears). one day near the end of my senior year I heard my name called over the loudspeaker (causing the usual eruptions of laughter) as I was commanded to appear in Mr. Jones' office. Rector Jones (yes, Rector) was our school superintendent. between Mr. Jones and our principal Mr. Norman I was being squeezed into cutting my hair short one last time for graduation. Mr. Jones actually excused me from class to take me to the local Dairy Queen where he bought me a chocolate milkshake! this was highly unheard of. as we sat in his car nervously talking, he finally revealed his true agenda and the reason for being so gracious.
"steve," he said slowly, "you make decent grades and seem like a nice enough fellow; why do you have to be such a martyr?"

it didn't work. having been suspended one too many times for "dress code violation" I was in no mood to compromise. after all, my "long" hair was part of my vocation. every weekend while all the other kids were busy figuring out the dating game, I was playing music for them. in those days the length of your hair was the big concern. these days it's the caliber of weapon you carry.

at the reunion martha was talking to one of my classmates who remembered this story:
he told martha he sat behind me in English class. he remembered how often I was called to the principals office and how outrageous some of my sartorial choices were. he said one day in English class the teacher suddenly stopped, took a long look at me, and said, "do you think wearing those clothes you'll ever make something of yourself? people can't depend on making a living in rock music."
and I said, "I will."

another classmate surprised my memory bank by reminding me of a game we used to play in my neighborhood on Valley Drive. it was a kissing game played at dusk by the neighborhood teenage boys and girls in which you chased each other around in the wooded areas behind the houses. when you caught a girl (or she caught you) you were supposed to kiss her. a better version of hide and seek no doubt, but much more innocent than it sounds. she said when I would catch her my kisses were the best. she remembered they were
"soft and sweet".

on the "memory board" I was very surprised to learn of the death of one of the few people I hung out with. a very strange girl named Diane Warner. she was a self-imposed outcast and best friend of another of my close friends Sharon Patrick (more on her in the next post). Diane was indeed unusual. she smoked a pipe! a strong-willed loner, Diane didn't suffer most people. she kept to herself. but because of my friendship with Sharon, Diane accepted me.
sadly, I found out she committed suicide at age 44.

I have never been able to truly see myself as a "grown up". the adults I revered in my youth were such a strong and responsible bunch. they had lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War Two and set into motion a life of ease for us "boomers". despite my parents cavalier humor they seemed like responsible adults. I have always felt more like a kid.

my only complaint about aging: 50 year-old plumbing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Congratulations!...

to my pal and bandmate Tony Levin
who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award
by Bass Player Magazine this weekend in NYC.

well, tony,
I guess you're finished now.

Heaven's Bed/Member Of The Tribe (duet)

heaven's bed/
member of the tribe
volume 4 number 5

more of the fab two.
this could be
a warm-up for
our SMARTIES contest
beginning soon.
just for practice sake,
you can write your
own song over top
of these two tracks.
or, if you're a bassist,
fill in the blanks.

point of interest: for member of the tribe chris substituted his hi-hat with a hubcap!

"isn't this a dull affair,
enough to make me lose my hair,
tax returns and future earnings..." I thought to myself
"still the Gods haven't lost their flair
at least they put me and her together,"
and just as I was about to tell her
she said to me
"take me up to heaven, up into the sky
our love is strong enough to fly"

there I sat with the paper in my lap
reading facts about terrible acts
"Kids With Guns Kill For Fun"
so I started to preach...
"that's the trouble with society," I said,
"no respect for humanity"
and just as I was building up steam
she said to me
"lay your dreams beneath my head
up here on heaven's bed.
let your eyes be the stars in the night
up here on heaven's bed."

"you need to leave your mind alone,"
she said to me.

drums: chris arduser
guitar: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis
on August 19 and 20
length: 7:49

Thursday, October 25, 2007


to my friends The Ventures!
they have been nominated as inductees into
the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

before The Beatles there was The Ventures.
they certainly were an influence on me.
when I first heard The Ventures I was a drummer in the school band*.
all the kids in my neighborhood loved The Ventures.
they were the popular music at our school dances
and especially a favorite of the musicians.
before I ever touched a guitar, they made me want to play one.
I loved the sounds they made (I still do).
they were musical pioneers.
nobody else sounded like The Ventures.
maybe that's why I have always felt a kinship to their music.

and they're still a great band today.
congratulations boys, I hope you win!

* it would be another six years before I put my hands around a guitar neck, but when I did walk don't run was the first song I remember learning (followed by you've got to hide your love away) the year was 1966. by then I was a junior in high school.

Monday, October 22, 2007

the Mercedes 300 SL roadster replica...

here are a couple of shots of the Mercedes 300 SL before I sold it. keep in mind it was a replica. the real thing costs several hundred thousand dollars. they are very sought after. only 1,000 are known to exist worldwide. made in 1957 the 300 SL roadster and its brother the notorious "Gullwing" 300 SL coupe brought Mercedes Benz back from near-total destruction in World War II. this is the car that announced their return to dominance in racing and production cars. I hated to sell even a replica of such a beautiful car. it is my favorite body style ever to dress a production vehicle. but it financed my brand new Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6, also an awesome car.

This Is What I Believe In/Standing In The Shadow (duet)

this what I believe in/
standing in the shadow (duet)
volume 4 number 4

during the making
of inner revolution
manager stan made
the good suggestion
that perhaps a "sparing partner" would assist the recording process. we asked bears drummer chris arduser to join me in the studio for two days to hammer out 4 songs.

for this week and next I'm offering the 4 songs we did in their barest form, just guitar and drums. perhaps the bassist would like to play along? as usual, I find it informative to hear the very beginning of tracks before the additional bells and whistles. so this is what chris and I played for two days in August 1991. I hope you find it interesting as well.
in this is what I believe in the guitar (which sounds like two parts) was played on one guitar by means of the Roland GR-50 synth which allowed you to write a different sound on each string. using an acoustic guitar patch I wrote a different tuning for each string in addition to the original note played on each string. the resulting chords and running lines would otherwise be impossible to play. the lyric has a few lines which seem even more relevant now than they did 16 years ago when they were written so I'm reproducing them here:

hold tight to your faith
don't let nobody make you jaded
your love is precious
give it somebody who deserves it
this is what I believe in

hold tight to yourself
don't let nobody give you hell
your life is sacred
live it right, live it your way
this is what I believe in

all the world is a cannibal
even time itself will eat us all
but that's no reason to be a jerk
you either make it better
or make it worse

I believe this, I believe it's true
I believe it, I believe this

all the world is dangerous
full of homicidals and terrorists
but underneath their blanket of hate
the only thing that will survive is our love and faith.

drums: chris arduser
guitar: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis
on August 19 and 20
length: 7:33

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For Sale: My Life...

for those of you interested in my car fixation I have recently listed two of my cars to be sold on eBay motors. they will be there for another 6 days. the first one (above top) is a custom-bodied CRX si, a quick agile little "pocket rocket" which I adore. I've had it since it was new in 1991 and still called a Honda CRX si. now it called a "Vitesse" by the customizers, a shop in Toronto. it took 3 months of labor to convert. such a fabulous car to drive, if you don't mind being constantly asked questions from twentysomething guys.
the second car (above bottom) is anything but quick but it's a beautiful all-original "land yacht". a 1963 Chrysler Imperial Crown, a huge car with a square steering wheel and push-button transmission! what could be cooler! we have always called it "the imperial hammerhead" for its odd looking face. when I was a teenager I thought these were the ugliest things on the road. now I drive one! for anyone interested in seeing more about the cars go to eBay motors. the Vitesse is #170159897999. The Imperial is # 170160281888.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anecdote #46

my last time seeing frank zappa face to face
was just months before his death in December 1993.
I went to the zappa abode for a short visit.
he looked like the picture above,
which was a shock.
frank was obviously ill, his voice a whisper.
instead of the vibrant frank I knew
there was an older man.
only 52 but seeming very weak and tired.
in place of his usual habit of chain-drinking espresso
he was sipping orange juice freshly squeezed by his maid.
frank talked about his latest project.
the conversation drifted off.
I felt a tinge of guilt taking his time.
soon he excused himself to rest for a while.
our interlude was over.

I prefer to remember a different ending.
one night in late 1992 I woke up from a vivid dream.
I looked at the clock. 6 AM.
I couldn't get back to sleep.
in my dream frank and I were laughing and talking,
having a lively conversation about music and things.
it felt good, like a friendship.

since I couldn't sleep I went downstairs
and sat in a chair, replaying the dream.
there was no such thing as e-mail then,
about the fastest delivery was by fax.
so I decided to send a fax to frank.
in my fax I told him about the dream.
then I said I had never properly thanked him
for all he had done for me
and I wanted say "thanks".
I had no idea at that time that frank was ill and dying.

later that afternoon I got a call.
it was frank. what a great surprise!
he said to me, "that was sweet".
that's the word he used: sweet.
not a word you would normally associate
with the acerbic edgy satirist.

we proceeded then to have a wonderful conversation
much like the one in my dream.

and that's the way I remember frank.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Collage for Girl With Clouds

collage for girl with clouds
volume 3 number 8

according to Random House's Word Menu
musique concrete is defined as a recorded montage
of electronically manipulated and transformed natural sounds
presented as a composition.

there was one giant leap for radiokind in the mid-sixties,
the briefest of moments when it was acceptable to add
bits of musique concrete into your pop songs
and still have them played on the airwaves.
most notably it was the beatles of course,
(who at that time could do no wrong)
who were able to sneak in conversation, laughter,
backward sounds, radio noise, and other
musical non sequitur into the pop vernacular
and still be appreciated by housewives everywhere.

musique concrete
was born in the 1940's by a small group
of mostly french avante garde composers headed by Pierre Schaeffer.
it was never "popular" but did manage to create outrage.

one night spent at the zappa abode,
frank had put on a record from Edgar Varese,
(I think it was poeme electronique)
one of frank's favorite pieces of musique concrete.
he wanted to introduce me to music
which he found inspiring.
as with most of this type music the sounds seemed random;
electronic and organic.
frank had two large dogs who were barking outside.
I said, "the dogs fit right in, frank."
frank said, "you're beautiful, adrian."

I have always had a soft spot for musique concrete works
and began including them in my solo records from the very start
with a track called hot sun on lone rhino.
others include (my favorite) cruelty to animals from mr. music head
things you hit with a stick, nude wrestling with a christmas tree
and the return of the chicken from belewprints,
from side one,
and the red bull rides a boomerang
across the blue constellation
from side three.

for the bears song girl with clouds from rise and shine
I wanted to enhance the lyrical imagery of a daydreamer,
someone who always seemed distracted,
always had their head in the clouds.
the poster child for ADD.
voila! time for musique concrete.

"found sounds" and bits of tapes randomly spliced together
are quintessential ingredients for such a piece,
and when blended into the background of an otherwise "pop" song
it can create a sense of distraction.

so I put together this little collage from things
we had at hand in the studio control room:
some backwards snippets of various bears songs,
a drunk hillbilly comedian, Japanese folk music,
a percussion ensemble in concert, and my favorite,
a somber explanation of an SSL console meant for
recording engineers trying to figure out such things.

then we mixed this track into the background of
girl with clouds.
the collage was never meant to be heard on its own
but I think it has an interesting moment or two
so I'm including it here.

engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.

on November 28, 1987
length: 2:58