Having moved to L.A .from Perth, Western Australia in order to study at University of Southern California (USC),I completed my Master’s degree and have gone on to record my first album in ‘Phantoms’, something I have wanted to be able to do for some time.
Laid down in late 2014, this debut album has been created with musicians and friends all working for their Masters at USC, all of whom are talented musicians their own right. They are Chris Schlarb, producer/guitar, Ana Barreiro, drums, John Snow, electric & acoustic bass, Jeremy Trezona, composer/saxophone, Sam Hoffman, guitar, Frank Care, piano /Wurlitzer.
Recorded at Cammilleri Hall, a beautiful music hall in the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC, designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, makes it a most stunning acoustic space to have had the privileged to be able to work within.
The album has been recorded as a live band with whole takes, no splicing and no separate tracking – which I believe has added warmth to the music created by the space, the ambience, of the room.
There are two tracks, Voices part 1 and 2, recorded by Chris Schlarb and myself which have been created with an ethereal feel to them and recorded at Chris’s studio at Long Beach. The reason behind this was to be able to create a logical flow, a strategic line if you like to be able to break up the tracks a little bit, in contrast to the whole band effect which is prevalent throughout the album. As a jazz sound a duo is something very different and as the works are improvised, off the cuff pieces, they developed a life, a vibe of their own.
In terms of how the mix and mastering was done, no software based programs were used. Chris Schlarb as the producer has done a full analogue mix-down. When doing the mixes he did them the old fashioned way with the acoustic desk to do the mix, using real-to- real for reverb and acoustic sound, which gives a unique warmth sound not fond on many records now.
Schlarb also plays guitar on the album and is well known through his band ‘Psychic Temple’ which is perhaps best described as almost an ambient, free jive group. From there he moved into record producing and as a result the ‘Psychic Temple’ project has transitioned into a slightly more pop based style with more of a sensibility to the music.
It is important to point this out as having him play and produce on the record is incredible. To me it is very important the physical copy retains the original warmth of the place. As the recording has been done with the analogue desk it lends towards vinyl pressing rather than digital as the preferred medium, although it is also available on digital medium.
A little on the individual tracks:
Lost contact is the only track with soprano saxophone and is full band recording. Ideas for this track evolved from the movie ‘Moon’ which is an independent film with a spacy, creepy sound track.
Portland written recently is about the street I lived on when I first moved to Southern California. It is hard say it was the street rather circumstances which proved the inspiration behind the piece, probably a bit of both as it was a very overwhelming experience.
Voices part 1 / Voices part 2 – duet with Chris Schlarb and recorded in his studio – improvised and off the cuff. People will make of it what they will.
Try Something was written a while ago, about 2012/13 was inspired by sax player (Graeme Blevins from Perth who is a phenomenal player. His album ‘Monochrome’ is absolutely inspirational.
Sully, written in 2008/09 after the Miracle on the Hudson plane crash, is the oldest song on album. Captain Chelsey B “Sully” Sullenburger was the pilot who landed the plane with no loss of life. His graciousness and professional attitude about the incident was inspirational. I wanted to write a piece about the chaos that would have been happening while he was trying to land the plane and the sense of calm and space once the plane was safely down and the all passengers and crew safely evacuated.