End of August Update 

Writing is going slowly - I am continuing to build up quite the treasure trove of stems and snippets but nothing has quite taken off as of yet. My day job and aspects of my personal life are very stressful right now which really isn't helping - I'm either writing a lot in a melancholy open D tuning, or just riffing and sludging along on tired (for me) riffs or piano bits. It's not truly a writer's block but it's almost worse as I come up with some stuff that in another frame of mind or another time would just fuel a ton of output but at this moment it's falling flat for me. Alas, yet to find something totally inspiring...

The Alesis drum kit is at the 7 piece size now, the picture of it is below:

It's a nice solid electronic kit - the disappointing thing is the better quality hi hat trigger and pedal controller don't work with the Nitro module, and I should have checked on this before investing in the ProX Hi Hat. In the meantime I discovered I really like the Roland hi hat trigger/controller and am watching for a cheap 2nd hand one on Craigslist or eBay. I picked up the Alesis Trigger IO USB interface online, and it has enough inputs for all the pieces in this kit including the two for the hi hat - I'll be selling the Nitro module fairly soon or depending on how well my son does at school I might continue upgrading my kit and then gift him the original Nitro stuff to learn on. He's coming into my office quite a bit and making racket with this so it might be something that he and my other sons would enjoy and learn on.

I'm getting close to the end of a major project at work though - a big data center relocation and replacement as we move servers, switches, data storage and firewalls from Sunnyvale, CA up to Seattle, WA. When it's done it will be absolutely something I will be proud of but at this moment I'm absolutely miserable and stressed - some operational problems happen coincidentally with planned changes, which freaks everyone out and then we roll back the changes just to find out the issues were unrelated. Today's fun time happy path incident involved network changes on the Seattle side to facilitate completing some testing - after the network config was completed, just minutes later the SFO facility suffered a 3 minute network outage that caused one of the old systems to freeze up and our logging mechanism to choke. It took the entire afternoon and 5 engineers (incl myself) plus our System Admin friend to remedy this with a simple restart of the service. Living through weeks and months of this kind of thing is really wearing on me at this point.

One thing musical that could come of my own frustrations and writer's block is that I would choose to go forward with the Tributes 2 project - being able to work on my chops, hone my drumming a bit and continue tuning my studio would be a great thing. It would also allow me to not only bring the guys in the band into something that is productive, but even maybe some people outside my immediate sphere. Being able to reduce the stress and pressure of trying to come up with original material that is exciting and inspiring could actually result in new exciting inspiring original material through relaxing and letting shit happen. Don't discount anything before you prove it to be wrong.

Finally I leave you with best wishes for (what is in North America) Labor Day Weekend. It's the last hurrah of summer 2017 - and here in Seattle it has been a really very nice one - absolutely dry, sunny and for the most part very pleasantly warm with only a few hot spells. There's a lot of pressure from my partner to relocate to Southern California and the earlier the better for her, but even though November through May is really gloomy and oppressive with rain and thick clouds I still really love this area and while I might really love SoCal after moving there, I am very resistant to change. Next year in June is my 20th year here and all the cute local allusions apply to me - I feel like I've got moss and lichen growing on the leeward side of me, and most of the time the air is clean and clear with the bluest skies you'll find anywhere. I moved here from Toronto and felt like I got to somewhere that was more Canada than Canada (at least more than Toronto was) and the next few months will be difficult I think. Here's to trying to put together a very fondly memorable time while it lasts.

August and the back end of Summer 2017 

Quick updates from the chair in Hyperboreal Studios of Snoqualmie, WA.

The bi-annual gear purge is in progress, as I've sold off a couple venerable keyboards in the hope of both taking care of some lingering bills and also to spur pushing my creativity in a different direction. The most wonderful Numa Organ and my Roland Gaia both are gone - they're replaced by VSTs courtesy Arturia and the V-Collection 5 bundle. Soon hopefully the V-Synth XT will sell and I can then consolidate the remaining bits into one single 8U rack. As nice as all the external dedicated hardware is, I can write/record and play out live with all my beloved sounds in VST form on a laptop with USB or Thunderbolt DA interface and the USB Nektar Panorama 6 controller. Given that even with the more compact guitar rig I use, I still have two combos and three plus one guitars to take out - hardware based keyboards are a luxury I don't have room or set up time for.

The Arturia collection has been excellent - particularly the electric pianos (Whirly and the Yamaha Electric Grand) and the ARP have been a lot of fun. For many of the lead sounds the Moogs in the collection are excellent, but I've also fallen back to using the Minimonsta and the OB-Xa with their classic patches for leads as well as Taurus Bass Pedal tones. The Hammond B3 emulation on the V-Collection has been decent - I need to program the various drawbar combinations that I really loved (which were programmed into my Numa Organ) that represented the Keith Emerson, Rick Wright, Tony Banks, Jon Lord, Gary Booker and Rick Wakeman combinations that I used all the time. The presets just sound a bit weak to me.

It's also forcing me to explore more deeply many of the libraries and new VSTs I bought the last few years - Rev, Iris, Exhale, etc... and use those to inspire new avenues of creativity. Already hearing interesting things with the rhythmic patches in Rev that are driving ideas - I had been leaning on the classic sounds with the Gaia and Numa Organ way too much and not pushing anything inspiring.

I've also been building my Alesis based electronic drum kit - it's up to 6 pieces waiting on the 10" 2box mesh head dual zone trigger to arrive. That will become the snare trigger and I'll have my 7 piece kit complete with the Alesis Trigger io/Nitro module combination. The Nitro is proving to be pretty decent in terms of sending MIDI info to the DAW - very low latency and quite usable to play/record with. The Trigger io allows me to add more pieces to the kit - going from a 6 piece (4 toms + snare, kick) with two crash and 1 ride cymbal up to the 7 piece (5 toms) and more crash/splash cymbal imputs plus 3 zone ride. I can run the MIDI OUT from the Trigger io to the Nitro and keep it fairly tight latency wise. The newer Alesis tom triggers are also pretty decent - I have the two dual zone triggers as the top most toms, and the single zone triggers on the bottom 3 so I can use the rims on the top two for assorted percussion pieces as needed. I did upgrade the hihat cymbal to a RealHat cymbal - but I'm really looking at a Roland vh-11 right now to get better feel and slightly less ambient playing noise (stick noise). I'm going to give the Alesis ones a go for a while first - I have them on a real Olympic hihat stand right now and for all intents and purposes it's feeling pretty good. The last thing I would like to do is replace the single Alesis kick pedal with a DW double kick pedal or something similar. I'm keeping my eyes open on CL for that very thing.

Wife is giving me a hard time right now, so need to go. I'll hopefully have some things to post once the new snare trigger arrives - later gators!

Quiet time and working on musical ideas... 

It's been a while now so I thought I should come back and write something to show that we're still alive and still have intentions for future releases and shows. Nothing has changed, but this first half of the year was pretty intense and I personally have needed to decompress even as things in my real life have upped intensity wise (work related things specifically). This is my brief surfacing from the depths to catch a gasp of air and let you know what's going on...

New Music Stuffs

I've been trying to untangle the various musical threads in my head - laying down snippets of things and playing with bits and pieces trying to put things into order, but have found that both there's too much stuff going on but also the bits fall into two or more separate buckets.

It's not what you're thinking - the buckets have more to do with what project they fit into and specifically not quality labels. It led me to realize back in June that there's actually the Paraesthesia bucket (which is now intended to be a fully collaborative unit, not just a target) and I guess a bucket that's simply Robert Svilpa experiments/solo material. I'm sure each of the others have their own categorizations that they sort material into, but this is the first time that I have actually had to explicitly realize that material that might light up the bulb for me may not necessarily do the same for the others. Sure it seems really logical for everyone else, but I've always just targeted this project since it started as my solo stuff and grew out from there. Splitting material up is new for me.

So that means we'll be working on writing and recording a new Paraesthesia album likely this fall, but I'll also be working through a lot of new solo material where I'll be playing the majority of the instruments/vocals. I'll ask the guys to play on some material I'm sure but mostly it will be a true solo effort.

There's also a third project with my friend Christopher Scott Cooper in SFO - we'll start writing and collaborating together soon and who knows what will come of this? I'm pretty excited as being able to work with Chris - being as we have similar views on many things - will be a brand new experience for me. No matter what, it will be a really cool experience.

Gear Talk

With all the changes in my guitar rig the last year plus, I've now had to take a hard look at my keyboards. Writing and recording I've really been very dedicated to using VSTs (virtual instruments) which eliminate any noise in that part of the signal chain. That leaves the physical keyboards really only useful for writing (when I'm not using Cubase) or playing live. And I haven't been playing keyboards live at all in a long time. So I'm downsizing my keyboard rig - I've already sold my Numa Organ (which was difficult for me as I really like owning stuff especially that keyboard), and my Roland Gaia is also up for sale, along with the V-Synth XT. What is going to be picking up the slack with those instruments gone is the V-Collection 5 from Arturia - I've been able to pick up a low level endorsement from Arturia and that collection has pretty much everything I need to both reproduce my back catalog material, but also provides nice inspiration for new material as well. Taking my Nektar controller keyboard with a laptop and Cantabile VST host makes life much simpler - one single stereo output for all the synth/organ/piano sounds. It's taking me a little time to really soothe my own ego but from a logistical and logical perspective it's the right way for me to go.

Anyways, that's about all for this month. August is 2 days away, and I hope to have a lot more to share in a couple weeks including maybe some new songs or demos of things to post. Have a great mid summer time!

Post SeaProg hangover... 

It's been a few days now, and there are a lot of great general comments coming in about the SeaProg Festival this past weekend - endearing to be included in what is being considered the best edition of the festival in its' short history. Much respect to all the bands who played, thanks for being respectful and open to gear sharing and making the opening night gig go so smoothly.

I've finally picked up and reassembled my guitar rig at home - Paul was awesome agreeing to load my gear into his car for a couple days as I didn't have wheels to get home that evening. Thanks to John for the lift home as well - he went a significant amount out of his way to deliver me home safe and sound. Anyways, the amp stack is set up and with the minor reconfiguration of my office/studio area, I now have space in front of the window for the Alesis e-drum kit I got for super cheap a month ago. It's a fair recreation of a 6 pc kit with hihat and 2 cymbals - just enough to get ideas down in MIDI and start building music from scratch. As much as I love the canned MIDI loops you can find online, taking a set of those and assembling into a coherent song is painful. With this I can either bash crap out on my own or bring John in to lay down scratch beds as writing demos to pass along to everyone for their input. The sound module outputs MIDI through a USB port, I just need to plug in a 15' cable from my pc to the module, set up a track to receive MIDI and go. Ez Peazy.

I definitely feel that this set of songs/project will be a lot different from the earlier two - maybe even hearkening back to the original Onion mindset but with a theme to hold all the group of songs together. I've mentioned "a child's dream/REM cycle" a few times - the guys like the theme so I'm expecting interesting snippets to come back in the near future. We're starting to talk about time frames for commencing work - Marc's studio reconstruction is priority for him, but soon after it's completed I'm sure we'll start to see the fruits and influences of that project on this one.

SeaProg 2017 Day Zero - a retrospective 

Waking up 7 am this morning after getting home at 2 am is painful - especially since I had serious issues getting to sleep last night when I did fall into bed. But with my wife safely out the door to her rare Saturday morning shift as an RN I now have a marginal amount of time to recharge the batteries and start focusing on what's to come. But there is time to reflect on our set last night at SeaProg 2017...

Celebrate!!! Let loose the balloons and throw the covfefe!!

Being the headliner in the opening night of Seattle's Progressive Rock Festival has positives and negatives - the main negative being we go on at 11 pm as the last band to take the stage, and generally a lot of the supporters of the earlier bands have left by that point.

The positive is we get to watch the other bands play and depending on how they perform it provides the nerves, energy and motivation to step up our game.

Last night was no exception.

Michael Trew and Moon Letters took to the stage to start the evening at 8 pm. Very much in the style of 70's english progressive rock (think Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, etc...) their material was based on olde Scottish folklore and they were dressed for the part. They took their costumes and material to heart, with Michael providing a true doppelganger image of Ian Anderson circa Aqualung replete in good old back door long johns, tambourine and flute. Great songs, well rehearsed and brought a nice crowd out to cheer them on - overall two thumbs up!

9 pm and Pinto Wagonfire brought a brand of jazzy instrumental jam rock that had dizzying meter changes - the material is extremely composed belying the jam band feel. Joe Fischer and band were again excellent - tightly rehearsed in a way that you couldn't believe this was their second gig out. Will (drums) had played with our friend Peter Tutak's band Arresting Strangeness (who I sang a couple songs with at their last gig) so we were very familiar and it was nice to meet up and chat however briefly due to time constraints.

10:15 pm ish OMNI took the stage. Truthfully I was probably most intimidated at the prospect of following these guys and they didn't disappoint. Chris Cullman and gang went through a 45 minute set of really technical and very powerful original tunes that were mesmerizing to say the least. Will Andrews powerful tom flourishes and Patrick Allen's guitar soundscapes had me feeling like I was watching the next generation Tool - not derivative in the least, but definitely had that feel. While it was certainly intimidating to follow them up, our material is so different from all the bands that we knew we'd be able to hold our own.

11:20 pm ish - we take the stage.

Starting off with a piece of music that had never been played live before - HTFK is one of those instrumental songs with a lot of start/stop, heavy/light and big power chord/arpeggiated sequence counterpoint throughout the song ending in a huge overlay of all the above. I feel it's a really clever and compelling progressive rock song because while most prog revels in a lot of odd meters and tempo changes, this one has a constant tempo and is exclusively in the key of E and 4/4 all the way through. Ok maybe a slight lie - it modulated to a G at one point but then returns to E for the rest of the song. Using syncopation, attack dynamics and arpeggiation gives the tune a feel of a really complex number but it rocks really hard. It got a great reception from the audience on hand, which was actually pretty full still at that point. We're not used to that as a band... :)

Pulling out Mirror Mirror next to hook the audience in with a composed song with more conventional song structure, I could see people bopping their heads and being drawn into the music. Zsolt's moog monosynth countermelody in the chorus set the hook and I felt like we had a good connection with the people who stuck around.

Frantic was the #3 punch - huge and powerful with the sampled effected vocal line breaking into the live vocal chorus and the epic guitar solo. Ending with Paul's quiet piano was perfect and again a great response from everyone in the audience.

In the shadows got a much more dramatic treatment - creepy as all get out and for me a bit of a risky arrangement that put me out there, it was highly effective as well.

Mesmerize, Drawing the Short Straw, Atonement, and Blackest Eyes closed out our set. Atonement had a couple audience members really charged up and vocal in their support, while Blackest Eyes ended the night on a very strong note for us.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see the show, and also thanks to Paul, Art, John and Marc for being in the band and putting it out there. Looking forward to moving along to writing new material and recording with these guys!! Cheers!!

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    Previous events


    SeaProg Music Festival - Paraesthesia

     —  —

    Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle


    Paraesthesia are extremely happy to have been invited to play at SeaProg 2017.

    We are part of the opening night Day Zero bill at The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA:

    Moon Letters (8 pm)

    Pinto Wagonfire (9 pm)

    OMNI (10 pm)

    Paraesthesia (11 pm)

    This is a free concert - no admission although donations for the bands are highly encouraged.

    a fine line between... (2016)


    Progressive rock album with some neo-prog songs. Documenting a day in the life of a self-medicating self-destructive manic depressive man.

    11 album songs plus 4 bonus tracks totaling just under 100 minutes of music - only available to pre-orders.

    Artwork is courtesy the great artist Ed Unitsky

    1. 1 The First Piece in the Puzzle 05:00 Info Buy
    2. 2 Mirror Mirror 04:34 Info Buy
    3. 3 Temple of Lost Souls 16:56 Info Buy
    4. 4 Frantic 06:20 Info Buy
    5. 5 in the shadows 06:54 Info Buy
    6. 6 The Only One 04:20 Info Buy
    7. 7 Mesmerize 09:54 Info Buy
    8. 8 Adagio in A minor 05:20 Info Buy
    9. 9 As Time Goes By 05:20 Info Buy
    10. 10 Atonement 06:35 Info Buy
    11. 11 Drawing the Short Straw 07:53 Info Buy
    12. 12 That Day 05:35 Info Buy
    13. 13 Phasors on Stun (FM tribute) 03:50 Info Buy
    14. 14 htfk 05:03 Info Buy
    15. 15 Sogno di Eden Lontana 03:02 Info Buy

    The Sound of Thoughts


    A fully re-imagined (re-done, remixed, remastered) album originally released in 2005 - the original release much improved with new vocals, new instrumental performances, and entirely re-recorded songs replacing the original versions.

    Track List:
    1- Heartbeat Failing
    2- The Weaver's Loom
    3- Pentelho Vermelho (incl. O Sardinhas Dor (O. Wakeman))
    4- Legend in His Own Mind
    5- Lady in a Cage (Svilpa, Koenen)
    6- Tahoma
    7- This Mortal Coil
    8- Peace, My Brother
    9- The Sound of Thoughts
    10- Father to Son

    All songs written by Robert Svilpa, except where noted above.

    Engineered, mixed and mastered by Robert Svilpa
    1. 1 Heartbeat Failing (2016) 02:58 Info Buy
    2. 2 The Weaver's Loom 02:37 Info Buy
    3. 3 Pentelho Vermelho (2016) 07:31 Info Buy
    4. 4 Legend in His Own Mind 05:41 Info Buy
    5. 5 Lady in a Cage (2016) 19:46 Info Buy
    6. 6 The Sound of Thoughts (2016) 05:23 Info Buy
    7. 7 This Mortal Coil 07:25 Info Buy
    8. 8 Peace, My Brother (2016) 05:29 Info Buy
    9. 9 Tahoma (2016) 07:22 Info Buy
    10. 10 Father to Sons (2016) 04:31 Info Buy
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    The official home of Paraesthesia - everything to do with music and live shows by the group of guys collectively known as Paraesthesia, or even any of us individually you'll find it here. 

    an abnormal sensation, typically tingling or pricking (“pins and needles”), caused chiefly by pressure on or damage to peripheral nerves.

    Paraesthesia – Seattle based Psychedelic Progressive Hard Rock band that mixes elements of electronic, avant garde, hard rock, pop, symphonic and classic progressive into their melodic and dramatic material. The band consists of Robert Svilpa (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Paul Harrington (keyboards, vocals), Marc Miller (bass, vocals, violin) and John Hernandez (drums, vocals).

    Watch this space in 2017 for shows featuring the people listed above.