Friday, December 30, 2011

New 7 inch: Autonomous Production / Vitamin Frost

Got out of work early today, so I had time to record this: a final blast of utter impersonality for 2011, in convenient (digital) 7 inch form. Happy new year, everyone! Let's see more of each other in the coming months.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2 new EPs, live performance

Just in time for the end of 2011, here are not one but two new EPs: the tasteful and understated Labor Palace, and the emotionally unavailable Dungeon Breathing 2. Take them both home today! DB2 also answers the prayers of every one of you who has ever asked "John, when will you stretch one of these songs out to over 12 minutes in length?" You're welcome.

Also, I am playing in New York City at the Cakeshop on Thursday December 22nd, with the fine Teenbeat act Cotton Candy. First of hopefully many performances of this type of music in the near future. Mention this ad to me for a free drink.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New EP: Fulfillment Center

After a few weeks off to think about things, try to set out some new guidelines for the next year of this project, get my head together, etc., there was finally an hour to spare and I recorded this EP exactly the same way I have been.

I'm still looking forward to working on some different projects, with a few collaborators, doing more composition, etc., but it's hard to deny the immediacy of solo improvisation. The frequency and lack of money involved make these EPs more conversational to me than epic statements of overarching authorial intent, which I do strongly feel is something that is useful in the world today. Not that I haven't been obsessed with "Moves Like Jagger" (in spite of my dislike of all but the disco-era Rolling Stones). Sayin.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New EP: What We Talk About When We Talk About Let's Give Them Something To Talk About

The end of the end of the first part of this project, this EP is the completion of a one-year attempt to record and release as many improvised performances as possible, operating completely outside of the commercial arena, solely for the purpose of making music. I haven't promoted it at all, or allowed anyone to pay for any of it; to me these occupy a different space than "records", in the sense that they often make more sense in the background, and are more conversational than they are some kind of pre-planned artistic statement. If you like it, you can listen to it, without a lot of overhead.

I recorded every one of these pieces in my bedroom during the one hour of the week when nobody is at home. There's no mixing, no overdubbing or editing, not even changing the order of the tracks; what you hear is pretty much exactly what happened during that time period, except for technical glitches and stuff like that.

The next phase of the project will involve less frequent releases, changing some of the variables, and going back to performing this type of music live again, after a very long hiatus. See you soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New EP: Real Ambient Talk

As we approach the one year mark for this blog and the parallel bandcamp site, there is an inevitable desire to try to keep doing exactly the same thing until this cycle is over, to cement some kind of overarching authorial intent and thereby add a sense of legitimacy to the proceedings.

Unfortunately, I didn't. So there ended up being an actual straight-up (if extremely restrained) version of "Just Friends" on here; I started playing, and that came out instead of some other crazy experimental jibber-jabber. Hope that's okay with everyone.

(Also, the Real Talk on here isn't a cover of the amazing R. Kelly song, but rather an interpretation of some real talk that was going on out on the street outside my window as I started recording. Which is a damn shame.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New EP: Below the Mountain

Of course, there are many things future generations will say about this EP; groundbreaking in its uncompromising refusal to compromise, except when compromise is indicated, etc. But I'm sure it will always be known as the one where I cover "Filhos de Gandhi". I could write an entire book about all the things I love the Jorge Ben/Gilberto Gil version of this song from "Jorge and Gil": the way they are so clearly super high and making it up in the studio; the way they manage to get separated on even the super simple chord pattern and it doesn't matter; the way that they reach the point where normal people jamming would be like "cool, let's go ahead and end it here", bring it down, and then they decide to bring it back for like another five minutes. Probably nobody other than me who likes that version will like this version, but let the record show that it's done out of love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New EP: Reflections in the Emergency

As Rakim said, it's been a long time. Although, and no disrespect to the God, not as long as he made people wait for The 18th Letter. This was only like two and a half months. That being said, I like to think of this EP as occupying a similar position in my own canon.

It also bears mentioning that, despite the release date, the title actually has nothing to do with September 11th.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New EP: Spectral Afternoon Embrace

Several weeks of traveling ahead, so this one will have to hold you all for a while. I know, I know, you're saying "John, how are you ever going to achieve your goal of being the Guided By Voices of prepared guitar if you keep slacking off like this?" To that I say, like Regis Philbin, "I'm just one man."

Unlike Regis, this EP has a tribute to Todd Warnock, featuring the sound of pedals when no guitars are being played. I win this round, Regis.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New EP: Denim Father

Most children today will never know how it feels to have a father clad in all denim, especially an entire suit made out of denim. Future historians can debate whether this is an advance, but until then there is this new EP.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New EP: Darling, Is It You?

One of my favorite things is when you can get sounds out of a guitar that people pay huge amounts of money for pedals to do, when actually it just takes an old bolt and a generic metal slide, like on the title track of this new EP. Limitation breeds increase, I suppose.

In the same way, one of the later tracks is, admittedly, sonically very reminiscent of "Let The Power Fall"-era Frippertronics, but with just a Rat pedal and a single delay, rather than a guitar synth and a bunch of tape machines. But, guilty as charged.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

MXR Phase 90

For some reason the other day, I had a moment where I completely remembered the sensation of being transported out of the normal world by one of the first guitar effects pedals I had/borrowed, an MXR Phase 90. I can't remember if I actually owned it or if I just borrowed it from my friend Thadd, but the weird swooshing sound it made, which I can't really imagine even using now, was at the time completely captivating. God only knows where that pedal ended up, but I hope it is still swooshing away somewhere; it is also probably worth $600 now, with my luck.

New EP: Full Sun

Back from Germany and the Netherlands. Awesome to spend time in the Ruhrgebiet, where there appears to be actual appreciation for the cultural landscape of the industrial sublime. I now have enough photos for approximately 5 years of bandcamp EPs.

So I recorded this to start working my way through them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New EP: Gentle Blood Waves

Off to Bochum and Leiden for a week and a half, so I figured I'd should get this out first. Hopefully more pictures of the industrial sublime, and also some fun.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New EP: Meditations on "Here Comes The Rain Again"

Traveling a lot, so not as much recording, but I busted out this EP this morning since it is yet another rainy day. And what brightens up a rainy day more than prepared guitar?

Speaking of prepared guitar, if you go to bandcamp and search for everything tagged "prepared guitar", I am alternately the first or second most popular there. My pride in this achievement is tempered only slightly by the knowledge that, if my statistics are anything to go by, literally nobody must ever visit the pages of the other six or seven prepared guitar guys. Still, number one! Number one!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New EP: Wild Budgets

After a few weeks off due to traveling and a melted hard drive, back on schedule with a new EP called Wild Budgets that I think is frankly one of the best things I've done in weeks. It also has a bonus track from some recording I did a few days earlier to get things up and running again.
Here's the "cover".

In the interim, Chris Deaner and I also recorded a version of one of our songs from The Solitary Cyclist which will hopefully end up being the theme music for's Ask The Test Kitchen. I was disappointed that the fact that we were involved meant that there was no money to pay the legal fees for a version of R. Kelly's "Test In The Kitchen", but that's how it goes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New EP "Platinum Cadavers"

Once again, a few weeks have elapsed. New EP up on bandcamp: Platinum Cadavers. Recorded in the morning before I went to do some recording with old friend and bandleader Heather McIntosh for a soundtrack she's working on; nice to play (even if at a distance) with some of the dispersed members of the NYC version of The Instruments.

This EP features, as almost always, the Digitech PDS-8000, an 8 second delay I bought in 1988 for $150 from a horrible, now-defunct music store in the DC suburbs. They were the classic place that refused to even look at you if you didn't walk in carrying a roll of money; they were so disdainful of me that the guy ringing me up couldn't even be bothered to gouge me correctly, and charged me for the cheaper 2 second model. One awesome thing about this delay is that, in its old age, the speed and depth of the delay modulation are now almost completely random. I'm not really into gear, or sentimental about it, but I could be sentimental about this guy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New EPs Impressionsism, Meditations on "Abacab"

Two weeks since the last post=two new EPs. Meditations on "Abacab" is part of my Meditations series, where I engage with a pop song on a micro level, exploring a small part of it at a time; the titles obviously refer to where in the song that moment I'm working with is. My old way of engaging with pop songs that I loved was to write my own pop song that ripped them off, so I guess this is kind of the same, but without all the overhead. Impressionsism was the result of an unexpectedly abbreviated recording period, so I had to suddenly do whatever I was going to do in less than 20 minutes; always a good way to get the blood moving.

Monday, January 31, 2011


So, at the risk of talking too much about it, here's the answer to the question "What is going on over at ?" Every week, I have approximately one hour to record. That usually results in about a half-hour of actual recording time, of which maybe twenty minutes is good. Everything is improvised, recorded live in one take, and uploaded to bandcamp without any mixing or mastering. It's about the most direct way I can think of to do it short of playing in your living room. The photos are all by Johanna Bauman. Also, there's no reverb, because I hate reverb.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Also, P.S.

I started this blog. Since I am not into talking about it, I'm just going to pretend I've been doing it for a long time already.

Do Whatever It Says

A new EP is up; this one's called Do Whatever It Says, and has, among other things, what ends up being a pretty good summation of what's been going on in my lungs over the last three months.