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Definitive Proof That Size Does In Fact Matter… Musically.

While I have been chastised in the past for the sometimes cringe-inducing size of the gauge of picks and strings that I use. However, the following video seems to do justice to the fact that a heavier picks in particular give a more even sound, hitting the string with more mass and therefore causing a more even, balanced, and more importantly compressed sound.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my Twitter @M__O__N__K, YouTube at Monk_MusicOfficial, and follow my band The Shameful Nameless on Twitter @ShamefulMusic

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6 Month Update. December 2014 – May 2015. This, is a big one.

As some of you may know, life has been extremely busy the past 6 months. I have moved to Asheville NC to study Music Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I have recorded an EP. I have joined a band, which have played successfully live numerous times, and write their own work. With this band I have been back in the studio to record a single, done field recordings, have a documentary out about us and our beginnings, and are scheduling a 2-week summer tour of the eastern seaboard. I am writing and recording prolifically for my own personal music projects, and have taken up the pseudonym MONK. The EP tracks are uploaded on YouTube, where you can hear the demos. The official EP will be released in July.

Whew. Now you see why I haven’t released a post in a long while. Let’s start with the EP.

The EP – MONK – Seperation (EP)

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In mid December, with the move date for Asheville fast-approaching, I began writing a short album of ambient and acoustic sketches as a surprise going away present to my life partner. There was no clear idea about what the album should be about, no clear directive musically. I expanded short sketches I had recorded over the previous few months, reshaping them to fit together more harmoniously as I didn’t have time to completely start from scratch. I had to do everything quickly. Write, rewrite, record, edit. Even miking the guitars and amplifiers was done quickly, using a single ribbon mic to record everything, running directly into the computer. No overdubs, no splicing or duplicating. Tracks were recorded in a matter of minutes, whenever I had the chance, yet somehow these basic sketches took on a beautifully rough nature. Not that the product was poorly executed, but in not having weeks or months to prepare the execution of such a project I was forced to create and create quickly. Not all parts have been recorded for the EP, only the bare bones guitar tracks. The rest will be completed in early May, and a release date should be set soon thereafter.

I used the idea of separation from me and her as a way to shape the sound of the album, giving it a lonely, haunting feel. This is why I have taken up the name MONK. The name represents my separation of not just loved ones, but from society in many ways, from the ideology of where I grew up, from the things that hold me back. Just as a monk or a nun separates themselves from the world in order to find a type of inner peace and self-realization, I have done this to myself in a way to fully tune in on who I am musically.

The Shameful Nameless

Vocals – Izzy Daniels

Synth – Caveh Davari-Nejad

Guitar – Jonathan Price

Bass – Jack Burton

Drums – Hurley (Drum machine) / Jack Burton

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The Shameful Nameless, March 2015

Within seriously hours of moving to Asheville, I had found a band. Unreal as it may seem, I had asked the now bassist, Jack, if he knew any bands at the time who were looking for a guitarist. Coincidentally, he was in a band, which was in need of a guitar player. They had only written one song, had never played live before, yet had somehow been around for a year, kicking musical ideas around without any luck of songwriting prolificacy. But there was potential. Within days of practicing together, there was a sound, a feeling developing. A feeling of pent up energy and raw potential which we are still trying to fully tap in to.

We held our first show only two weeks after our first practice, opening up for an indie-prog band called Mellowfield, at The Grotto; a venue on the bottom floor of the Highsmith Union building of UNC Asheville. Our setlist, which included three originals went over surprisingly well, being broadcast over the college radio live. Soon thereafter, we performed once again on campus opening the EchoFest music festival; a twelve hour college radio sponsored music festival on three stages simultaneously, held in the Highsmith Student Union. The culmination of what sounds like if the Pixies and the Foo Fighters had a punk offspring, our sound is full of classic, listenable aggression, with prog-like melodies and time signatures.

EchoFest 2015 Lineup

EchoFest 2015 Lineup

Talk soon emerged about touring. While we were at EchoFest, we were scouting for a potential band to travel with us for a short summer tour over the course of about two weeks, from Raleigh/Durham, up through Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence, Hartford, and finally Boston. Although there were a few possible contenders, none thusfare have been able to commit to such a difficult stretch of time. We have now been contacting venues and bands local to the previous areas to book ourselves as opening acts, spreading notoriety somewhere other than the Asheville area. Around this time, a documentary was put together to demonstrate what the beginnings of a band look like, and how each member brings their own set of skills to the table.

All the while we have been writing, and recording in order to keep growing as a band; fast approaching our goal of an EP. We entered University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Lipinsky’s recording studio two weeks ago to record our first single, “I’ve Been Looking for a Corpse“. A dance-y, hook-filled indie pop track, tastefully pieced together.

Recording "I'm Looking for a Corpse", March 2015

Recording “I’m Looking for a Corpse”, March 2015


Guitar setup for The Shameful Nameless, March 2015

Guitar setup for The Shameful Nameless, March 2015


Preparing for the vocals on "I'm Looking for a Corpse", March 2015

Preparing for the vocals on “I’m Looking for a Corpse”, March 2015


The entire Shameful Nameless crew; including both Mitchell Connor (Press), and Kari Barrows (Press). March 2015

The entire Shameful Nameless crew; including both Mitchell Connor (Press), and Kari Barrows (Press). March 2015

This past Thursday we cut a fast, lo-fi recording of “An Evening Out with Your Significant Other” live in a small conference room we commandeered yet again in the Highsmith Union. Although poorly mixed (We used a iPhone in the middle of the room) we’re using it as a rough demo and a way to analyze and critique ourselves into performing as well as writing better.

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TBA

MONK Music

March, 2015

March, 2015

Writing and recording continues to expand upon the Separation EP, into the eventual album, entitled “Anamnesis.” The music has taken a bit more of a middle-eastern flavor acoustically, yet retains the big, ambient sound of electric guitar soundscapes and looping, with dramatic drums, and pulsating bass tracks.

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgG-D2QX9kxLwLug9e7gvlQ

More to come soon!

– Jonathan

Into the Light

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Setting the Mood

The remoteness and rugged beauty of Acadia was the inspiration for the sound of the album. Rugged; beautiful; melancholy. The complexity of transposing a physical space for a sonic one is quiet difficult, yet with enough meditation and attention to detail of each track, it can be done.

I wanted the album to flow from track to track, not like that of new albums formatted to fit single after single until a ten to twelve song “album” is complete. Acadia has been written to flow. The tracks themselves tell a story of the search for personal understanding in an empty and desolate landscape such as the Acadian wilderness without the utterance of a single word. Each track produces the emotional processes of thought of the unknown man (Who can be interjected as yourself) as he treks through the wilderness. In some ways, it is a story not unlike that of the Exodus led by Moses, or the frostbitten musher leading the pack of Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog Race. By the time Acadia crescendos to a powerful final act and soon thereafter end, the mental journey as well as the sonic pleasure of those hearing it emerge as a well-rounded and beautifully sculpted idea which quietly exits the audible stage that your mind has developed in the hour the album is played.

The Tracklist

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Saltwater

– The introductory track gently pulls you into the world that our unknown man resides. Perhaps arriving by boat, or even by foot, the misty hidden world he chooses to isolate himself on slowly steps into view. The song of the track itself deep and somewhat muffled; giving your ear the air of something tucked away by the fog. This world is completely alien to anything you know, almost as if blanketed in a cloak of monochromatic greyness.

Out of Acadia

– Out of Acadia establishes the insoluble security of dry land. The jagged rocky shore acting as a barrier between where our man with no identity has come from, and where he wants to be. The track is much more clear, almost sharp sounding like that of the craggy mystic shore of which you just arrived. 

Lost Pt.1

– Out of determination to understand yourself, our character begins to wander into the vast wilderness, unable to prevent any type of harm that may come to our man who walks into the bleak abyss empty handed, only to find himself abandoned to the mercy of the island, and lost beyond hope. His personal journey has now began, as he has nowhere to be; nowhere to go. The feel and sound of this track in particular is meant to feel heavy and dark, giving the listener the feeling of a burden like that of Mr. Unknown.

Dirty

– Locked into this small world of nothing and everything, you begin to rely on the things you cannot trust; yourself and the strange new land you now lay on. Being more scared than reflective, he falls to the ground, tired, hopeless, dirty. This song in particular is written in a minor key, to put pressure on the emotional psyche of you the listener, and delve into the depression of our man who is looking for any possible way out of this darkness.

The Storm and the Sea

– The ground you lay upon is no longer ground. You are in a dream, upon the tilting desk of a thrashed sailing ship, far out at sea. The waves overwhelm the boat, plummeting you into the dark cold sea at the dusk of a stormy day. Just as Mr. Unknown breathes his last, there is an incredibly powerful drum of thunder, which lays the sea flat in its wake. Starting as a whisper, the man becomes quickly overwhelmed with the infinite knowledge of a greater entity. The man does not know if it is in fact God, or deep self discovery that is fueling this wave of awareness which is feeding him now, but nevertheless understands what he has to do. The man now realizes that in order to regain self-purpose, he needs to remove anything in his own life that distracts him from personal growth. All the people, the jobs, the media, the stress of day to day monotonous life must be eliminated for him to truly become his own person. This will make him happy; this will make him whole. The track is a mini story set within the tale to add drama and depth to the storyline of the dream, as well as the entire album.

Lights

– You have awoken. From your dream. From your old life, on a grassy desolate plateau on an overcast morning. In the hazy distance, you, our man sees two single lights on either side of the horizon. The one behind you represents the old life you can still return to: The one even farther away in front of you represents where you want to be. You begin walking one step at a time in the direction of your future, shedding off the problems of your past as you go. This is still a struggle, yet you have seen what life would and will be like if you could only keep walking. The sound of Lights is almost that of a distress call from either light on the horizon to follow them. This creates the idea of choice between the two distinct calls, and which to follow in the end.

Lost Pt.2

– Our man is running now, working harder than ever towards the light on the distant horizon, miles and miles away. He becomes Lost once again, frantic to find his way out of the wilderness that is Acadia. Stumbling and weak-kneed, he is walking with everything in him towards what in his mind he knows to be true. With the same feel as Lost Pt.1, this second addition to these pair of songs but with a slightly more uplifting feel, showing the overcoming power of Mr. Unknown’s determination.

Palisades

– There is a cliff. A cliff towering infinitely taller than the beach below of which the sea crashes over, stretching out to the distant white light. Unsure of what to do, he sits. He takes in the beauty of the island which has caused him so much pain, and so much hurt. The ground, the towering rocks that were once his weakness would now become his strength. He must begin to climb. Palisades takes in the full spectrum of beauty that our man observes during his meditation on the cliff. In building intensity towards the end signifies the building up of nerve and initiative to climb down the infinite cliff; the final test.

Electric

– Spurred on by the insatiable drive for a better life, he begins to climb down, the energy electric flowing through his body. This climb is long, and tiring, but the listener cannot give up now. The Unknown Man cannot give up now. If he lets go, everything he worked for would be for nothing, everything he wants will never come to pass, and Acadia will win as easily as it had invited him in. He does not waver. He does not stop. Absolutely drained of every last ounce of energy, his feet touch the rocky sand of the beach. This track sounds desperate, at nerve’s end and tired.

Remnant

– You have nothing left in you but the weakness left behind from the most tiring journey you have ever endured, but you are proud. You, the unknown man stand at the foot of the vast expanse of ocean, looking towards the light that glows not so far off through the haze. You are happy and have made peace with yourself, perfectly content with whatever type of confrontation whether physically, mentally, or spiritually possible. With the comfort of a new soul and the remnant of your old self left far behind in the wilderness of the island, the man with a smile begins to swim. The sound of the final song is comforting, soft, warm, and theatrical, a sweet and somewhat untold ending to the story of the Unknown Man.

 

 

 

Out of Acadia

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Although it has been a lenthy seven months since I have graced the servers of wordpress.com, I am finally back talking about my newest project, “Acadia” which is still in its infancy. This album has been a three year long metamorphosis of two albums, several different bands, and thousands of hours, and dollars, and hundreds of people to finally get a set image and feel for the album.

Firstly, the album has actually been constructed from two separate entities. The first album from my band The Northern Arcade never saw completion, along with the many hours of solo “sonic exploration”, I was able to come up with a palette of sounds that “worked” for me. By picking the best pieces from The Northern Arcade and mixing it with the almost shoegaze and ambient complexity of my newer works, my album could finally have a place to grow in the mind of myself, and others who have aided me in this mind-boggling task.

The new album in itself will be a feat of sonic engineering. “The best albums overall of any band is always the first” I had said in an interview. “You can hear and feel the creative hunger in the music, you can hear the soul and the long hours of searching for the right sound until they put down whatever they have, and say ‘To hell with it; we second album will sound better anyways.'” This is exactly my predicament: I want this album to have the hunger and edge like that of the first recordings I can remember laying down, but with a more mature and natural sound. This will be the third album I have put out in recent years, but the first I have released under a self-titled and solo name, truly making Acadia a difficult venture.

In the past six months, I have worked with a new drummer, vocalist, bassist, and possibly two new guitarists to give the new record a fresh, and hopefully “Freshmen” album feel. The sound will be as dramatic as the making of the record as well: Two drummers, like that of The Northern Arcade, two guitarists (me being one) focusing on ambience and mood setting, rather than intricate guitar licks and screaming solo work. Unlike my previous band, most of the work for this album will be instrumental, with the addition of harmonic, string-like vocals. To cap off the already dramatic arrangement of instruments, the bassist and keyboardists are new and will build a ambient pad that the rest of the band can work on top of.

The sound of the band will be reminiscent of Explosions in the SkyMogwaiand Bon Iver, but with an acoustic twist, a hint of piano, and a dash of experimental effects usage. Very mellow, very melancholy, but at times uplifting and overwhelmingly beautiful, this new sound will become almost cinematic as the album presses forward, ending as though you have just finished a blockbuster movie. As for now, only about 20% of the final product has been approved and is ready for mastering, with the other 80% being written and recorded within the next couple of months.

At the rate that Acadia is progressing, the finished product will air by the end of summer 2013, but as of right now, hard work and perseverance is my motivation, not to mention my work ethic. Hopefully the following album cover spoilers will keep you interested, as well as a promotional video for the Acadia album in the near future.

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