Monday, April 9, 2007

P Type

p type
volume 3 number 14
howard the piano sits in my living room. he has lived with me for 20 years now. how did I find howard? he was in a house I was buying in lake geneva. the sellers were planning to move to florida. I persuaded them to make howard a part of the purchase price. that's how I came into possession of my first and only piano. to be honest I am a less than adequate pianist but I use it primarily as a writing tool. my piano songs are very different from my guitar songs. when I first got howard I couldn't keep away from him. I was so thrilled to have a piano at last I began teaching myself by writing left hand bass lines like the one in p type and then building non-descriptive chord changes around them. by non-descriptive I mean chords which had at most a third or a fifth and did not dictate my choice of melody as would say a diminished chord or a flatted fifth.

for me, beginning a new record first involves a long process of contemplation. I like to sit quietly and imagine what I want the record to sound like. in particular it helps to have a sense of the musical components you want the record to have. the basic building blocks. stravinsky said a piece of music needs parameters, i.e. I'm writing this for these 8 instruments.

in early 1988 having settled into my new piano practice routine I imagined the left hand bass line piano parts as the main building block for a new rash of songs. combined with lean amounts of instrumentation, upright bass and light percussion (egg shakers or these cool japanese fans I would play with a pencil) with guitar used as color and for soloing, and a vocal sound enhanced with a certain type of processor called AMS. in that way I had a specific sound in mind for mr. music head which guided my production.

the earliest batch of songs all ended up on the second side of the record (remember it was the days of vinyl). songs like hot zoo, motor bungalow, bumpity bump, and bird in a box all have the sound I mentioned above built around the simplest of piano lines. after a break for touring (with the bears?) I started what would become the first side of the record with more songs from the same mold: oh daddy, house of cards, one of those day, and bad days. by then I was ready to move on to other musical areas like 1967 and cruelty to animals.

so what happened to p type?
when I write a song the melody is usually there from the start. then I labor over the words far more than I ever do the music. why? because when you place words on something you are defining it to some degree. the listener can no longer fully use his or her imagination. words color music. over and over I listen to an unfinished song until it tells me what it wants to be about. p type was one of the early songs and I knew it needed a soulful vocal. (in fact, I was using as my vocal inspiration a song from bowie's young americans record called somebody up there likes me.) but try as I did, I could never work up the emotional head of steam necessary to find the right words. so it was left behind.

ps: but it would make a fine candidate for our smarties contest coming up later this year.

piano, bass, drums, guitar, egg shakers: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on february 4, 1988
length: 3:19


  1. hello adrian,

    i really enjoy your blog i actually just found out about it and i have gone back and read all of your posts. i am a huge fan of your solo works and works with other bands especially king crimson as are a lot of us at florida state university which is where i go to school. i've noticed that you haven't come to florida in quite some time. you have a huge following in the music scene here at fsu which is actually quite large as i imagine it as at any school. i was wondering if maybe you would ever consider doing a show here at one of the many clubs we have here. i know that you would definitely have a huge turn out so you should most definitely consider making a trip down here it would definitely be worth your while. well just thought i would throw that out there and as always continued good luck to you. also i was wondering is king crimson working on anything new?

  2. hey adrian,

    just found out about your blog via a link on the crooks and liars blog.

    I took the liberty of linking to your blog on mine

    I enjoy your postings.

    mark couture

  3. Which can be found at:


    And no, Adrian isn't featured as either a crook nor a liar but, they do have a regular feature called C&L Late Night Music Club and that's where Adrian fits.
    Check it out !

    I only wish there had been more mention of his solo efforts and The Bears.
    There is, however, a comments section , so if you drop by, please leave a comment and let the loving public know about all of the newer projects they may not be aware of in A.B. world.

  4. Adrian,
    I must say that Mr. Music Head is far and away my favorite album of yours. I named my iPod after it.I think "1967" is one of the finest songs ever written. It's kind of like "Still Life With A Dobro" with words...sort of. It's nice to now have an outtake from that record. Thanks.

  5. "...nice to now have an outtake from that record."

    Highly agreed. Enjoyed listening a lot. It could have gone on longer. :)

    Funny, while listening to "P Type" a few minutes ago:

    6-year old: "What IS that? It sounds like somebody dying."
    Me: "It's Adrian's guitar."
    6-year old: "No Really. It sounds like somebody dying!"

    Gotta love 'em!

  6. Oooo, I see a Bear's track on the schedule, goodie !

  7. Wierdly- i found your blog yesterday and heard what i think is your guitar on that Crash Test Dummies- hit Humm Humm Humm HUmm (4 I think). Synchronicity_ you ask- well I think so.

    Saw you in Portland ME with the Bears. Grrrrrrr

    Glad to have found your blog.

  8. Adrian,

    Nice to have found this spot. Big fan for a long time since seeing you on the Discipline tour and several times since.

    I've gotta concur that 1967 from Mr. Music Head just melts my brain. What a wonderful song on its own, but what an incredible homage to the Beatles.

    Found you again through my friend Matt's project, The Everyone Orchestra.

    Thanks for everything.

  9. Kind of embarrased - my google name has been LoneRhino for years. Chosen as an homage to the 'Twang Bar King'. I posted yesterday and forgot about that association. Hope it didn't look sychophantic or wierd. Never imagined i would be using it on AB's blog

    "Ain't one hell of a lots of us
    left in this world."

    Dumb question:
    can you tell me where the link is found to 'P Type'. How are you dudes listening to it? Can't find it here on my little screen.

    Any one out there in the e space lacunna got a hint for me?

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. lonerhino,

    Click on StoreBelew Music Downloads from the front page of ElephantBlog.

    Tracks are $1.49 each, plans are to post all of the tracks from Dust.

    One of Adrian's earlier posts has more details.

  12. Lonerhino, if it makes you feel better, I read your name as "loner hino" at first.

  13. Loner Hino ta hee hee hee.

    Somehow seemes more descriptive of the owner actually.

    "Don't hold your breath ti'll make you blue"