Posts Tagged ‘Music’

The 26th album by Salon de la Guerre, Hugs for Mountains, is now available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other services where music is streamed or downloaded.

The album is a melding of electronica and folk music, gothic rock and New Wave, inspired by acts such as Four Tet, the Talking Heads, Lene Lovich, Gia Margaret, Public Image Limited and Throbbing Gristle. I’ve previously used aggressive sampling and noise in my albums, but generally limited that to experimental instrumental albums such as Liberty and Golem Vs. Duende. In Hugs for Mountains, I add lyrics and put these noises and samples in pop and folk music contexts. Some of the samples are of musical instruments (like my now returned rented saxophone), while others are developed from household items like notebooks and vacuum cleaners and my own breath.

I made this album concurrently with my next album, Digital Moon, which I hope to release next week. As always, the songs were written performed, produced and arranged by me, and I recorded them in my New York City home studio on GarageBand for iPhone.

Check out a sample of the new album at Bandcamp:

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There’s money in your letters
There’s money in your stones
And when the angel came to collect
There was money in your bones

And he knew by the purple in your blood
And knew by the color of your woes
That you rode across the country
Driven by anger alone

Lost in the country
On the higher plains
Nothing left but ideals
And your bodily remains

It’s in the black of your lungs
And in the anger of your stew
That the desecrating angel and the revenue service
Were both out to get you

And your anger was a cross
That your children had to bear
The woman on the plains
With matted blood in her hair

Lost in the country
With a battered wife
Anger animates your bones
And gives you life

And the desecrating angel
And the government revenue knew
You were an angel of anger
And away you flew

(Lyrics for “Lost in the Country” from the 2019 album Bleed by Salon de la Guerre. Written, performed and produced by Eric Randolph Rasmussen.)

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Salon de la Guerre’s new punk album, Digital Moon, will be available in the next few weeks. Thirteen loud, fast songs about life in our confused times. Some of it I played on guitar, some of it is fabricated with my clever software.

I am still polishing the album, but this is what marketers call “creating pre-awareness.” So consider yourselves pre-aware.

As usual, all the songs were written, performed and produced by yours truly.

The album will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp and other platforms where music is (still) sold.

Here’s a sample:

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From Salon de la Guerre’s 2018 album, Yipano.

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Within the next month or so, Salon de la Guerre will be releasing two new albums. One is best described as an “art country” album. More on that later. The other is my first album dedicated to jazz and it’s mostly in the Miles Davis-John Coltrane mood, though there are a couple of curveball songs.

Why did I do this? Why do I keep straying from the garage rock that is Salon de la Guerre’s main order of business? Well, there are a few reasons. One is that playing around in different genres helps me innovate and come up with new ideas. Next, I had built up a collection of melodies that didn’t really fit into pop or punk or rock songs very well. After enough of them piled up, I decided to do the right thing with them.

Then there were a few mundane, practical reasons. As regular readers know, I’ve made a few short films; for years, I have had to hide one of my student works from 2006 because I had put a popular Louis Armstrong song on the soundtrack. It was going to be a huge burden to pay for the rights to this song every year, and so I tried to think of a way I could capture the spirit of the piece and make my own jazz song to save the film, “Scrabble Rousers,” from oblivion. I took a huge risk and tried to score it using my own saxophone playing (something I’ve done only a little of since high school). Once I had the sax in my hands, I thought I might as well go all in and record an entire jazz album.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation. The upshot is that I’m fairly proud of the result, which is called Hot Tears.

Attached is a song from the album, which is almost completed.

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Golem Vs. DuendeIn a few weeks, I will release my 23rd album, Golem Vs. Duende. It comprises 10 movements of microtonal experiments and musique concrète.

For this new album, I took iPhone samples of my home environment and the New York City subway; it employs the percussive use of scissors, pots and pans, fences, doors, escalators and all other sorts of found objects that allow me to play the wannabe microtones my piano and guitar would not. I just recently discovered Maestro Harry Partch and his ingenious system of tones. However, I have not developed my own musical notation system nor have I built my own instruments with 43 pitches per octave. So I had to make due with playing the non-instruments around me. Then I mixed back into it my more traditional melodies on piano and synthesizer.

If I were to continue on this course, I would likely move it back around to pop music or work the approach into some type of roots music. I don’t have the musical training, but I have strategies. If this is your first time listening to my music, I should remind you that I’m all over the map, and that most of these experiments feed my alternative rock albums.

In this time of despair, I still see endless possibility. Though my family feels a little cooped up during the quarantine, we are creative and have plenty of things to do at home. So that’s what I’m going to depend on in these crazy times: My imagination.

The album was composed and performed by me at my home studio (and on location) in early 2020. I also did the cover art.

Listen to a sample of the album here:

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Understood, she said
But she didn’t understand.
Message received, he thought, but they were
Using terms differently.
My green isn’t your green
My over isn’t your over. My silence is only my silence
Not your aggression.
You argued the words
And missed the sentence.
“Stupid” sounds worse to her than it did to me.
“I love your body” sounded like I didn’t love her mind
The resonant frequency of the building was ineluctable
The bridge jumped
Dissonance was the music.

You cannot live with two sounds now
You must go out
And live among the many

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Tangled in the sun, the bird he flew
Came back, didn’t say what he knew
Came back with a song he knew only as a scream
Came back in a life he knew only as a dream

Wax in my ears, the siren quakes the sea
I don’t know what the sirens sing to me
Basaltic rock you wake dead or as a king
When you hear the sirens sing
Stuffed my ears with the wax from the bees
I don’t know what the Sirens sing

I ate a bird, something that flew
I wondered if it he knew he was through
I fly when I dream and that means I fly
People think they can’t, I don’t know why
Tangled in the sun the bird he flew
Came back didn’t say what he knew

Wax in my ears the siren quakes the sea
I don’t know what the sirens sang to me
Basaltic rock you wake dead or as a king
When you hear the sirens sing
Stuffed out ears with the wax from the bees
I don’t know what the Sirens sang to me

(Lyrics to the song “The Sirens,” now available on the Salon de la Guerre album From Sour To Cinnamon, copyright 2019.)

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Last week, I sent my 300th song to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Of course, a few of those hundreds of songs are repeats and reprises from my two classical albums, but if you add in the smattering of songs I’ve thrown away, it’s a wash, and 300 is a good official number. And of course, I have proof of this on my Bandcamp page, if anybody wants to fact-check me. Go! Count them! (The last 10 are going up within a week or two.)

I have a new milestone in a couple of months that also has a zero in it. That one I have less control over.

And that’s led me to a message for older people out there: I wrote more than two-thirds of this music in the last three years, a period of explosive growth for me as a songwriter, and during what people would call middle age. In my 20s, I wrote only a few dozen songs, and perhaps doubled that number in my 30s. But since 2016, at which time I was well into my 40s, I’ve made 14 albums, writing music everywhere–on the train, on the plane, on the treadmill, on the couch. I even tried to stop for months at a time while I worked on fiction, but it got to where I was writing songs unconsciously just walking around the store.

You might sniff and say it’s just the robot software doing it all. I have been, after all, writing stuff in GarangeBand–on my phone–and a lot of my work involves tape loops and buttons. But that’s the wrong conclusion. My guitar playing, both in speed and nuance, got three times better in 2016. And I suddenly started playing piano with no training in 2018. The iPhone is helping me, but it’s not writing the music or arranging it.

How have I become so prolific later in life? I don’t know. I have no idea why it all suddenly came to me. It’s been said and demonstrated to me over and over that we’re all supposed to lose inspiration and start sucking at art, and especially uptempo music, when we get older. We lose our muse. We get complacent. We resist the new ideas; our minds are less malleable, less playful, less able to assimilate new truths and discoveries and all else that makes you a great artist. That’s the conventional wisdom.

It’s also a crock of shit. Your ability to discover new talent within yourself has no age limit. Your style has no age limit. The idea of your imminent deterioration as you age is largely a mental and social construct–not unlike the fabrication that high school was the best times of our lives. Both ideas, we ought to suspect, have more to do with other people’s pitch to sell us stuff, and less to do with essential truths.

So this is something new I hope I could offer, besides my music itself: I can tell you unequivocally that I found an ocean of inspiration in my 40s, that these have easily been my peak years as an artist, peaks I hope will be eclipsed in my 50s.

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Another song from my album Air Is a Public Good.
Music and lyrics by Eric Randolph Rasmussen.

“Under the Wing”

The devil now I know walks among us
The devil has a condo on Lake Tahoe

I would never know the path
That bell I can’t unring
And the devil had me under his wing

I was selling real estate
To a couple from Sulphur Springs
And the devil had me under his wing

They wanted more than a town house
They wanted to share their lonely love
With me

And now I know the darkness
And now I know the need
And the devil had me under his wing

They wanted to use my body
And prey on my clean living
And the devil had me under his wing

God you can’t sell real estate in this
Sinful town
Heaven don’t have a toilet for fallen angels like me

They wanted to use my body
And prey on my clean living
And the devil had me under his wing

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