Reel to Reel: Introducing Sleepmeld

It’s something I cannot quite explain, but the warmth of photography film and cassette tape, of old analogue technology, still holds something for me that truly digital media or technology doesn’t.

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Sleepmeld, a US based band on the Like Young Records independent music label in Albany, have recently released their self-titled debut album.  The product of musicians Austin Reynolds and Bryan Ackers, the album is triumph of music, beauty and production.  I don’t really want to describe the music here, as I’d rather that, if you reading this, you take a listen yourself and see what they are about.  Kindly you can take a listen here for free on the Bandcamp website, but I also recommend supporting the artists and the record label if you.  The lovely due behind Sleepmeld are even donating their proceeds of the sales to the Kentucky Science Center and the US National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Today I got their wonderful 5 song self-titled EP through the post.  Released back in 2013, the EP covers some of their earlier music, which combines the influences of science, sleep, dreams and the MOTHER series.  You can get a copy of the tape or download here.  I’d also recommend supporting the wonderful label that these folks on – it is truly heatwarming and invigorating to know that independent labels still release music that is distinct from the mainstream and are willing to take a chance on musicians across the world who go beyond the mainstream.  In short, it is a gift from the underground.

If the photograph is reproduced, please credit the author of this blog as appropriate.

Jazzmaster Study

Owing partially to my love of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana (along a whole host of others including The Jesus Lizard, Mudhoney etc.) I recently got my hands on a new electric guitar, the wonderful Fender Jazzmaster Modern Player.  It is a cheaper model than an American Jazzmaster (by half!) but a step up from the cheaper Squire models that Fender also produce.  I love the beefy yet brittle sounds that the humbucker pickups produce and I adore the offset body, something that is slightly different from the normal Stratocaster or Les Paul guitar bodies.  It fits comfortably against my own body and it isn’t a guitar that is afraid of a good thrashing during the throes of emotive playing.

The Jazzmaster guitar is, of course, now a marker for slightly alternative rock bands after it failed to be marketed to jazz musicians in the late 50’s, but this is a versatile guitar and I’m having a lot of fun trying different tones and techniques.  It also looks particularly beautiful so I’ve been having fun trying to photograph this legend of a guitar.  The following photographs are shot on a 1963 Pentax S1a camera with black and white film.

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The hardware. Photograph by the author.

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Headstock. Photograph by author.

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High notes. Photograph by author.

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Jamie. Photograph by author.

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Jamie II. Photograph by author.

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The physicality of music. Photograph by author.

If the photographs are used elsewhere please credit as appropriate and state the author of this site as the photographer.

Dinosaur Jr Jamming

Dinosaur Jr are one of my favourite bands of all time (along with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Knife and a handful of others), and I’ve recently been enjoying watching this 30 minute live set recorded for 96bFM at Roundhead Studios in 2013.

Dinosaur Jr, for me, offer an intoxicating mix of low-fi rock that mixes extended guitar solos sesisons with sweet melodic acoustic music.  They are also fairly prolific at producing albums, with the singer-guitarist J Mascis also releasing a number of solo albums and bassist Lou Barlow also producing music with the band Sebadoh (who I’ve wrote about previously).  The latest album, 2012’s I Bet On Sky, is a particularly strong album that helps to showcase the variety of sounds that Dinosaur Jr inhabit.  Although this is just a brief stub about the band, I highly recommend reading Michael Azerrad’s 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 which places Dinosaur Jr within the context from which they started playing.  It is a fantastic book profiling a number of important bands including Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney, The Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth and Husker Du among others. 

In a quick side note Dinosaur Jr have also influenced my guitar choice as I’ve recently got my hands on a mid level Fender Jazzmaster guitar.  I cannot wait to properly jam with it!