Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ozarks - "Pyramids"

I thought the new video for a band called Ozarks was pretty cool. You can actually watch it quicker than reading the press release below, so I suppose if you like the two minute video, you'll invest the time in the huge amount of words they use for something that seems so...put together.

But what do I know about record biz press? All I can tell you is that the dude resembles Kip in Napoleon Dynamite and the visual effects are straight outta the low-wattage Christian television station.

"Ozarks is Robbie Augspurger's main musical project. Augspurger writes and records Ozarks songs with the help of his friend Eric Lee. In his words, it's really them making music they think is "cool to listen to, kind of in the vein of late 60s/early 70s baroque pop". Augsperger continues: "Eric has probably forgotten more about late 60s/early 70s French/Italian chanson/cinema-pop than I've ever known. An example: In the song "As I Lay Sleeping", we've got a subtle reference to Ennio Morricone at the 1:20 mark, with a harpsichord melody floating atop a repetitive chord progression with a descending bass part. Under that you have very Serge Gainsbourg rhythm section (a la "Jane B"), kind of light break beat with pick bass. Then we thought it would be cool to have a nod to Badfinger, with the guitar solo. And then the backing vocals were inspired from the 1970 Beach Boys song "All I Wanna Do", from the album Sunflower." Lots of intention, lots of amazing references, lots of mind-blowingness.

Augspurger has been been working on this record on and off for five years, and last year a small label (Wil-Ru Records) offered to press it on vinyl.


"Ozarks is the songs I write and record in my basement. It's me making the kind of music I think is cool to listen to— kind of in the vein of late 60s/early 70s baroque pop. A lot of my creative process is thinking of what I wished existed, and then trying to make it. Eric Adrian Lee helps me in this endeavor, and has been working with me on music projects for over 10 years. He started playing music with me during my early songwriting years in Horsemachine, which eventually morphed into our bizarre soundscapes with Wolf Choir. Around this time, we also formed our Lee Hazlewood cover band, The Cowboys From Sweden. In Ozarks, Eric helps me flesh out my musical ideas, and tells me what to turn up (or remove) from the mix.

With this album, we wanted to have subtle references to other artists, songs and musical moments that we love. There's a kind of 'wouldn't it be cool if...' thing happening throughout the record. When I write music, often I do it visually. For example, I’ll write something so that when played, it looks symmetrical on a piano or fret board. Lyrically, Ozarks ranges from very personal to not personal at all. Sometimes, my lyrics are a funny phrase I heard someone say, or are born out of a yearning to express something inside of me. I know there’s a disparity between the two, but my songs tend to come out sounding like me no matter what, so I think that’s okay (it’s all about careful track sequencing).

When we started recording what would become Ozarks, I never thought it would take me over five years to make. I’d have creative bursts and finish a recording in two days; I’d hit a dry spell and not write for 11 months. I’d come back and listen to what I had, not like any of it, and I’d re-record everything. This is how my recording process evolved from one-hour cassette deck sessions into meticulous productions that take weeks and months to get right. I’ve been obsessed with recording music since I was about 13 years old, when I read The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. I loved that book and must have read it over 20 times until finally, its binding disintegrated. The dream of my youth was to get a mixing console so I could de-construct the Beatles’ mixes, until I discovered I’d need the master tapes to do that. So instead, I analyzed their stereo mixes one channel at a time on my dad’s old quadraphonic hi-fi system, trying to pick out sounds I’d never heard before.

That’s another thing we wanted to try with this record—have people pick out the references we make in the music. We thought it would be a funny thing to do."

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