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.