“And now for something completely different…”
The host of a 1970s British television ensemble comedy show called “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” had a habit of introducing new sketches by offering something “completely different.” This describes how I felt when sampling Silber Records’ new series, featuring a few former (and current) Myrtle Beach music men in their all-new experimental, post-rock, instrumental compositions as a part of Silber’s 5 in 5 EP releases - five songs in five minutes.
Producer, engineer, composer, and performer, Brian McKenzie (Sqwearl, Electric Bird Noise, Something About Vampires & Sluts), has been a part of the Silber family for many years, releasing his Electric Bird Noise projects on the Raleigh, N.C.-based label. The 5 in 5 series was right up McKenzie’s space-rock alley. “These Electric Bird Noise compositions were tailor-made for 5 in 5,” said McKenzie. The concept was inspired by the Florida-based label Voices Green & Purple, which produced a similar series calling on artists to submit three or more songs, totaling three minutes, or less. Silber’s founder, Brian John Mitchell, gives a nod to the concept’s originator.
“I really liked the three minute idea,” said Mitchell, “and include a link [to Voices Green & Purple] on our Web site, but I felt it was just a little too short. This [5 in 5] gives theses artists a little more time to explore things they might not normally do.” Mitchell is also an artist on his own label performing and recording with three separate projects: Remora, Small Life Form, and Vlor. Both Brian McKenzie and former Myrtle Beach indie music guru Michael Wood have been in various incarnations of Mitchell’s projects. Wood, who moved to the Chapel Hill, N.C., area earlier this year, also has releases on 5 in 5.
Wood’s “Mr. Science” release, especially the first two tracks, might be described as your favorite Nintendo video game soundtracks melded with ethereal ‘70s stoner tracks, ala “Dark Side of the Moon.” The final three 60-second pieces incorporate new industrial sounds, that give the project a more contemporary feel. Ironically, though geared to our short attention spans, all the Silber 5 in 5 projects are a reminder of a time when young audiences would listen to 20-minute instrumental rock tracks as a regular part of pop music.
“It’s funny,” said Wood, “I had an idea that I wanted to write a soundtrack to a make-believe video game years back, and so I had all these pieces laying around. When the 5 in 5 opportunity came up, I was sitting on all these songs. Turned out I could only use a couple of them, but I had these drone-y tracks, too, so I was OK. I’ve been doing a lot of home recording, and not playing out [in the Raleigh] area yet, but I hope to.”
McKenzie’s new 5 in 5 tracks were all based on a keyboard that revolutionized pop music; the 1983 Prophet T8 analog synthesizer. The all-synth tracks are a bit of a departure from McKenzie’s normally guitar-heavy compositions. “I’m not sure they all clock in at exactly 60-seconds each,” said McKenzie, “but that was always OK.”
Wood’s Mr. Science tracks, and McKenzie’s Electric Bird Noise tracks, are all online for free sampling and purchase. Always a bit avant-garde, Silber’s releases showcase acts of similar sound and methodology (some 70 acts are listed on the label’s roster), even though askew from the mainstream.
“I have a pretty big promo list,” said Mitchell. “We get airplay at a couple of hundred radio stations. Some are college stations, some are community run radio stations – it’s definitely not Top 40. I guess it’s called ‘drone rock’ most commonly,” continued Mitchell, “but 20 years ago it would have been called ‘space rock.’ Some people call it electronica, which to me is incorrect, but a lot of people lump it in together.”
McKenzie has a new full-length Silber Record’s Electric Bird Noise project set to release “sometime soon,” and is one half of the local experimental folk duo, Feel No Other, including singer-songwriter and guitarist Claudia Gregory.
Sample for free, or download tracks for $1 at www.silbermedia.com/5in5 You may also explore the sounds of Feel No Other on Facebook.
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