Verbum Sap and New Albums

Estimated read time (minus contemplative pauses): 3 min.

Verbum Sap

As I’ve mentioned here before, I recorded an album back in 2001 called Verbum Sap, which to this day has not been officially released. It was recorded on Hi8 digital tape (on a Tascam DA38, 8-track recorder), in the worst recording environment I’ve ever worked in: a basement apartment with with small rooms and a low metal ceiling. Plus, my instruments were mostly cheap, and, most importantly, I had no idea was I was doing as an engineer. So, it sounded pretty bad.

Flash-forward to January of 2014. While on winter break from school, I finally mixed the thing, with the help of the very talented Nicholas Howard, who worked for several weeks as my assistant, thanks to his incorporating the project into his winter Field Work Term for Bennington College. Nicholas was a pleasure to work with, and made the job easier and more enjoyable.

Mixing Verbum Sap mostly consisted of high-pass filtering and scooping out mud. It’s amazing what you can do with a good EQ plugin (Sonalksis, for example). I also added in some reverb and a few other effects here and there, but for the most part this is a pretty dry recording. It was made during a period when I was most interested in filling out my arrangements by layering nylon guitars and my voice, the timbre and phrasing of which I can no longer duplicate.

Nicholas Howard

I won’t say much more about it than that; you can hear it for yourself when it’s released, most likely before the end of summer. That’s the album cover, above left. The artwork was made by my good friend Joseph Derr back when I first recorded the album.

Next up was for Nicholas and I to work on something new. I played him several ideas, and he chose a song called “Listen,” for which I’d already recorded piano and vocals. We added several new instruments; it’s still not done, but it’s coming along quite satisfactorily. That’s Nicholas on the right, messing with timpani samples.

I haven’t released any new music in a long time, largely because I’ve been busy with school, but I do have a couple of albums worth of new material at varying degrees of completion. My current plan is to record this stuff over the next year, so that I’m ready to release at least one, if not two albums (perhaps within six months of each other), in spring or summer of 2015. I’ll split the album up more or less according to stylistic commonalities, or lack thereof. That is, one of these will be quite stylistically varied, while the other will be more consistent in tone. I think.

At any rate, I’ll be taking my time with these recordings. In the meanwhile, I’ll be finishing up my philosophy degree, continuing to acquaint myself with New York City, trying to make a living, and doing lots and lots of writing (one of these days I’ll start sharing some of it here). Oh, and, starting this semester, I’m Editor-in-Chief of The Gadfly, Columbia University’s Undergraduate Philosophy Magazine. It’s yet more work, but the good kind.

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2 Replies to “Verbum Sap and New Albums”

  1. Any word on Verbum Sap or the new releases? I always gravitate back to your music during the winter months, which was when I was first introduced to Culture of Self & Neon and Gold. Would love to hear some new (and old/new) material.

  2. Hi Rob – Thanks for asking! I’ve definitely got Verbum on the ‘to do’ list. It’s pretty close to being finished, I just need to carve out the time (I’m currently getting settled after some big life changes). It will happen! I hope in time for fall. I also have a song list ready for the next album, which I’m excited to work on.

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