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February 

Quick updates from the Paraesthesia camp:

  • Continued demoing of new material - work is still taking way too much of my life away, but being able to rattle off some riffs and bash out a couple new rhythms on the kit help to relieve stress. Some of the bits that surface are reminiscent of classic rock bands of my youth - Queen, Rush, CSNY, 10cc... I'm just letting this stuff happen since it's there and it's free to come up, rather than sweat out more complex material that is exceedingly stubborn usually to write. I'll take a much more "let it flow" attitude and then pick and choose those things that work and archive those that don't stimulate the senses so much. Again to have enough material that I can split it up between a solo album and the stuff good for Paraesthesia is wonderful as it gives me a ton of freedom to just let it happen - let it flow indeed.
  • Marc Miller and I are collaborating on a pure tribute recording project of our favorite and some not so favorite Genesis tracks. All the ones that you know to be in the top tier in their catalog, and one particular song that neither Marc nor I have high regard for - Afterglow - which we're going to mutate into something utterly different (maybe death metal, maybe in a Tesseract/Periphery style, maybe Meshuggah... or all the above) and give it a breath of new life
  • I've built my New Standard Tuning guitar out of a beat to shit but still attractive Epiphone Les Paul Standard in a nice red color. I put new Seymour Duncan pickups - Whole Lotta Humbucker and JB, Triple Shot pickup rings (I should have bought black ones though), replaced all the pots, caps and switch, new black tulip knob tuning machines... it's pretty bad ass. My son Thomas (who just got a Sterling EBMM Petrucci model) came down and played it a bit, commented about how the neck is much nicer and faster than his Epi Traditional Pro LP he used prior to getting the Petrucci for xmas.
  • replacing the kick drum trigger pad on my drum kit with a Roland KD-120 - the Pintech kick drum is ridiculously loud as the trigger is a solid metal surface under the mesh drum head and thuds like kicking a cardboard box. Having a little bit of give and rebound as well will help with my double kick pedal technique I believe, and the silence of the mesh head on the Roland will be golden.
  • WRT the solo material - I'm probably going to reach out to some friends to contribute their abilities, people I haven't worked with before. I have a lot of friends on Facebook and other social networks who are seriously talented and come from a different angle that it would be a really nice departure from my typical sound. I'm also going to just perform all the instruments on 1-3 tracks - drums, guitars, keyboards, bass, vocals - as it's been something I've wanted to do since I started playing music when I was 8 years old. Not that I knew I could, but I wanted to be able to play every instrument I could get my hands on competently and this is my chance now to do this and see how feasible it truly would be.

Ok time to go - I stay up way too late at night and then suffer for my foolishness. Good night!

January 9, 2018 

Progress continues to be slow in the music thing although I'm really focusing much of my attention & efforts on the instrumental piece. I did sit down last weekend for about 45 minutes with my nylon string and recorded a nice progression that is inspiring, but nothing more than just something to make sure it doesn't get lost in time. I'm at the stage with the instrumental tune where I'm trying variations of what is becoming or are becoming the melodic themes of the new long piece. I'm following the example of one of my musical heroes Mike Oldfield but desperately trying not to sound like I'm copping Oldfield's style. I'm also working in new sounds and textures into the instrumental - more so than any of my compositions from the past, I want to be able to incorporate the ambient and the mood imbued by soundtracks done by Peter Gabriel (Birdy, Last Temptation of Christ), Tangerine Dream (Legend), Trent Reznor, Bear McCreary, etc... I've also got myself a nice slightly beat up Epiphone Les Paul Standard that I'm pimping out - new classic Grover tuners with the tulip knobs, new Seymour Duncan pickups and the pickup mounting rings with the microswitches allowing the JP wiring. It's tuned in the New Standard Tuning (C, G, D, A, E, G) and with custom string gauges that make playing the super low C and the high G not too stressful. I'm going to try my hand at some Fripp type soundscapes, as well as take advantage of the intervallic spacing the 5ths give for some interesting arpeggio patterns.

I've been continuing to work on my drum chops - in conjunction with getting the MegaDrums module set up as good as possible with the mesh head pads. I'm still thinking of adding an Octapad type thing to the kit - those things give a lot of options for being able to both play high tuned percussion like Octabans or tuned cymbals, but also to trigger loops and samples, or even use them to start/stop Cubase from the drum throne. Many options exist, and an Alesis Control Pad can be had pretty cheaply...

Anyways, just thought I'd make an appearance here and let everyone know we're still around. We still have some semblance of a sense of humor so we still have hope to put something great together and blow everyone away. 

Finally, just want to make a shout out to my cousin Ed, who I think joined the mailing list. Happy New Year cousin!!

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.

October, and finally some tracks are making progress... 

Really quick update, as it's 11:39 pm Thursday here in Seattle and I'm needing to get my slightly jet lagged butt to bed soon.

Electronic Drums - oh how I love/hate them...

Over the past several months I've been assembling quite a number or "stems" or bits of ideas - some more complete than others - and recording them into these nondescript projects on my PC. They all have some weird project name that may or may not have anything to do with the end product, but at least they're saved and the name is somewhat memorable and descriptive enough to tell me what was happening in them. Where I put drums in, they were usually sample loops or midi loops, or I programmed them in just to have a driver to push stuff along.

Well, I have an alternative to that now.

The Alesis drum kit I got from an Amazon gold box sale (returns/refurbs drastically reduced in price) with a gift card I had has been morphed over months of working through issues. Gone is the Alesis module and Alesis Trigger IO, replaced with this box built by Dmitri that is called the MegaDrum. 18 inputs allows me to get a decent representation of a 7 piece kit with the Alesis and 2Box drum pads, and a Roland hihat with 4 crash and 1 ride triggers. It's taken me an entire week to get the thing configured with the Superior Drummer 3 software on my PC but it's now working and I can really start practicing my drum chops and come up with my own drum parts for the song. I already started by messing around with "Raga in A Major" on the drums - tribal drums to go along with the droney riff and then traditional drumming for the verses. I also messed around on "Floyd Thing" (yes it's kind of like PF) - no keeper takes but proof of concept and that allowed me to further tweak the midi trigger levels to get better results.

This should unblock me to get a lot of non-Paraesthesia songs out of my system - clear out the logjam and maybe turn them into a solo release so that more interesting proggy stuff frees up for the band.

As I mentioned above, there's a lot of material now to sort through. I also have this thing going through my head that's really heavy that came to mind while I was on the boat last week - it's a big crashy suspended guitar extravaganza that brings Zappa and/or Max Webster to mind, and would allow me to open up some almost Holdsworthian soloing on top of it.

Ok, going to bed now. Ciao!

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.

quick thoughts on songwriting... 

I promise this will be short - I only have ten minutes to write this so it has to be...

Songwriting

For many months, in fact you could say the last 6 years I've been experiencing writers block - and in that I mean I've been really blocked on the writing part. 

Oh sure, I have videoed myself playing different ideas and snippets of things and then posted online. Wrote jot notes of lyrical ideas onto yellow business pads  Even started putting down random ideas into Cubase and tried to force things together to different degrees of success. But nothing that really opened up something really interesting as a writer/composer or compelling from the audience's perspective.

It's been really tough.

In the past, when I've hit these periods that seem to last forever when they happen but always have passed with incredibly fertile times bursting in - I've gone to past demos and snippets looking for inspiration. This time that well is predominantly dry though - what I had archived once that would have been excellent fodder has been lost in a HDD failure, stuff that included some really technical phrases and stems which could have been really wild but are lost to time at this point. 

So back at square one again.

This morning though I'm starting to see things slightly differently because of something that has happened when sitting down to work on a piece of music that I think has great potential, but I haven't found the right next bit to put it. That's not to say I don't have various options and ideas, but nothing seems to fit what I'm wanting to put there (its somewhat abstract, but when I find the right thing it usually has that big AH HA moment for me - everything else up to that moment just falls flat...)

As said, there's a lot of things I'm trying out there but nothing is working. So I decided to open a new project and just record that bit. Then another on another new project... and so on.

After 2-3 hrs I now have 5 different song projects with different bits on different sound sources - an aggressive B3 bit in 7 that's very cool; a downcast minor thing using grand piano that isn't a ballad although it uses a standard device in the progression identifiable with ballads; a heavy guitar riff thing programmed using an aggressive bass synth with a percussive quality; and so on...

So my writers block might not necessarily be a writers block, but an overwhelming abundance of ideas that are impossible to categorize and assemble.

In fact, there are so many bits that the riff or progression is written using a particular instrument and sound (e.g. - the B3 thing is using an overdriven tone using drawbar settings derived from Pink Floyd's Echoes) but some of the really great potential is changing the instrumentation through sections of the song such that the main theme might be played using an assertive string patch layered with aggressive piano for attack and modified rhythm pattern in the next, then during a "drop" it's arpeggiated with a delicate grand piano and fretless bass playing counterpoint... 

But there are so many just individual ideas clamoring for attention right now it's really hard to think of nuances and arrangements just yet. I just know I have to throw them down on disk and then sort through them later. They have to go into separate projects with basic set ups (time signatures, bpm, etc...) so its not just turning a cassette player on and going, but I still need to capture everything and then catalog and backup to my NAS. Every time I sit down at the keyboards or pick up the guitar I get these things coming out so I need to follow the musician's adage and hit record on everything...

Anyways - its a bit torturous right now doing exactly that as I have so much churn at my day job, my personal life is gearing up for some really big changes over the next year which will affect professional and music life, and well just life is never settled into anything that would allow me to clear the mind and focus on any one thing. It's exhausting and in addition to the above condition as described - it's been affecting my emotional and mental well being rather negatively. Having this minor revelation has relieved me of thinking that my well has run dry, but the opposite condition is not much better in many regards.

Ok - I've vented now. I'm really hoping for a lot of things to resolve but at least I feel like one small part of my frustration has been reduced in its' impact. Thx again!

Promotional videos for SeaProg Day Zero gig, plus "Deep Thoughts" on Onion... 

SeaProg 2017 Promo Videos!!

I've been going a bit hog wild on getting a few promo videos together for the interwebs - this is the first one and probably the best one:

I'm starting to drum up some promotion using these videos - there's three of them total now on FB and I'm also Tweeting them out for all to see. I'm both using these videos to promote but also to learn the software I bought (PowerDirector 15) that I'll be using to create videos for the new music to come.

Anyways - come on out and enjoy 4 great bands for the all time best price of FREE. June 2, 8 pm @ The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118

Onion, new music and all sorts of thoughts...

Ever since last fall when I sort of ran out of steam with the production side of things as I was working on re-writing and re-recording the Onion tracks, I've been questioning the validity of redoing Onion. A number of tracks from that album were re-purposed on The Sound of Thoughts and Fine Line, leaving the remaining 5-6 tracks to be the ones to make the bulk of the reissue. Of those, I started to work on them but got waylaid by life as job changes and new responsibilities related to that intervened. Which is perfectly ok...

But going back to think about the old music, especially with a new band and much more interesting new stuff bubbling up is really tough. I'm much more eager to go forward than to continue to mine the past - but that said there is opportunity there to reuse ideas in new works. So here's what I believe is a good plan:

Once we get through the SeaProg show, this group of guys will be focusing on writing and working on new material - we have more writers in the group than ever before, and while this is really exciting, historically I've been the person driving a lot of writing and focus, sourcing ideas, etc. It leaves me worried that a lot of my ideas will be left on the cutting room floor and while that's not a horrible thing, I have a ton of ideas that I don't think will fit the band in terms of stylistic material. A lot of it a lot more mellow and more aligned to atmospheric than the exciting and higher energy stuff I think we're capable of really putting out.

So that leads me to believe I need to plan on writing and recording a solo record in parallel with the Paraesthesia record - one that would be a landing spot for material that would be strong enough to make it onto a releasable recording, but not quite Paraesthesia tunes. I also would have the chance to make it a companion piece to the concept/thematic album Paraesthesia will do.

So we'll have two albums being created - and this is where Onion actually plays a part...

Paraesthesia album's proposed theme has received much favor from the guys - a single night dream cycle of a child - and so I proceed down the path of starting to put my own ideas and contributions together to present to the guys and start work on them. We all want to write and record this as a group - we pull the ideas together, send them out, start to storyboard them into forms worthy of rehearsing and recording, then or earlier bringing the lyrics in and forming the album organically. We'll play a few shows out to try the material in front of an audience, but for the most part this is music we want to write for ourselves and fans of the genre. Because of the caliber of musicians we have, this will be a pretty beefy bit of work that will flex our abilities I'm sure.

My own album would be pulling in more of an atmospheric direction - a lot more acoustic guitar based numbers, and much more ambient - I have a lot of personal things I'd like to take on in this group of songs, and as a result I'm going to make an effort to play all the instruments myself. While the Paraesthesia album will be more upbeat in lyrical and musical tone, my own album will be the outlet for the darker and introspective stuff. Where Fine Line went is not someplace the next Paraesthesia album will dwell or return to.

I'm proposing a June 2018 release time for the Paraesthesia album - Marc is rebuilding and improving his own studio so that construction complete is coinciding with beginning of recording of our stuff. Marc's studio is a professional affair - he's got clients coming through very regularly including our friend Mike Tiano (who's album I'll be mixing and mastering in the future), so we are getting fortuitous timing on this. My own album will likely come out earlier as I wont have many impediments to recording and mixing/mastering except for normal real life stuff.

Technical Time!

I've bought a reasonable and compact Alesis e-drumkit with an extra piece or two to help with my efforts - I'll be using this to record the MIDI rhythm tracks and then triggering sample sets. For the production geeks out there it's a 6 piece set - snare, kick, 4 toms, with 2 single zone crash and 1 dual zone ride driving an Alesis module hooked up through USB to my DAW and into Cubase. I'll track the songs using the stock sounds in the module to keep the latencies as close to zero as possible, and then fly the MIDI into BFD/Superior Drummer/SSD for post production.

My own home studio is now in excellent shape, having reconfigured everything with new updated computer hardware, updated Cubase 9.0 and related VSTs and such fully functional, and of course Power Director 15 for video work. I'm going to change out my Garrison 6 string acoustic for something else - not a big hurry but I'd love to get another Breedlove Atlas AC25 cutaway 6 string as I loved the tone on it. I'm also doing a LOT more miking of the acoustic guitars instead of using the piezo pickups - it results in really nice guitar sounds with depth.

No significant updates on the microphone front - I do have access to borrow mikes from Marc but I'll try to stick with what I have. It all sounds pretty nice right now.

The Yamaha studio monitors and my video monitor configuration make for an excellent workspace now - my Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is using Thunderbolt 2 so latency isn't a huge concern anymore, and I have enough inputs to cover off the external sound sources reducing noise significantly. My VST collection is crazy good now so for the most part I only need to use external synths for items I cant recreate in VST land (which is almost not at all).

Guitars are going through Mesa/Boogie amps, TC Electronics Nova System, some outboard overdrive/distortion pedals, and a EH Ravish Sitar pedal that will make an appearance. my Svilpacaster with the SuperStrat wiring, Gibson Les Paul Axcess, Fender Mexi black Strat with EC boost and Gilmour wiring, G&L ASAT Legacy with Muy Grande pickups and 4 pos switch, Epi Mandobird, Epi parlor 6 string, Breedlove 12 string Atlas, and Fender Mexi black J-bass with Bartolini and EBMM pickups. M/B MarkV:25 head into Avatar 1x12 cab, Mesa Stiletto 1x12 combo - both D/I into the console for recording with speaker sim. Stiletto into H&K Red Box XLR D/I, MkV has the CabSim feature output into XLR.

External keyboards are my Studiologic Numa Organ v1.0, Roland V-Synth XT rack, Roland Gaia SH-01, Korg Triton Rack, with a Nektar Panorama P6 USB keyboard controller for VSTs. Paul's Yamaha KX-88 is set up for more realistic piano feel - MIDI into a MIDIman 8x8s USB interface.

And that's all folks!!