LP Sleeve

The Language Of Flowers

After five years of collaboration as Twigs & Yarn, Lauren and I have released our first full-length album on the Japanese label flau! I have never been more proud of a project than this record. The title The Language Of Flowers was borrowed from the Victorian-era practice of using flowers and flower arrangements to send secret messages, each flower representing a thought or emotion that could otherwise not be expressed. Similarly, Lauren and I traded sound files and images using  ftp servers between Texas and Japan for the better part of a year. These sound clips were intimate forms of sharing, with emotional meaning that would be difficult to express in words. Naturally, this collection of sounds began to form into songs as they were layered together and manipulated. I had never worked like this before but it was an easy transition. When two different sounds are layered together randomly, especially sounds with similar intention, it is amazing how musical and expansive the results can be… Serendipitous!

The record is currently available through the flau website in Vinyl, CD and Digital format. It will be available in US shops soon so stay tuned. We were lucky enough to play with some brilliant artists during a recent two week tour of Japan. You can visit twigsandyarn.net if your curious about the artists we played with. Also, we will be playing an album release show on in Austin on December 16th at Church Of The Friendly Ghost if you would like to purchase the album then…

weird weeds

weird weeds <> weird weeds

What I love most about the weird weeds’ music is the subtle shift in perspective that it playfully seduces from me. Before recording the album, they played a weekly residency at Cherrywood in order to solidify the arrangements. The first time I heard the new songs was at one of these performances. I distinctly remember them playing what would become track 3 on the album: a simple chord outlined on guitar, a four-note bass drone, and the most sparse drum beat I can remember since Hag Me by the Melvins. This song has NO MOVEMENT, in fact it might not even be a song. After about 2-3 minutes of unwavering repetition I was on the edge of my seat in awkward anticipation. Then, all at once, something clicked in my head. There was a moment of understanding or maybe self awareness where I realized the absurdity of my own expectations for the music. I was trying to superimpose my own internal narrative on the music, and simply NOT LISTENING. Nothing changed musically, and they must have continued for another 10 minutes; the only thing that changed was my perspective. In retrospect, the movement of this song is not musical, it is psychological; the aural equivalent of monochome painting. I loved it!

I must have looked like a confused dog with my head cocked to the side, but when I finally broke through and really started listening, I found myself at the bottom of a giant fish bowl, submerged beneath a tourmaline sky, the people and chairs around me barely grounded and gently swaying with the music. I didn’t want the song to end. I was beaming… The weird weeds do not force a change in perspective, they invite it. No one wants to be told that they are wrong, but when they come to that conclusion on their own it can be life changing.

We recorded the album live to tape using an MCI JH16 2” 16-Track. It was then mixed and mastered by John Dieterich (Deerhoof, Gorge Trio, and more). Available through Sedimental Records: http://www.sedimental.com/catalog/index.php?ID=67

Story tapes from my childhood…

Spellbinder TapesAs a child I would listen to these cassettes so often I am surprised they still play. They are a perfect companion for restless nights, tucked under the covers and waiting for sleep…

Rip Van Winkle

Gulliver’s Travels

Tom Sawyer Side-A

Tom Sawyer Side-B

Shakey Graves

on distortion and transformation

I recently started a recording project with Shakey Graves. His first full length release was recorded using hand-held and 4-track recorders mostly in his home, which he then edited with great care. For some engineers the idea of “improving” the sound on any subsequent albums would seem easy, given the controlled environment of a studio and the use of nice microphones, preamps, tape, etc. For me however, the task of following up a well executed bedroom recording with a “studio” recording sounds like a potential disaster. Which he and I talked about at great length…

There are (at least) two distinct musical audiences that you have to consider when deciding on process: those that value honesty and imperfection versus those that value arrangement and exactness. By focusing on one you often alienate the other. One of the biggest challenges for me is to recognize and limit my own impulse to correct anomalies in a performance or recording. It has never been easier to ruin a good recording, because it has never been easier to fix all the mistakes.

I am finding that being transparent as an engineer is rarely the most interesting approach. Sometimes an awkward edit can make a boring or expected transition seem magical. It is refreshing to work with someone who can appreciate less than perfect edits as compositional tools, as musical phenomenon, and not view them simply as means to an exacting end.

We as a culture have grown to love distortion, whether we are individually aware of it or not. This is why analog still sounds better to most people. The mathematical accurateness of digital recording, reliable and convenient though it may be,  is something that we can appreciate only in theory. A transparent medium is rarely the most interesting… and I find myself distorting what was perfectly clear.

I am conflicted; as an engineer I instinctively strive for some form of perfection while as a listener I am continually drawn to rough edges and personal inflection. Actually, this contradiction extends through most aspects of my life. Perhaps it is a balance we all struggle with; maybe it’s just me. Wish us luck…

You can listen and purchase Shakey Graves’ last album here:

ROLL THE BONES

pure x feet

PURE X PLEASURE

…recording PURE X reminds of why I so cherished my first four-track and how easy it was to whittle away the night alone experimenting with backmasking techniques, learning to use pedals as instruments, deep listening, sneaking out of the house to smoke, and pining over my suicidal-blonde-cheerleader girlfriend. Why did I ever pretend to grow up?

They just released PLEASURE, their first LP on Acephale Records, which is a combination of new songs we recently tracked live to an MCI JH-16 2″ and older songs that were recorded remotely on a TASCAM 80-8 and remixed. I have listened to the album three times today; it has a sound that can’t quite let go of me, a welcoming sound, a sound that insistently reminds me to CHILL THE FUCK OUT.
Listen to the album here:

http://soundcloud.com/alteredzones/sets/pure-x-pleasure

Buy the album here:

http://acephalerecords.com/

Read reviews here:

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15575-pleasure/
http://www.thefader.com/2011/07/05/stream-pure-xs-album-pleasure/
http://austintownhall.com/2011/07/05/pure-x-pleasure/
http://austinist.com/2011/07/05/pure_x_-_pleasure_album_review.php

Watch a video here:

Pure X – “Easy” from Malcolm Elijah on Vimeo.

alexacover

It’s a good life honey, if you don’t grow weary

Alexa Woodward is an Appalachian-influenced banjo/mando player, singer and song writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. We recently finished a full-length album together titled “It’s a good life, Honey, if you don’t grow weary”, which was started back in August of 2010. Alexa has been a great supporter of the Annie Street Arts Collective and some say Leland. She is an amazing artist to work with, possessing both clear artistic vision and a warm humility; I feel very fortunate to have contributed to these wonderful songs!

Most of the tracking was done over a 10 day period at Shine Studios in Austin (after rehearsals at the Annie Street Arts Collective). The players included Linky Dickson, Andrew Pressman, Nick Hennies, Lindsey Verrill, Dan Grissom, Adam Rader, Shakey Graves, myself and many others. We recorded Digital and Mastered to 1/4″ tape at Cacophony Recorders.

You can learn more about Alexa, read album reviews, watch videos, and check tour dates at her website: www.alexawoodward.com

Buy the Album here:

CD Baby

Bandcamp

Pale Blue Line from Dale Mackey on Vimeo.

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Linen Closet at Central Presbyterian

Linen Closet – Snuggle Song

After two nights of warming up the Central Presbyterian Church with too little known phenomenon like some say Leland, Alexa Wooward, John Vinyard, and Lost River/Old River, the universe smiled on Adam Hilton and his group Linen Closet. Or rather, Linen Closet smiled on the universe.

I have seen Linen Closet play only a few times. Perhaps a byproduct of their rarity, each performance is different in instrumentation and dynamics but always special, always heart wrenching. Adam’s voice sounds to me like a morning light revelation, something impossible to share with anyone, the peeking in of self after days of not knowing. When he lets loose I feel suspended and alive; I remember what music is for.

Linen Closet’s exceptionally reserved players include John Vinyard, Travis Austin, Aaron Castillo, Justin Boyle, Henna Chou, Sara Berger, Lauren McMurray and Ethan Greene. I recorded the show with an AMS Soundfield Microphone (thanks Larry!). Expect an EP from Linen Closet very soon…

Linen Closet on Myspace

 

Buy the EP BRIGHT WING here:

http://linencloset.bandcamp.com/album/bright-wing 

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C.O.T.F.G Film Screening

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FILM -screened throughout the evening

The Vintage Films of John L. and Alois J. Morkovsky:

A screening of raw, unedited 8mm films collected by Bishop John L. Morkovsky and his brother Alois J. Morkovsky, both of whom were world travelers and ministers of the Catholic Church. The footage spans much of their adult lives from the 1930’s to the 1970’s and includes religious ceremonies, international travels, and home movies. The footage was recently digitized by TAMI (Texas Archive of the Moving Image).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Louis_Morkovsky

http://www.texasarchive.org

 

MUSIC

9:30pm TEAADORA NIKOLOVA

“dark, bilingual singer-songwriter who performs what could be best described as lo-fi acoustic folk coupled with minimalist compositions and performance art.” ~ The Tallahasse Democrat

http://soundcloud.com/teaadora

http://www.myspace.com/teaadora

8:45pm TWIGS & YARN

is an ambient, mixed-media folk duo based in Austin. Their music ranges from largely improvisational to meticulously arranged. Small children’s toys, found-sounds, photographs, clinking cans, guitars, shakers, bath water, and a variety of other homemade items and electronics comprise their subtle textured music. twigs & yarn is Stephen Orsak and Lauren McMurray.

http://wee-pink-sound.com/twigsandyarn

8:00pm MIRM

is an exercise in ongoing process: source material is recorded, edited, sequenced, randomized, rendered and re-contextualized. The pieces are variations of themes – a conversation between a machine process and the malleability of human inclination: a meme in the rhythm machine.

http://mirm.org

http://www.churchofthefriendlyghost.org/

old school house

some say Leland / ghost town antics

“Overflow” – some say Leland

Cole suggested that we go big, so some say Leland decided to employ a junior high orchestra to help us achieve our Morriconian goals.

Lindsey and I decided that the best way to make a junior high orchestra sound fantastic was to let them do exactly what they never get to do: make loud hideous noises with complete disregard to the usual trappings of western music like pitch and timing. Instead of scoring any parts for them, we used a loose framework and a series of hand gestures to create slowly shifting atonal walls of sound that immediately evoke bloody scenes of yore.

Our intent was to collect a dozen or so samples that we could then layer in post production for texture and tension. We collected a few different iterations, most of which started in a particular key and then slowly shifted away from that key and into an atonal cacophony according to Lindsey’s visual cues.

The kids were fantastic and their performance exceeded our expectations. It always amazes me how two disparate sound sources can mesh so well just based on their intent. Even though our guidelines and goals were loose, the orchestra samples fit perfectly… Most of the students didn’t even know the recording was happening, they just showed up to morning rehearsal to find Lindsey and I there with our glitter batons, having never heard the song their performance was intended for.

There is subtle layering of the orchestra throughout the song, but you can hear the orchestra in full effect during the last minute or two of the song. Have a listen!

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Paper Cloud SXSW Party

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:::::::::::::::::::::Paper Cloud Collective Presents:::::::::::::::::::::
FRIDAY MARCH 19th DAYSHOW
an unoffical SXSW Backyard Showcase
sponsored in part by austinsound.net & rockstar bagels

|||||featuring artists||||||

3:00 – 3:30 = alexa woodward
3:45 – 4:15 = dana falconberry
4:30 – 5:00 = tom brosseau & shelley short
5:15 – 5:45 = dan grissom
6:00 – 6:30 = south china
6:45 – 7:15 = twigs & yarn
7:30 – 8:00 = inlets
8:15 – 8:45 = peter & the wolf

 

CD Release and Crystals-3

Dana Falconberry CD Release

These images were take at Dana Falconberry’s CD release party at the mohawk in January of 2010. I feel lucky to have been a part of the project! Here is an excerpt from the Austin American Statesman review:
“In a toasty living room in an old house next to a dilapidated motel in the middle of the 2,500-strong town of Hallettsville, Dana Falconberry and three of her friends gathered around their microphones one day in June and recorded for 11 hours.
They tore through 30 songs, recording most of the wispy, buoyant folk songstress’ catalog. Outside, in the still summer air, the cicadas chirped so loudly you can sometimes hear them on the recording, deep in the mix.
‘It was beautiful and spooky driving down these country roads in the middle of the night. You can see all the stars,’ Falconberry says . ‘So it was kind of like this magical trip to get there. And we pull up and there’s this inn that’s totally crazy and looked like the Bates motel. It was creepy, but it was perfect.’
The sleepy burg of Hallettsville — just down the road from Shiner and about 110 miles southeast of Austin — provided the perfect backdrop for the recording of Falconberry’s ‘Halletts,’ her spare, stripped-down second full-length album, for which she plays a CD release show tonight at the Mohawk.
Falconberry chose the unusual locale — the home belongs to the grandmother of friend and engineer Stephen Orsak — with an eye toward making a record that better captured the purity of her live performance. 2008’s ‘Oh Skies of Gray,’ the debut from the ethereal Austin-based musician, was an enchanting exercise in alluring folk that — with its lush production from Roy Taylor, a touring sound engineer for Patty Griffin and others who’d recorded such Austin acts as Glass Eye, Stick People and Craig Ross — sounded nothing like her live performances.
For ‘Halletts,’ Falconberry went back to basics, recording with a small band that included harmonizing vocalists Gina Dvorak and Lauren McMurray and bass from Andrew Bergmann. Six of its eight songs appeared on ‘Oh Skies of Gray,’ in remarkably different form — what sounded enrapturing but involving on the debut sounds simple and clean on Halletts.”
You can read the full review here: Austin American Statesman Article
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The images below were take at Dana Falconberry’s CD release party at the mohawk in January of 2010. I feel lucky to have been a part of the project!

Hallets Review in the Austin American Statesman

Hallets Review on TapeBombs

Raina-Rose-6

Raina Rose “When May Came”

Last september I had the pleasure of engineering a full length album for Raina Rose and friends. We recorded the album remotely over a four day period in a friends living room. The musicianship on this album is really fantastic, and most of the tracking was done live, including vocals. This is a teaser for the “making of” video that is being produced by Robert Steel. You can find more about Raina on her website: www.rainarose.com

You can also purchase “When May Came” on iTunes:

Raina on iTunes

Here is what annie street arts collective had to say about the album:

Annie Street Arts Collective Review

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Sugar Sessions / Dana Falconberry

I think artists perform better when you liberate them from their usual environment. And I think perhaps the best recordings are made in the country! For weeks we wracked our brains to come up with a good location. Dana really wanted to record in an abandoned house, I really wanted to record somewhere with air conditioning… We settled on my Grandmother’s house in Hallettsville, a small town just east of the infamous Shiner, Tx. No one is living there right now so we had plenty of privacy, and my Grandmother’s decorations and collections were pure inspiration for Dana’s lace and chalk style of neo-folk music.

We arrived on Saturday and spent the evening turning the wood paneled living room into a sweet recording studio. On Sunday the whole band arrived, bright-eyed and fresh for a thirteen hour session… We recorded 18 songs, with multiple takes of each song. We specifically wanted to capture a classic ensemble sound with a modern Hi-Fi intimacy and clarity. Luckily the band sounded fantastic and well rehearsed, which makes all the difference when recording so many takes live.

Thanks Dana for an inspiring weekend. And thanks to the musicians for your beautiful voices and effortless style…

Dana Falconberry – songwriting, vocals, guitar
Gina Dvorak – vocals, percussion, banjo
Andrew Bergmann – bass
Lauren McMurray – vocals, percussion

Stay Tuned for the CD release…

http://www.myspace.com/danafalconberry

 

sslBasement

some say Leland on the KUT

This is the second time this summer that one of my recordings has been featured on KUT’s Texas Music Matters as song of the day!

KUT song of the day…

I play guitar with some say Leland and engineered/co-produced their recent album Fifty Miles Into The Main. I have been working with them for close to two years now and I’m really proud of the project. The overall mood and musicianship of the album is fantastic and Erik Wofford of Cacophony did a wonderful double mint mastering job.

“Some Say Leland has a gem with their latest full-length, Fifty Miles Into the Main. They’ve assembled a collection of simple, lovely melodies housing tales that strike up a sort of melancholy, a sense of longing that pulls the heart strings mighty hard. But there’s no sentimentality here. These are solid, gorgeous songs, American roots music at its best.” – Laurie Gallardo – Austin Music Minute – KUT

Purchase Fifty Miles Into The Main

Visit us on Myspace

 

 

nate-grace2

Triple Mint Mastering

DWLDWD by Nate Grace was featured as the KUT song of the day last Friday! We recorded the song the weekend before using my magical 8-trk, blew it out using an old cassette tape deck, then mastered it back onto the 8-trk for the triple mint master sound…

Here’s what KUT had to say:

“Austin’s Nate Grace has embraced his lo-fi side, with his first two releases available only in cassette. Now he’s moved on to 7″ with Bangin On Wine. coming out late next month and followed by a west coast tour. On this 7″ is our song of the day, DWLDWD, a track that was previously available in it’s cassette version. The haunting quality of his sound reminds you a little of The Velvet Underground, and a little of an old 45 where they sing about their girlfriend getting hit by a train, while still somehow remaining current. Just give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean…”

-Meg Murphree

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Pure Ecstasy in my living room

…Easy 7 sessions

Nate Grace and Puke Scene are now Pure Ecstasy, and they use enough reverb to bake a kitten. Yesterday we recorded three songs straight to 1/2″ 8trk, then transfered them into the computer for editing and mixing. 12 hours later and a new 7″ is waiting to be pressed. Always and everything live and fresh. I am continually inspired by their approach to recording: no overdubs, super relaxed, analog smearing, and mangling amounts of reverb…

Also, I’m proud to mention that “You’re in it now” from the last 7″ we recorded was featured on Pitchfork a few weeks ago, in their forkcast section with a small write up they borrowed from Friendship Bracelet. Hopefully the press gods will once again shine upon us.