Northwest Underground rock 1980 'til the End of Time


Jan. 2010: Tom Dyer – Songs From Academia Vol. 2

  1. Variations on a Theme by Buck Dharma Tom Dyer 4:05
  2. Van Vliet Street Tom Dyer 4:09
  3. The Moon Was the Moon Was the Moon Tom Dyer 3:18
  4. Grub Tom Dyer 1:34
  5. I Want to See the Future Tom Dyer 6:09
  6. Gutter of Love Tom Dyer 4:13
  7. Skank! Tom Dyer 2:55
  8. More Colors Available Tom Dyer 1:56
  9. Ornette Tom Dyer 3:38
  10. The Ghost Walk Tom Dyer 5:13
  11. Atah Tom Dyer 2:20
  12. Groovy Tom Dyer 1:30
  13. I'm a Rocket Tom Dyer 3:30
  14. Turn It Up Tom Dyer 1:32
  15. Jazzy Tom Dyer 1:42
  16. Interlude #1 Tom Dyer 2:29
  17. The Laboratory Tom Dyer 4:05
  18. I Lived Three Lives Tom Dyer 4:45


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I have always had a fondness for creating instrumentals, essentially sculpting some sort of sonic structure out of out of varied elements. Even the two spoken word pieces on this collection are really more about the texture of sound than any great message.
Bands I’ve played in often have had an instrumental or two, but you won’t see much of that here. Except for Ornette, played by the Adults and Van Vliet Street with Al and Peter, this is pretty much one guy in the studio making it up as he goes. I would usually have figured out some starting part before I began recording and then embellish that.
Some of these tracks were released on tiny cassette-only releases in 1983 and ’85. This is the first surfacing for anything newer. I originally created this as warm up mastering project for the Green Monkey Records Anthology, to get my mastering chops together. A little clean up later, it now stands on its own.

Hope you enjoy it! Thanks to all the usual suspects.

Tom Dyer, December 2009

Track notes (GM1003)Dyer Back
All tracks mastered in 2009 with much better tools than I had in 1980. I have cleaned up the tape noise from the old stuff as much as I could (which was a lot), but there is still some left – live with it, baby!  Original recording dates listed are approximate and subject to imperfect memory.

1.Variations on a Theme by Buck Dharma (2008).    A new version of a tune recorded as Red Sails Over China in early 80’s. I realized years after making the original the descending guitar lick in the opening came straight out of Transmaniacon MC by Blue Oyster Cult, thus the rename. Digital multi-track (computer), all parts played by TD, featuring my original 80’s E-Bow, as on the first version.

2.Van Vliet Street (1981). Recorded at Triangle on 16 track analog after the demise of the Adults/Colorplates. Drums and tympani by Peter Barnes from The Enemy, bass by Al Bloch, of the Bombardiers and later Concrete Blonde, etc. I play guitar, alto and tenor sax and Chinese suona. It was always my secret desire to have this played by a high school marching band in a parade. During the middle section they would simply mill about. For the unwashed, Don Van Vliet is better known as Captain Beefheart. Originally released on cassette – GM002 Truth or Consequences and more recently on It Crawled From the Basement: The Green Monkey Records Anthology. Talk about milking it!

3. The Moon Was the Moon Was the Moon (1985). Four track analog recording, all parts (guitar, bass) played by yrs. truly, with no click track obviously. Always loved this despite/because the sloppy playing. For all 4 track recordings, most parts were played in one pass, as I did not have the ability to easily punch-in mid-stream while playing at the same time (later computer based recordings make that easier than punch!).

4. Grub(1999). The first of four tunes made using Sonic Foundry’s Acid 1.0, a digital multi-track loop recording program. Each track was created to be a 1:30 soundtrack for a video by a graduating department at the Art Institute of Seattle, presented at the commencement ceremony. I did not play one note, I just took the stock audio loops that came with the program, assembled and manipulated them. This is the country/rockabilly or something theme of the group. I particularly like the little break down in the middle. It was fun.

5. I Want to See the Future (2003). As with several recordings, this was inspired by a new instrument, a Micro Korg Synthesizer-Vocoder, a swell fake-analog synth the lovely Mrs. Dyer bought for me one Christmas (with a little prompting!). This was the first result. All parts played by hand (no MIDI), it also features my old but trusty Theremin in the middle section. Digital multi-track.

6. Gutter of Love (1984). Another fine no-click-4-track recording. Given that I can hear at least 5 parts, playing, I assume that I did an initial three tracks (bass, guitar, finger snaps) and bounced them to a mono track before adding saxes. I played ‘em all on this one. There are also lyrics (a poem really) for this that was sort of 005 dyer2intended to be read over the top, but was never recorded. Released on cassette – GM005 I Lived Three Lives.

7. Skank! (1983) A 4-track bounced recording, which features my Roland TR-303 Drum machine, which was as cool as you could get for a cheap drum machine at that time. Same sounds as the Roland 808 that became trendy with hip-hoppers years later and a big step up from my previous little blue drum machine. I also play bass and keys. This tune features my proto-Volga guitar style, which I’ve always had a knack for. Perhaps I was a Russian peasant in a previous life! This was remixed December 2009 – baked the tape at Uno’s and fixed ‘er up for you! Released on GM002.

8. More Colors Available(1982) “Written” by my wife Vicki – we agreed on certain graphic parameters, she made a painting and I played it. This is one of a couple pieces that involve unsynchronized repetition. The sequence was put into a Casio VL-1, the first keyboard (it was a calculator, too!) made by Casio. The sequence could then be played back at different speeds, octaves and sounds, but nothing would lock together (synchronize). It is the beauty of approximate drift. 4-track, all played by me. Released on GM005.

9. Ornette (1980) Named after Mr. Coleman and performed by the Adults or Colorplates (same band, changed name for some obscure reason) featuring Harvey Tawney on lead guitar, Deanne Tawney on drums, Bob Blackburn on bass and me on rhythm guitar. This was a long-time staple for the band. Harvey’s lead part became as fixed and important as the original composition. This was recorded with a little mono-cassette player with a built-in microphone like you could get at Radio Shack for twenty-five bucks. I think it captured the true essence of the band.

10. The Ghost Walk (1985) Recorded on 4-track with my sister’s Casio MT-65 keyboard, tricking the auto accompaniment settings into some pretty dense chords, along with additional weirdo mother-of-linoleum harp- guitar (all .009 E strings tuned one step apart: Gb-Ab-Bb-C-D-E) from me and Steve Trettevik, later of The Icons. The words were written after the music was done and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. Also baked and remixed December 2009. Released on GM005.

11. Atah (1984) Another 4-track with the Roland TR-303.  I play all parts (guitars, bass, alto sax). Used to be performed by the afore-mentioned Adults. The tune is written and played entirely in whole-tone scales, with a 5/4 bridge. Love a good whole tone scale!

12. Groovy (1999) The second of the four Acid tunes. This is the “funk” number in the collection – a gritty urbanization of the groove generation – hah!

13. I’m a Rocket (2006) Another tune inspired by a new instrument – got this little yellow-orange electric guitar, brought it home and wrote the basic thing in 5 minutes. I played all the parts except the rocket noise and countdown, which was some kind of NASA sound effects I downloaded. Digital multitrack. Better drum machine than 1983. I’m pretty sure it is impossible to turn this one up too loud.

14. Turn It Up (1999) The third Acid tune. Add dance loops to metal guitar loops, a little spec of delta blues guitar and the Turn It Up Girl and you are all set for one minute and thirty seconds of electro rock.

15. Jazzy (1999) The final of the four Acid tunes. How smooth can you get, baby? An extra 10 seconds was added onto the fade for this release, making it even more beautiful for you, the listener!

16. Interlude #1 (1983) Another 4-track, recorded on the fly. I play guitar and this cool twin barreled flute that I bought in Fremont for the ungodly sum of $15 in 1979. Released on GM005.

17. The Laboratory (1981). This is my first-ever 4-track recording, using the Casio VL-1 as the basic root instrument. Played all the parts, including the previously mentioned harp-guitar. The spoken part was written prior to the recording and just tried out as something to make a science experiment more interesting. Released on GM005.

18. I Lived Three Lives (1982) Another 4-track, non-synchronized Casio VL-1 recording. Besides playing the sequence as recorded, you could play it in step fashion, giving the notes an irregular, spastic rhythm. Played by me. The title track from GM005.

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