DIARY OF AN ALBUM: On July 1st, 2023, I began the work on the record ‘Apocalyptronica.’ The conceit behind Apolocalyptronica is that it’s a record in which all the musical parts were created with a grid controller. The drums were recorded on April 1, 2023 by the incredible Omar Hakim.
Making a record is a technical, emotional and spiritual challenge. As I work on it, I wrestle with the basic question of why I should be making a record at all? The world is full of beautiful music – why does it need more? Does it need another record that most likely very few will listen to? Is it worth sinking all this time and some amounts of money into this?
Every day, I consult with the heart and the gut, and out comes a justification for the project. Yes, the world is full of albums and singles, but the world is also full of flowers and one more flower in the world only adds a tiny amount of beauty, I figure, if I give this creation everything I can, perhaps it will add a little beauty to the world and most likely will cause no harm. Was it not Dostoevsky who wrote that in the end ‘beauty will save the world?’
I also want to explore how a grid controller can be used as a compositional tool. They are amazing instruments and still so new. Perhaps after this record, others will create amazing musical works with this interface.
Finally, I really want to perform with this new instrument. The pathway to live performance is first learning a repertoire. It’s only natural to play music that was specifically made to be played on the instrument.
So, almost every day this month, I’ve woken up at 7 – 7:15 AM. I’ve been a late riser most of my adult life, so this has been a refreshing change. After over 25 years in New York working as a musician, I’ve finally managed to become a morning person. Waking up is followed by 45 minutes of prayer, reading and planning in the little garden behind the apartment. Afterwards, an iced Americano at Northerly Coffee – a small coffee shop in South Williamsburg – and Adriana and I head to the McCarren Park for a work out, which for me is a mix of jumping rope, and calisthenics at the outdoor gym. We return around 9:30 – 10 and after a quick shower and breakfast, I work on the record for 6 hours with a coffee break in between.
The studio’s in a basement below my apartment with a small window into the garden. The first step, when I went into production, was to get my tools ready – I prepared by gear, wired it up and ordered everything. I made sure that all of the pieces were working and anything that I didn’t think would be useful for the record went into storage.
The record will have ten songs and three interludes. Everything was written using ‘Blinky’ and essentially has to be playable with the instrument. The goal in July has been to simply give everything a form and arrangement. The idea here is to keep the record simple – I’m imagining using ‘Blinky’ as a 4 – 5 piece rock band. The beauty of an EDI (electronic digital instrument) is that the performance interface can be many different instruments. I’m using Blinky for bass parts, chords, synth guitars and leads as well as risers.
So, on I go with the goal of finishing this in the fall. In the meantime, here’s a rough little sketch of what the music sounds like…