In the Spaceship, the Silver Spaceship the Lion Takes Control

It’s been a busy few weeks.  The weather has been alternating between mild and sunny and cold and rainy, so I’ve been getting in a few bike rides a week here and there.  Every time I do I think it might be the last nice day. It’s rainy again this week, and of course it’s getting dark earlier and earlier. A week ago Jeannie and I went for for a hike up a mountain called Anthony’s Nose, which looks down on the Bear Mountain Bridge from the summit.  That’s right folks, there are alot of great hikes in the area, but we picked the nose.

I transitioned in my job from consultant to full time lead staff engineer at the Innovation Lab. Last week was heavy on onboarding and strategic planning and roadmapping meetings, as well as tactical planning for the upcoming release of our mobile app in November.  Also got a new computer and been moving into that.  One night after work last week there was a dinner event hosted by one of our partners in the consortium, and I met some of their engineers and some of their customers, as well as an attorney named Havona who was “raised by hippies” and is now living in Spain so her daughters can train to be future tennis pros.  It’s the first time I’ve been to an event like this since before the pandemic, and it turned out to be alot of fun.

And, I’m looking to hire software engineers with a combination of full-stack and R&D prototyping skills.  Ping me if you fit the bill.

Been folding tons of origami for some upcoming exhibitions.  More on that as it, uh, unfolds.

Also Jeannie got me a lego spaceship recently and I’ve been trying to find the time to build it. More on that as it, uh, comes together.

Lastly, been working on music.  I have two I’m working writing/arranging/tracking: In the Purple Circus, and A Plague of Frogs. Additionally, I have six tracks basically done, but the guitar sounds were all over the place.  Last weekend I went back and worked on putting them into some kind of tonal shape.  The main issue is that there’s lots of low end noise muddying up the mix.  EQ helps but not enough.  When I put it thru an amp simulator it cleans up alot of that but also alters the tone pretty radically into the treble range.  I ended up creating a signal chain with 2 buses, one for the raw guitar mix and another for the amp, then mixing the two of them for the right balance. It made a huge differenceI and I applied this to five songs.  Further tweaking can occur but they’re all in the zone.  Hopefully by the end of this record I’ll have something like “my” guitar sound, or at least a sound I can control.

Sun and Rain and Jazz

It’s been cold and rainy the past few days.   I got in quite a few good bike rides in September, but now summer is definitely over.  Been busy with work, new origami, the Jukebox, setting up new computers, and the recording project.  One plus side, I saw two excellent concerts last week.  

The first was The Levin Brothers at the Jazz Arts Forum, a cool little jazz club in Tarrytown.  The Levin Brothers are Mark on piano and Tony on bass, along with a drummer and, for this tour flute player Ali Ryerson fronting the group.  We were seated right up front, so close to the bandstand that I had to move Tony’s music stand and some cords on the floor so I had room to sit down.  They played a combination of originals and jazz interpretations of pop and rock songs, including Steely Dan’s Aja and the traditional Scarborough Fair.  The tone was mostly laid back and tasty, occasionally reaching out into more abstract and experimental territory.  The flute was unusual choice for lead instrument, and fit perfectly.  She was an excellent player, great tone, phrasing and soloing, and gave the group a unique sound and brought it all up to another level.  

Tony Levin is of course a world famous bass player, and equally famous for pioneering the use of the Chapman Stick.  For this gig, however, there was no stick.  He stuck to an electric upright bass, some kind of Steinberger I think, and and old Gibson bass guitar with a star-spangled paintjob that might well date from 1976.  His tone and playing were much more restrained than with some other groups, but sounded great and tasteful.

After the show the band was hanging out at the bar and we got to meet them.  Jeannie had a picture on her phone from when we saw King Crimson last summer.  Tony liked that and said it’s good we were there, cuz that’s probably the last time Crimson will play North America.  I mentioned the first time I saw Tony was with Peter Gabriel back in the 1980s’.  He said Gabriel is gonna be doing a major tour next year, very exciting.  I said to ask Pete if he’d do Carpet Crawlers.

The other show was Sungazer at Gramercy Theater in the city.  The venue was pretty cool, smallish but not that small, maybe a former vaudeville or movie theater with an open floor in the front half and raised seating in the back, and a bar on each side in the middle.  There was an opening act that I’d never heard of, but who were really good, called Childish Jibes, fronted by an attractive, dark-haired singer with a great voice and a sort of Amy Winehouse or Adele vibe, complete with a beehive hairdo and boots so high she could barely dance.  The band were sort of a blend soul funk and rock and pop with a unique sound.  Excellent players, great songs and arrangements, really polished.  I hope they make it big.

Sungazer is sort of a jazz-adjacent jam band like Lettuce or Galactic, but less funky and way more proggy, with elements of metal, techno and jazz fusion.  They favor dense, complex arrangements with out meters and multilayered polyrhythms and subdivisions of time.  The drummer and leader of the group is a virtuoso of this kind of playing, and his solo was just mind blowing.  The synth player had his own devil’s mellotron with samples from videogames and cartoons and things.  The bassist and guitarist were prone to unison shredding, and the bassist augmented the low end with a sub-bass synth reminiscent of old Genesis.  The sax playing resembled something like Morphine or King Crimson more than what you’d typically recognize as jazz. 

All in all totally my kind of weird.  It’s funny, Jeannie and I were very likely the oldest people in the crowd.  I wonder how a band like that finds an audience in this day and age.