Sunday, March 25, 2012

Of Mist, Ashes, and a Twist of Thorn

The first Stone Breath release was a cassette called Of Mist and Ashes. 1995. It was 11 songs on 1 side of a cassette tape. It was the first and, until 2012, the ONLY Stone Breath cassette release. Most of the songs eventually appeared on the Strange Familiars ep and Songs of Moonlight and Rain, our first full length CD - it was the first ever release on Camera Obscura Records. (some of the unreleased songs from Of Mist and Ashes, as well as all of Strange Familiars and SoMaR all appeared on the Songs of Moonlight and Rain (expanded) CD from Hand/Eye.)

At the time, I don't think I knew exactly why I wanted to make acoustic music. After Cloud and Mourning Cloak, which could be as much electronic experimentation as it was folk, and the Mourning Cloak live shows wherein I was plugging in guitars and twiddling with racks of effects - I knew I wanted to simplify in some sense - but more than that, I just loved the sound of acoustic music. In later years, I would learn this probably has to do with the complexities of the harmonic overtones generated by acoustic instruments, but in 1995 I was a very naive musician. I just knew I wanted to make acoustic music. I came up with a theory, at the time ...and that was: electronic music lends itself to music of the ætheric and astral realms - inner and outer space. Acoustic music tends to be earth music - made from wood and metal, hair, skin, and gut. (In later years, I have come to think of acoustic music as just being more timeless - or more potentially timeless I suppose - in that it is not dependent on electronics outside of the recording studio and performance venues)

I was a VERY naive musician back then. While deeply in love with psychedelic music at the time, I had grown up through my teen years listening to DIY punk/hardcore/underground metal - and I was deeply influenced by DIY/zine culture. While I won't claim there's much from that music in Stone Breath, I did take some of the ethic with me. Why shouldn't I try to make my own acoustic music if that is what I like? Just pick up the instruments and do it. So many people have done this, well before me, that it's not really a revolutionary concept anymore - but I mention it to give due credit to punk rock for my folk band.

I practiced and practiced though - and I hope my improvement in both playing and singing is there to hear from record to record. Having been joined by first Prydwyn, then Sarada, and eventually, Don, Brooke, Carin, Kira and everyone else who has helped with Stone Breath over the years; having played as Tom Rapp's backing band; touring, playing, recording with Stone Breath and every other project I've done since - all of this helped push me and Stone Breath musically.

So, here we are in 2012 and Stone Breath is releasing a cassette on the Brave Mysteries label. I am brought back full circle to 1995. I never minded the format, having run a cassette label for years before I ran a "real" record label - and the cassette is still a widely used audio format in places in the world where people are not yet entirely digitized (amen to those places). Maybe the cassette just becomes a curiosity or a collector's item - but I love the idea of releasing this now - appealing to both my luddite tendencies and that young part of me who bought and traded so much music in that most DIY of formats, the cassette.

Stone Breath Twist of Thorn cassette, coming April 2012. 
Side A: 
Where the Crows Go
Hand in Hand*
Johnny has Gone for a Soldier**
In the Garden of Ghostflowers*
No Ends Meet

Side B:
How Many Hours 'til the Spider's Work is Done*
Blood Winter

*originally recorded by Black Happy Day, here reinterpreted by Stone Breath
**traditional, arrangement by Stone Breath.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 31, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012 Stone Breath will be playing live with Arborea in State College, PA. Information HERE. I believe the wonderful Carin Wagner Sloan (ex-Iditarod) will be joining us for a few songs which is great news!

Hopefully our live appearances will become increasingly less rare, now that there is a local and regularly practicing membership. On that note, Stone Breath is looking for shows - so contact me if you have anything for us.

O yes: If you are on Facebook, please "like" Stone Breath.

You can hear some of our music and get more information at our ReverbNation page...and if anyone remembers MySpace, we have some music there as well.

Monday, March 19, 2012

He's got death upon his tongue...

"Walking Sam" illustration by timeMOTHeye... 

Walking Sam appears on the newest Stone Breath album, The Night Birds Psalm. The song's genesis was in some strange reports about a sinister character I read in 2009. For me, it was the perfect name and theme for a kind of witchy call-and-response blues song. I wrote a part two - of a sort - called Witchwalker, which appears on my upcoming solo album/art book, Undeath (coming in 2012 from Crucial Blast records).

The illustration was done early on during the recording of The Night Birds Psalm - when the original plan was for me to do illustrations and illuminations for every song, as I did for The Silver Skein Unwound and The Shepherdess and the Bone-White Bird before. Unfortunately, Walking Sam was the only drawing I completed in time for the release (in my defense, I did complete an entire series of drawings used for Undeath in that same time).

The original illustration is available to purchase HERE.