Author Archives: solarno

2010: SIDtastic! Volume 1

SIDified versions of the songs from the Manhattan Transfer’s 1983 album Bodies and Souls.  Clicking on any song title will open an mp3 player for that song.

1. Spice of Life – Unfinished
2. This Independence
3. Mystery
4. American Pop – Unfinished
5. Soldier of Fortune – Unfinsihed
6. Code of Ethics – Unfinsihed
7. Malaise en Malaisie
8. Down South Camp Meetin’
9. Why Not! (Manhattan Carnival)
10. Goodbye Love
11. The Night that Monk Returned to Heaven – Not included

Trying to translate a band that makes it’s name on four-part jazz inspired harmonies if quite difficult when you only have three monophonic voices to work with.  I think that is why I decided to tackle this album.  I believe that the inherent character of the SID chip is what allows these songs to work as well as they do.  It’s almost as if the SID chip knows the missing notes of a chord and uses it minor instability to fill the chord out.

These songs were worked on between 1989 and 1992.  The high point of this set of SID covers would be Mystery which I feel really conveys the sultry quality of Janis Seigel’s voice.  Mystery also contains one of my few forays into the noise waveform of the SID chip.

The songs listed as unfinished are just that, unfinished. Before abandoning the Commodore 64 for the new and exciting world of MODtrackers on early PCs, I had intended on finishing all of these songs.  I’ve included the unfinished pieces because I felt that all contained some interesting SID bits here and there.  Monk never made it past the early beginnings of transcription, and frankly may not have ever been finished due to the intricate nature of the harmonies and chord progressions.

Cheers!

If you like what you’ve heard here, I highly recommend you pick up the original Bodies and Soul from Amazon.  This is a truly beautiful album of jazz infused R&B from one of the greatest vocal quartets of the past three decades.

SIDtastic! comes to Sounds of Solarno

Back in the mid to late 80’s, and into the very early 90’s, the majority of my musical experimentation was done using my venerable Commodore 64.  The Commodore 64 contained a little piece of hardware called the SID, a sound chip which would go on to become one of the most influential 8-bit sound chips of all time.  The signature sound of the SID can be prominently found in the recent chiptune resurgence of the past 5 years or so.  Artists such as 8-Bit Weapon and Computeher feature the Commodore SID chip, along with other well known sound chips commonly heard in various game consoles, and even use them live in concert.  (My jaw hit the floor of the Viper Room when I saw 8-Bit Weapon tapping out melodies on a C-64 when he opened for Information Society a couple of years ago.)

During my high school years I spent countless hours programming music on my Commodore 64.  While I created plenty of original music, I also transcribed dozens of songs by commercial artists.  I did this out of curiosity, to see just what I could recreate using a choice of 4 monophonic soundwaves and three total voices.  There is essentially no percussion in any of the songs I created as I never truly mastered the use of the noise waveform that was available.

The desire to finally archive this early music of mine resulted in me digging my C-64 out of storage about a month ago to see it it even still worked.  Even if it did there was still the concern over the age of my original floppy discs.  To my surprise, and other than a few worn out keys which need to be coerced to function, it all worked.  The featured image of this post shows the new home of my C-64 in my personal studio, Robot Junkyard.

Having a functioning C-64 with access to all of my old music has led to the creation of what I am calling the SIDtastic! Collection.  This will be a series of four to five collections of my SID compositions, both original and covers.  Other than leveling out the volumes, I will be doing no mastering to these songs, choosing to leave them in their natural raw form.

The first volume is now available to listen to and download.  It contains SIDified versions of the songs from The Manhattan Transfer’s 1983 album Bodies and Souls, and can be found here: SIDtastic! Volume 1.

Cheers!

2010: Robot Junkyard

1. Binary Alphabet
2. Cross Platform Discoteque
3. Fuzzy Logic
4. Digital Singularity
5. Digital Information
6. Walk Along Little Robot
7. The Replicators
8. Cyclic Connection
9. Influx
10. Rise
11. March of the Robot Junkyard

Robot Junkyard is as much an experiment in simplicity as it is an album of body-moving electronica.  The sophomore effort from Los Angeles based producer Solarno (aka Jim Furey) takes its inspiration from the humanity of robots and a single synth.  Bringing together vestiges of 70’s and 80’s synthpop, 90’s techno, and a touch of the 8-bit revival, Robot Junkyard contains plenty of pulsing bleeps, sweeps, and chimes to keep one bobbing their head with the beat and humming the melodic hooks.  From the shimmering digital bells that open Cross Platform Discoteque to the thunderous symphony of kick drums in Cyclic Connection, Robot Junkyard takes you through a sonic world filled with dance-floor igniters with a few unexpected surprises thrown in.

Read more ...

Meet Boxel!

A few of you have asked me about the robot on the cover of the new album Robot Junkyard.  His name is Boxel, and he stands about 3″ tall, 4″ if you count his antenna, but he’s much taller in his own mind.  He doesn’t typically listen to me, especially now that he’s a star.  I do believe that he thinks he will be on the big screen in the future.  Can you say diva?

Boxel is a prototype paper box robot created by Cincinnati based artist JessWolf.  She specializes in handmade decorative paper boxes and custom luminaries that can be used for weddings, parties, favors, decorations, or like in the case of Boxel, hanging out and eating all of the M&M’s.  All of her products are handmade and either cute, whimsical, elegant, or in many cases all three.  One of the products I especially like (besides the robots!) are paper acorn boxes which are friggin’ awesome.

I highly recommend that you check out her other products, especially if you have an event or party in your future.  You can check out her website here:
www.paperacorn.net

Or find her on Etsy at:
www.etsy.com/shop/paperacorn

When you decide to contact her for some awesome papercraft, or just to say hi, remember to tell her that Boxel sent you.

Thank you Jess for being gracious and allowing me to use your wonderful creation for Robot Junkyard.

Cheers!
Jim

The artwork is done!

I finished all of the album artwork tonight for Robot Junkyard, and I even have my UPC code already.  It’s now a real album in the eyes of Soundscan! (Or at least it will be as soon as I upload the album info to Soundscan.)  What you see next to this text is the album cover.  The rest of the artwork will be presented in the album listing sometime around when the album is finally available.

It feels really good to get this aspect of the album done.  Sometimes it is very difficult to figure out what the visual representation for a song, or songs, will be.  With my last album, it was pretty easy as the photos I used for the album art were the inspiration for the music.  While the little guy (Boxel) you see on the cover was part of my inspiration for the overall theme of the album, using him for the artwork didn’t come to me until I was just goofing around with the camera on my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app.  (Turns out that Boxel is quite the ham in front of the lens.)  Once I knew my artwork theme, all of the pieces went fairly quickly.  I’m really proud of what the overall presentation will be with the finished CD.  Unlike my last album, where the artwork was very rigid, cold, and distant, this artwork seems to convey more warmth, movement, and emotion.  It has shelf appeal.  I think.  Well, it would get my attention if I stumbled across it in a record store.

I still have to do a final volume check, but that should go quickly.  Then it’s off to the duplicators!

With some good timing, brand spankin’ new CDs should be in my hands in about two weeks.

Categories

Archives