SO…THIS HAPPENED IN 2010: #1

12/08/2010 at 11:29 am 1 comment

Eight, maybe nine years ago, while looking for info on new music from one of my favorite bands, I discovered the above album. It was parked on MP3.com, back when MP3.com was a place where bands put their music just to get heard. You didn’t have to sign up. You didn’t have to pay for anything. You just downloaded all the tracks and became a fan.

Almost immediately, I fell in love with this record. It was as schizophrenic as my record collection. One minute you’re listening to a snare-shuffled sing-a-long, then next you’re hearing a piano-heavy nod to Jamaica’s pre-Reggae sounds. Moments of thrash, free jazz, and hardcore would pop up. The vocals were simultaneously dark and funny. And the whole thing ends on a reinterpretation of the album’s opening track, sung as if coming from the last safe haven on an obliterated planet. It wasn’t like Mr. Bungle or Estradasphere or anything you might be thinking of. It was more… well, it was different.

The album’s players come mostly from New York’s turn-of-the-century jazz and ska scenes. (And we’re not talking the super-poppy, irritating ska your radio/GoGurt commercials were plagued with.) And it shows. The musicianship on this thing was something to behold. Even moreso after I found out that all the instrumentation was done live. (So, when you’re hearing three different keyboard parts in the span of a song, know that the keys player was sitting behind three keyboards, playing them in one take.)

And at the helm of this mind-blowing ship of apocalypse-scoring scourges was in Irishman named Patrick Carrayanis. He composed most of the tunes, conducted the sessions, and provided ample guitar parts for the album.

And he’s the reason I did the art for the cover.

I was so inspired by one of the songs on the album (“The Graveyard Dance”) that I made this image for it, and published it in a magazine I used to work for:

He loved it, found it, and emailed me. Or maybe I sent it to him. (It was so long ago, I can’t really remember.) We became email friends, chatting back and forth about art, music, hating doing anything other than making our art, the sad state of the world. I started working on proper packaging for a CD release of Tooth, but it was such a difficult album to pigeonhole, finding a label proved tougher than expected.

Then, a few years into our correspondence (and about  a decade after it was recorded), Tooth‘s predecessor was picked up by Stubborn Records, for a proper release. I was asked to instead create sleeve art for that, and Da Whole Thing @ Version City was released:

That album did well enough to inspire conversations about officially releasing Tooth. But a myriad of reasons led to those talks stopping, and all those concepts and painted pages I’d made for Tooth some six or seven years ago were once again tucked away in the archives.

Fast-forward to this year. Digital heroes to the rescue, whatevski.org, decided to offer it as a digital download. Nearly ten years after the album was recorded, it finally has a proper home. Which is funny to me. I’ve always considered this band, and this album especially, as being very ahead of its time. They spent all these years waiting for a proper label to pick this record up and give it a proper CD release. When in reality, all the band needed to do was keep their digital downloads online, and wait for the rest of the world to catch up to them.

You can download the album by clicking here. Normally, it’ll run you $10, but they’re apparently having a holiday sale that brings the price down to $6. If you can’t easily describe your musical tastes, this will be worth every single penny.

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Entry filed under: Commercial Work, Illustration, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

LIVE ART FROM LAST SATURDAY! SO… THIS HAPPENED IN 2010: #2

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