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!!

Christmas Day 2017 - counting & appreciating the blessings we have 

It's Christmas Day - getting into the reflective time of the year and thinking of all the events, crises and happy occasions that affected my family as a whole, and myself individually. The last half of the year has been a very introspective one with a few family focused things that has really caused the band to take a back seat to everything. In many ways this post is also an apology to my bandmates and to our audience because most of the reason for our inactivity is because of issues befalling me, but we'll get to that in due time.

First Quarter (Jan, Feb, Mar)

The band had welcomed in bassist Marc Miller into the fold and we were full tilt going forward in prep for our first gig with the new combination at Louie G's in Fife, WA - working around Marc's attendance at NAMM representing his interests with Honey Badger and Regenerate Guitar Works, but we were killing it regardless. Around the 2nd week of Jan, John H (he of the drums) calls to inform that he's taken a nasty spill on his motorcycle and has suffered some damage to his shoulder. To make life easier for all, we decide to postpone the gig until John is better - he's going to physio and it will take time. In the meantime, I am told we're going to be one of the featured bands at this year's SeaProg Festival in June - headlining the opening night. While we were really concerned at the time about our fitness to play, as we get into April and our rescheduled gig at Louie G's on Easter Weekend (doh!), the physio is doing its job and John is able to resume practice by mid March. We also bring in a second guitarist in Art Bromage in March - he's a wonderful player and great person, a welcome addition!

Second Quarter (Apr, May, Jun)

April sees the band play Louie G's to a virtually empty house. I thought we could pull off a decent crowd on our own, but reality strikes and my assumption is proven false. I learn my lesson and we move on. The rest of the time is spent in preparation for our 70+ minute set at SeaProg June 2. For the most part a pretty uneventful spring, leading to a very nice gig in front of a full house! Progression Magazine in attendance - the journalist said she thought we were excellent, and many fans came to meet and greet us following our set.

Third Quarter (Jul, Aug, Sept)

A few things happened here - following SeaProg we decided as a band to take a little time to maybe go off and write new material or pull together ideas to collaborate on. After which I fell into a bit of a writers block and have been struggling to escape that black hole of futility. I myself had a rather large set of projects around the home to do, including exterior painting which challenged my fear of heights significantly. I also did another tiny remodel of my home studio, replacing my 29" ultrawide monitor with a 34" ultrawide and a new hydraulic wall mount for it. I had also migrated my PC from a tower case to a rack case which had challenges fitting the liquid cooling and multiple fans. I was also needing to adapt to fewer drives now as the drive mounts were significantly less. By August I got everything back up and running, with more room in my office and on my desk. Marc was also going through a full studio renovation so any chance of doing band related stuff was non-existent. Painting of the exterior took the better part of a month as we were mostly painting and back touchups by hand. We finished up during a very smoky Labor Day weekend, leaving the highest point (chimney) for next year.

Fourth Quarter (Oct, Nov, Dec)

Now we get into the truly hard part of this year personally. We'll start with Marc first though - he's enduring a great deal of discomfort with his hips and back, so much that he's not really getting any sleep. Doctor discovers a partially torn disk in his back, which first needs to be settled down and then surgery. At this time he's getting close to when they can schedule the surgery which would be in the new year. 

As for me - October and early November (really since June truly) my day job is completely focused on a huge data center relocation project which because my predecessors didn't really do their job is now incredibly complex and brittle/fragile. We have to move the components for a live real time production set of software serving 3000+ live e-commerce sites without disturbing them or interrupting business. The stress of that along with needing to sort out issues at home is profound - I'm not in the best frame of mind and music is low on the list of priorities. I still try to bang out stuff but it's all unsatisfying and feels sub par for me.

November 13 - my middle boy, 8 years old, has been sick with what we thought was the flu for 4 days and is not getting better. My wife and I decide it's time to take him to the Urgent Care clinic to see what's up, and they suggest taking him to Seattle Children's ER for some tests and scans. An hour later, we find out our boy is diabetic and in critical condition - high blood sugars, ketoacidosis and his kidneys struggling to try to get rid of the ketones. Three days in the hospital and then our entire lives as a family are changed going forward. Adapting to being on top of his blood sugars all the time, calculating carbohydrates and insulin injections, waking up three times each night to test him and make sure he's fine. It's now December 25 and even though we're in a routine and its getting automatic for Lucas and for all of us in the family, we still have the stress of being on top of this all the time. My workplace hasn't been as supportive as I'd hoped, as they remember the data center project that is still going forward but isn't getting 100% of my attention anymore, and that seems to be a problem. It's left me rethinking and continuing to ponder what I need to do going forward - one of the first things on the list would be for me to abandon this music project and reclaim time, but I haven't been participating heavily in the band project so that would simply be symbolic without making anyone truly happy. I could change jobs - and this is something that is more realistic as I'm carrying the load of 2.5 people at the same level as myself: being the Director of Software Development, acting Director of Information and Server Engineering, and also a half of a Systems/Network Administrator. All for a salary that is significantly lower than the median for any one of those Director roles. 

So we get to today - this week ahead I'm going to be working from home for my day job, and in whatever spare time I have I'll be trying to flesh out some strong ideas in my head for revamped and expanded take on HTFK plus some other material. I have my e-drums now complete and functional, albeit I need to tweak sensitivity and response a bit for use with Cubase, but they work. I'll need to pop around to Marc's to grab my bass that he graciously has been setting up (and fixing). And I'll need to play more - I have a nice used Epiphone Les Paul Standard that I've set up for Fripp's New Standard Tuning which I need to explore, and just pull some of the good stuff out and get it recorded. I had reviewed more than a year's worth of stems and snippets of ideas and found many which are worthy of further work, and so I'm going to jump in with both feet. 

If there's anything I could want for Christmas this year it would be for the following:

  1. For all my 3 boys to be as healthy and drama free as possible, and to live well. 
  2. For my wife to be as healthy and drama-free as possible, especially w.r.t. me and the boys. And to live well.
  3. For our extended family to be healthy, happy and drama-free - and of course live well.
  4. For my day job to recognize the difficulties and acknowledge them, and to adjust my pay to reflect my efforts and my value. If this doesn't happen then I need to move on to someplace that at least pays me market value.
  5. For my friends to all be healthy, have drama-free lives and live well. Particularly my bandmates and close friends - I don't have many close friends at all, so I really want to make sure you're all doing well.
  6. This is where I get somewhat political - I want strong leadership with ethics and morality to be in charge of this country. Fiscally responsible, but empathetic to the needs of our society and knowing that the best cure for most diseases is actually diligent prevention. Someone who knows the best and most effective way to a stronger economy and country is through universal access to the best education possible preparing for futures that haven't been imagined yet. Someone who knows that immigrants enrich our common society through both bringing new skill sets, but also through enlightening us by reflecting on our society through the eyes of another culture and different teachings. Someone with vision of more that just political special interests and donors, who can look beyond their own term and start paving a road to a more humane planet that can be both clean and prosperous for all.

 

Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Holidays to everyone else as well! Cheers and here's to better news in 2018!

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!

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    Previous events

    Jun2

    SeaProg Music Festival - Paraesthesia

     —  —

    Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle

    http://www.seaprogfest.org/

    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)

    Paraesthesia

    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

    https://www.edunitsky-store.com/
    /
    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

    Paraesthesia

    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. 

    par·es·the·si·a 
    ˌperəsˈTHēZH(ē)ə/ 
    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.