Merry Album Update, Everyone!


Awhile back I mentioned about making another solo album, but not much has been officially said about it since then. I’m sitting here now listening to the playback of nine pieces totaling over an hour of new material. I’ve been chipping away at drum set and percussion recordings over the past two years for this, and it’s really coming together nicely. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with some different kinds of instruments on this album, most notably the Hang (similar to an inverted steel drum played with your hands). It has a very enchanting and recognizable sound, and really helps to lock in some of the compositions and bridge the gap between the melodic and percussive sounds on this album. I’ve also been working a lot with gongs if you couldn’t tell by now; using different types of mallets/brushes on them, and bringing out their percussive and melodic natures as well. I’ll say this: for a percussion-centric album, it’s extremely diverse!

What to expect?

This album is the next evolution in my musical journey. In my opinion, the compositions are better, the recording quality has greatly improved, and the performance is at a new level compared to anything I’ve done before. There’s a new level of groove on these tracks, which makes them easier to “get into.” A lot of these pieces are very challenging and fun to play. I also don’t think I “overplayed” on any of it, yet there are still some pretty intense/in-your-face moments. The use of contrast is huge, to enhance the musicality of the pieces. There is also no shortage of complex harmonies, rhythms, and lengthy compositions. It has a very earthy, organic feel as with most of my music, due to instrument choice and overall sonic qualities, but like I said before, it gets intense at times – believe that! It’s not metal, it’s not “tribal”, and it’s not like anything I’ve done before. It should really be a fun experience and will make you want to turn it up and really feel it!

So what’s left?

In short: recording the Marimba, Vibraphone, Violins and Cello (maybe a little guitar & piano as well??). There has been a lot of recording and re-recording that went on throughout the writing and recording stages. I got a hold of a better cajon for one track, so I completely redid it with that one. Shaker track not sitting 100%? Throw it on the list and redo that sucker! It’s been great having a laid-back recording schedule so I can really focus on the pieces and try things out/experiment in the studio. I’ve been mixing as I go along, so while nothing is 100% “finished” and “ready to share” at this point, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of the nine pieces, some closer than others. The final mixing will be done when everything has been recorded and no more redo’s are in store. Then it’s off to mastering and then out to you all! It’s just that simple (I wish). That being said, I am extremely proud of how everything so far is sounding, especially the drum set. Great tones all around!

However, there is no album name yet, no track names to share, nor an album cover at this point. How am I supposed to put names to instrumental pieces? Inside jokes about the tracks maybe? We’ll see soon enough! Also, another thing that will be different from my previous albums: I plan on doing a bit of marketing with this and hopefully making a video or two for it and playing some shows to support the album release with the help of some incredibly talented friends of mine! I had originally set a goal of the end of 2015 to release this album, but that’s not looking too likely right now – maybe summer 2016 if you’re good. I am looking forward to sharing these tracks THE ABSOLUTE SECOND they’re ready.

The Process of Rhythmic Complementing

my, what nice 8th notes you have…” <— Nope, not even close:

Instead of showcasing a specific instrument for this blog post, I want to explain a little bit about a layering concept that I often use as a compositional tool and when I perform live to “beef up” the rhythmic nature of a piece. I haven’t heard any other names for it, so I’ll refer to it as the process of “Rhythmic Complementing.”

Strategic Rhythm Placement to Fill Up the Groove in Your Music

Different from rhythmic counterpoint and polyrhythms, rhythmic complementing (or, … rhythomplementing?) is a way to thicken up the rhythmic texture of a piece of music by filling in the gaps created by the main rhythm. Once applied, the result is a measure of all 16th notes (in the example I’ll give), or just a busier groove than what you started out with, regardless of the meter. There is no exact formula for how to do this, other than this simple set of instructions:

1. Write out the main rhythm of the piece.

2. Write another rhythm above or below the first one, making sure to place a note where there was a rest or held-out note in the first one, to fill in the gaps or “complement” it.

3.  a.) Keep in mind this second rhythm should make sense on its own, too. Notes in the second rhythm can certainly overlap and/or double those in the first rhythm in order to make it all flow better together AND separately.

b.) Or, leave some gaps and fill in only strategically, sparingly, or wherever it makes the most sense or feels right for you and for the piece (although this could be considered rhythmic counterpoint).

4. Expand rhythms out into melody/notation for your instruments of choice.

Intro to "Ceramics" by The Gathering Mist

Intro to “Ceramics” by The Gathering Mist

Keep in mind that not every piece calls for this, so listen for the context of when to use it and when not to. This works well in live music settings also! Its easiest in a group with a drummer and a percussionist, but experiment with other instrumentations too!

A clear example of this is in a piece I did called “Ceramics” from The Gathering Mist’s album, “Reservoir” (notated above – follow along!), which starts off with a jembe playing a syncopated rhythm in 11/8, panned to one side. After four bars a dumbek enters, panned to the other side, playing a complementary rhythm to the jembe, still in 11/8. Four bars later at measure 9, the jembe and dumbek switch parts but the same principle still applies. Once the dumbek enters on the first beat of measure 5, the rest of that beginning section to the piece sounds like straight 16th notes because of this rhythmic complementing process. Enjoy!


There are a couple subtle hints of this technique sprinkled throughout other tracks I did for both of The Gathering Mist’s albums. And keep in mind, this isn’t necessarily confined to only percussion instruments…