MARCH 2017

Things continue to move forward in the AS FOLLOWS camp, and there are several projects going on in various states of completion/undress. The latest news lies below!

:: The live lineup for AS FOLLOWS will be venturing forth on our maiden voyage on Saturday April 8 at Gussy's in Astoria. We will be playing the 3 "core" songs from AGP; i.e. the ones that basically hold the narrative thread together. One of the songs has been modified to include a rather large improvised jam; it is probably my favorite part of the entire set. I hope to get some useable audio from the show as this would be a great thing to share with all the folks that cannot make it to the gig!

:: FOUNDATION continues to move forward. I have been knuckling down with the lyrics for PART III. I would say the lyrics are at about the 50% mark and when complete they can go straight to Kurt for his vocal magic.

:: There are a couple of new AS FOLLOWS songs just about complete. The first one is PURPLE PROSE which has all of the music complete and just needs a vocal line and lyrics (but I already know the subject material). The other is FOR THE USERS, the latest song in the WORLD OF TRON series. It came together super-fast and lyrics are done. I will not be getting vocals done for a while yet as I want to focus on FOUNDATION. It's nice having a couple of songs in the wings, though!

:: Just waiting on the stems for the final part of VOYAGER II and then I can begin mixing the massive instrumental collaboration with Jan Fekkes. This has been a super-fun project to work on and it was great fun just writing the skeletons for the songs and letting someone else add their own elements and style to them!

:: I am working on a  couple of very interesting collaborations this month! The first one is with my younger brother. We will be releasing our first co-written song in 22 years! Just waiting on the vocal tracks and that one can go out into the Wild (I am sensing a theme here). The song will be released under our original band name, URSHURAK. The song is called EMILY THE IMAGINARY GIRL, or EMILY T.I.G. for short. The other collaboration is a rather interesting set of songs from the AF live singer, Lucia Marconi. The first song is called IN THE MOOD and is a rather folk-Zeppelin inspired number. I love the chord progression and hope my contributions will do the song justice.

FEBRUARY 2017 UPDATE

Have a few bits of news for you all in the Matrix:

:: LIVE SHOWS are definitely coming! The first live show is APRIL 8 @ GUSSY'S in Astoria, Queens! We are playing with ORISSA and a couple other progressive bands TBD. Hope to see some of you out there!

:: Vocal tracks have been delivered for THE ENCYCLOPEDISTS and they sound great! Mixing will begin on that song shortly, and work has already begun on the next song, THE MAYORS.

:: The final song for VOYAGER II is in the works! We are right on track for the production to be completed by the end of February, so there is an expected release date some time in March. It's an ambitious piece of soundscape music, totally around an hour long.

:: Work has begun on the next WORLD OF TRON single, FOR THE USERS.

JANUARY 2017

Well, 2016 is behind us and 2017 is off to a roaring start!

As usual, there are several things going on in the AF camp:

First and foremost, the live lineup is almost complete! Just looking for a dedicated keyboard player, but that's not going to stop us from booking gigs; the bass player and myself will share keyboard duties in the interim. First gig is expected in late February.

FOUNDATION continues to progress through the recording and mixing stage, as does VOYAGER II. And the first song for MARGINALIA has been written; it's 11 and a half minutes long and is very much in the neo prog vein!

 

NOVEMBER 2016

Greetings and salutations! I hope this month's update finds you well.

Another exciting month in the AS FOLOWS camp, so let's get right to it!

:: The first single from the upcoming FOUNDATION has been released worldwide. It is titled THE TRIAL OF HARI SELDON and covers the first part of Asimov's FOUNDATION from Hari Seldon's discovery of the Galactic Empire's crash, his trial and sentencing, and the formation of the Foundation on Terminus. All in under 6 minutes!

:: The live band version of AS FOLLOWS continues to form. Our first rehearsal is going to be Saturday, 26 November, and we will see what happens afterwards. All of the musicians involved are top notch so I am not expecting any major train wrecks; this will be more of a chemistry/scheduling thing as to whether the lineup will survive. Right now only the core elements exist: vocals, drums, bass, guitar. Still looking for keys and second guitar!

:: VOYAGER II is officially half written! The 30 week production schedule is proceeding exactly as planned, which is good, so a late February release is looking very likely, with FOUNDATION to be released a month or so after. I will be writing the final part to VOYAGER II as soon as I am finished typing this blog, in fact.

OCTOBER 2016

Greetings and salutations! A couple of crazy-busy months have gone by, but AS FOLLOWS is still in FULL SWING. Several news items worth mentioning, so let's get right to it!

:: VOYAGER II. This album is progressing at a very nice, steady pace. Expected release date is late February 2017, to be followed by FOUNDATION and FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE just afterwards. 2 of the 6 songs for VOYAGER II are complete, the third song is in the works now, and 5 of the 6 songs are written; it is my sincere hope that the final part will be written this weekend, and then it's just waiting on my collaborators to turn in their parts. This project has been a JOY thus far and everything sent in from the international cast of collaborators has been intriguing and inspiring. Starting the motion set forth with Galactic Entropy, which was a mix of guitar and heavy synths ... continuing on to MCP, which is 100% synths but I played all of the parts on an actual guitar ... to VOYAGER II, wherein I play ZERO guitar; my contributions to VOYAGER II are purely played on keyboards. It's been a fun and educational experience, but ...

:: FOUNDATION. ... but, everything rebalances. FOUNDATION sees a return to guitar-driven songs. This is the heaviest guitar to appear on an AS FOLLOWS release to date; the overall mood of the album is, in fact, very dark and mid-tempo. It has a few twists and turns, but mostly sets up a mood and stays there. While being a lot less technically flashy than Arthur Gordon Pym or MCP, it established a mood and just stays there. Very dark percussion loops, moody synths, and very distorted guitar parts dominate FOUNDATION. All of the songs are written and we are in the lyric/vocal stage now. The plan is to release this album March/April 2017.

:: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE. Very serious thought is now being given to the sequel to FOUNDATION. In keeping with the pendulum swinging that is AF's music, FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE will be acoustic based. It will have a low track count, probably just 3 tracks.

 

:: MARGINALIA. This will be my attempt at super-neo-prog. Half of the first song is already written. 15/8 time. Key of B Major. Fun stuff!

LATE AUGUST 2016

Some VERY cool bits of news to report from the last few weeks:

:: MCP seems to have struck a cord with people, as it garnered hundreds of downloads! This is incredibly exciting for multiple reasons, but the main one is that doing a studio-only project with online collaborators is a bit like working in a bottomless pit; you rarely get feedback from the 'bottom'; i.e., people in the Real World. It was nice to see some sort of gauge that I am not simply doing this for my sole amusement. :)

:: Speaking of AS FOLLOWS being a studio-only project ... there are plans currently afoot to play AS FOLLOWS material LIVE. This is incredibly exciting; I have always wondered what it would be like to perform these songs live, and it looks like that is going to be happening in the not-too-distant future! It is starting small: just myself, a singer, and backing tracks. We will see what develops from there. (I have been shackled/held back by bands in the past, so the only way to ensure things move along quickly is to keep it lean and mean, I'm afraid). AS FOLLOWS will always primarily be a studio project, and I will continue to work with Claire and Kurt for as long as they will have me; but, it will be nice to play out again...

:: Drums for FOUNDATION are now COMPLETE! Just waiting on the final tracks, and then it's on to vocals and mixing. The birthing process for FOUNDATION has been overly-long, in my opinion, but it's my own fault. Being in 2 bands at the same time was just too much of a strain. Glad we got that sorted, though. :)

:: The collaborative tracks for VOYAGER II continue to roll in; that is going to be an immense piece of work. I am already proud of what we have, and it's not even really begun yet!

That's all for now!

JULY/AUGUST 2016

SUMMER is here, and that always signals a time of increased activity for me. Not because I have any additional 'time off' to work on music, but mostly due to the fact that I am strangely energized in the Summertime; I just cannot sleep. And sleeplessness is a great ally to working on music!

The past month has been quite surprising with hundreds of digital downloads of MCP; something I certainly never expected! I am so excited to see some feedback to at least indicate that there actual people out there in the Digital Aether that enjoy this stuff ...

So, the current AS FOLLOWS plate looks like this:

FOUNDATION. Just waiting on drums for the final song and then we move over to vocals. Behind schedule, but it WILL see light of day. Secured the great Kurt Borst once again for vocals, and I am really looking forward to putting this one to bed!

FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE. The Symphonic Folk album is a GO! Now that the primary tracks are all but complete for FOUNDATION, I can relegate my primary focus on FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE and then work on FOUNDATION in my 'B' time ... (aka, my daily commute time to and from work). I am very excited to start working on the Symphonic Folk album; it will be a refreshing change to put the electric guitars in the back seat for a while and see if I can come up with something new. :)

WORLD OF TRON. Playing 'round with some hooks for the follow up to MCP; not entirely sure when the next WoT song will be out, though.

VOYAGER II. The epic, ambient synth instrumental is also a Go and I have secured several online collaborators from around the globe to contribute! 30 week production schedule with a February release is planned. Maybe mix this one in analogue? Hmm...

SUPER-PROG ALBUM FOR 2017. Title still unknown, it will be 4-6 very long, very proggy songs. First song is halfway written already. I am really taking my time with this one, I want it to be special. Probably a late 2017 release but hopefully worth the wait. It will NOT have an over-arching concept but be separate, self-contained songs.

JUNE 2016 UPDATE

Lots of exciting news to share; the new single, MCP, will be released in a few days. Claire is working on the drums for the penultimate track to FOUNDATION, which means we could be looking at an early Winter release for the first part of the story.

Writing has begun for the Part 2 of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY, and I am in the planning stages for a large-scale instrumental piece which will be revealed when the stars are right. :)

EARLY MAY 2016 -- BACK ON THE AIR!

HAPPY SPRING!

Where do we start?? It's been several weeks since there has been time to work on the web site, blog, etc ... but we are now back!

AS FOLLOWS has released its first single, MCP. It is based on the original Tron movie and will be officially released in the month of May. 

Here's a quick recap of what's been going on in the AF camp:

Work continues on the follow up to Galactic Entropy. We are now working on the drums to the penultimate track, furiously writing lyrics and vocal melodies, and hope to have this album out later this year. The entire project has proven to be much harder than I had originally envisioned so it has slowed it down a bit; hence the release of the single to tide things over while we complete the larger work.

Foundation is broken into 5 parts; I am still debating whether to release it as separate tracks or a single, 30-minute long piece ... I will see how the mixing goes, I guess. I may do something similar to Fire & Fear and it will available in both formats, depending on your endurance level lol.

 

January 2016

2 days into the new year, and we have hit the ground running. Claire is completing the drums for FOUNDATION and the lyrics/vocal lines are starting to take shape. 

Just as exciting, all of the primary tracking for MCP is now complete! Using Arturia's brilliant Spark virtual drum machine, I was able to cherry pick my favourite drum sounds of Yesteryear for MCP: a spoonful of Simmons here, a dash of Linn drums there ... blended into a zesty soup of analogue drum synth goodness. :)

Winter has traditionally been a time when I get a lot of writing done, and this year will not be an exception as the next item on the docket is song 2 for FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE. Simultaneously writing, recording, mixing, and releasing multiple releases is a task I would rather not do again, but now that I am in the thick of it I am beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, the finished product will be worth the effort.

December 2015

A few bits of news as 2015 winds down:

AS FOLLOWS is the featured artist in the Music In Widescreen podcast! I had no clue, so this came as a pleasant surprise. You can check out the entire episode here,http://www.musicinwidescreen.com/2015/12/20/episode-630-featuring-as-followss-the-narrative-of-arthur-gordon-pym/

Musically, things are a bit chaotic right now as I am going full-bore on FOUNDATION while also writing another single for a Spring release. FOUNDATION is about halfway through the writing process,  The plan is to record the acoustic guitars for FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE during Memorial Day weekend. I am still undecided on what direction I want to go in for the final chapter of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY, but having more pressing fish to fry at the moment is keeping me from having to make that decision any time soon. :)

The next single to be released is MCP. It will be part of a series of songs based on the world of Tron from the original movie. All of the songs in this cycle are being done 100% with synthesizers; even the guitar parts are synths! It's proving to be a lot of fun, and a challenge; I've not had to step-write drum parts in ages!!

EARLY NOVEMBER 2015

GALACTIC ENTROPY is the first installment of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY.

The next few blog posts will cover the concept, arrangement, writing, recording, and mixing of the upcoming 'single'.

GALACTIC ENTROPY, PART 4:
RECORDING


Since tradition was being broken in every other aspect of GALACTIC ENTROPY, that theme was carried over into the recording process as well.

The synth tracks were layered and layered until there was a dense, 'wall of sound' type of background ... in some instances there are as many as 14-15 synths playing at once!

Over that bed were numerous overdubs of the anaolgue lead synth parts; sometimes as few as 2, but more often 4-8 lead synth tracks were recorded.

As I did not want to reamp the bass guitar, it was recorded live to replace the demo bass. This was to be the last recording with my old workhorse bass: an unnamed 20 year old Squire Bronco -- a very cheap bass guitar that I modified with a Stew-Mac P bass pickup (which I accidentally installed backwards!).

For the past few years I have been reamping my guitar tracks; that is, recording them straight into the computer and then feeding that track through a more traditional guitar amplifier and microphone at a later date, re-recording that signal in place of the direct one.

For GALACTIC ENTROPY I wanted to play the guitar parts LIVE. This also translated to my choice of amp used, speaker cabinet, and microphone. I even recorded the guitar with all its effects on it, instead of layering them in when mixing.

(Little did I realize exactly how big of a headache it would be to mix all of this stuff together!)

Once the parts were recorded, it was time to make a rough and send it along with all my notes to Claire for final drum tracks. At the same time, I started working on the vocal lines and lyrics for Kurt.

The entire process was super smooth and I think I recorded all of the tracks and had drum and vocal tracks back within a month. Kurt ended up sending me thirteen separate vocal tracks, so even more layers to add!

MID OCTOBER 2015

GALACTIC ENTROPY is the first installment of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY.

The next few blog posts will cover the concept, arrangement, writing, recording, and mixing of the upcoming 'single'.

GALACTIC ENTROPY, PART 3:
WRITING


Each of the 5 sections of GALACTIC ENTROPY followed the same basic structure:

FIRST, the tempo was set. Once I slaved the Arturia Beatstep to my DAW (digital audio workstation), I played round with various melodies until I had a melodic loop that I liked.

 

SECOND, the drum parts were sketched out using Logic Drummer.

 

THIRD, I selected what sounds I wanted for both the backing, foundational chords, as well as the 'lead' parts. Almost exclusively, I used digital ROMpler synths for the chords and analogue synths for the leads.

 

FOURTH, I wrote the bass lines and recorded the basic bass track.

FIFTH, I wrote the guitar parts. Since I really wanted to challenge myself this time out, I chose to tune my guitar to Gm/B-flat and had to teach myself all the necessary chord shapes. I took meticulous notes for the guitar parts as I also wanted to challenge myself with the recording process ...

EARLY OCTOBER 2015

GALACTIC ENTROPY is the first installment of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY.

The next few blog posts will cover the concept, arrangement, writing, recording, and mixing of the upcoming 'single'.

GALACTIC ENTROPY, PART 2:
THE ARRANGEMENT

Going into this piece, I knew a couple of things: a) that it would be a long-scale piece; b) that it would need to be structured in a way that could be continuously broken down as it progressed.

To simulate musically what I wanted to covey -- the last moments of the physical universe collapsing into itself -- I decided that I would use a repeating chord motif that would slow down with each repetition until I got to a running time of about 20 minutes.

A timely Snapple bottle provided me with the key signature for the piece: according to Snapple, the key signature of a collapsing star is B-flat.

For the actual chord progression, I wanted to do something totally different, which meant not using the guitar. (In fact, I had determined not to pick up the guitar until the last possible minute.)

Instead, I turned to JS Bach; specifically, to his chorale works and rules for 4-part harmonization. Using his guidelines I was able to write a progression that ticked all the boxes: expansive and vaguely classical whist serving as a suitable bed for the melodic and rhythmic elements.

The chord progression I settled on was (it's a long one):
Bb
Bb11
Cmin
Amin7 b5
Dmin11
Eb
EbSus4
Gmin
GSus4
FSus4
FMaj
Dmin Aug5

Once the chords and structure were set, it was time to start writing the sections!

 

LATE SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE

GALACTIC ENTROPY is the first installment of the FOUNDATION TETRALOGY

The next few blog posts will cover the concept, arrangement, writing, recording, and mixing of the upcoming 'single'. 

GALACTIC ENTROPY, PART 1:
THE CONCEPT


THE FIRST BOOK IN THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY BEGINS WITH THE STARTLING REVELATION THAT THE GALACTIC EMPIRE IS HEADED FOR COLLAPSE IN A MERE 300 YEARS.

I WANTED TO FOCUS ON AND EXPAND UPON THAT IDEA BECAUSE I FIND THE CONCEPT OF ENTROPY TO BE FASCINATING.

MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS: WHAT IF WE EXPAND THE CONCEPT TO BE MORE UNIVERSAL? INSTEAD IF A GOVERNMENT'S COLLAPSE, WE EXPAND THE IDEA TO HAVE THE UNIVERSE ITSELF COLLAPSING? WHAT IF WE USE THE UNIVERSE'S ULTIMATE SLIP INTO DARKNESS AS A METAPHOR FOR THE BREAKDOWN OF THE POLITICAL MACHINERY THAT KEPT THE EMPIRE ALIVE?

I LIKED THAT IDEA VERY MUCH AND IMMEDIATELY STARTED SEEING DOUBLE MEANINGS IN THE CONCEPT, WHERE STARLIGHT IS USED AS A SYMBOL FOR KNOWLEDGE AND SOCIETY, AS THE EMPIRE DECAYS INTO BARBARISM.

WHEREAS THE FOLLOWING 3 PARTS OF THE TETRALOGY WOULD FOLLOW THE NARRATIVE OF THE BOOKS, THIS PROLOGUE WOULD GIVE ME THE CHANCE TO PRODUCE A SINGLE, EXPANSIVE PIECE THAT REFLECTED THAT BREAKDOWN BOTH LYRICALLY AND MUSICALLY.

NOW THE QUESTION WAS: HOW DOES ONE CONVEY THE IDEA OF GALACTIC COLLAPSE IN MUSIC??!

SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE

Another busy Summer comes to a close and I notice that once again I have been remiss in keeping up with the blog!

So, first: a quick Spring recap

May saw the release of Part II of the Edgar Allan Poe Duology with THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM. Writing-wise and production-wise this saw a leap forward as well as 'shorter', more complex arrangements than THE EYE OF FIRE AND FEAR. It also saw the debut of new collaborators CLAIRE BROCK on drums and KURT BORST on vocals.

There was little time to rest, however, as I was busy getting the next concept in place, which I can talk about in more detail in the coming posts!

Where that leaves us now is the introduction to the next AF mega-work: the 4-part FOUNDATION TETRALOGY, based on the seminal SciFi trilogy by Isaac Asimov.

October will see the first release in the FOUNDATION series. It is titled GALACTIC ENTROPY and is an 18-minute long, single piece.

A LOT of effort went into GALACTIC ENTROPY, from the initial concept to the final mix, and it is probably the most conceptual piece I have ever completed.

Over the next few blog posts I will break down my approach to the tetralogy as a whole and specifically for GALACTIC ENTROPY.

Belated March update

Whew, March flew by without a second glance and it's hard to believe it is now April 1 as I write this.

March was super-busy for a lot of reasons, but the new album is now OUT and available at most major digital distribution sites.

ARTHUR GORDON PYM had a soft pre-release but an immediate positive response from the prog community.

2 radio shows have started playing songs from AGP, which is great, and listener response to the album as a whole has been overwhelmingly positive.

A random sampling of some feedback received:

"Production perfection."

"Really enjoyed it. Kind of reminiscent of old YES. Definitely a kind of Steve Howe thing going on, but not a rip off...the finished product is very good."

"... a well crafted album with lots of variety, nice melodies and an amazing vocalist. Thumbs up!"

"Sounds great. Once one starts to listen its necessary to continue."

The next hurdle is trying to get some REVIEWS of the album. In years past, it was almost too easy to get your album reviewed. These days I cannot get a reply to my queries to save my life!

My goal for April is to get as many reviews as possible. Just gotta figure out HOW!! :)