William Blake and the Counter Culture

William Blake was poet, artist, songwriter, and film maker (1757 – 1827). His later poetry contained a private mythology with complex symbolism. Folk musicians such as Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsburg recorded musical renderings of his poetry. Fantasy art and graphic novels trace their roots back to Blake as their founder.

In this playlist you will find a selection of music and poetry readings associated with William Blake. It’s a unique and unusual playlist that will be outside your usual listening experience, but I think it can be a source of creative energy and inspiration. For myself, I first encountered William Blake in literature in a music store: an old dusty with place with forgotten relics of the last century. It was also the first time I’d seen works by Allen Ginsburg. This place is like an old world treasure trove, a grotto or curiosity shop lost in the modern world of streaming.


How To Compose Post Rock

Since post rock music is inherently experimental and instrumental, how do you go about composing this style of music?

For me, the end result has to be a musical journey that fills the stereo spectrum, because I ultimately see listeners using headphones and perhaps they are travelling on train or a bus, or on foot. They could be working at home or at the office. They might be exercising or simply doing routine housework. The music becomes a soundtrack to what they see and experience as they undertake their own personal journey. It may be a mundane journey that is repeated every day, or a completely new experience. Either way the music is not the focus, it’s sort of an augmentation to what is already there.

I like to compose my music in layers. The first layer for me is harmony. If the harmony can invoke the right emotions for the vision of the track, then I see the additional layers as complimentary additions to the core theme. I should be able to play just the chords from the track, and that itself should be musical and emotional in itself. Adding a melody could bring a hook, or maybe it will add something else to the experience.

For me, a post rock track may have rock elements, like ghosts from the past. Even the band name Let The Dead Have November speaks to taking some time to pay tribute to the past. Rock motifs and idioms are recycled and used in interesting ways within the context of new viewpoint and approach.

I’ve never looked at my music as being a traditional band experience. The typical rock band would write songs to be performed live and recording was the process of capturing the music in a way that was true to the live performance. I look at it as being a music producer that just happens to use more rock instruments than synthesizers and samplers. For me, the focus is on creating a streaming auditory experience that is new and innovative with traditional rock elements, but enhanced using modern producer tools and techniques to be immersive. Until recently, it was not possible for someone to be able to record, mix, and master music on a laptop and have it rival the professional studios, but the musical tools that are available today are really a revolution and modern music will undoubtedly changed as the result of it. The ease of capability to create and distribute music today is truly a revolution and an equalizer for anyone wanting to achieve their musical dreams.

Winter Rebellion

Winter is here. The frigid winds of the Winter’s rebellion bring with it deeper thoughts about life and perhaps a deeper connection to nature. We are reminded that things change, that nature can be dangerous, and that for part of the year we must endure longer periods of darkness.

It’s a time when writing music can really be a focus as the desirability for being outside during short cold days sinks like the early setting sun. As the wonder of a lunar eclipse brings thoughts back to more primitive days, I wondered if this was unsettling and how people once found comforts in the world trying to survive in the scarcity of the baron Earth. I wonder if they had anxiety of whether or not anything would grow again. Or if the long dark days would get lighter again.

This time of year I find myself more motivated and inspired to create something new. I’m reading on the web, or I’m listening to new music, or I’m thinking about what I might do next. It will be a ten month journey to explore and push the boundaries of recording and mixing emotional music. There are so many choices for instrumentation and effects, but it will start with an idea.

The main theme for the next album will be conflict and struggle, both internally and externally. It will be both beauty and dissonance, the eternal struggle between good and evil in the minds and hearts of Humans, as has been the case for eons. There are our heroes that have shaped the main concepts of human thought, the struggles and conflicts to establish a shared belief that we have never succeeded in universally. Still today we live in constant conflict between races, religions, politics, with endless deafening voices defending either side of the same coin. We don’t know if it will end with solidarity or complete annihilation. With every birth and death, and with every Human breath, the same story plays out over and over…

Post Rock

Post Rock is a form of experimental rock music. It is often said traditional rock instruments are used in different ways. This can be actual guitar techniques, such as tremolo picking or the deployment of electronics. For me, the style is more minimal than traditional rock and there’s balance between the different instruments. I’ve tried to slow down my playing to focus more on the emotional impact.

One of the exciting things about writing post rock is the combination of electronic music techniques with rock music. What makes electronic music sound so good? Have you ever head a synthesizer from the eighties without effects on it? It sounds dry and grating in fact. That started me thinking, if in fact, the synths used to make electronic music can sound so good, what if we applied those techniques with rock instruments? I wanted to create the best balance and best sounding instruments possible with modern digital audio tools, sort of a combination of musical artistry and engineering.

The opportunities today to create music are astounding. You have world class capabilities available on a simple iMac for recording, mixing, and mastering. Distribution is now cost effective and marketing can be achieved independently. The digital revolution provides inexpensive modelling of microphones, amplifiers, synthesizers, effects, and just about any instrument real or imagined.

My dream was to create an album using all digital equipment except for the instruments themselves. It would allow writing, recording, and engineering to all be combined into one workflow. I had in mind commuters and joggers, and workers with headphones being able to enjoy the music streaming digitally from their favorite music providers. It’s truly an amazing modern world when it comes to music.

Sky: The Grandfather of Post Rock?

Back in 1979 Sky, an English/Australian instrumental classical/rock band hit the top forty with their experimental blend of Classical music, featuring top classical guitarist John Williams. When I listen to Post Rock music, I’m reminded back to this blend of rock of classical music that took the UK by storm in early eighties with their anthem like rendition of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. William’s mentor, Andrés Segovia was at the time well known for his criticism of the electric guitar, calling it an abomination. How surprising was it then, that his most successful student and protégé had taken up the electric guitar and formed an instrumental rock band?

Today, Sky are hardly remembered at all. It was challenging to pull up the album on Spotify. Ironically, a search for Sky resulted in the first hit being the highly popular Explosions In The Sky post rock band. I was able to find a prior album by John Williams, called changes. I’ve created a playlist with some post rock and John Williams mixed in, does it work?

Where Does The Name Come From?

Some fans have been curious about how the name came about for the band. In fact, the album Winter Rebellion was recorded in November (the month of the dead). I was searching for longish, poetic sounding name similar to other Post Rock bands: We Were Astronauts; This Will Destroy You; If These Trees Could Talk, and so on. When googling some early ideas, I came across the phrase: Let The Dead Have November. It is the title of a column on the National Catholic Reporter. The author, Claire Coffey, a kindergarten teacher of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA is commenting on The Feast of All Souls in the Catholic tradition. November is the month to set aside a day to remember the souls in purgatory and visiting the cemeteries where loved ones lie.

Claire writes:
“It may be tempting, during the month of November, to yield prematurely to the flashier and cozier charms of Christmas — to the jingle bells and stars in the east and merry gentlemen. But let the dead have November. Let them have this somber, chilly month, with its purple-gray skies and bare, windy trees. Say a prayer for all the departed during this month, and if you can, visit the resting places of your beloved dead. “

Claire Coffey, November 2, 2017, NCR

We thank Claire for the amazing inspiration to start a new North American Post Rock band, and indeed, we will certainly Let The Dead Have November as we focus on the dark emotions that breathe into new releases for the band.

Review: Adrift Like a Dead Leaf, by Delusion Spiral

Delusion Spiral is an instrumental music project by Hamed Mostafizi, started in 2005 in his home of Iran. I’m starting my day listening to the track Adrift Like a Dead Leaf. It’s a Winter gloomy day with grey skies and the promise of rain here in Orlando, FL USA. The track instantly transports me to a far away place I’ve never known. Using expertly crafted layers of rhythm and melody with a wide range of instruments Hamed transports us to the world of Iran. The melody feels middle Eastern, but the rhythm speaks to modern eighties and nineties dark wave. I’m reminded of Bauhaus and Joy Division, and yet, there’s a sense of a different world speaking through it all that reminds me of video games, exploring an area looking for clues, taking in the scene from a different land. I wonder to myself if the artist often feels like a dead leaf set adrift, or is it a spiraling delusion? What hopes and fears are born and die within this musical journey.