Last week, Blimp Rock released their latest album "Soap Opera". It's an album that I had the pleasure of working on with Peter and the team over the last year or so, and it's wonderful to see it out in the world! Not only does it cover topics such as the important debate of facts vs. feelings, the way that our cats help keep us sane, the merits of basketball over hockey and has a couple of takes on Toronto as a city, it also serves to keep us clean - it's the first album (as far as anyone can tell) that has been released as a bar of soap. Yep - a real, usable bar of soap. With a download code in the middle of it. Fantastic. And here's the album art :
I recently had the privilege of working with Vivek Shraya on her collaboration with Queer Songbook Orchestra for the upcoming album "Part Time Woman". The result is a powerful, potent and beautiful collection of songs, arrangements and performances. The first video from that album is out, and it's for the track "Sweetie". The song is a timely and important song - the video is a wonderful look back at some of the studio sessions spent with Vivek, all of the QSO team, Tika, Sal Zori, Chris Sandes at Sandcastle Studio, Choir! Choir! Choir! at Union Sound Company with Alex Gamble at the helm, and all of the work put into this project by everyone involved. Quite the time. To pre-order the album, FOLLOW THIS LINK. The video is below. Enjoy! - jB
It's important not to confuse reinvention and evolution - the need for one is not the need for the other. - jB
It's always nice to be in a room with a VU. - jB
From November 21st to 30th, 2016, Joshua Van Tassel and I had the immense pleasure of having an artists' residency at The National Music Centre in Calgary, AB. If you don't know anything about the National Music Centre, I high recommend that you check it out HERE. It's an incredible place - it holds a massive 2000+ instrument collection spanning over 450 years (and you can actually use a whole lot of them!). It has top notch facilities, is in both a beautiful new architectural marvel of a building as well as the historical King Edward Hotel, and houses some of the warmest, supportive and knowledgable humans that there could be.
Josh and I were there to create "Impossible Instruments" - taking existing instruments in the collection and combining them to create new sounds that couldn't exist anywhere or any time other than there and now. Combining a harpsichord with a Maestro Ring Modulator, or a Novatron with a pump organ and a Korg MS20 were all normal activities during our time in residency. We then recorded those new sounds as samples, and built 38 new instruments to be played and composed with in the future. A very exciting time, it was!
If you're a musician living in or passing through Calgary, or if you have an interest to any degree in the historical and contemporary happenings of music in Canada, it's worth checking out the National Music Centre. Whether it's a tour of the museum, or an extended stay to use their wealth of synths and sounds, it's worth the trip, no doubt!
And here are just a few pics below. There are also more to see under the hashtag "#impossibleinstruments" on the Twitter.
It's Saturday. If you're on the Internet today, you're probably looking for something worthwhile and meaningful to spend some time on. There's a lot out there! If you're looking for something worthwhile and meaningful in the world of theatre on this Saturday, I'd highly recommend that you go here to this website and check out what the Quote Unquote Collective is up to this week at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre : www.quoteunquotecollective.com And then go and check them out in real life and in the theatre. You'll be entertained. You'll be made to think. You'll be better off for it. So, just do it!
Here are some peoples' thoughts on the work, in case you should require more encouragement:
As of this weekend past, the band Ptarmigan has released their album "Ptarmigan" out into the world. It's a magical sounding affair, full of mythology and a sense of the surreal, while still keeping one foot firmly planted in the world of acoustic folk. It's a beautiful balance that Ptarmigan has managed to achieve, an equilibrium that is not often heard.
I had the pleasure of working with the band to help produce, develop and actualize their ideas, and it was a joy. To be a part of the sonic transformation of a band that is made up of such talented musicians and wonderful humans has been an incredible experience. It is an album that is worth checking out, whether for the mythical journey of "A Magician Of Sorts", the soaring flight that is "Stilts", or for the attack of the synths that comes in "O Zephyr". There is much to hear and experience and enjoy on this album and with this team - I am almost certain that you'll find at least one thing on it you haven't heard anywhere else.
Check it out here : ptarmiganmusic.bandcamp.com
And check out Ptarmigan here : www.ptarmiganband.com
This should be the next Netflix film that you watch. Vital, important, impactful, and an incredibly potent summary of the world we live in today.
Today, Latest Cry (a collaboration between myself and Martha Meredith of For Esmé) releases its debut EP called "Symptoms / Signs". It's been a while in the making, so to have it out into the Internet world today feels great. It is a collection of songs that contemplates what it means to be living in the age that we do; living with this illusion of connectivity that we constantly find ourselves immersed in; considering what we need to do to get out from under it.
You can give it a listen / purchase at our BANDCAMP page and it'll likely pop up in a stream or two in the next few days as well. Or, you can listen / purchase it below. Enjoy! - jB
The best art is polarizing, the best humans are not. - jB
It's been a long time coming, but the debut single from Latest Cry is out today. Premiering on the fantastic Silent Shout.ca, the new video for "Signs" (directed by the stellar Spencer Cathcart) is available for your view pleasure. And you can get the single from the Latest Cry Bandcamp page, too. Lovely!
Check out what Silent Shout has to type about it HERE.
And enjoy. - jB
Tonight at The Greenwin Theatre at Toronto Centre for the Arts, "The Model Apartment" opens. Directed by Tanja Jacobs, and starring Eric Peterson, Clare Coulter, Lisa Norton and Tony Ofori, "The Model Apartment" is a play written by Donald Margulies that is set in Florida in 1988. A summary of it reads:
"When Max and Lola, two Holocaust survivors from Brooklyn, uproot their lives to Florida, they find their new condo unfinished and are forced to spend the night in a 'model apartment' where things are not always as they seem. In this brilliant and bizarre Drama Desk-nominated black comedy, Max and Lola soon realize that if they ever want to truly escape they must first confront the demons of their past."
It runs from tonight until May 29th, so get your tickets while you can HERE. It's an important play, and a project that I feel very fortunate to have done the composition and sound design for. (Mika Posen performed some of the string arrangements - she's fantastic as always!) A group of incredibly talented people have worked to bring this show together, and in my opinion, it is a show worth seeing - and worth thinking about for long after the show itself is over. -jB
Today is the official release day for Donovan Woods' "Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled". It's a good day. And it's a great album! Donovan is known for his songwriting for good reason - he writes stellar songs. The recording of this album was about a couple of things : first, making sure that the songs didn't get lost in the recording process, and, second, making an album that sounded like one that we wanted to hear. For an artist like Donovan, one with the ability to exist in so many different realms of the music world, be it as a songwriter in Nashville, or an independent solo singer and acoustic guitar player, or a writer of pop songs, or as an alt-country artist, or a hilarious entity in the Twitter-shpere, it can be hard to know what exactly the genuine article is supposed to sound like. To Donovan's credit, he was clear that he wanted to make an album that just sounded like him - not worrying about where it all fell into as far as categorization once released and send out into the world. And to that end, i think we were successful. I hope that anyone who listens to the album can hear the sound of a genuinely talented artist and songwriter actualizing his songs in a way that he wants them to sound. And I hope that the sound of his honesty and intent is an enjoyable listen for all!
"Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled" is also full of incredible talent playing on it : Jon Hynes is responsible for the bass and electric guitar work, and has been the catalyst for making this album happen as it did. Robbie Grunwald covers the keyboarding duties, providing piano, organ and wurly parts that do just the right things. Aaron Goldstein does some fantastic pedal steel work, as he is known to do, and Miranda Mulholland gives us some heartbreaking violin lines. Robyn Dell'Unto shares some whispery and intimate backing vocals, and there is some fantastic string arranging by Drew Jurecka, performed by Drew, Rebekah Wolkstein, Kathleen Kajiloka and Amy Laing. And a good portion of the tracking was done by John Dinsmore at Lincoln County Social Club, which always sounds fantastic.
In any case, it's an album that I think is worth a listen. Check it out on iTunes by clicking THIS or clicking on the image below. Enjoy it, and look out for more to come from Donovan in the future. - jB
Today, on the day of her 35th birthday, Vivek Shraya releases "Girl It's Your Time" backed with "A Good Man". Both are accessible pop songs - easy to grab onto and sing in the shower - but they hold deeper meaning and more powerful ideas than the pop realm often encourages. It seems like the challenge of this age of music making and artistry is to take important, pertinent and often heavy ideas of self and society, and wrap them up in an accessible and engaging package, which for the listener are easy to swallow and digest. Vivek is one artist who continues to successfully use and develop this concept in her craft, and who makes music that is in equal parts catchy and thought provoking. You can listen to the songs below, and then purchase them - all proceeds from this release go to Supporting Our Youth's Trans_Fusion Crew program. Enjoy these songs - and look forward to what is still to come from Vivek in the future! -jB
As of today, you can pre-order Donovan Woods' upcoming album "Hard Settled, Ain't Troubled". It's going to officially be released into the world on February 26th, 2016, but if you pre-order it, you get two tracks off the album now. And that's just good news!
You can also check out the next single off of the album, called "The First Time", below. And there is a trailer video for the album below as well which is nice to watch, and also gives a hint of one of the other tracks on the album. Lovely! - jB
Today I've released a collection of sonic experiments entitled "Caesurae". I describe them this way :
"These tracks are the sound of spaces filled, of nothings turned into something, of the journeys becoming destinations in their own right."
They are sonic experiments in processing, in manipulation and in evolving sounds in new and interesting ways. They are designed to be listened to on headphones, but that's not vital. They aren't "songs" in the traditional sense, but they (hopefully) will elicit some emotion or emotions in the listener. And I believe that they are an enjoyable journey in their own unique way.
You can get "Caesurae" HERE, or listen and then purchase below. Enjoy! - jB