Michael Mull Octet

Michael Mull Octet

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012, Retrospectively Speaking

Since I am working all day tomorrow (and gratefully so), I thought I'd better post before 2013 comes around and gives us all a mischievous but good-natured wet willy. I haven't been keeping up on the blog as often as I'd like these past few months, hopefully something I can get back to more regularly next year. I played a fun show with Orkestar MEZE last week, and we are gearing up for a show at the House of Blues Foundation Room in February. Keep it here for details, as well as a more imminent show with Mahadev next week.

And so, I would like to conclude this year's posts with some reflections, in no particular order or manner, and interspersed with some pictures of me havin' fun. Join me?

2012 has been a musically fulfilling year for me, the most since I graduated from CalArts and entered the "real world". Great times playing with my Trio, Orkestar MEZE, and Mahadev. My fondest reflections are of the enormous amount of writing, rehearsing, practicing and prepping that went into launching the Michael Mull Octet as a functioning group. We had three well-attended, well-received, and extremely fun performances from June up to this point, and I am excitedly working on more material to push into 2013 with this group that has allowed me to reach so many musical places that I have been reaching for. I'd like to personally thank Tim, Emilio, Mike, Adam, Will, Frank, and Harrison for being the music - you guys are the best. Let's record next year!

Michael Mull Octet + Genevieve Artadi @ house party!

Two of the Octet's performances took place at what I (and many others) consider to be the hub of creative music in LA, the Blue Whale. Joon Lee has created not only a great performance space, but attracts an incredible range of talent to the venue because of his honesty and his passion for great music. I saw some unforgettable performances at the Whale in 2012, and what I saw was a fraction of what goes on there. Thank you, Joon, for truly being a champion for music in LA.

Rehearsing with a new project...coming 2013!

Who plays all this great music that we hear at the Blue Whale and elsewhere? Definitely some amazing out-of-towners, but many of them are denizens of Los Angeles. It's difficult to see or to sense the "scene" in LA because of the vast area it covers, but it's there, and it's future is bright. I'd like to give a shout out to "my generation" on the scene, so to speak, who have cranked out some great stuff this year. To name a few, Joe Santa Maria, Brian Havey (Z-1 and Trio), Chord FourDan Rosenboom, Gavin Templeton, Slumgum, Louis Cole & Genevieve Artadi and Grampus. These are just some who I can think of off the top of my head, and who have recorded this year; the live music was, of course, even more expansive and fresh. Keep it coming, guys and gals!

Michael Mull Trio @ Barclays
An overarching theme is that music increasingly allows me great opportunities; opportunities to create, to constantly better myself, to hang out with my friends, to work with and for my friends, to travel, to be inspired, and to love the unexplainable. Thank you to my wife, my family, and my friends and colleagues who all stand by me and contribute to these invaluable experiences - I love you all. See you in 2013.

No shoes at P-Nov's house. Feel the love!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Japan and Kneebody

It's been a busy month and it's past time for an update. Happy December, get ready to roll all the way through to 2013!

After a fun and well-attended show with my wife Ami at Barclay's Coffee and Tea in Northridge, Ami and I hopped on a plane and spent the next two weeks in Osaka, Japan. It was a much-needed vacation, a chance to see her family again, and we even got to play a show sharing the bill with Mayu Wakisaka.

Recovering from jet lag is easier if you have fun things to do - fun things like seeing Kneebody at the Blue Whale. I caught them on the last night of their four-night stint at the best club in LA, and they shared the second set with electric space-funk masters Louis Cole & Genevieve Artadi. Fun and exciting are dull words for such a concert, but words are often dull compared to the experience of great music. Kneebody is the tightest unit on their side of the universe. I picked up their latest available release, You Can Have Your Moment.

Seems like it wasn't long ago that we played the 2011 holiday show at Rusty's Surf Ranch, but here we are again! Orkestar MEZE will provide the grooves and goat-fuled jams so all in attendance can get their peasant on. Saturday, December 22nd at 10pm - mark your calendars and cave walls. Let us know you're coming on Facebook.

Also, more music coming up early next year......Trio, Octet, MEZE, Mahadev, the new project with Brice Albert and Justin Janer, and another group to record led by Frank Silva. Keep your eyes and ears here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blue Whale Tomorrow Night 10/17/12

Just a quick reminder: the Michael Mull Octet will be returning to the Blue Whale downtown tomorrow night! The first set of the night (at 9pm) will feature A Giraffe, whose debut recording shows of some mean playing and writing, and whose saxophonist Joe Santa Maria is back in LA after a stint in NYC; let's welcome him back! You can find details for the show on Facebook, or simply look below our good friend Brendan, who is displaying his note to Octet and Giraffe drummer Mike Lockwood:

Joe Santa Maria - alto sax
Steve Blum - piano
Emilio Terranova - bass
Mike Lockwood - drums

Michael Mull, Frank Silva - woodwinds
Harrison Kirk, Will Wulfeck - trombone
Adam Ratner, Tim Fischer - guitar
Emilio Terranova - bass
Mike Lockwood - drums

123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301

$10 cover, no minimum
21+ (under 21 can be accompanied by a guardian!)
Parking on 2nd Street, look for the yellow "P" sign

Saturday, October 6, 2012

House Concert Videos and 10/17 Gig

I wanted to share some iPhone videos from the house concert in Highland Park on September 19th. It was an absolutely fun time, and had the casual but energetic atmosphere I was hoping for. I'm looking to put together another one in December, so keep your eyes here for the rest of 2012!

The Michael Mull Octet will be returning to the Blue Whale this month on Wednesday, October 17th! We are really excited to come back to the best jazz venue in LA, and will be sharing the night with A Giraffe, a fine quartet of musicians playing truly new music. Bassist Emilio Terranova and drummer Mike Lockwood from my Octet are a part of A Giraffe, along with Steve Blum on piano and Joe Santa Maria on alto sax (back in LA now, and we're glad to have him!).

Here is a new tune we tried out at the house concert, "Charlie Visits Plovdiv". It's an off-kilter, Bulgarian-influenced bounce that, in my favorite manner, smashes together several things that I love.

This is a shorter clip of tenorman Frank Silva getting outrageous on my arrangement of "Caught Up In You" by .38 Special. Catch more of Frank and the gang at the Blue Whale on October 17th, and check out the related videos on my youtube channel in the meantime.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Octet Returns

Lots of music going on this month, just like it should be! I wanted to drop a quick note about a house concert I organized that is coming up on Saturday, 9/22. There will be three diverse groups performing throughout the night (the third of which is my Octet), and in between sets it's just a big hang! I'm expecting a fun, casual vibe with some great music.

1604 North Avenue 56, Los Angeles 90042
Doors open 6pm
Bands will gratefully accept donations throughout the evening
Bring your own refreshments

     This engaging Los Angeles-based quartet consists of guitar, clarinet, drum set and up-right bass. The identity of the ensemble is established by the individual, multi-faceted identities of each artist—Maxwell Gualtieri (Stupid Man Suit, Ladies & Gentlemen, A.K.A., King and the Cattail) on guitar, Andrew Conrad (BLockRad, Chord Four) on clarinet, Colin Woodford (Chord Four, Solo Percussion, Sogo Takeover) on drumset, and Emilio Terranova (A Giraffe, 3tet, Big Enough Band) on up-right bass. The compositions are held together by the tenacity of the close friends who realize them. Music played by this group is rich in artful improvisation and tactful negotiation of curiously irregular metric landscapes.

      genevieve artadi makes the same music you would if you were her. on september 22nd, at the house in highland park, she, andrea calderwood, sean fitzpatrick, aya toyoshima, and louis cole will show you what that sounds like!

     Coming back with a few new tunes. Visit http://www.youtube.com/user/michaelmullmusic/videos to watch the Octet at the Blue Whale. Michael Mull, Frank Silva - woodwinds; Harrison Kirk, Will Wulfeck - trombones; Tim Fischer, Adam Ratner - guitars; Emilio Terranova - bass; Mike Lockwood - drums and percussion

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brian Havey Trio @ Blue Whale on Wednesday

UPDATE 9/24/12: Brian's album is now available on bandcamp at: http://brianhavey.bandcamp.com/album/absence-of-appropriate-affect

Hi friends, just wanted to do a quick plug for my good friend Brian Havey, pianist and music-maker (quite a Yoshi's Cookie player as well). He is releasing his most recent album, the first with his trio, with a performance at (what should be) everyone's favorite live music spot in LA, the Blue Whale. It's taking place this Wednesday, September 12th at 9pm.

You might not have heard Brian before - but trust me, you want to. Hear something you might be in for on his soundcloud page. Brian and I have played together in some extremely varied settings over the last 7 years or so, and he was a part of a group I led in my CSU Northridge days that I consider to be one of the most influential workshops in my development as a player and composer. His playing has extended far, in many directions, since then.

I hope to see you at Brian's show on Wednesday night, and I'm looking forward to grabbing the new record. You can check the event details on Facebook and below.

Brian Havey Trio @ Blue Whale
Wednesday 9/12/12
9pm, two sets
21+ only

Brian Havey (piano)
with Emilio Terranova (bass) and Martin Diller (drums)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Orkestar MEZE September 14th

It's been a while since the last post, but this will be the triumphant return, primarily to announce another triumphant return: that of your friendly neighborhood peasant funk band, Orkestar MEZE. After a couple of months off, we are gearing up to re-explode Rusty's Surf Ranch in Santa Monica on Friday, September 14th! All your favorite peasant jams, plus some brand new surprises, so don't miss it!

Orkestar MEZE @ Rusty's Surf Ranch
256 Santa Monica Pier
10pm, all ages
$7 ($12 if under 21 without a guardian)

If you or a loved one (or a despised one, I'm not too picky) doesn't have MEZE's debut album "Peasant Funk" in the ol' collection, we are holding a "Back to the Farm September Sale" at orkestarmeze.com/store. This means free shipping worldwide and an amazing "I Peasant Funk" sticker included with every purchase! Hard to resist.

There will be tons of great music happening this month, including an Octet house concert (9-22), Mahadev at a yoga studio (9-15), and my musical buddy Brian Havey's trio at the Blue Whale (9-12). Keep this blog on rotation for more specifics soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Octet Videos pt 2

Here we have two more videos from the Michael Mull Octet's first show at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. This first one was the set opener, entitled "Fallujah". This tune was a staple of the Big Enough Band, a quintet I was involved in for several years. It was a treat to fill out and orchestrate it for the Octet. "Fallujah" features guitarist Adam Ratner at the helm of a freight train crescendo.

The below video was the set closer, "Sources". This was originally written for a 5-piece band at CalArts, and I expanded and re-arranged it for the Octet. One of the more complex tunes I've written in a lot of ways, it is based on 9-beat grooves and features a collective improvisation from myself on bass clarinet and Harrison Kirk on trombone. Taking us barreling to the end is Tim Fischer on his brand new guitar.

If you are liking the influx of videos recently, keep your eyes open; I had a fun Michael Mull Trio performance in Northridge on Friday evening, and we filmed a lot of that evening's music as well. It won't look or sound as wonderful as the above videos though, so thanks again to Alex Chaloff for the great Octet videos...enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trio & Mahadev This Weekend

I've got two fun and entirely different gigs coming up this weekend, come hear some live music! If you're on the San Fernando Valley side of things, come to Barclays Coffee and Tea in Northridge (on Tampa between Nordhoff and Parthenia) to hear one of my primary brainchildren, the Michael Mull Trio. Not a fancy name, but pretty fancy tunes... We're playing a free show, a couple sets of originals by yours truly, and there are delicious drinks to boot. Flyer coming soon...

Michael Mull Trio (hear us here and here and hear)
Michael Mull - alto/soprano sax, bass clarinet
Ben Shepherd - bass
Cameron Hicks - drums

@ Barclays Coffee and Tea
8976 Tampa Ave, Northridge 91324
FREE show, donations welcome/CDs for sale
7-9pm, two sets

If you're on the Hollywood/LA side of things, check out the world/fusion/Indo/Balkan adventure known as Mahadev at the Dancing Shiva yoga studio. They're having a big "India Night" and Mahadev's music is being featured around 6pm in the greater event schedule to kick things off. Sounds like a party...info on the flyer below, and below that too, in case it's too small to read! You can listen to/stream/buy Mahadev's album here.

@Dancing Shiva
7466 Beverly Blvd, LA 90036
6pm for Mahadev, don't be late!
Free, donations appreciated/CDs for sale

Monday, July 2, 2012

Octet Videos pt 1

The first performance of my new octet was part of a wonderful night at the Blue Whale. The room was packed to the gills (pun slyly intended) for Blockrad, who played an extraordinary set of subtle musical creations. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, and had a great casual feel that is sometimes lacking when the music starts to get "fancy". After a mad rush to set up and get the recording gear going, my octet braved the new music for all to hear. There were some great moments, and thanks to videographer/recording engineer Alex Chaloff, we got it on tape. Here are videos of what I feel were the strongest performances of the night.

The first is an original, "The People Who Raised Us", composed specifically for this group. It was actually the first piece I completed when forming the octet. Will Wulfeck is featured on trombone, getting just the right amount of outrageous with Emilio and Mike on bass and drums respectively. I recommend viewing these full-screen and with headphones; Alex did a fine job all around and it's worth seeing/hearing fully!

The next is an arrangement of "Caught Up In You" by the rock band .38 Special. I had been hearing this song my whole life and just heard something else in it one day. The band really blends here and Frank Silva takes a gorgeous solo.

Looking forward to making more music with these fellas. Stay tuned here for more videos from the performance and more gigs! I have a trio gig coming up in a couple weeks too, info to follow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Octet + Blockrad @ Blue Whale 6/19/12

Haven't been staying up on the old blog recently, but I'm jumping back in with a very exciting show coming up on Tuesday, June 19th at the Blue Whale. This will be the debut performance of my octet, and we have all been putting in a lot of work to get this music sounding great. We are joined by the Blockrad trio, and I am super excited to hear what they have for us to hear! The show will be recorded and filmed, so come be a part of the action and the permanence, and be able to say "I was there!" Details about the show can be found on facebook, or take a look below. Also, check out the writeup for LA Weekly.

9pm - Blockrad
Steven Blum - Piano/keyboards
Mike Lockwood - Drums/percussion
Andrew Conrad - Tenor sax/clarinet

10:30 ish pm - Michael Mull Octet
Michael Mull - Alto sax/soprano sax/clarinet/bass clarinet
Frank Silva - Tenor sax/soprano sax
Harrison Kirk - Trombone/bass trombone
Will Wulfeck - Trombone
Tim Fischer - Guitar
Adam Ratner - Guitar
Emilio Terranova - Bass
Mike Lockwood - Drums

Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street, Suite 301
Los Angeles 90012
$10, no minimum
21+ only (unless accompanied by a guardian)
Parking in structure off of 2nd street (look for yellow "P" sign). Bring your ticket upstairs to the Blue Whale and give it to the door attendant. It will either be free or $5 (heard they may be charging now).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mahadev + Rafe Pearlman 5/12

Mahadev has a gig next Saturday with an amazingly talented and interesting vocalist, Rafe Pearlman. We've been collaborating with him since he sat in with us on our CD release, and we've got a few gigs lined up with him this month, starting with the Fretted Frog. Check out the flyer below!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recent News

Long time no post...

It's been a busy but rewarding Spring, with music and travel mixing together flavorfully. I was able to visit Orlando, Toronto, and San Diego to do some playing and a good amount of exploring and sampling. Toronto is an amazing city and I hope to go back sometime for more!

Orkestar MEZE played for an absolutely packed house in April at Rusty's in Santa Monica. Everyone partied the night away, a bittersweet gig before taking a couple months off while bandleader Milen gets back to his roots in Bulgaria. The hiatus will yield more peasant funk and deeper grooves than ever, though, so stay tuned for the madness to come! We are getting distribution in Bulgaria, soon to be all of the Balkans, and truly going international. Visit www.peasantfunk.com to get your fix of the new album if you haven't already.

Maintaining a beneficial (hopefully mutually) relationship with CalArts, I had the opportunity to participate in some recitals by drummer Cameron Hicks (of Michael Mull Trio fame) and guitarist Brice Albert (Free Sample), and later join them at Capitol Records for the annual CalArts CD project. Tracks will be available for free in a month or two on the CalArts website.

The Summer is beginning to look good, with a premier performance of my octet (unnamed as of now) coming late June. I'll be playing a dance show at CalArts with Free Sample on the 7th of May and at the Fretted Frog with Mahadev on the 12th, more details to come. Take a listen/download the Mahadev album on bandcamp, it turned out grooving and sinuous!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Peasant Funk March 2nd

Orkestar MEZE is rocking Rusty's Surf Ranch again, tomorrow night in Santa Monica! To hold you over, here's a fun video of our CD release show at the Key Club overlayed with some cuts from the album. You can get event info on facebook or just come by Rusty's around 9pm!
     Rusty's Surf Ranch
     Santa Monica Pier
     Friday, March 2
     10pm; all ages
     $7 at the door

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mahadev CD Release at Alva's Showroom 2/26/12

The Mahadev debut album has finally arrived and looks/sounds fantastic! I'll let bandleader and guitarist give you the details in the following press release:

"Ok it is almost here! We're getting ready to perform for you on next Sunday at Alva's. The CD's should be arriving to my house today, we had an awesome gig Saturday as a warmup for this coming sunday, and we're ready to go.

The show is $15. Remember,  it's an early show (4 PM), so you'll be able to get back home in time for the Oscars, and we're offering the CD for JUST $5! It will be the only time you can get it so cheap.

We'll be posting it on Bandcamp later in the week and it will be available to purchase directly from us for those who can't make it this Sunday.

We're going to do all the songs from the CD, and we have awesome trumpet player Greg Zilboorg from Sogo Takeover now in the band and percussionist Jamie Papish from the Yuval Ron Ensemble. We're also going to have my good friend Rafe Pearlman join us for a vocal improvisation; you can see a video & interview with him here.  It's going to be a really wonderful show, with high charged music and deep meditative grooves.  


We'll be lining up more gigs as the spring comes.  Please also signup to our official email list at www.reverbnation.com/Mahadev to stay in touch!

See below for details on each one as well as FB event pages if you want to send it to your friends! We look forward to seeing you there!"

SUNDAY FEB 26, 4 PM, $15
Special guest Rafe Pearlman (others tba)
Dave Cipriani, Indian Slide Guitar & Classical Guitar
Eric Klerks, Bass
Michael Mull, saxophone & clarinet
Chris Payne, percussion (cajon, frame drum, shakers, zabumba)
Jamie Papish, percussion (cajon, riq, frame drum)
Greg Zillboorg, Trumpet
1417 W. Eighth Street
San Pedro, CA 90732

The band is sounding beautiful and this will be an experience to remember! In other news, Orkestar MEZE had a killer show at the world-famous Troubadour last weekend, and will return to Rusty's Surf Ranch in Santa Monica for our monthly peasant party on Friday, March 2nd. It's already proving to be a productive and eventful year, with much more on the menu; stay tuned here for all the gory details, and I'll see you on Sunday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Peasant Funk Video Preview

Here's a fun video promoting Orkestar MEZE's debut album, "Peasant Funk"! We're pioneering a new style of music under the same name, mixing Balkan melodies with American funk, jazz, and soul. The video features some footage of us workin' hard in the studio set to the title track of the album. I hope you get a kick out of it, and please stop by www.peasantfunk.com to hear more music and purchase the album!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People

I'm excited to share this trailer for the upcoming film, Guns Don't Kill People. Written and directed by SoCal denizen Ivan Ehlers of the Movie Addicts Club, this looks to be a silly/dark comedy about a couple of hitmen who become targets themselves and have to come up with an elaborate scheme to get out of trouble. The soundtrack will feature several cuts from my trio album, Formation, two of which are used on the trailer below! I'll update about screenings of the film as I know, and you can "like" and follow along on facebook as well. Enjoy...

Guns Don't Kill People - Trailer from Ivan Ehlers on Vimeo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Free Sample + Grampus 1/21/12

If you haven't gotten to hear or see Free Sample yet, it's probably because we've only performed a few times. Tomorrow's your chance! Free Sample is led by my good friend and guitarist, Brice Albert, and is a cool mixture of electronic music styles slammed into a live context. We've got a diverse and fun set ready to rock, so come down to the Handbag Factory downtown and check it out. This is a new venue for me but it looks like they put on a lot of different kinds of shows and art, so I'm looking forward to checking it out. The show starts at 8:30pm, with a total of five bands. Free Sample is second-to-last, right before Grampus, an incredible trio of drumset, trombone, and trumpet, all processing in real time with electronics. This is an impressive group with a forthcoming album...treat yourself!

Handbag Factory
1336 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles
Show starts at 8:30pm
$5 donation
event on facebook

Sir Emmett William Thatcher III and BEN
Fritz Sender and Captain Seahorse
FREE SAMPLE - about 10pm

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meshuggah pt. 1 - Beneath

Those of you who have been reading for a while might recall me mentioning the metal band Meshuggah before. Meshuggah's music has had a great deal of influence on me musically since I began listening to them in high school; they have a signature sound that utilizes (for the most part) complex rhythmic figures over a straight-ahead groove. For example, they might find a rhythmic figure that takes up seven beats, then repeat this figure over a standard 16- or 32-beat form. As they near the end of the form, they will either alter the figure to smoothly repeat or, more often, simply interrupt the pattern and restart from the downbeat. A good example of a "typical" Meshuggah groove can be heard on the introduction to "Neurotica".

A quick disclaimer before I continue: I realize this music is not for everybody, at least not immediately. Asking someone who doesn't listen to heavy music to listen to Meshuggah is kind of like introducing someone to jazz via John Coltrane's "Sun Ship". This music is relatively "deep" within the genre, meaning that it is probably a big step for many folks in palatability. That said, we're all adults here...right? Don't write something off just because some guy is screaming the words instead of singing them.

Onward. Aside from the deep groove that Meshuggah's music creates, I have always been drawn to the creations of lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. The sounds he achieves are unlike any other guitarist I've heard, and he has a knack for crafting extremely focused and characterized solos for every song while maintaining an unmistakeable style and tone. Regardless of musical style, I find these to be impressive attributes for a musician. Not able to stand so much mystery, I have transcribed three of Thordendal's solos from two albums and will present them one at a time with accompanying discussion. Please enjoy and discuss with me your impressions and thoughts.

You can listen to the whole track here: Meshuggah's "Beneath" from the album Destroy Erase Improve. The guitar solo begins around 2:35 on the full track. Below you can view the transcription; I have included a second staff that shows the rhythm guitar part as reference. The basic groove revolves around a straight-ahead 12/8 groove over which a grouping of 5 is repeated for 4 measures. If you are having difficulty following, listen to the drums: you can find the basic 1-2-3-4 pulse here, where each pulse is divided into 3 smaller beats in this case. Once you feel the pulse strongly, try to feel the rhythm figure over the top of it. Tap your foot to the pulse, but focus on the rhythm guitar part; if you can sing it or drum it on the desk, awesome! If not, don't worry about it too much...take a look at the music below and let's pick apart the solo. (If the picture files are small when viewing, I recommend saving them to your desktop so you can use a picture-viewing program to zoom in)

While the tonality over a vamp like this is ambiguous, I'm going to treat the tonal center as "E" for this discussion. Scanning the first several bars in Thordendal's solo, we see only 4 tones: G#, A#, D and E. After the initial held A#, Thordendal introduces these tones by playing a three-note melody (A#-D-G#) and then repeating the melody up a tritone (E-G#-D). He continues the line using these four tones, only adding a passing Eb in m.3. The harmony takes form in the next phrase (m.5) when the note choices are expanded to include B and F; rearranging these six tones with "E" as the root gives us E-F-G#-A#-B-D, which the ear can solidly equate with a diminished tonality (a full diminished scale would also include a G-natural and C#). This scale predominates for most of the solo after m.5; jazz players might say Thordendal is playing over an E7 chord with a flatted ninth (F) and a sharp eleventh (A#).

Thordendal rounds out the second phrase by digging into the pulse beginning on "big beat 4" (technically beat 10 in 12/8) of m.6 and continuing through m.8. In m.9-10, he refers back to the tritone (arguably the most "important" interval in a diminished tonality) while staying rhythmically on the "big beats", bending into a G#-D tritone, then an A#-E-A# tritone shape. The second A# serves as a launching point (much like the opening statement of the solo) into a cascading four-note figure that is repeated 5 times, each time transposed down a half-step. This is an incredible moment in the solo; not only is the rhythmic tension delicious, Thordendal also seems to be borrowing from the rhythm guitar part, which is essentially a four-note figure plus an eighth-note rest. He subtracts the rest to great effect; we now have a grouping of 4 against a grouping of 5 against a backdrop of 12/8, almost creating a microcosm of Meshuggah's rhythmic approach while stepping outside the established harmonic palette.

The tail end of the solo begins as Thordendal finds his way out of the four-note chromatic pattern and immediately back into the 6-tone diminished scale he used before. Upon listening, Thordendal drives through a long scalar line that locks into the 12/8 pulse --- he winds his way down the range of his guitar and lands cleanly on his lowest A#, the same note on which he began the solo. A closer look reveals something more; Thordendal plays an 8-note shape beginning on D in m.13 (the slurs are included for this discussion, and not to indicate any emphasis on the performance). He passes back up with a three-note interjection, G#-A#-B, only to repeat the same 8-note shape (m.14). Immediately following, he repeats the 8-note shape, this time transposed down a tritone (beginning on G# on beat 10, m.14), then two more times descending in tritones. The line is finished with one more 3-note interjection leaping down to the final A#.

The simple and oft-used diminished idea of playing something, then playing it a tritone away is effectively dressed up here because of Thordendal's use of a grouping of 8 against the dominating "triplet" feel of 12/8. It is the same approach as the earlier 4-note chromatic passage; if the shape were 3 or 6 tones long, the line would not be nearly as interesting because the melody would repeat on the same part of the pulse every time, rather than rhythmically displacing.

This is by no means an end-all analysis of this solo, but a summary of some of Thordendal's approaches and techniques that lead to such a complex and effective solo from essentially simple elements. Feel free to ask any questions or make your own observations in the comments. Two more solos to come over the next week or so (increasing in complexity), so get geared up!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bring in 2012 with MEZE!

Happy New Year to all! I'm looking forward to pushing harder, working more, and enjoying more fully than ever this year. A lot of fun coming down the pipe already, help kick off 2012 the peasant way by attending this year's first Orkestar MEZE gig at Rusty's Surf Ranch in Santa Monica! This Friday, 1/6, we're starting up our "first Friday of the month" residency once again, so let's party hard Peasants!

1/6/11 @ Rusty's Surf Ranch
256 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica 90401
$7 ($12 if under 21 without guardian)

Check back here soon for some nerdy musical treats of the transcription variety...