Æ: Aglet Eaters

Interactions in Installments: Mansions and Junipers Part 3

Posted in Discover by R on July 21, 2012

ZOMG so guess what I just worked out! (i.e. was told)

Those apparently random dots underneath the name in the Mansions and Junipers logo (look!) are, in fact, Braille!

Considering I know how to write two alphabets in Braille (which I’m assuming is more than most people) I’m feeling a bit stupid for not having realised that myself.

Oh well, I don’t think it comes as much of a surprise that I’m a bit of a tubelight.

So just a shoutout to their creative designer Evol before we get to the final segment of this III series. If Evol had a website, I’d link to it, but let’s see you do a google search for it and what luck you have.

Now – on to all matters EP-ian, before we moving on to the Really Important Things e.g. pets’ names, pet names etc.

Matthew:

GreeKneel

The EP: Plastic 57

As I mentioned, we’ve recorded an amazing amount of music in the last year. Because we have our own studio/s, we record perpetually. To be honest, when we started, we were kind of recording without any traditional intent. I really wanted us to take our time with the vibe — let things come together naturally. Most of the songs feature me and Salvatore Boyd (Sally) but the other members, Robert Vacarelli (drums) and Rich Bennett (synths), do appear on the EP’s and their styles and energy have become totally vital to the group’s developing sound. Nonetheless, Sally and I sort of laid the groundwork for the EP series.

Sally and I both grew up in Allenhurst, NJ, a tiny beach town just north of Asbury Park. It’s a unique little time capsule revolving around a quiet little beach club. Anyway, Sal is 9 years my junior, so we never had a chance to get to know each other until May 2011, but he was always on my radar as a brilliant young musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In short, Sally graduated last year and built out a really serious garage studio called Super Owl. I immediately seized the opportunity for us to finally work together.

Sally’s energy is anything but rigid. He takes risks… it’s simply in his DNA. He’s all feel. Even though he’s technically our bass player, he plays loads of drums, percussion, some guitar, and so forth on these EP’s. His energy made me really comfortable, especially with my singing. I’d be laying down vocals and he’d just be sitting there freaking out. It really pushed my performances 1000x past where I’d ever been before. We really embraced the spirit of the garage. It didn’t matter if we were recording tambourines or baby grand – it was always a group effort and we were always freaking out! It’s one of the first times I’ve been in the studio where the only priority was to capture moments of grandiose magic with little regard for accuracy. Our intent is to channel music – not make it or build it – it’s church.

The other funny and weird thing is that Sal’s studio is literally 3 feet away from my great aunt’s (who passed a few years ago) house. I have some wild memories of going there on holidays as a child. She was a very strong in every sense of the word – in family, religion, professionally at a time when women weren’t really accepted in the corporate order of things, and so forth. I remember walking though rows and rows of tall tomato plants in her garden, eating tomatoes right off the vine. And we were literally recording within steps her old house… childhood memories lingered like ghostly dreams the entire time. The feeling caused me to often re-write lyrics for entire songs on the spot. If you’re not taking your own ego too seriously, then it makes all the sense in the world to throw what previously felt like your masterpiece to the wayside in favor of capturing the overwhelming energy of the moment.

This is basically the kind of spirit-driven process that we needed to develop Mansions and Junipers from a project to a band with an identity and a focused social compass. I don’t think our recording approach will ever quite mirror that of 2011 / 2012 again, but I’m really excited that we were able to document the energy of this group in its infancy, and that we’ll be able to share these songs in themed collection format over the course of this year.

On Not-Music

Well, if we’re not working on the music, we’re basically making filthy jokes. We practice at Bob’s (drummer). He has a cockatiel named Birdog that flies around the house while we’re practicing. She likes to land on your shoulder while you’re singing. She also likes to ‘do her business’ on the floor tom. She’s actually quite the drummer in addition to being a fantastic singer, obviously! She also lays eggs that look like little white jellybeans.

I do lots of stuff on the side. I’ve done composing, producing, and sound design for TV, video games, online platforms, and such. It’s a lot of fun to occasionally get outside of myself and my own visions in order to create something with a specific pre-established aesthetic in mind. Sound design is challenging. Sometimes it’s more difficult to create a single sound for something like closing out an application than it is to compose an entire piece of music. Try being interesting, original, engaging, and relevant with one or two syllables!

Social-wise, I like cooking, eating, and drinking, especially barbecuing. I’m a summer person through and through, and I grew up surfing pretty seriously. So, i’m into anything ocean and beach-related as long as it doesn’t involve an engine. I like gardening as well, but I really don’t know what I’m doing. I also drink my martinis dry, shaken, with 3 olives — and I like amaro after dinner. I’d also like to give a shout out to my cat, Fifi. [important information emphasised, as always – ed]

I’m also finishing my MS in Energy Technology and Management. Ive basically studied energy conservation, renewable energy technologies, sustainable practices and designs, green building, transportation planning, and so forth. Right now, I’m writing a thesis on high-speed rail and it’s influence on the compact development of sustainable communities, moderating consumption, and improving quality of life [PROTIP: use the “<snappy, subculturally relevant phrase><colon><excessively long explanation>” format for your thesis title – ed]. I’m really trying to look at it from the perspective of an industrial designer or a futurist like Jacque Fresco —- understanding the need to identify and practice a symbiosis between nature and design —- liberating humanity from the mundane by creative design that enables us to reach our potential as human beings.

And while I indulge, I supplement the bills by bartending in Fort Greene, Brooklyn a couple nights a week. [sic ‘im, chicks – ed] 

Bob, our drummer, is a hair designer and a tailor. Sal (bass) and Rich (keys) teach music.

Back to the Music

Mansions and Junipers have just released their first EP. You can pick up Plastic 57 anywhere. This here Soundcloud widget will let you try out all the songs, and keep two. Links to pick up or pull down the album are after the cover art.

PLASTIC 57

You know, I just realised I never asked about the name of the EP. Wonder if it’s any relation to Muffin 57? Anyhoo:

Plastic 57 on Bandcamp for ONLY 8,847.5 Colombian pesos!

Plastic 57 on iTunes for ONLY 466.84 Japanese yen!

AND

Plastic 57 on Amazon (under ‘psychedelic rock’, lol lol) for ONLY 526.68 Nepalese rupees!

FYI, these are all perfectly reasonable prices, so if you like it then you should put a ring on it.

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2 Responses

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  1. Chris said, on August 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Evol does have a website. http://thisisevol.com and a facbook page https://www.facebook.com/thisisEvol?ref=hl

  2. Jim said, on January 17, 2013 at 2:15 am

    It was a nice touch having a music player embedded in the review here. Good music is always worth seeking out, but such convenience leaves no excuse for even the most lazy of the musically curious!

    Also, I love that the pop culture phenomena of Beyonce was used in the closing line of the review, to encourage people to buy the music: “…so if you like it then you should put a ring on it.” It just made me laugh, but it was also kind of brilliant!


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