Today marks the release of my third studio effort, Year Of The Ox. It’s my fifth record and arguably the first good one 😛 I’m extremely proud of the lyrics and urge you to read them either before or during your listening. A lot of folks have asked me where I got the name, and it’s a valid question which I’ll gladly answer in a minute. First, a little about “the making of …”
Contrast is very important in many facets of Life, but especially in Music. Contrast in stage dynamics during and in-between songs, lighting, song tempos, etc. So when I begin a creative task – like recording an album – I am constantly looking for ways to contrast … anything and everything. I begin by identifying all aspects of the process that are unique, and then decide how to magnify them. The result is a product that could not have been created by any other process; a product that *hopefully* contrasts those created by other processes. For example, some bands will record in the studio with a “live feel” setup to emulate a concert experience. I understand the many reasons for doing that, but in some respects it’s better to record an actual concert. There are SO many things you can achieve in the studio which can’t be done on stage, to me it would seem like a wasted opportunity not to employ them.
First of all, you can click “save,” go to bed and then return a week later with a fresh mind. I began chipping away at this project in 2009, with the first drum tracks happening in March 2010 (and you can see today’s date of release). Perhaps the best example of studio advantages is “Steal Me,” which has numerous effects including hundreds of camera shutter “clicks.” They were recorded live in the studio, sure – along with all the layered guitar effects – but it would take a much larger ensemble than our current sextet to achieve the same result on stage. If you read the credits you’ll notice that we also tracked in more than one location. Another uniqueness of studio recording is the ability to overdub, best exemplified by “500 Mountains” on which I sang all the vocals and played all the instruments. This allowed me a ton of freedom to employ certain performance techniques such as rubato, and to freely arrange on-the-spot. Very organic, plug-n-play. The result is a dark, powerful song (especially the ending) with some haunting vocal harmonies that quite frankly happened by accident.
Now for a glimpse behind the title: Named after the Chinese lunar calendar year, “Year Of The Earth Ox” which began on January 26, 2009. Earth Ox’s Western zodiac counterpart is Capricorn, which is “my sign.” Many parts of the Earth Ox zodiac proved true in 2009, including associations with materialism and long-term progress. For example, it predicts that we should focus on long-term financial strategem; serious romantic commitments (weddings and births increased steadily all year); and “keeping your nose to the grindstone” (we all struggled to find or keep a job).
All songs written by Nick Edelstein (BMI). Produced by Nick Edelstein with Wizkid Sound (2-4). Recorded at NESS Records and Wizkid Sound in Atlanta, GA and Richenroll Studios in Alpharetta, GA. Mixed by Rich Grillo (1, 5-7) and Wizkid Sound (2-4). Mastered by Rodney Mills (www.rodneymills.com). Cover art by David Sherer (baconmcshig.deviantart.com).
Nick Edelstein (vocals, 6-str acoustic guitar, 6- and 12-str electric guitar, e-bow, Hammond organ, piano, percussion, MIDI strings, snare drum, trombone, trumpet and horn arrangements)
Will Scruggs (tenor and bari sax)
Tim Fash (alto and tenor sax)
Darren Stanley (drums)
Jon Morrison (bass)
Aaron Hevenstone (drums)
Andy Margolis (bass)
Rich Grillo (bass)
Sara Speert (camera flash and shutter FX – www.saraphotography.com)
Gray Sartin (slide guitar, vocal on 7)