This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!
1.Nym-Warm Blooded Lizard
Concept albums are rare today. We simply have 1000’s of single tracks right in the palm of our hand all vying for our attention. If you didn’t suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder before, you might today. So when a concept album comes out, I take notice. Warm Blooded Lizard is not just any concept album to be sure. It takes its influence and inspiration from the music and emotions of the spaghetti western film genre, contrasted with the presence and attitude of instrumental hip hop. Think RJD2’s-Deadringer, if I were to make a quick comparison for you.
With affluence comes abundance and how many middle class bedroom studios come chock full of gear now?! So, it should be encouraging to find out that Nym used very little to create his latest opus. Having recorded the 16 tracks on offer over a span of 5 years, he now makes his home the beautiful city of San Francisco, where the album was completed.
When I asked him to tell me about what he used to make this album, he said the following:
“I just used my MPC1000jjos2xl, a partially broken midi keyboard, a homemade mini mixer midi controller, an entry level mackie mixer, a used technics1200, a ton of freeware vsts and programs, and a couple not free vsts (most notably POISE drumsampler). I used REAPER as DAW and effects host because it’s really customizable.”
You know what I’m going to say next right!?…You don’t need a ton of gear to make a good album. Listen to this and tell me otherwise, folks!
The Akai MPC1000 has always been central to his output. I remember his Edge City LP which featured nothing more than the MPC. He has been a big proponent of the MPC on the MPC Forums, where I have known him now for several years and seen his development as an independent artist.
Also featured on Warm Blooded Lizard is his friend Emancipator. Nym said he considered him an extremely talented instrumentalist. Emancipator was responsible for guitar on a couple of tracks. His friend Kathleen and Nym himself did vocals on a couple tracks as well. They used a low-end condenser mic powered by the Mackie to record.
Now lets get to the LP. As mentioned, there are 16 tracks on offer here. Each track is accompanied with its own cover art. That should help keep your visual attention, right? Right around the middle of the album is when I believe things really start to heat up. The guitar, vocals, beats and composition throughout the album are top notch. The melodies bring me back to those Sunday afternoons when my older brother and parents would take us to the local cinema to watch westerns. This was before people really worried about the Rated PG and Rated R ratings. Don’t judge!
Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone would be proud of this nod in their direction. I would give Clint Eastwood a call and see if he might do a cameo on a video, Nym. He just might! Some of the standout tracks for me are Gunfire In The Sky, Rats!, Bandida, Prelude and Forlorn Hope. I could easily see Hanging become a pop hit. However, don’t just take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself. What else are you doing at work anyway?
For more about the album go to his website here. You can preview all of the tracks and support this independent artist. The album is on sale for $5 in whatever format you would like. And all for the low, low price of a double tall latte. Go Now!
Time to find my Fist Full of Dollars DVD. Maybe I will put it on silent and spin this album in the background.
2.Duran Duran-All You Need Is Now LP
I recently came in contact with a very old friend of mine on Facebook. She called Facebook a time machine. Was she ever right. We haven’t talked in 20 years. We performed together in plays, musicals and performance groups. We’ve been exchanging several emails these past couple of weeks and getting reacquainted. She is a screenwriter, designer and uses her spare time singing in a big band in Los Angeles. We discussed music. We always had that in common. She told me that Duran Duran had remained a constant for her. Duran Duran has been a constant for me too.
Duran Duran first 2 LP’s, the self titled Duran Duran and Rio, which were recorded and produced by the late Colin Thurston, feature some of my favorite tracks of all time. Although it was Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk and even Japan’s, Quiet Life that highlighted the arpeggiated sequence first, it was Duran Duran that made it the much sought after household effect of the synthesizer. The effect inspiring bedroom musicians of the 1980’s and even a whole new flock of young musicians to do the same.
I have purchased every album they have ever released. There is always something I have liked in each. Whether I adored every track on all their albums is another story. Nonetheless, they are like an old friend that I support by buying their albums. They always put on a great live show too.
My friend recommended I purchase their new LP. All You Need Is Now is scheduled to come out in physical form in March. You can get in on iTunes now. I was curious to see how the Mark Ronson formula panned out. It manages to work out quite well actually. There will be comparisons to some of their earlier LP’s. It’s only natural. The arpeggiators of Roland synthesizers is here. The signature Crumar Performer string synth is here too.
Duran Duran is a pop band. A pop band that has given us catchy hooks for over 30 years. Planet Earth celebrated its 30th year anniversary this week. Check out the post here. They have had several members come and go throughout the years; however, it’s the original lineup, minus Andy Taylor on this one, that build a collective magic pop formula. How I do wish Andy Taylor was back in the lineup though.
If you don’t like Hollywood endings at all, perhaps this is not the LP for you. If you accept it for what it is and can look past it, then this recording will no doubt provide you with some enjoyment. Besides, I can’t force my family to listen to my experimental albums. They just don’t get it. They like this album and so do I, for what it is.
Standout Tracks: Being Followed, Leave A Light On, Girl Panic, Before The Rain
Check out a video interview with Nick on Dazed Digital here. In the video Nick Rhodes talks about Mark Ronson and the arsenal of synthesizers they used to create All You Need Is Now.
3.Akira Yamasaki-Yamaha Tenori-On #02 (at the Yoshino Temple)
Akira is a Japanese musician. In my world, it’s been all things Tenori-On. I like what he does with the Tenori-On in his videos. He’s got several videos on Vimeo for you to watch. You can see Yamasaki performing with the instrument on the beach, by sunset and even a temple.
I liked this video in particular because in the true essence of live, he gets stopped by a groundskeeper at the Yoshino Temple. It happens just as the track starts to take off too. Good stuff.
To learn more about this video and see some others on Vimeo click here.
4.Chris & Cosey-Sweet Surprise
Chris & Cosey are performing today at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) to a Sold Out audience. Oh, how I wish I was there to watch this historic event. I’m wishing them all the best and hope we get some good pictures of the gear used from Chris and maybe even some uploaded video by dinner time (fingers crossed).
Sweet Surprise is a Chris and Cosey track. The track features Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Singer Annie Lennox provides the vocals, of course. The track was recorded in the mid 1980’s and features some good synthesizers, drum machines and some memorable hooks and bluesy type guitars. You know how fond I am of Chris Carter and his many creative partnerships. You know these musicians, but this could be a track that you may not have heard of. If you haven’t, I hope you enjoy it.
Roland SH monophonic synthesizer and Space Echo in forefront
12” single made in collaboration with The Eurythmics. Recorded on 8 track and 24 track at Eurythmics Studio, DEC Camden Town, London, The Church, Hornsey, London and S47, Norfolk.