“We Are Also the Dreamt”

… a closer look at this upcoming album

The next paragraph is background information; skip to the one that follows if you like.

It’s a known fact that I constantly write music as Quicksilver Night. Some time ago I decided to release much of my instrumental music in one fell swoop (the forthcoming “Asymptote” album) and intended to later follow that with an album of my vocally driven material (“We Are Also the Dreamt”). Then we found ourselves having to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, notably including its detrimental impact on warehousing and physical distribution of CDs. As a result of this I opted shuffle things around and ended up releasing two separate three-song mini-EPs in digital-only formats: “No Contest” on November 27, 2020 and “Mr. Wizard” on April 20, 2021. We also released the song “Hephaestus the Cuckold” as an advance single from “Asymptote” on March 5th. We have been busy. We are finished with the tracking phase of the “Asymptote” album and will finish mixing it this summer for release early this fall. We will release another advance single from the album (“The Galactic Edge”) prior to that and we’ll also include the three songs of the “Mr. Wizard” mini-EP as bonus tracks. Watch for it!

But this isn’t about “Asymptote”; this is about “We Are Also the Dreamt.” As I publicly posted earlier today, “The music is already written and the guide tracks recorded. I need to dig deeper into the album programming and make some decisions about editing and song order.” I’ve been listening to those guide tracks and making some notes. I’ll share them here for anyone interested but I have to admit that I write these thoughts down primarily because it helps me to keep my thoughts organized:

These are definitely going to be on the album, not necessarily in this particular order except for the opener:

1) “Canon/We Are Also the Dreamt” (4:49) – the title track and obviously the opener, it begins with a melodic four-part interwoven vocal canon before bursting into a driving prog rock song with tribal-sounding toms. It’s rhythmically interesting in that it has a recurring bar of 3/4 mixed into the otherwise 4/4 phrasing but I think it feels organic to the song rather than contrived. After we’ve completed the final mixing of “Canon/We Are Also the Dreamt” we’ll need to go back bounce a version of it without the vocal canon intro and release it as a separate single for the streaming-only crowd with their generally shortened attention spans. The song would then be more likely to garner a broader audience than those that might be initially put off by a small choir of monastic-sounding voices. Hopefully some of them would then turn to the album to see what other goodies it might hold. 🙂 In response to “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams” comes “We all stumble, often blind to the truth that we’re caught in a web; we’ve all forgotten in the minds of our gods we are also the dreamt.”

2) “Camera Obscura” (6:03) – will most likely be the second track on the album. It’s my usual brand of distilled prog but with some classical nuances. The focus here is on the vocals throughout; there’s not much in the manner of guitar heroics as such but there’s some nice harmony and interplay between the guitar and the piano balanced against some straightforward rock sections. The lyrics speak to the often-illusory nature of human contact via the Internet. “Bathed in pallid light … flicker through the night … window to the soul … through a billion eyes … Do they see?”

I will program the songs below into some sort of logical order to follow the songs above as the ‘We Are Also the Dreamt” project progresses.

3) “Desiccant Grains” (5:11) – is an attempt to describe my experiences as a US Soldier in Iraq in 1991 and again in 2003 in general terms that almost any service member could understand and hopefully relate to. It’s difficult to describe the edginess of long-term tedium in a pervasive environment of anxiety; I guess time will tell how well I did in doing so. The song itself is, unsurprisingly, my usual brand of distilled prog but with some different flavors and textures. “Sunrise on an ocean of sand … dust, flies, and a gun in my hands…”

4) “Monochrome Memories” (3:41) – is more or less straightforward rock in general terms but interestingly syncopated as the two intertwined but individually dynamic basslines lend it a subtle complexity against its broad, almost lush, chord voicings. The song is about a traitorous lover long gone suddenly returned and seeking absolution. The song was composed with a melodically soaring guitar solo section in mind and I have several different hugely talented friends that would fit the bill nicely. “Lies, as they burn, ringing in my ears now return, stinging all those years…”

5) “Revenant” (3:42) – has an almost Celtic feel to it due to the compound meter but it’s very much rock. It lyrically speaks to the feelings of anomie and dissociation that sneak up on all of us sometimes. If you ever had one of those dreams in which you were falling and awoke before you hit the ground then but then spent the day uneasily waiting for the other shoe to drop, metaphorically speaking, then you’ll know exactly what I mean by the line “abide today braced for an impact.”

6) “Somnium Liminalis” (9:58) – is, in its current form, both the longest song I have written to date and probably the one that is closest to being purely progressive rock in the classic sense of the genre label. I meant for it to be Latin for “the threshold of sleep” but I was also playing with the idea of a god of sleep being at the door. It’s an instrumental-only so far but various vocal lines keep popping up in my head for it and certain sections of it might benefit from an inventive soloist so I’ll leave those possibilities open.

7) “Panorama-Eigenlicht” (3:48) – is an interesting creation, an instrumental song mostly in quintuple meter that is somehow melodic without there being a specific melody that I could point to. To my ear it sounds somehow simultaneously both alien and familiar. The title literally means something like “All-Around Self-Light” in German but since I mean eigenlicht as the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light it’s very much open to interpretation. I might incorporate some flute into the piece later in the production process.

8) “Xenolith” (5:33) – is also an instrumental song in mixed meter with some very cool things going on. It is stylistically reminiscent of several of my works – including, notably “Camera Obscura” above – but also very much different than the others. I’m currently of the mind that we should record it as-is and then, once the final product is in the analog domain, slow down the playback so that it sounds a full step lower to give it that “Strawberry Fields Forever” vibe.

9) “Untitled 2020#15” (4:06) – is a hypnotic piece with four clearly melodic lines in gorgeous harmony and counterpoint for which I’ve yet to come up with a single meaningful lyric couplet. I expect that when the words finally come so also will a suitable title but for now I only hear the notes as nonsense syllables. I tell myself to be patient but, frankly, it’s driving me crazy.

10) “Solar” (5:31) – is a working title that I might just ending keeping for want of something better. Poetic imagery, almost elegiac, delivered by a five-voice choir against a distilled prog rock backdrop, it feels to me like a solid closer for the album. I might invite a guest soloist but I’m going to wait until after recording everything else before deciding if it’s desirable for me to do so. It seems an excellent candidate to close the album. Sample line: “As he rises to depart from this place silent angels bear cold witness in effigy … Watchers made of stone raise their eyes to the sun…”

The ten songs above together span about forty-seven and half minutes in their current form, a complete album. Nonetheless, I have several other completed songs from which to choose that would thematically fit into the album, notably including the two below:

11) “Headlong” (5:07) – mostly in quintuple meter, a vocals-oriented song broadly about the choices we make in the face of our apparent freewill and the consequences thereof. This song was originally meant for the “Reliquary” album but somehow slipped through the cracks. It would fit right in on “We Are Also the Dreamt.” Sample line: “Surface ripples form and fade as the skipping stone strikes then away, free from Earthbound gravity, flying high…”

12) “Litany” (4:40) – another song about choices originally meant for “Reliquary” that slipped through the cracks and would nicely fit here, “Litany” is mostly in 7/8 and very much based in Middle Eastern modes. The lyrics of “Litany” relate more to regrets and waiting. Sample line: “Unconcerned, as we waste our lives carelessly…Dream deferred, as we wait to find some other time, some other day…”

What I don’t have yet is any concrete plans for album art and I suppose I should begin searching around for suitable works to license. That probably won’t pan out because I’ve got a vague idea to incorporate some of the album’s lyrical themes in some sort of surrealistic setting and I might just as easily end up commissioning an original piece but I suppose we’ll see. I am open to suggestions in this regard.

In sum, that describes the current state of Quicksilver Night’s “We Are Also the Dreamt” full-length album. We’ve already laid the groundwork and should begin actively tracking the next steps in the process beginning late 2021 after the release of the “Asymptote” album. I’ll be sure to provide any significant updates throughout the process.

All content above, as applicable, copyright by me either as myself or as Quicksilver Night Productions, ASCAP

A Snapshot of Ongoing Projects July 2020

“Into the Valley” 2018 by R J Hembree Photography
“Into the Valley” 2018 by R J Hembree Photography

1.) I officially announced the full-length “Asymptote” album in May of last year – sixteen months ago – saying that the all-instrumental album was “a hugely eclectic offering that I hope to release both digitally and on CD later this year” but, obviously, that didn’t happen. The project continued to grow in scope and complexity and I announced in my “2019 Year-End Update” that I intended “to make a trip out to Nashville in April and return with a completed album mixed to the premaster stage” but, again obviously, that didn’t happen either, primarily because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As things currently stand I have all the audio files for fifteen programmed songs on the album and am merely waiting until I am able to spend two or three quality days in Nashville at the mixing console with my co-producer Alex in order to finish things up properly. For the record – and I can’t stress this enough – I am also waiting the physical distribution channels to properly reopen before I complete the album.

These are the fifteen “Asymptote” songs that are already effectively finished, approximately 66 minutes of music, in alphabetical order: “Ameles Potamos” feat Ony (Greg Onychuk); “April Covenant” feat The Unified One (Stephen Speelman); “Brookside Interlude” feat Anne Epperly; “The Chase” feat Jeremy Barnes; “Continuity” feat Gormuzik (Gordo Bennett); “Dream Sequence Gunmen” feat Nazim Chambi; “Emelya Durák” (Емеля Дурак) feat Andrew Negoustorov; “Galactic Edge” (لبه کهکشانی) feat Farzad Golpayegani; “Hephaestus the Cuckold” feat Farzad Golpayegani; “Mister Wizard” feat Jason Cale; “Parallel Play” feat Jason Cale; “Power Curve” feat Jason Cale; “Quicksilberdrachenlied” feat Milt Gore; “Stare Con Te” feat Marco Iacobini; and  “Trompe L’Coeur” feat Nazim Chambi & Anne Epperly. I have two more songs “on deck” for “Asymptote” but at this point I’m not concerned if they’re ready for this album or not.

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Original photo copyright 2019 by Pete Feds Photography

2.) I had always planned on recording and releasing the three song “No Contest” mini EP separately from the “Asymptote” album and in digital-only formats but since production of “Asymptote” was held up we pushed forward with production of the “No Contest” mini EP. As I’ve described them elsewhere, the “No Contest” mini EP is “an eclectic trio of saxophone-driven songs overlaid with hints of jazz, blues, funk – and even a touch of progressive – but are straightforward rock at their core.” All three songs are driven by the superlative saxophone work of Jeff Saunders and all three songs are currently in the capable hands of veteran drummer Jae Sinnett so he can track live drums in place of the current MIDI-generated placeholders. We’re producing the EP locally here in Virginia and there aren’t any restrictions that might affect digital distribution so we fully expect to have the “No Contest” EP out sailing the digital seas by the end of September. Wish us luck.

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“I Kissed a Girl” cover by Randall Lee
via digital manipulation of one of Cara’s original photographs, used by permission

3.) As it will say on the release itself, “I approached Cara Isadora in February 2020 about singing the vocally driven songs of my forthcoming full-length ‘We Are Also the Dreamt’ album, a heavily prog-tinged affair full of operatic and madrigal nuances. During this discussion we discovered that we both had widely diverse musical tastes and decided to record a licensed version of my straightforward rock arrangement of Katy Perry’s 2008 hit ‘I Kissed a Girl’ just to test the waters of our musical compatibility and have some fun doing it.” It’s a harder edged, heavier version of the song than the original and we’ve finished recording all the tracks, including a killer guitar solo and embellishments by the virtuosic Milt Gore. I’ve already purchased all the necessary rights for downloads and streaming. Just like with the “Asymptote” album above, however, I have to wait until I am able to make a brief trip out to Nashville so I can sit at the mixing console with my co-producer Alex in order to finish things up properly. This would be a much briefer trip than the “Asymptote” sessions and physical distribution is not an issue so I hope to make it happen sometime within the next several weeks.

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ALSO IN THE WORKS:

“Hephaestus” digital painting
by Farzad Golpayegani, 2020

If I can make the “I Kissed a Girl” session happen sometime soon, and if scheduling allows for it, I intend to release a preview version “Hephaestus the Cuckold” featuring Farzad Golpayegani from the “Asymptote” album at that time. I will make it available exclusively via bandcamp but there will also be an accompanying video available solely via the Quicksilver Night site.

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In addition to the full-length album, the mini EP, and the standalone single I mentioned above – projects that should all see the proverbial light of day in the relatively near future – I have been also spending a lot of time working on the music for the full-length album “We Are Also the Dreamt” but I don’t plan on beginning the tracking phase of it until 2021, after the official release of the projects I wrote about in the above paragraphs. I also have plans to record and release another cover song with Cara on vocals in 2021 but I’ll keep it under my hat for now. We’re making progress on all fronts, however annoyingly incremental that progress can sometimes seem.  New music is coming soon, I promise.

2019 Year-End Update

…All Things Quicksilver Night

The year is effectively over – as is the decade – and I find myself reflecting on the year gone by and making plans for the year ahead.

Quicksilver Night released the three-song digital-only mini EP “Presque Vu” in May and then an unplugged version of “October Skies” from that EP in November. Featuring Meagan Finning (vocals) and Jason Cale (guitar), Quicksilver Night’s “Presque Vu” is a trio of drivingly melodic songs, progressive but rooted in classic rock with Celtic overtones and Gothic undercurrents. Available at digital outlets everywhere, go to https://quicksilvernight.hearnow.com/presque-vu

Most of my musical activity in 2019 beyond “Presque Vu” centered around the forthcoming “Asymptote” album. I talk further about that project in another section below.

As I posted to my facebook page on December 6th: “Here’s a screenshot from the final slide of Spotify for Artist’s online presentation of Quicksilver Night’s activity for 2019. It’s a nice year-end validation if nothing else. Thank you all for your support!”

By far the largest part of the activity represented by those metrics from the 98K cumulative streams of the “Presque Vu” mini EP that we released in May. I tried several different avenues of Spotify promotion with various degrees of success and I believe I know which of these to pursue with the release of the “Asymptote” album in 2020.

As I posted on November 30th, Quicksilver Night’s 2018 full-length album “Symmetry” album was nominated for a Friday Night Progressive 2019 Indeprog Award in the “Vocals” category and won third place from among a great many more nominees! I was humbly but very pleasantly surprised by this accolade. I’m especially proud of the title track “Symmetry” – featuring as it does the powerful vocals of Jon Boylan and the amazing fretwork of Farzad Golpayegani – and am happy that it was played on several Internet-based radio stations in 2019 and spent some time as my most-streamed song at both Spotify and Pandora.

“Symmetry” is available as a physical CD and download/streaming at multiple digital outlets via this link:  https://quicksilvernight.hearnow.com/symmetry

Check out this excerpt of an amazing photograph “Into the Valley” by my friend Bob Hembree. Taken December 4, 2018 at Monument Valley, Utah, I’ve licensed this photo for use as the album cover of Quicksilver Night’s forthcoming all-instrumental “Asymptote” album.

Work continues apace on “Asymptote”: it is currently programmed to contain 14 songs at a total runtime of 59:01. As of now I have five of those songs essentially finished: “Mister Wizard” (feat. Jason Cale); “Power Curve” (feat. Jason Cale); “Brookside Interlude” (feat. Anne Epperly); “Trompe L’Coeur” (feat. Nazim Chambi & Anne Epperly); and “Hephaestus the Cuckold” (feat. Farzad Golpayegani). I have three more that are very nearly finished and only await final polishing by my collaborators: “Quicksilberdrachenlied” (feat. Milt Gore); “Dream Sequence Gunmen” (feat. Nazim Chambi); and “The Chase” (feat. Jeremy Barnes). I have heard samples of what these guys have done with those songs so far and they are unbelievable across the board.

As to the remainder, I just finished recording my guitars for three other songs: “Emelya Durák” (feat. Andrew Negoustorov); “Essere Con Te” (a working title, collaborator TBA); and “Dorian Gray” (another working title, featuring Jason Cale) and the song “Continuity” is in the capable hands of Gormuzik’s Gordo Bennett. For the record he wrote me on  December 16th “I’ll iron out what I’ve got and work out more solid ideas before I waste your time with it then I’ll send it along for your approval” so I’m greatly looking forward to that. I also have another pair of untitled works currently being spun up at the hands of my co-producer – my friend and invaluable ally – Alex that will be recorded before January is out.

My goal is to make a trip out to Nashville in April and return with a completed album mixed to the premaster stage with one caveat: at that point, after I have everything sounding as good as I can reasonably expect and it’s otherwise ready for mastering, I intend to engage a professional drummer and bassist to re-track the drums and bass for the entire album. I will probably keep the MIDI-driven synthetic tracks but will mix them well-beneath the live tracks where they can provide subtle drive and layering beneath the real drums and bass, more felt than heard.

Also in the works, Farzad and I are in talks to produce a video to accompany the song “Hephaestus the Cuckold”; Farzad is an incredible visual and graphic arts wizard as well as a musical alchemist and the song suggests imagery that naturally lends itself well to Farzad’s surrealist/expressionist stylings. I will make further announcements on this front as they become warranted but at this point I’m fairly certain I want to go ahead with it and I am debating on whether to release the video ahead of the album and exploring the possibility of embedding a copy of the video on the CD itself. We’ll see.

So, to sum up, Quicksilver Night had some small degree of success in 2019 and I’m looking forward to the possibilities 2020 has to offer.  Life is good; have a great year!

“October Skies (Unplugged)”

As it says elsewhere on this site, “the ringing crystalline timbre of Meagan Finning’s voice can be found throughout much the Quicksilver Night catalog going back to the beginning…” Featured on Quicksilver Night’s 2019 “Presque Vu” mini EP, “October Skies” is a song about home as a place where one’s bones seem to resonate with the landscape. The original version of this song was plainly rooted in classic rock but with clear Celtic overtones so we decided to record another version using more traditional instrumentation to try and accent these. This unplugged version, just like the original, features Meagan Finning on vocals and Jason Cale’s acoustic guitar but we stripped away everything else and added flute and bodhrán (an Irish frame drum). We then invited the incredible musician Jay Shenk to improvise viola over the entire piece.

Meagan Finning: vocals
Jay Shenk: viola
Anne Epperly: flute
Jason Cale: guitar
Randy Hagin: bodhrán

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jason Cale at Crabhouse Studios Hampton, VA
Music and Lyrics by Warren Russell (ASCAP)
Produced by Jason Cale & Warren Russell
© & ℗ 2019 Quicksilver Night Productions


“October Skies (Unplugged)” is available at multiple other digital retailers to include the following:
https://www.amazon.com/October-Skies-Unplugged-feat-Shenk/dp/B081TQ8QVL
and
https://music.apple.com/us/album/october-skies-unplugged-feat-jay-shenk-single/1488832778

Explicating “Exegesis”

Topical Then, Relevant Now … or is it?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

– (generally attributed to) Edmund Burke


Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι ‘to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text.

Quicksilver Night’s 2015 album Reliquary touched upon several subjects that might seem atypical, depending on your personal listening proclivities, and the song “Exegesis” is an example of one such. In general terms the song “Exegesis” is a broad message of warning at our societal predisposition to manipulate the props on the geopolitical stage with all of the attendant jingoism and scapegoating that energizes the process. History plainly shows where this often leads yet we blithely move ahead, unwilling or unable to discern the likely consequences of our meddling.

The first verse speaks to the process by which we look the other way as our civil liberties erode under the steadily rushing stream of “national security” and we compromise our societal values in service to some titular “patriotism”.

So expedient, slowly deviant…
Though subordinate, we all compromise…
Inarticulate, we still recognize
shadows rising…

The second verse refers to the unforeseen consequences of imperialistic meddling with sociopolitical dynamics in an environment where fanatical religious fundamentalism and/or deeply ingrained ethnic and sectarian resentments were suddenly liberated after simmering under decades of systemic oppression. To those unfamiliar with history it might seem that I was solely referring here to the rise of the nominal Islamic State but it goes far beyond that to encompass any number of historic events that can be characterized as having been thusly catalyzed.  For the record here, the Latin Hic sunt dracones (literally “here there are dragons”) is the warning on medieval maps about unknown dangers in an uncharted territory.

Protest innocence, ghosts of ignorance…
Bread on depths obscured, what do we dare bait?
Sinking unobserved, Hic sunt dracones
Pearls cast to swine…

Historically a scapegoat is an animal that would be symbolically burdened with of sins a community and driven away into the wilderness, carrying those transgressions away with it. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Latin for “Who watches the watchmen?” or, perhaps better, “Who guards the guards themselves?” – is indeed the long-standing admonition to be wary of those in positions of unrestrained power.

So vicarious, martyred surrogates…
Drive the goat away (Quis custodiet…)
Blind, the sheep remain (ipsos custodes?)
Bleating the lines…

Marching in time…
Soft chime the bells…
Straight into hell…

I felt a strong desire to add some sort of summarizing paragraph but I sort of think what I’ve already presented here stands on its own and if it doesn’t then, rhetorically, what more could I possibly add anyway?

…except perhaps look around you and consider whether or not it might be happening now.