May 2021
January 2020
August 2019
August 2018
July 2017
June 2017
April 2017
August 2016
July 2016

Something is afoot

Yes indeed, new music is underway. It has been quite a while, but recording is underway. Most of the writing for this music was done about a year ago, and the drum tracking has been underway for a while. Now I need to get going on the guitar, keys and all the rest.

I feel like Strange Land is a setting I can use to explore some different approaches to music. I mean, isn't that the point of "progressive" music. This project will be an EP of songs with the instrumentation of guitar, piano, and drums. It's sparse, and the guitar is going to only be clean tones. I want to give it more of a chamber music vibe.
Comments

For Neil

(crosspost from Sean https://guitarsean.info/blog/files/neilpeart.html)

As I begin writing this post, I have just learned of the passing of Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. It's actually been a long time since one of my heroes died, and none of my heroes stand as large in my life as Neil, Geddy, and Alex. I feel like I need to spend some time processing and sharing how much Rush has impacted my life.
 
Rush is a band that influenced me before I even had any concept of playing an instrument or being in a band. When I was young most of my music consumption was through my parents. They didn't have any Rush records, but the band was a staple on the classic rock radio that they listened to. Limelight, Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer, The Trees were all staples in rotation. But it was 2112 that got into my brain and stayed there, fermenting and shaping my musical future. For those too young to remember, once upon a time (and maybe still, I haven't heard classic rock radio in ages), the Overture and Temples of Syrinx were played as a radio edit for 2112. The swirling synths and bombastic hits grabbed me much the same way John Williams score for Star Wars did, and the lyrics drew me into imagined worlds far from my own, just like the Star Wars films or my constant book reading did.
 
Later, in the early days of my guitar playing, I started to choose my own music, form an identity away from my parents. A few of my friends were introducing me to new music, including the 80s shredders and bands like Queensryche and Living Colour. One particular friend loaned me a copy of Presto. I think I was in 8th grade, so Presto would have been brand new. I already knew something about Rush from the radio, but this more in depth absorption was the wide-open gateway I needed. Looking back I think it's also interesting that my first deep dive into Rush was more "middle period (but post-synth)" rather than with albums like A Farwell to Kings or Moving Pictures.
 
To make a long story short, I began to absorb all of Rush's work and as I grew as a musician their influence showed through. A story I'm sure is very common. When I was 16 I even had the audacity (as only a brash teenager could) to write and record a sequel to 2112, imagining a story of the "Elder race" in parallel to the world depicted in the original song. I mean, there had to be a back story to "Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation, We have assumed control," right?
 
Their influence on me has so many facets. I'm inspired by each of them as instrumentalists. I'm inspired by the writing. Both the music and lyrics. The music is just cool. Neil's lyrics taught me rock music didn't have to be all "ooh baby" superficial tripe. Tell stories, make them both closely personal and universal. Play with words as much as you play with notes. I'm inspired by their process for creating. It took time, but I learned to appreciate that a band evolves over time. I like all eras of Rush, and I learned not to be mad at my favorite bands when they changed. Continual growth is necessary, lest you become a staple on the state fair nostalgia circuit. I'm inspired by their humor and genuine friendship. If you've never seen it, find the Dinner with Rush extended extra from Beyond the Lighted Stage. 40 years of a close and loving friendship. No posturing, no fake manliness, no rock star swagger. Music aside, watching Geddy, Alex, and Neil is a lesson in how to be a good human. A lesson on what really matters. I wanted my band to be like Rush, not just because of the music, but because of the people.
 
Neil was also an excellent writer. I've read his books, and Ghost Rider had a profound impact on me. Keep going in the face of incomprehensible loss. Keep moving. Even if you can only say you got out of bed today, you are victorious. I'd also pop in on Neil's blog from time to time and catch up with his travel stories. I like travel writings, and his were excellent. I would rank him up with William Least Heat-Moon. More than just "I went here and saw this". Also a snapshot of inner monologue and a view of the people that make up this world.
 
As I reread this for mistakes, I've noticed I refer to the band members by their first names. I've never met any of them in person, yet I feel this is how all of us fans can relate to them. They are not heroes carved in marble up on pedestals. They are us. Neil's death has hit me surprisingly hard. I know everything and everyone will eventually pass into memory, but this was sudden, thanks to Neil's famous guarding of his privacy. But as I continue to process this, I also feel like I've lost a father figure. I hadn't fully realized the he, and the band, meant that much to me beyond the music. I take some comfort in being grateful Rush was there for us for so long, and I know I am far from alone.
 
I leave you with the song "The Garden," the last track on the last Rush album. It isn't big and blasting, it is quiet and introspective. A little melancholic but always with hope at the end. I don't know if this was the last song they wrote and recorded, but it is an appropriate fade to black on this story.
 
The Garden
In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best, or some bizarre test?
It is what it is - and whatever
Time is still the infinite jest
The arrow files when you dream, the hours tick away - the cells tick away
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes
The hours tick away - they tick away
The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
In the rise and the set of the sun
'Til the stars go spinning - spinning 'round the night
It is what it is - and forever
Each moment a memory in flight
The arrow flies while you breathe, the hours tick away - the cells tick away
The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve
The hours tick away - they tick away
The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
It's the only return that you expect
The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen
 
Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour - The Garden


(from Reverb.com)
 

Comments

Huzzah and Future releases

I feel like giving a little huzzah to myself and all the people I've worked with over the years in all of Strange Land's incarnations. This November will mark the official 20 year anniversary of the band. I'd do something celebratory if I could think of something. If you have any ideas, let me know.
 
This will probably be minor news to most, but I've decided that Galactic Drift will be the last Strange Land release with a widely available CD version. The vast majority of music consumption is now streaming and downloads, and making a bunch of CDs isn't cost effective anymore. I'll probably still do a small handful for each release, to give to the participating musicians and to sell a very limited quantity.
 
On the flip side, bandcamp does offer lossless FLAC files, and I always upload the full size artwork, so if you want to burn your own CDs, go right ahead.

~ Sean


StrangeLandLogoWeb
Comments

Galactic Drift out now

The newest album is available now. It is titled Galactic Drift, and features artwork from the fabulous Artur Rosa. The album also once again features the vocals of the amazing Brittney Schultz. Full album download out now, limited CD run coming soon. Listen to tracks below, download on Bandcamp (name your price).

Comments

Figuration of Hope

SL-Figuration-Banner1
So if you really want to nerd out, here's the story behind the new album.

Thing one, I must thank from the bottom of my heart the insanely skilled Brittney Schultz for her vocal work. Sometimes when I work with other musicians I bring a skeleton, and they or we flesh it out. With these vocal melodies I pretty much handed over a bag of loose bones and said, "Here ya go, not sure these are all even human, do your thing". I've known Brittney for a long time and I've wanted the opportunity to get her on some tracks for a while. She knocked every song out of the park and captured a sound I've been hearing in my head for ages.

Thing two, you probably will notice that Brad didn't play drums. I offered, as I always do, but sadly schedules and commitments didn't line up right. Brad has some other things that have to take priority, and I certainly understand. I'm so glad he's still part of the family, and I expect his work will turn up in the future, one way or another.

Thing three, thanks go to Jaxson Pohlman for letting me use his photos. His work has been an inspiration since I found him on instragram a while back, and I knew right away his work was a perfect match. A striking combination of loneliness, space, and deep thought. Sometimes I want to make music just so I can use awesome art for album covers.

The story: a tale of a planet and a really big rock. More or less, the idea that someday averages will catch up with us and the Earth will be struck by a giant asteroid or comet. Or even imagine far in the future, no matter what, we can't live here forever. Do we have the will to do what is necessary to survive?

The work: I had a few loose goals in mind when I started this album. One is that I wanted to write lyrics. I had personally been a little dry in the lyric department for a few years, so back in 2015 I stared writing, using the concept of the story as a guide (I was actually working on Evagation and this one at the same time, Evagation just happened to get finished first). For the music, I mostly just picked up a guitar and jammed. I also hadn't done that in a while. Strange Land's last few albums, including a lot of Catharsis, were written on paper (or computer) before being tracked and fleshed out. There are also a few bits of music that are quite old, parts of Dare go back to a thing I recorded with a friend over 20 years ago. I also wanted to play with space and sound. You'll find many tracks breathe deeply, with lots of open space. And though I've always used effects, I pushed more into some weird stuff, and I used more synth, though some sounds that might seem like a synth might be guitar.

Oddly, I still like these songs right now. I know, what!? I think a lot of musicians will tell you that as they near the end of a project, you feel like you've been pregnant for 14 months, just get this damn thing out of me. Usually by the time I get done mixing I pretty much hate the songs. Oh, I'll still finish, I know they are as good as I can do at the time, and I know I'll like them again later. But not this time. I still headbang along as if I'm listening to some other band. Weird.

That's the thing in a nutshell, thank you for joining me on this journey,
Sean
Comments
May 2021
January 2020
August 2019
August 2018
July 2017
June 2017
April 2017
August 2016
July 2016