Oct 302006

On this crisp autumn night, the eve of All Hallows’ Eve, i recognize within myself an ever-alive belief in fire worship. By the hearth, just now as always, i find heat and dancing color rising out of what is to me a mysterious force—this exchange of energy, this thing human beings know deep within themselves is a need, a guiding light, a comforting presence, an outstretched hand to the imagination.

And so it is too with the music that moves us. It nourishes, it comforts, it entertains, it inspires—in it we lose ourselves and find ourselves again. Through listening, our eyes are opened.

Juana Molina — Son

Somehow what is essentially an acoustic guitar and voice record provides the perfect answers to the questions posed by Bjork’s Medulla. Argentina catches a toss from Iceland.

The warmth and surreal elegance Molina delivers with her latest record bewitches the Soundroom crew into endless repeated listens. Her voice is the primary instrument, and Molina pushes it to be the most versatile, the most playful. Vocal performance, innovative live tracking techniques, and subsequent vocal treatments blend together seamlessly. Son is one of those records that feels familiar, and yet you’ve never before dreamt anything could sound like this.

Michael Brook — RockPaperScissors

A decade and a half since his latest solo effort, this arrival from the legendary Hamiltonian is a treat. He’s given us so much between then and now, it’s true: production for Jane Siberry, Djivan Gasparyan, Youssou N’Dour, U. Srinivas, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Claude Chalhoub, Cheb Khaled, et al.; original scores for Albino Alligator, Affliction, countless IMAX films, and lately the very successful An Inconvenient Truth.

RockPaperScissors, though sadly not a feast for those of us who love his unique guitar work, is precisely that for all who recognize his compositional style and production aesthetic as being truly visionary. The inimitable Richard Evans lends a big helping hand with this one, dialing in the heavy bottom on those API mic preamps, no doubt.

If you don’t buy the record, do yourself a favor and spend the 99 cents on “DarkerRoom” at the very least: Sir Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas as Michael Brook crafts the space around Burton’s voice. This is no ordinary fireside chat.

David Byrne — The Catherine Wheel

We’re now recognizing how much The Catherine Wheel is influencing the direction of the second Pseudophone record—currently in production—from a distance. Textured rhythms with a pop sensibility, music that demands great physical effort.

But, question: Who ever told David Byrne he could get away with singing like that? He sees the line and steps confidently right over the thing—or never sees the line to begin with. Idiot glee courage. What i admire first and foremost is that confidence.

And then the beats, the sonics, the heat-meets-cold irony of it all, it dances before you, and there is steam.

Goldfrapp — Supernature

On the stage Alison and Will look like workaholics, or playaholics, or whatever term best describes a team with the sheer exertion they put into their need to do this.

Goldfrapp is fun, is sexy, is terrifying, is comforting, is all about craft, all about superfluity masquerading as need, or the other way around.

Goldfrapp is playing with fire, and they make it look like neon.

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Oct 052006

Working titles include “Bruiser”, “Little Cloud of Pirates”, and “Moon Waltz”, among many others as Pseudophone ventures back into the studio now that the Red Sun Soundroom is once again operating on all cylinders.

With the exemplary efforts of my buddy Hoby—studio design innovator, master cable dresser, and proprietor of MoonDogEast—combined with the inspiring vibe of the 75-year-old building we’ve moved into, the Soundroom’s new location is proving to be a truly motivating work environment for composer, performer, and recordist. We’ve achieved just the right balance: a space comfortable enough to feel like a living room while serving as a home for gear calibrated to laboratory specifications.

Ms M. breezes by with an eye on ambiance, the walls all Wild Manzanita. We now have comfortable furniture.

Like anyone moving into a new home, we’ll keep tweaking. Upholstery decisions will undoubtedly become of greater importance than i’d previously thought possible. We’ve also embarked on a search for the ever-elusive technician capable of handling minor adjustments and tunings for the Soundroom’s Fender Rhodes Mark III EK-10 electric piano—we’ve put our best guy on it.

The most fun thing to report, though, is just how musical this new space is turning out to be. It was recently pointed out to me how impressive the shower sounds as a percussion instrument. Things sound really good here. This was prerequisite to choosing the space, of course, but our sense of it at the time of purchase was largely instinctual. We didn’t have the B&W; monitors in here with sound pressure level meters and a tone generator. There was a lot of hand-clapping and careful listening, then it became a gut decision.

A little luck, a lot of thought, and a truckload of heart went into the arrival of the Red Sun Soundroom to its new location. It’s quite a bit like how music is made around here. Crazy trip. Arrival.

An open house is on the horizon, though a date is not yet in ink.

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