Viewing: The Sound of Thoughts album work - View all posts

Groovy drums, ideas surfacing... 

I would really love to have material and examples of things to post here but the truth is I'm just getting to surfacing things now - so many other tasks have been taking all my attention to date that only now with fall really biting down on the PNW am I getting the time to try out various ideas, grooves and themes. 

Groovy Kind of Love

No, not the Phil Collins tune of the same name. But finally having an electronic drum kit configured with the new MegaDrum module and hooked up via USB to my DAW PC driving Superior Drummer 3 and BFD2 in Cubase means that I can start to play and work on pulling out grooves while I'm working on my chops and time keeping. Back in the day (in high school folks) I loved going to the music room at school over lunch or after school and work on learning how to play the crappy beat up old 4 pc kit they had for the jazz band and such. Weekends I'd make my way to friends' homes and ask for tutelage and/or spend the entire day jamming on Rush and Max Webster tunes as we kept trading instruments - this was the foundation for my being able to write and program effective parts for the demos I put together even today. Then I lost my access to drums and it was a long time since then before I would or could get my own kit to bash around on. Being a guitarist/keyboardist I had those as priorities and I had to be satisfied with playing drums on the keyboard during writing.

So now having the kit, I can now start to mess around with things that I haven't done in more than 30 years.

One thing that I definitely have noticed - I'm less of a bash/crash guy and find joy in the ghost notes, various subtleties and accents that you can put in between the 1 and 3. And as I'm trying to teach my younger boys about playing (Lucas, my 8 year old really enjoys playing his basic rock beat with kick on the 1 and snare on the 3) I find that I'm embellishing the basic beats with a ton of ghost notes, triple 8ths and syncopation and loving the grooves, even though I really need to solidify my time and playing with the click. Keeping it simple the click is my friend, but the groove and the added playing causes me to drift ever so slightly so I am working on getting this down.

One particular groove is a compound meter - 3/3/2 in a 2 bar 4/4 pattern. I have ideas for guitar, bass and other parts but I would really like to get a nice solid 4 or 8 bar pattern recorded in MIDI and then work against that. That is the closest thing to a drummer on demand that I will ever have and it also makes it easier to explain the patterns I hear in my head to real drummers like John. 

So I putter on - I'll have some exercises / etudes put together in the near future with full instrumentation I promise.

Shipping CDs...

I absolutely need to get on this - once the 15th of the month passes I'll purchase the shipping envelopes and print the material that supplements the CDs (3 of them) that will go out to all of you who supported us through Pledge Music and other avenues. Because of the delays I'm shipping everyone both the Fine Line and Sound of Thoughts CDs plus the Tributes 1 covers album on CDr - its only fair for the delay. I plan on having them out in the mail by Nov 28, 2017 I promise.

Both "Tributes 1" and "The Sound of Thoughts" have been released! 

Forgive how late I am to announce the party, but it's been busy here in the music kitchen as we've been both cooking up some Rock (see what I did there?) and also kicking up rehearsals and using that time to develop the newer songs in the set list. Mea culpa!

Tributes 1 was released on July 10th - and it's available on Bandcamp

The Sound of Thoughts was released on July 17th - and it too is available on Bandcamp!

This is a bit of an exciting moment for me as I don't think I / we have ever worked quite this quickly before - three albums released in the space of 6 months is pretty great I think. Sure two of them are reissues and one is a compilation project - but fixing up the tracks and then mixing and mastering the two additional projects since Fine Line came out has been pretty tense at times. But everything sounds really great, and I've achieved what I think is the definitive versions of the two original albums and some fine versions of classic songs on the Tributes album.

Next up - Onion which is a full end to end reproduction. Except for having to endure the pain of writing and rewriting material, Onion will essentially be a brand new album as I take away some of the songs that were used on the two true releases, and replace them with really old original material re-recorded and fixed up from the 80's and 90's. In the end, the album could be considered a view into my own musical development with the added benefit of years of skill enhanced experience in playing, singing and engineering/production. Most of the material works in the modern context as well - and there is a lot of evidence of my own influences readily identifiable in the music and melodies. I'll be trying to pay tribute to my past bandmates in the reproductions - Marc Koenen's keyboard work on the Babble and Rhetoric songs, and all the people I played with in blues bands, prog bands and cover bands, as well as the commercial sessions I did back then.

After Onion gets released, work will go forward in earnest on the new album with the working title "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream..." and that should be noticeably different but also showcase some big changes to writing and our playing. I wont get into it, but just wait until we get to the point of pushing demos and samplers of the new stuff - it will blow you away.

Last word as always - live shows are being booked and looked for! If you are a booking agent for the Seattle / Bellevue area or within 100 miles of us, please reach out and contact me as we'd love to play for you. Similarly, if you're from elsewhere and would like to book us - lets talk as I'm sure we can find a way to make that happen.

October 14 - Finaghty's Irish Pub and Restaurant, 7726 Center Blvd SE #110, Snoqualmie, WA 98065 8 pm

Thanks for being there and being a fan! Cheers!

uploaded Watcher of the Skies, working on Killer Queen... 

I've uploaded Watcher of the Skies to the Tributes 1 album on Bandcamp - it's been getting a lot of very positive comments and reviews from various musicians and critics on Facebook, and is also to be played as the show opener on Wednesday's Through the Looking Glass internet radio programme on Go check it out as I spent a fair amount of time on this one trying to get almost everything right about it.

Killer Queen is the track that is en queue right now - I've got a very decent lead vocal recorded now, and all the guitars with harmonies are done, so all that remains is the stacked harmony vocals for chorus and the accent bits through the verses. I have to say I'm somewhat intimidated by this, but I'm enlisting as much help in the form of printed sheet music and then programming the notes for each vocal part - I'll use each part as a guide for my vocal take playing a pure tone in my headphones while recording and then match the note with my voice. It'll still be challenging but I am certain it will turn out pretty well in the end, I've been flying by ear for the other songs when doing the harmonies, but this time it will be much more structured and disciplined so therefore it will be better :)

Xanadu remains the wild card now - hoping John can get the drums recorded this week and then I'll lay down bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals over the weekend. If not, this will extend past the June 30 ship date - but rest assured you'll get something shortly after that will meet or exceed quality expectations.

I'll get to the remaining Sound of Thoughts tracks this week and knock out vocals and final mixes for This Mortal Coil & Father to Sons before end of day Sunday June 26. Then the final normalization/mastering will be done the first week of July for upload to Bandcamp and release to the world July 15.

Cheers everyone!

Tributes 1 update... 

My efforts to complete Tributes 1 has hit upon a snag - a nasty stomach/intestinal virus has worked its way through my (Rob's) family and meant I had to reduce my time with both getting Tributes 1 done, and also completing The Sound of Thoughts as well. Two weeks for this issue to wind its way from my 6 yr. old son, through the 5 yr. old son, and then into my wife (who is finally feeling better today) - and now has hit me a glancing blow as I'm toughing my way through it while stubbornly pushing a couple important (and huge) day job projects through to completion.

It doesn't mean I've stopped doing music work entirely - yesterday I got down to business with Killer Queen (Mercury) laying down all the multitracked guitars and starting on vocals, and then I've gotten Watcher of the Skies into focus in Cubase with the bed tracks and keyboards mostly done with timbres essentially chosen. I found some info about Tony Banks' Hammond drawbar settings used for this song, so I set this up and saved it off - at least that item will sound very familiar to fans of this classic Genesis song. Guitars will get recorded likely tomorrow morning, and maybe even get vocals completed as well - this song (even at the almost 8 minute length) is significantly easier production wise than the Queen song as there's not so much multi-tracking needing to be done. It's all fun though - just time consuming trying to decypher all the guitar layering in the Queen tune, but the results are sounding great and the Amplitube 3 amp emulation software has a killer Brian May setting such that it almost sounds like Brian playing :) That patch in particular is a favorite of mine, I'll also likely use it for the Genesis tune as Steve Hackett's guitar tone is really throaty and this will impart a nice power that would be difficult to emulate otherwise.

Another thing that came up which has pushed completing this project out is the sad news of our friend Josh's passing - sadly Josh passed away last week, far too young to go. It's affected everyone in the band and as a result the live recording we had planned to do for the Rush song Xanadu is now postponed for about another week or so. 

For those reasons, I'm having to push the Tributes 1 release date out to June 26 - for those who are awaiting their physical copies of both Fine Line and Tributes 1 - I'm sorry and I ask for and appreciate your patience while we deal with these difficulties at this time.

Similarly - The Sound of Thoughts release will get pushed out another two weeks to July 15. Last remaining recording and mixing should be done by June 26, but mastering and getting the final disk image together will be completed the week of June 11 which means Friday July 15 is a realistic date for completion. 

No additional delays are expected, and impacts on the Onion redux project should be non-existent, meaning Sept 30 is still the target date for release.

Thanks again for all your understanding!

Two songs uploaded to Bandcamp... 

I got two songs done today:
  1. Behind Blue Eyes (Townshend) - one of a dozen bed track recordings made in my Maple Valley garage back in October 2005, right after the big vicious hurricane that hit New Orleans happened. 7-8 of my Microsoft co-workers and buddies came over, my co-producer Jay Coover manned the PC and we miked up & tuned up a crappy old drumkit I got in a trade (a Hondo if I'm not mistaken) and then let er fly. The King County Sheriff paid a visit that night - no citation though, and a complement on the music as well. Anyways, I pulled that project out, mistakes and all, and got to work fixing it up as best as I can. New guitars, some keyboards, and then vocals - and the finished product is in the Tributes 1 album listing ready for audition and download.
  2. Peace, My Brother from The Sound of Thoughts on Bandcamp as well - tweaked the vocals, fixed up the mix, got everything nicely balanced as well. The projects on that album are, relatively speaking, super great to remix - most of the big effort was put into getting the drums to really sound their best, and then getting a consistent sound and level for Brian's bass. This was true for most of that album as overall everything now sounds so immediate and crisp - not quite like a fine line but so much better than it sounded before. 
What remains for both projects?
  • Tributes 1 - Xanadu (Rush), Watcher of the Skies (Genesis), Killer Queen (Queen)
  • The Sound of Thoughts - This Mortal Coil, Father to Sons
You can go check out all the songs for all the albums at our Bandcamp site -

Another quick post - as quick as I can be 

Hey everyone - the calendar has flipped to June, the weather here in Seattle is threatening severe heat this coming weekend, and I'm 9 days away from releasing the Tributes 1 CDr to everyone. But I'll split this out along with other updates into bullets below:
  • Tributes 1 CDr has 9 of 13 songs done'ish - I've been tweaking vocal balance to more closely match the original song's mixes. Remaining tracks to be completed are Behind Blue Eyes (The Who), Killer Queen (Queen), Watcher of the Skies (Genesis) and Xanadu (Rush). The drums for the Rush track are being recorded right now by our own John Hernandez - this song will be a new version done from the ground up all new everything.
  • The Sound of Thoughts album is at 7 of the total 10 tracks completed - with the three remaining actually in a very good place to be done by the June 30 release date. The epic Lady in a Cage was completed and uploaded this week - just like with the Tributes 1 CDr, there will be some minor tweaking that will happen but those are easy to get accomplished. The album in terms of sound quality is fantastic - head and shoulders above the original 2005 release and it elevates the album into elite status IMHO
  • HTFK and others that are targeted for the Onion CDr release in Oct will get done over the summer. Most of the songs on this album are being recorded entirely from scratch with only two or three that are from the archives. It will be interesting to hear how that material sounds and gets recorded with a real band - I believe it will end up being heavier and groovier than the original CD for sure, but since they're more short form songs written from a songwriter's perspective they could be groovier in the end than any of the newer albums. Cant wait to find out.
  • New album work - nothing really to report on that front, except that my own musical ideas keep popping up and I do a little work on them here and there. My kids have learned some of the riffs/arpeggios on their toy piano, such as the bass synth bit from Flaming Wreckage - they even have the accents and syncopations down which is amazing for 5 & 6 year old boys learning by ear. Anyways, once we get the home renovations done then I can really dive into new album work and you'll have more from us at that time.
That's a lot of info in a very small space - thanks again for checking in, ttys!

Mid May Updates 

Just a quick set of updates - for those who aren't on Facebook and who haven't connected through the Paraesthesia page.
  1. The Tributes 1 album is more than half done at this point with 7 songs of 13 in the can - I've been both remixing the tunes that have really solid performances, but also redoing guitars, keyboards, bass and vocals on others. It's taking a little more time than what I was planning on putting into it, but I want to be sure that anyone who picks this up, or the people who supported the IndieGoGo campaign get the best quality I can get them. It's also important to me to get a really solid version of each song since they constitute material that has had an impact and influence on my playing and writing over the years - a proper tribute to the artists who produced it originally.
  2. Because of the time being invested into Tributes 1, The Sound of Thoughts rework has essentially stopped for a while. I have some work over the next couple nights to get Lady in a Cage solidified and mixed in time for the premier on Marty Dorfman's The Waiting Room with The Prog Doctor show on Friday afternoon/evening - full vocals, a polished up 2nd guitar solo, and a couple additional things put in as far as arrangements with final mix and master by Thursday night. I'll have three songs to feature plus get to chat with the gang about the Fine Line, TSoT, and the Tributes 1 albums as well as new material to come.
  3. John, Graham and I will be getting together to jam on Saturday morning - we'll be going over HTFK plus 2 or 3 other songs from Fine Line just to get a feel for how we work together. We'll be recording HTFK in the very near future as a part of the Onion album release in September, so that will be one of the really interesting points for us as a band to work on.
  4. On top of everything else being discussed here, I'm working with our friend Mike Tiano on a set of music destined to be released as an album by end of year or early next year. Things have been difficult on my side as my iLok dongle has been having issues synching with the iLok database online - ProTools First requires that the license be present in the iLok key, and so I've been trying to debug this but no luck yet. Hopefully soon and then we can proceed with reviewing existing projects and also work on remote collaboration with Mike and his cast of musicians he's assembled.
  5. John, Pete and I will be recording our version of Rush's Xanadu in the next couple weeks - John and Pete were the duo who played the tune live with us in January, and they were totally solid locked in, so we're going to recreate this in the studio. Once that session happens, I'll be working with the bed tracks and completing the song for the Tributes 1 album coming out in mid-June.
Finally - Paul and I were supposed to get together to start writing new material, but a bout of diarrhea from one of my kids interrupted that opportunity. I'm going to get this rescheduled and hopefully we'll have something to offer listening wise in a few weeks.

That's all folks!!

Quick post - two more days for IndieGoGo, TSoT rework continues 


We have two more days in the IndieGoGo campaign - please click on the link to the right of this post and participate in our crowdfunding campaign. We're now past 15% funded, but we have a ways to go before we're able to manufacture CDs and distribute them. If we can simple reach the $1500 mark then we'll achieve the biggest portion of our goal - and you'll get full color fully replicated CD with full color artwork as well. Please do what you can to help!!

Even as that goes on, I'm continuing with the remastery of The Sound of Thoughts - tonight's focus was on Legend in His Own Mind. I'm feeling pretty good about this song right now, as I've done a pass at vocals (which are grittier and rockier than the original ones) and the two guitar solos. The new take on the middle solo (which originally was Eric Meisels solo) is a lot more noise oriented. I did take one of the ideas he had which was to meander around in D minor scale during an odd portion of the solo, but the rest was completely my own take on this. I start the solo off with double stop stretch dissonance in A, then B and ascend to a F# dissonance in steps, which gets to the D min scale meandering, and then returns to A minor pentatonic based blues fusion licks to end on a sustained D note. I'm relatively pleased with it - it's all in meter and nails the dominant notes I wanted to hit, so great! The extro solo is just in A minor - essentially the Stairway to Heaven progression leading out with a twist to D and E to resolve the turnaround. Overall, as mentioned I'm pleased with the song and you can hear it HERE. Of course, it's part of the album pre-order so you can hear this track plus O Sardinhas Dor/Pentelho Vermelho as pre-order previews. The Sound of Thoughts album is set for release on or around June 30, 2016.

Finally, we're giving a new guy a tryout on bass shortly. He's working on bass parts for HTFK right now, and has his own home recording set up so that's pretty awesome in my world. John continues to write drum parts for the song, and I've got Paul coming over this Sunday morning to continue with more writing magic - new album work will progress dammit... 

To close out this post - please click the IndieGoGo campaign and sign up to give us $10 or more. You'll get a ton of music in exchange for your hard earned $$ and the satisfaction that you're saving the music for future generations - well, maybe not, but you're allowing us to continue a while longer. Thanks!!

10 days left for the CD manufacturing campaign, plus some updates 

IndieGoGo Campaign

So there's 10 days left for the IndieGoGo campaign - please take a look to the right of this posting and choose to click that campaign banner and support us. Even a $5 contribution will help us in a big way, and I'll send along some tracks for your listening pleasure! We're 13% of the way to our goal - help us achieve it!

New drums for HTFK from the Onion album

John and I met on Sunday morning to review HTFK and discuss his drums for the song. I think we have a really interesting path forward - I still need to provide him a new mix of the song (minus the hihat "click" I injected instead of the programmed drums) for him to go forward, but I'll get that done and forwarded to him tonight. The changes will definitely improve the tune - its only about 23 years coming now so I guess you could say "It's about time!!!" I promise that it will be worth all the wait!

New Material - discussion and work in progress

So to date, we've got a piano based piece that Paul has done a demo session for. We also have something that I messed around with that's very sparsely instrumented (a thick square wave bass synth part and a series of MIDI drum loops arranged to form a star) almost feeling like Industrial Metal called Flaming Wreckage. I've been messing around with other ideas that are floating in my head - one in particular that is kind of treading on the Canadian band The Tea Party's territory that takes Middle Eastern, Persian and Indian influences and scales and melds them with Led Zeppelin grooves. I'm going to add some significant twists and turns into the grooves though as I try to inject Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti influence with serious odd time signatures and then a concept I heard of from Gavin Harrison called Overriding which takes any odd time signature and then has an overriding half time ride that gives the illusion of a straight 4 groove. Think of a 7/8 groove that would have an override on the 2, 4, 6, 1, 3, 5, and 7 across the two bars of 7 - it would feel like a standard groove for the audience. As I think I've said before I'm going to be trying to incorporate a lot more varying influences and styles into the new material and the ones that are in flight are indicative of what's coming.

Our production and writing schedule for the next short while
  1. Paul and I will be getting together on May 1 in the morning to again attack new material and possible continue work on the Romantic piano piece that's in flight.
  2. John and I will talk about HTFK again shortly - try to get a production schedule down
  3. John and I need to talk with a couple bass players he's worked with pretty recently - both sound very interesting for the group
  4. I (Rob) need to get back to all the Sound of Thoughts rework - another end to end review of the material with guitar retakes and Lady interlude rethinks, as well as vocal retakes.
  5. I (Rob) return to Onion rework and start the effort to rebuild full songs in Cubase out of the original audio mixes

Ship Dates for album projects
  • The Sound of Thoughts remaster - end of June 2016
  • Onion remaster - end of September 2016
  • To Sleep Perchance to Dream (working title) - June/July 2017

A song from the next reissue album "The Sound of Thoughts"... 

Even though I'm working the IndieGoGo campaign to fund mastering and manufacture of the Fine Line CD, I'm still moving forward with doing a lot of rework on tracks for the next reissue CD - The Sound of Thoughts - that's coming out in June. To date, I've remixed 8 of 10 tracks and this is the latest one - the song that the album is named after.

I'm hosting all the preview songs on Soundcloud right now since they have nice bandwidth on their file servers, and a nice app to serve them up on mobile.

I hope you enjoy the song, and also go over to the campaign site - one of the perks for supporters is to be listed as an Executive Producer, or as a Wonderful Person in lists on the albums. Its quite the treat and everyone who buys the album from here on gets to admire you for your foresight and patronage.