# # American Idle ~ or ~ The Early Recordings of CAE

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

American Idle ~ or ~ The Early Recordings of CAE

CAE - Early Noises Collected


I fell in love with music very early on in life but, as with the visual arts, never really caught the bug to create any myself until well past said age.

In 1989, I began work as a security guard and there met Bruce Norton, an amateur blues guitarist. In casual conversation with him, I voiced the guitar-playing pipe-dream most young men of our culture have and he assured me that the dream could be realized. In short order, he sold me a guitar and showed me a few tips and tricks.

Unfortunately, I had no discipline, no ear, and no interest in playing other’s music – an awesome combination for success in the music field.

Even then, though, I wasn’t the type to sit around watching Nascar during my time off, nor had I much interest in cultivating a social life so, over the years, I slowly developed my own, weird style, my own weird ideas, keeping an audio diary of said on 90 minute cassettes, starting in 1991.

An early purchase of “Chords & Scales in the Beginning” by Max Palermo led me to the harmonic minor scale, chosen simply because it seemed to have the most notes in it. Off I went, practicing and improvising within it so regularly that it eventually became hard to see out of. Good thing it has all those notes in it.

Another purchase, an RDS8000 Time Machine from DigiTech, a rack mount digital delay that can serve as a fabulous reverb/echo unit/flanger-cum-sampling tool, was invaluable in my musical self-education. Allowing me to capture a sound snippet of up to 8 seconds, I began using it to pick out and loop rhythms to play over. I taught myself to solo with it and continue to use it as a composing/practice tool; easily one of the best $300 I have ever spent.

Another fascination, experimental sound construction, came together with my instrumental endeavors when I purchased a four track in 1996 and immediately set to trying my hand at creating … something.

I’d recorded simple, mono and stereo ideas since grade-school but very few things constructed with any real planning or intent to travel beyond the ears of I and few chosen friends, and certainly nothing musical.

CAE - Feel AliveAfter numerous experiments with noise and samples, pitch and effect, I eventually started playing with a drum machine and some constructed rhythms, resulting in a three-part piece entitled “Take A Ride.” The opening section, “Redefine Yourself,” features improvised lyrics and often language, CAE - Lemon Rindmixed with drum machine, guitar, and bass. This then morphs into a drum and bass section entitled “Feel Alive” that features me stuck in a bass riff and capturing calculated bits of the drum beat with a torqued out 8-second delay. Finally we come around to the third and final section, “Lemon Rind.” Here the drum machine and bass are joined by rhythm and lead guitar.

Despite the obvious amateurishness of the production, composition, musicianship, and mixing, I was pretty happy with my first effort. So happy, in fact that I scrimped, sold, and saved to get myself a virtual recording studio for my computer, the learning curve of which halted me in my creative tracks.

Shortly thereafter, my life descended into chaos with lots of in-law deaths and a move from Colorado to Washington. I continued to play guitar and bass when I could but any serious recording projects were shelved indefinitely.

Once things finally settled down, I was able to devote an even greater chunk of time to my music and, for the first time, began to take it seriously, playing for at least one hour every day; arpeggios, scales, other’s music, and lots of improvisation and practice of my own compositions.

I also finally taught myself how to use my virtual studio and began to fill the hard-drive with lots of ideas, builds, and completed songs.

The one issue I learned about getting serious, however, was that suddenly nothing sounded “good enough.” It seemed I was either never able to achieve the playing I heard in my mind or I’d work on getting it right for so long that I’d wring the life out of it and, though technically correct, it would end up sounding flat and uninteresting. The only things that really seemed to ever work were spur of the moment ideas, often filled with at least 40% improvisation.

CAE - Who CaresOne example of this, sounding fresh, if a bit ragged, is “Who Cares,” a tongue in cheek piece of musical disdain for the fate of the world as long as inebriation is achievable, reflecting an unhealthy fascination with Tom Waits, nicotine, and bourbon. It is the only surviving recording I have of me playing everything: drums (not a machine this time) guitar, bass, vocals, and coughs.

Anymore” is a reflection of my interests in sampling and sound experimentation, thoughCAE - Anymore it remains musical with both “live” bass and guitar running throughout, along with the almost entirely improvised lyrics. The rest of the sonic assault is composed of samples of my voice, slide guitar, violin, trumpet, and an old 78 record spun by hand. Weird as it is, I think it does a good job of detailing what it was meant to – the collapse of a fool’s life around him as his wife loses interest i.e.; my life at the time of the recording.

The ensuing collapse of my home situation and the beginning of my adult education for graphic and web design kept me from developing too much more music and, before I knew it, my instruments were gathering dust.

Like so many other things in the divorce, my music computer and its hard-drive full of projects was lost and I have little hope of ever seeing any of those masters or projects again.

In the last few months, as other, non-musical projects have been completed or rejected, I have found myself dragging out the old axe again and, upon hearing these recordings, it occurs to me that, maybe instead of buying and focusing on other people’s music for a while, it might not be such a bad idea to get back into regular practice and look into saving for another multi-track recording device …

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One Response to “American Idle ~ or ~ The Early Recordings of CAE”

  1. […] mentioned in my previous post that I have used a Digitech RDS8000 digital delay as a compositional tool and here you can hear it […]

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