Sunday, March 09, 2008

thoughts on wack cylinders

wack cylinders is now available for free download! get it now!

so okay, we all know that my new album is called wack cylinders, it has cool databent cover art, and it's my first official solo release since 2004. (droplift II doesn't really count.) but what is it? what's it about? what does it sound like?

let's start at the beginning. about seven years ago, i started performing live, and had to face the same dilemma all electronic musicians face. how do you do it live? by its nature, most modern electronic music is heavily studio-based. effectively transferring that to a live setting is immensely difficult. since you can't bring your whole studio with you, the only way to get your live show to sound like the record is to basically play the recording itself... that or bring all your gear and play the sequence, which is almost the same thing.

in other words, a lot of electronic performances are little more than the artist pressing "play" a bunch of times. how do you make that compelling for an audience? and how do you present yourself and your music artistically in a way you can be proud of?

successful electronic musicians tackle this in different ways. some become djs and build up mad dj skills. some develop elaborate stage shows to distract from the fact that they aren't really doing anything musical onstage. some just get really good at their gear and essentially remix themselves live. and some take the path i eventually took: i gave up trying to duplicate my records, and i started improvising.

my process for live shows goes something like this. first, i record a bunch of raw material. usually, i'll do something like flip through the tv channels randomly for awhile, record that, and then run it through some kind of audio effect. then i'll burn these processed sounds to cd, along with any other samples i've collected recently, and at the show, i'll improvise on dj equipment using these recordings. (recently i've been using a laptop at shows instead, but the principles are the same.)

over the years i've developed and tweaked my improv style to the point where i feel pretty good about it. and i've accumulated a couple hundred cds full of raw audio, just waiting to be remixed. but i came upon a new dilemma: i had a distinctive live sound, but it didn't sound anything like any of my records!

thus wack cylinders was born. the idea behind wack cylinders is simple: to capture the essence of my live sound on a record. wack cylinders sounds like a stAllio! live show, but better, because i could delicately prepare for each session and clean up any mistakes afterward. it's like the platonic ideal of a stAllio! live show. many of the tracks were improvised live in the studio, and the rest were composed using similar techniques, or assembled out of improvised pieces.

another thing to note: this album is composed of 100% appropriated samples. but because of the way i created the raw material on which it's based, i honestly have no idea where the majority of those samples originally came from. a lot of the vocal samples i do know, but some of those i don't know either. in fact, there are two tracks on the album where i don't know where any of the samples came from. and there are a couple more where i have a rough idea where one of the samples came from but no solid details.

as the album neared completion, i realized i wasn't even close to done with the concept. thus, wack cylinders is part one of a trilogy i haven't named yet. part two is tentatively titled sword to your mother; i expect it to be more rhythmic, more like dance music. but i haven't started production on it yet, so i won't know for sure until it's done. since wack cylinders came out on march 9, 2008 (the day of the beginning of daylight saving time in the US), it'd be cool if sword to your mother came out on november 2 (the day DST ends), but that's not a promise.

so there you have it: wack cylinders. if you've heard me play live in the past few years and enjoyed it, you'll love this album. if you only know my work from previous albums, i think you're in for a surprise.

it's a free mp3 release, so download it, scrobble it, share it, and remix it if you're so inclined.


arratik said...

You've outdone yourself, man. This stuff rules!

I'm glad that "drinking song" finally found a home. I've always liked that track.

stAllio! said...

i've had the basic plan for wack cylinders since "drinking song" was recorded... back in late 2005. but first i had to finish parts is parts, and then my cross-fader broke and i had to get a new one.

djempirical said...

hey, be sure to add it to yr discog -- i was trying to find a tracklist to add it to MB and i had to go through this post.

caseyweed said...

stAllio!, thanks so much for this record. I've wanted to do exactly what you've done here for a really long time, but have never had the proper skill or equipment to do so. This record is really personal to me. I can sit alone and listen to it for some time. Thanks again.