Viewing: Fine Line album work - View all posts

Groovy drums, ideas surfacing... 

I would really love to have material and examples of things to post here but the truth is I'm just getting to surfacing things now - so many other tasks have been taking all my attention to date that only now with fall really biting down on the PNW am I getting the time to try out various ideas, grooves and themes. 

Groovy Kind of Love

No, not the Phil Collins tune of the same name. But finally having an electronic drum kit configured with the new MegaDrum module and hooked up via USB to my DAW PC driving Superior Drummer 3 and BFD2 in Cubase means that I can start to play and work on pulling out grooves while I'm working on my chops and time keeping. Back in the day (in high school folks) I loved going to the music room at school over lunch or after school and work on learning how to play the crappy beat up old 4 pc kit they had for the jazz band and such. Weekends I'd make my way to friends' homes and ask for tutelage and/or spend the entire day jamming on Rush and Max Webster tunes as we kept trading instruments - this was the foundation for my being able to write and program effective parts for the demos I put together even today. Then I lost my access to drums and it was a long time since then before I would or could get my own kit to bash around on. Being a guitarist/keyboardist I had those as priorities and I had to be satisfied with playing drums on the keyboard during writing.

So now having the kit, I can now start to mess around with things that I haven't done in more than 30 years.

One thing that I definitely have noticed - I'm less of a bash/crash guy and find joy in the ghost notes, various subtleties and accents that you can put in between the 1 and 3. And as I'm trying to teach my younger boys about playing (Lucas, my 8 year old really enjoys playing his basic rock beat with kick on the 1 and snare on the 3) I find that I'm embellishing the basic beats with a ton of ghost notes, triple 8ths and syncopation and loving the grooves, even though I really need to solidify my time and playing with the click. Keeping it simple the click is my friend, but the groove and the added playing causes me to drift ever so slightly so I am working on getting this down.

One particular groove is a compound meter - 3/3/2 in a 2 bar 4/4 pattern. I have ideas for guitar, bass and other parts but I would really like to get a nice solid 4 or 8 bar pattern recorded in MIDI and then work against that. That is the closest thing to a drummer on demand that I will ever have and it also makes it easier to explain the patterns I hear in my head to real drummers like John. 

So I putter on - I'll have some exercises / etudes put together in the near future with full instrumentation I promise.

Shipping CDs...

I absolutely need to get on this - once the 15th of the month passes I'll purchase the shipping envelopes and print the material that supplements the CDs (3 of them) that will go out to all of you who supported us through Pledge Music and other avenues. Because of the delays I'm shipping everyone both the Fine Line and Sound of Thoughts CDs plus the Tributes 1 covers album on CDr - its only fair for the delay. I plan on having them out in the mail by Nov 28, 2017 I promise.

"a fine line between..." CD goes on pre-order, get "Tributes 1" CD-r included for same price 

Last friday evening (5/20/16) I joined Rob Rutz and Marty Dorfman on The Waiting Room with The Prog Doctor where four tracks from the Fine Line album were featured, including the epic Temple of Lost Souls. I have to say it was a lot of fun, and it's been a long time since I've been on the air so it brought back memories of my time doing fill in and overnights on CHRW-FM Radio Western back in the late 80's/early 90's. I also had a regular show with my bud Greg Vogan back then - The Vog and Siv Show as he called it :) - where we played a ton of eclectic music during our overnight shift. Anyways, big shout out to Marty and Rob - they were great hosts and I hope that we can do that again soon.

Now... As mentioned on The Waiting Room with The Prog Doctor show last week - your purchase of a physical copy of "a fine line between..." will also receive a special Lightscribe CD-R copy of the "Tributes 1" album (13 songs by other artists as done by Rob and the band). Pre-order customers for the CD will be able to download the album tracks at time of purchase, plus receive an additional 6 tracks not included on either physical album. Sweet deal for a limited signed edition of the CD!

Quick update on our first jam session with new bassist Graham - had a lot of fun even not having prepared a list of songs for our time... my bad! We did work on trying out the live version of "The Halcyon Days" that was interesting since I didn't have my capo and it was tuned down 4 whole steps (from F# to D and the guitar in DADGAD tuning) so vocals were a lot lower than I was used to. Nevertheless I think this new configuration will go very well - we'll be working on putting a set list together that will include more songs from the earlier albums, and some different cover songs such as "Blackest Eyes" for the live set.

If all goes well, we'll look to book shows for September to get ourselves going and get tight in preparation for new album recording.

Mid May Updates 

Just a quick set of updates - for those who aren't on Facebook and who haven't connected through the Paraesthesia page.
  1. The Tributes 1 album is more than half done at this point with 7 songs of 13 in the can - I've been both remixing the tunes that have really solid performances, but also redoing guitars, keyboards, bass and vocals on others. It's taking a little more time than what I was planning on putting into it, but I want to be sure that anyone who picks this up, or the people who supported the IndieGoGo campaign get the best quality I can get them. It's also important to me to get a really solid version of each song since they constitute material that has had an impact and influence on my playing and writing over the years - a proper tribute to the artists who produced it originally.
  2. Because of the time being invested into Tributes 1, The Sound of Thoughts rework has essentially stopped for a while. I have some work over the next couple nights to get Lady in a Cage solidified and mixed in time for the premier on Marty Dorfman's The Waiting Room with The Prog Doctor show on Friday afternoon/evening - full vocals, a polished up 2nd guitar solo, and a couple additional things put in as far as arrangements with final mix and master by Thursday night. I'll have three songs to feature plus get to chat with the gang about the Fine Line, TSoT, and the Tributes 1 albums as well as new material to come.
  3. John, Graham and I will be getting together to jam on Saturday morning - we'll be going over HTFK plus 2 or 3 other songs from Fine Line just to get a feel for how we work together. We'll be recording HTFK in the very near future as a part of the Onion album release in September, so that will be one of the really interesting points for us as a band to work on.
  4. On top of everything else being discussed here, I'm working with our friend Mike Tiano on a set of music destined to be released as an album by end of year or early next year. Things have been difficult on my side as my iLok dongle has been having issues synching with the iLok database online - ProTools First requires that the license be present in the iLok key, and so I've been trying to debug this but no luck yet. Hopefully soon and then we can proceed with reviewing existing projects and also work on remote collaboration with Mike and his cast of musicians he's assembled.
  5. John, Pete and I will be recording our version of Rush's Xanadu in the next couple weeks - John and Pete were the duo who played the tune live with us in January, and they were totally solid locked in, so we're going to recreate this in the studio. Once that session happens, I'll be working with the bed tracks and completing the song for the Tributes 1 album coming out in mid-June.
Finally - Paul and I were supposed to get together to start writing new material, but a bout of diarrhea from one of my kids interrupted that opportunity. I'm going to get this rescheduled and hopefully we'll have something to offer listening wise in a few weeks.

That's all folks!!

Quick post - two more days for IndieGoGo, TSoT rework continues 


We have two more days in the IndieGoGo campaign - please click on the link to the right of this post and participate in our crowdfunding campaign. We're now past 15% funded, but we have a ways to go before we're able to manufacture CDs and distribute them. If we can simple reach the $1500 mark then we'll achieve the biggest portion of our goal - and you'll get full color fully replicated CD with full color artwork as well. Please do what you can to help!!

Even as that goes on, I'm continuing with the remastery of The Sound of Thoughts - tonight's focus was on Legend in His Own Mind. I'm feeling pretty good about this song right now, as I've done a pass at vocals (which are grittier and rockier than the original ones) and the two guitar solos. The new take on the middle solo (which originally was Eric Meisels solo) is a lot more noise oriented. I did take one of the ideas he had which was to meander around in D minor scale during an odd portion of the solo, but the rest was completely my own take on this. I start the solo off with double stop stretch dissonance in A, then B and ascend to a F# dissonance in steps, which gets to the D min scale meandering, and then returns to A minor pentatonic based blues fusion licks to end on a sustained D note. I'm relatively pleased with it - it's all in meter and nails the dominant notes I wanted to hit, so great! The extro solo is just in A minor - essentially the Stairway to Heaven progression leading out with a twist to D and E to resolve the turnaround. Overall, as mentioned I'm pleased with the song and you can hear it HERE. Of course, it's part of the album pre-order so you can hear this track plus O Sardinhas Dor/Pentelho Vermelho as pre-order previews. The Sound of Thoughts album is set for release on or around June 30, 2016.

Finally, we're giving a new guy a tryout on bass shortly. He's working on bass parts for HTFK right now, and has his own home recording set up so that's pretty awesome in my world. John continues to write drum parts for the song, and I've got Paul coming over this Sunday morning to continue with more writing magic - new album work will progress dammit... 

To close out this post - please click the IndieGoGo campaign and sign up to give us $10 or more. You'll get a ton of music in exchange for your hard earned $$ and the satisfaction that you're saving the music for future generations - well, maybe not, but you're allowing us to continue a while longer. Thanks!!

10 days left for the CD manufacturing campaign, plus some updates 

IndieGoGo Campaign

So there's 10 days left for the IndieGoGo campaign - please take a look to the right of this posting and choose to click that campaign banner and support us. Even a $5 contribution will help us in a big way, and I'll send along some tracks for your listening pleasure! We're 13% of the way to our goal - help us achieve it!

New drums for HTFK from the Onion album

John and I met on Sunday morning to review HTFK and discuss his drums for the song. I think we have a really interesting path forward - I still need to provide him a new mix of the song (minus the hihat "click" I injected instead of the programmed drums) for him to go forward, but I'll get that done and forwarded to him tonight. The changes will definitely improve the tune - its only about 23 years coming now so I guess you could say "It's about time!!!" I promise that it will be worth all the wait!

New Material - discussion and work in progress

So to date, we've got a piano based piece that Paul has done a demo session for. We also have something that I messed around with that's very sparsely instrumented (a thick square wave bass synth part and a series of MIDI drum loops arranged to form a star) almost feeling like Industrial Metal called Flaming Wreckage. I've been messing around with other ideas that are floating in my head - one in particular that is kind of treading on the Canadian band The Tea Party's territory that takes Middle Eastern, Persian and Indian influences and scales and melds them with Led Zeppelin grooves. I'm going to add some significant twists and turns into the grooves though as I try to inject Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti influence with serious odd time signatures and then a concept I heard of from Gavin Harrison called Overriding which takes any odd time signature and then has an overriding half time ride that gives the illusion of a straight 4 groove. Think of a 7/8 groove that would have an override on the 2, 4, 6, 1, 3, 5, and 7 across the two bars of 7 - it would feel like a standard groove for the audience. As I think I've said before I'm going to be trying to incorporate a lot more varying influences and styles into the new material and the ones that are in flight are indicative of what's coming.

Our production and writing schedule for the next short while
  1. Paul and I will be getting together on May 1 in the morning to again attack new material and possible continue work on the Romantic piano piece that's in flight.
  2. John and I will talk about HTFK again shortly - try to get a production schedule down
  3. John and I need to talk with a couple bass players he's worked with pretty recently - both sound very interesting for the group
  4. I (Rob) need to get back to all the Sound of Thoughts rework - another end to end review of the material with guitar retakes and Lady interlude rethinks, as well as vocal retakes.
  5. I (Rob) return to Onion rework and start the effort to rebuild full songs in Cubase out of the original audio mixes

Ship Dates for album projects
  • The Sound of Thoughts remaster - end of June 2016
  • Onion remaster - end of September 2016
  • To Sleep Perchance to Dream (working title) - June/July 2017

17 days remaining... 

Hey everyone - please take a look at the sidebar to the right of this blog entry and seriously consider supporting our IndieGoGo campaign. As of 5 pm Tuesday April 12 we are 11.8% of our $2500 goal with 17 days remaining in the campaign. I have confidence we'll at the very least achieve half our goal by April 30 which will help fund the full mastering and a short run of 500 replicated CDs with full color inserts and tray liners - but we would really love to be able to get to our goal and here's a list of the things that we'll be able to do with that money:
  1. Full professional mastering by Steve Turnidge / Ars Divina
  2. a Glass Master CD that we will have handy for future replication runs
  3. 1000 replicated CDs - that's the real deal, the same product you buy off the shelves from record labels by bands like Muse, Steven Wilson, Spock's Beard, etc...
  4. produce a music video of Mirror Mirror - enough money to rent some professional lighting equipment and a second digital video camera for a couple days
  5. update my video editing software to the latest greatest version (PowerDirector Pro)
For those who sign up and donate anything to the campaign, I'll add your name to an assembled list of people deserving thanks. Your support first and foremost is one of the most important things for us - it's what keeps this larger music project moving and provides the motivation to write and record new material. Without an appreciative audience and supportive fans, there would be no point in continuing with our effort.

A song from the next reissue album "The Sound of Thoughts"... 

Even though I'm working the IndieGoGo campaign to fund mastering and manufacture of the Fine Line CD, I'm still moving forward with doing a lot of rework on tracks for the next reissue CD - The Sound of Thoughts - that's coming out in June. To date, I've remixed 8 of 10 tracks and this is the latest one - the song that the album is named after.

I'm hosting all the preview songs on Soundcloud right now since they have nice bandwidth on their file servers, and a nice app to serve them up on mobile.

I hope you enjoy the song, and also go over to the campaign site - one of the perks for supporters is to be listed as an Executive Producer, or as a Wonderful Person in lists on the albums. Its quite the treat and everyone who buys the album from here on gets to admire you for your foresight and patronage.

A reminder of the IndieGoGo campaign... 

There are 9 days remaining in our IndieGoGo campaign - please take a moment to go over to the campaign page and choose to support us in getting our CDs manufactured. Each of the "perks" in the campaign comes with a copy of all the songs, and the ones above the $15 mark get a signed personalized copy of the CD and some other bonus items.

All the CDs will have full color 6 panel folders with original artwork by Ed Unitsky, who has worked with Unitopia, The Flower Kings, Manning, and many other excellent progressive rock projects. 

Thanks so much for your support!!

fighting the pirates and file sharers - a story of illegal distribution of my music 

Needing to write this makes me really sad and angry.

I would have thought that after almost two decades of watching the majority of recording musicians and songwriters go from being able to sustain a living (truthfully, some 0.01% were very prosperous) to barely surviving we would have seen a big decline in people file sharing - especially with streaming services Spotify, Pandora and others offering free streaming and eliminating the need for illegally sharing music through bittorrent and dropbox, etc...

I'm very wrong though.

On Thursday March 17, someone with an email address of purchased our album "a fine line between..." from - this is generally a good thing, and especially since album sales have been extremely slow any sale helps us out.

In this case, it didn't - within a few short hours the album was compressed into a RAR file (Robertsv2016.rar) and then uploaded on several file sharing sites and .torrent files pointing to the rar file published on many sharing services. I had noticed something odd when traffic to this website increased almost 200 times - again normally a good thing - until I started checking the referring links and followed them back. I don't think it's any coincidence that the hosts are predominantly located in Russia - Russia, Indonesia, China, Cypress and other countries don't care about following copyright laws and the copyright owner has to jump through a number of hoops to get the stuff removed.

The sites include,,,,,,, and I'm sure many others. Each of these sites is contravening copyright law and in violation of DMCA regulations publishing files and archives of music that they don't own copyright for and were not given permission to publish by the copyright owner (me and the guys).

There are in fact disclaimers on all these sites claiming they have no responsibility for validating ownership of files being shared on their service - Google/YouTube have found out differently though and have been validating works and removing content that isn't owned by the person posting. But since these other services reside in essentially lawless nations, the theft of music, film, etc... goes on.

Since this was discovered, I've been sending DMCA emails demanding the file sharing sites and hosts remove the file above as a copyright infringement. Each of these sites has had at minimum 200 downloads of the album - effectively taking away legal purchases from us. Even if only 1 in 100 people would buy the album, we're talking hundreds of dollars stolen from us.

I've been losing money on the music side for decades, and I will quit if there is no hope of people assigning value to what I do. I know there are other musicians/bands/artists out there who feel the same way - we express and feed our passion by writing, playing and recording, but if we cant feed ourselves and our families then there is no point in continuing to lose money to people who steal from us.

If you've followed a path from one of these sites to this website - thanks for visiting and reading. Please take a moment to consider that we've invested thousands of dollars into the recording equipment, software, musical instruments, and even performances/recording time of the people who participated - if you enjoy the music and would download new music from us in the future, you should consider at the least making a donation or contribution to our recording fund. Even $1 as a token amount sent to our PayPal account in appreciation for the music you've downloaded will make what was an act of theft into a purchase - I'm putting up a PayPal donations applet on this site to allow you to do that easily.