Sunday, June 1, 2014

Help me write my next album

I'd like to invite you to take part in an experiment I'm conducting. I'm working on my sixth studio album, Möbius, and I want your help.
I've collected the seeds of 20 new compositions that I want to develop. Ten are psytrance tracks and ten are different forms of EDM. You can listen to them all on the Soundcloud players below.
Every month, starting in June 2014, I'll work on two of these and document my process with videos, screen captures and samples of the work in progress.
And your part is to give me feedback. Make suggestions of what you like and don't like. What would you like to hear happen next? Tweak the synth line? Change up the drum part? More cowbell?
You'll get to hear the album before anyone else, and you'll get rare glimpses into how this kind of music is made. Sound interesting?

To be part of the project, visit Or join the Facebook group here. I look forward to working with you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Moogfest 2014

I had the honor of playing at Moogfest last week. It felt like a culmination of many years of effort and cultivation. I moved to Asheville, N.C. right after high school, and quickly learned of the impact that Dr. Robert Moog had on this town. I had loved synthesizers since I was eight years old and a music teacher at my elementary school brought one in to demonstrate it. So when I came here to go to college, I was delighted to learn that my new town was also home to "the man who invented the synthesizer." 

As I would eventually learn, this wasn't entirely accurate; Moog invented a great number of brilliant instruments during his life, the most famous of which was the Minimoog. And while it was not the first synthesizer ever invented, it was the first commercially available modern synthesizer, the instrument that brought the concept of electronic music to the masses.

I only had one encounter with the man in person. He was giving a presentation at UNC Asheville, where I was a freshman music student. I didn’t know much about analog synthesizers at the time, and having been introduced to them in the days of digital sample-based instruments, I couldn’t understand their limitations. During the Q&A part of his talk, I asked why his instruments could only play one note at a time. It was a question I would later realize was both ignorant and somewhat rude. Luckily, he took it well and explained that to achieve polyphony with all analog equipment would be incredibly costly, not to mention heavy.

I still didn’t understand until my final semester of school, when I got to play in the Music Department’s analog synth lab. The room was basically a closet in those days, but it had a Voyager, a rack of Moogerfooger pedals, and a Theremin. As soon as I started playing them, I could hear and feel a visceral difference from the digital keyboards I was accustomed to. It felt like playing a “real” instrument. It started me on the path I am on today.

After leaving school, I worked at Moog Music, calibrating Voyagers for a few years. I’ve also done volunteer work with the Bob Moog Foundation, bringing hand-on synth exhibits to schools and festivals. I’ve built the PsybOrg, incorporating nearly every piece of gear Moog Music made at the time I left them. And last week, after several years of attending Moogfest as a spectator, I got to play on an official stage at the event, alongside some of Asheville’s finest talent. Our event, Colliderfest, was one of the free events offered by Moogfest and was sponsored by the Asheville-Buncombe Sustainable Community Initiatives and the Asheville Area Arts Council.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Logos at UNCA Arts Festival

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours recently at the UNCA Arts Festival, demonstrating the PsybOrg. It was such a cool experience! I graduated from the Music Department in 2007 with a degree in piano performance. It was there, under the guidance of Dr. Wayne Kirby, that I first got to experiment with analog synthesizers. It was also there that I had my only encounter with Bob Moog, when I, as a clueless college freshman, asked him why his synthesizers could only play one note at a time (he took it fairly well, but in hindsight, it wasn't the most polite, nor the most educated question to ask).
It felt like a proud homecoming to be back at my Alma Mater, teaching people about analog synthesizers and the brilliance of Dr. Moog's creations.
Credit to Jenny Bowen for the great photographs!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Biophelia (2003) Digitally Remastered

Biophelia (2013) Listen here.

In December 2003, I released my first dance album as Logos. I had recorded an ambient album the year before, but "Biophelia" took my production work to the next level, drawing influences from psytrance, house, and other forms of EDM that I was listening to at the time.
It was a real turning point for me musically. The album sort of defined what would become "my sound." It was also the first thing I had released that actually started to find an audience. And most importantly, it inspired me to push forward, developing my skills as a composer and producer.
Having recently passed the ten-year anniversary of the album, I found myself wanting to revisit it. My mixing skills have come along way since then, and while the material was still exciting to me, some of the mixes clearly needed a fine-tuning.
I'm happy to say that that process has drawn to a close and I'm able to re-release Biophelia in a re-mixed and digitally remastered version.
For a limited time it will be a free download on Bandcamp. Please give it a listen and if you can, make a donation for it.
I also want to thank Kri Samadhi, who remastered it and all of the musicians who recorded on it, including Elizabeth Terry, Egg Syntax, Ambra Lionstone, and Abigail Griffin. The cover includes artwork by Rees Perry.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Prayer for Remembering: The Gift of Trust

The following is part of a series of short essays about particular Logos tracks. I think it helps to relate to the music better to understand their stories. All of these tracks can be listened to or downloaded at

3. Prayer for Remembering (listen here)

The word “music” today means something very different than it did when the ancient Greeks first used it. Then, “μουσική” referred to the various arts of the Muses, the nine deities who inspired the creative works of humans. All music and art, in the ancient understanding of the world, was a form of channeling, a divine inspiration that did not originate from, but rather moved through the artist. 

I think most artists can relate to this on some level. When we are most creatively inspired, there is a definite feeling that ideas are flowing from somewhere beyond our conscious control. Even the word “inspired” alludes to the fact that something beyond ourselves is “breathing into” us. Of course, usually this inspiration comes in small bursts. The vast majority of the time I’m working is not spent in the throes of ecstatic revelation, but in focused effort, sculpting and shaping the creative seeds I have received. There have been, however, a couple of examples in my life of compositions that came to me in nearly finished form. “Prayer for Remembering” is one of those. 

Without getting into too much personal detail, let me say that it was written during a period of my life when I was feeling deeply challenged by the path I had chosen in my life, and soul-crushing doubts and fears weighed on me constantly. It was on a particularly difficult night that “Prayer for Remembering” came to me. I don’t remember the exact circumstances any more. What I do remember is the feeling of hopelessness and immobility that had settled upon me. It felt like there was no way I could go any further; I doubted the path I was on in life, and worse, I doubted my ability to take a single step forward. In an act of desperation, I forced myself to walk over to the piano and began punching the keys. Like a primal scream, I pounded notes on the piano, until my rage began to clear. Slowly, my right hand started to play two notes over and over again: B and E. Back and forth my fingers moved, holding on to some small thread that had appeared in the chaos of the discordant noises erupting from me. My left hand started playing a bass line. And words began coming to me, in the form of a prayer: 

“Lord may I remember what it is I sought,
when I chose the journey I am on. 
And in my hour of darkness, 
when I fear the way is wrong, 
may I not forget the music 
or the meaning of this song…”

After furiously scribbling the words onto paper as fast I could transcribe them, I no longer felt hopeless or despairing; I felt inspired. 
I decided to make the piece a sort of mantra. Whenever I again found myself in a fit of anxiety or depression, I would work on the composition. At first this meant practicing it on the piano, but soon I began working on a recorded version of it. It became something of a grand opus: a musical testament to the struggle of my heart to stay focused in the midst of intense, conflicting emotions. As the months and eventually years passed on, more and more elements got layered onto it. I added another verse, and a large build at the end. I used sampled string instruments to create dramatic tension. I improvised a Celtic-sounding “violin” solo at the end. It became epic and unwieldy. Eventually my personal crisis resolved itself, but the song was still unfinished. And that’s how it remained for a long time.

As the pains of my previous trials became more of a distant memory, it got harder to go back to the song and keep the emotion raw and alive. I also began to feel awkward about the song’s overt religious symbolism (my complicated relationship with Christianity is a subject much too involved to get into here). More than anything, there was a certain element of narcissism about it that began to make me uncomfortable.

There was also the issue of my voice. Though I’d written and sung songs since I was 13 years old, I’d always been resistant to singing lyrics on any of my albums. For a project whose name means “word,” Logos has always been ironically instrumental.

I almost finished the track for The Multicolored Playground. But at the last minute, I decided to hold off; I knew something wasn’t quite ready yet.
It wasn’t until Allison and I were expecting our daughter that I was able to reconnect with it. I began toying with the idea of changing the lyrics in a way that addressed all of my concerns. I no longer felt like I needed the song in the same way I once had. But I began to think about Coralyn, still in her mother’s womb, entering her own journey of life. Perhaps she needed the prayer more than I did.

I tried switching the pronouns from “I” to “you.” I changed the word “Lord” (which had always felt a little uncomfortable to sing) to “Love.” The whole song suddenly took on a new meaning. It fully clicked for me when I switched around the pronouns of one of the newer lines I’d written: 
“May you not stray from the path that leads you home to you.”

For the first time, I felt like one of my lyrical songs was appropriate for a Logos album. It no longer was about my personal struggles. It was a song, sung by a father, to help guide his daughter on her journey into life. There was still a lot of work to do on it. I had some incredible musicians contribute to the final version. John Mulholland played drums and percussion. Taylor “Taz” Johnson played tablas. Marc Hennessey and Franklin Keel replaced my sampled violins and cellos and added their own layers of improvisation over it. Marc, particularly, gets credit for the epic violin arpeggios that blow the roof off the piece at the end.

I should also mention that I had added the sample from Osho early on in the process of developing this track. At the time, I didn’t know much about the man, but after I learned more about Osho’s troubling history, I almost removed the sample. In the end, though, I decided that the words stand on their own, that the teaching can be separated from the teacher.

Ultimately, the Prayer is for anyone struggling to remember why they have chosen the way and the life they are living. It was first written for me, then for Cora. And now, I offer it to you. Stay true to your path, wherever it takes you.

Love may you remember 
what it is you sought, 
when you chose the journey you are on. 
And in your hour of darkness, 
when you fear the way is wrong, 
may you not forget the music or the meaning of this song. 

May the light that guides your way 
shine from deep within. 
And when the darkness threatens, 
may you find it once again. 
Let your heart stay open 
and your prayer be true. 
May you not stray from the path 
that leads you home to you. 

May you never turn in fear 
of roads less traveled on 
for comfortable silence 
or the lies it rests upon. 
And may you never compromise 
with what fear would have you be. 
Your love and your compassion 
are as boundless as the sea.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PsybOrg on Synthtopia

I'm very excited today that the PsybOrg was featured on the front page of Synthtopia, one of the leading tech blogs for synthesizers and electronic music.

Read the article here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Umbilicus: The Gift of Life

The following is part of a series of short essays about particular Logos tracks. I think it helps to relate to the music better to understand their stories. All of these tracks can be listened to or downloaded at

2. Umbilicus (listen here)

One year ago today, my daughter Coralyn was born after a harrowing 27 hour labor. For my partner Allison and I, it was one of the most difficult, scary, overwhelming, and ultimately wonderful days of our lives. For Coralyn, however, it must have been all these things and much more.

While we were pregnant, I wanted to represent in sound what my small daughter was experiencing in the womb, as well as the process of birth from her perspective.
It was an idea I had first played with back in 2002, when I composed music for a performance art piece called Umbilicus by Surreal Sirkus, a troupe I was working with at the time. The show told the story of pregnancy and birth from the fetus' perspective. One of the performers was pregnant at the time, and during the show's finale, she sang a traditional lullaby from her native Sweden. The sound of her voice then gradually shifted into the way it might be heard inside the womb. This opened a long experimental soundscape that depicted birth as a baby inside the womb might experience it.

I always loved this piece as a concept, but felt that the execution could have been better. At that time I was just starting out making electronic music, and still had a long way to go in developing my skills as a composer.

So when we were expecting our daughter in the winter of 2012, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to recreate the piece. Allison and I discussed at length what song she should sing. In keeping with tradition, I wanted it to be a folk song, something connected to the heritage of our ancestors. Allison chose the old spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," a song she had always loved as a kid. We recorded her singing in the shower of our home.

She begins the song without effects, singing to the child in her belly. As the song continues, it gradually becomes more filtered, more muffled, as if it's being heard from inside. The last lines we can hear clearly are "If I get there before you do... I'll cut a hole and pull you through," a line that still gives me chills when I listen to it.

Gradually, the sounds of Coralyn's placenta and her tiny heart beat fade in. These we recorded with the help of a midwife using a doppler microphone. The galloping fetal heart beat and the deep "swoosh-swoosh" of blood pumping through the placenta from mother to daughter fill the inner landscape, as the piece becomes increasingly abstract.

Sounds of waves and whales then enter the mix (Whales were a common source of inspiration to Allison throughout her pregnancy). A stillness descends. Layers of my voice now wash over Cora. Now there are two heartbeats: mother and daughter, as the contractions start, beginning the long process of separating what had been one being into two.
(The sound of the contractions, it should be noted, were generated by manipulating the sound of Cora crying).

As the contractions become more regular and more intense, sounds of anguish and pain begin to dominate. Birth is brutal and fierce. Eventually Cora bursts forth to the sound of rushing water and her shrieking cries are heard, for the first time, raw and unfiltered. It is a difficult sound to hear. But slowly the warmth and love of her parents envelops her. This is depicted through layers of our voices, harmonizing and soothing her. The piece ends with Cora gurgling happily.

This was a powerful piece to write and to collaborate on with my family. Birth is a mystery, a process full of intense and diverse emotions and physical experiences that no one can understand who hasn't experienced it first hand. Translating this experience into sound was the best way I could share it.

Cora is now a year old, and it's strange to remember the small, helpless, wriggling creature that we met that day. She speaks words and even walks a little bit. She's a person with her own will and personality. I'm honored to know her and to get to watch who she becomes. And I will always be profoundly grateful to Allison for all that she went through to bring Cora into the world.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Missouri Blue: The Gift of Hope

The following is part of a series of short essays about particular Logos tracks. I think it helps to relate to the music better to understand their stories. All of these tracks can be listened to or downloaded at

1. Missouri Blue (listen here.

The motel in Marshall, MO.        

Most of my tracks have stories behind them. Sometimes they are revealed to me in the process of writing them. At other times, the composition itself arises from the circumstances of my life. The best pieces are often born of the most difficult stories. Missouri Blue is one of those.

It was December of 2010 and I was having something of an existential crisis. My marriage had ended eight months earlier, and now I had quit my job at Moog Music and uprooted my entire life in Asheville, where I'd lived for 17 years, and moved to Denver, CO. I was seeking a bigger life in a bigger place, but the catalyst for my move was actually the desire to be with a woman I'd known only a couple of months, (most of that long-distance). I was in the throes of a romantic and mystical revelation, a Quixotic leap of faith into the unknown.

And then came the inevitable crash. After living my entire adult life in one town, a place where I had developed deep social connections and financial resources, I suddenly felt like a plant violently uprooted and transplanted into strange soil. I went into what can only be described as a state of shock.

At first I was invigorated by the excitement of being in a new place. But soon I found myself desperately homesick and uncertain how to navigate this strange new life. I began to feel empty and numb, sinking into a mild depression. I couldn't bring myself to leave the house most days. Furthermore, I had no idea how to find employment in a strange town, without any local references. My savings began to dwindle and the reality of living with someone I hardly knew proved to be more difficult than I'd anticipated. Disheartened, I returned to Asheville, tail between my legs, with the intention of returning to my old job, saving money, and trying again. It was a week before Christmas.

As I was driving home across the barren wasteland that is rural Missouri, my car began to overheat. Foolishly, I attempted to drive it to the next exit. But moments later the engine seized up and the car came to a stop. I had blown a head gasket; the car would never make it to its destination.
The nearest town was Marshall, MO, a bleak and remote speck of a place. After being towed to a repair shop where the vehicle was pronounced dead on arrival, I went in search of lodging, not knowing what else to do. I found a dingy motel down the road. It was one of the bleakest places I've ever seen. The room had a foul stench and insufficient heat. Roaches crawled across every surface. I didn't see another person at the motel the entire time I stayed there.

I spent three days in that motel, waiting for a friend to come rescue me. It was a kind of purgatory, an in-between place. When I looked at the map to see where I'd marooned myself, I realized the great irony of my situation: unable to decisively commit myself to my new life, I'd wound up stuck right in the middle, geographically speaking, of my new and old life. I was roughly half way between Denver and Asheville, which happens to be the exact middle of nowhere. And it was grey and cold and desperately lonely there.

I had my laptop and a keyboard with me. I decided to make the most of my time in purgatory. I opened Ableton Live and began improvising. Reaching for an electric piano sound, I played some simple chords. They sounded so sweet to me, yet tinged with sadness. Some icy sounds came next: soft pads and bell-like melodies. It sounded like Winter. But as more elements got added, a sense of tension began to creep in. The piece got thicker and darker and more intense. The anxiety in my soul that had pushed me out of Denver had a voice, and it sounded like a highly distorted guitar. Soon my beautiful, winter melody was a cacophony of electronic noise.
And then the original sound came back. The electric piano chords returned and the whole process came full circle. It was so soothing to play those chords again, to realize that there was hope throughout the process, even when it seemed most bleak.

I managed to make it back to Asheville on December 21. I arrived just in time for the annual Winter Solstice party at The Landing (an intentional community I co-founded). I felt such relief to be among friends and family at last.

Three years later to the day, I performed the final version of the track I ended up calling "Missouri Blue" at the Landing Solstice gathering. I live there now, with a partner who makes me very happy and a baby who is about to be one year old. The song, meanwhile, has changed a lot as well, but the spirit remains the same. It is a gift for my daughter, one of six that I created for her in the form of songs on my most recent album. This one is a reminder that even in our most lonely, difficult times there is still hope. And that sometimes, you have to go away to realize how good home actually is.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Logos Projects, Old and New

It's been a whirlwind in my creative life recently. In December, I finished up Songs for Coralyn (which you can download here. I also played at the Visionary Arts Fair with Alex and Allyson Grey in Asheville. This month, I've gotten the new recording studio here at The Landing set up, at least to a functional point. And most recently I've been wrapping up a project that I've had on the back burner for some time now: touching up the mixes and remastering my 2003 album, Biophelia.
It's been a fascinating process diving back into those old recordings. That album, though it was the second as Logos, was the first one that started to find an audience and established certain musical characteristics that would go on to define my sound.
There are several songs I've fallen in love with all over again. Others sound somewhat basic to me now, but I can hear what I was going for, and how they connected to events in my life at the time. Overall, I've been impressed at how well the album hangs together as a cohesive unit.
I'm going to be re-releasing Biophelia soon, and for a while will offer it at a "pay what you can" rate. I've also got a much larger project in the works that I will be announcing soon.
Keep checking back here for news and special offerings (I've got some video and some new audio coming shortly).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Artist Statement

I'm going through my web site and simplifying it. This is one of the things I cut from my biography, but I wanted to keep it documented, because it is a good explanation of why I make the music that I do.

Logos Artist Statement

Logos" is Greek for "word" and it was used by the Christian mystic St. John to describe the fundamental creative force that gave shape to the universe at the beginning of creation.

This project began in 2001 as an effort to synergize electronic sounds and human voices. As my personal journey has taken me further into explorations of psychedelic trance and other more dance-oriented forms of electronica, my music has come to reflect that shift.

Originally, though, it was classical music that forged the pathways in my neurons that associate sound with experiences of the sublime. As a child, I was introduced by my mother to records of the classics — Beethoven, Bach, most of all Edvard Grieg — and listening to those recordings, I developed a sense of music as narrative. Music, I learned, had the power to take the listener on a journey into the unknown, even into the unknowable.

The Ancient Greeks identified two distinct musical traditions.
The Apollonian which includes what we would call "classical" music today, has its roots in the tradition of lyric poetry, and its patron was Apollo, the solar diety. In that tradition, music (literally "the inspiration of the muse") described a connection between the poet and the gods, who spoke through him. Lyric poets accompanied their epic tales by playing the lyre, and the melodies were meant to serve the story or narrative.

The Dionysian lineage, on the other hand, was the music of ecstatic revelry. Dionysus was the god of wine, and his music was played on aeolian pipes to accompany dancers and drummers in their celebratory (and often orgiastic) revelry. Dionysian music encompasses all the musical traditions that awaken ecstasy and substitute intuition, passion, and unrestained joy for the controlled rationality of our everyday consciousness. Jazz, rock-and-roll, drum circles, and electronic dance parties are all born of the ecstasy of Dionysus.

My desire is to bridge the two worlds — to be a composer of narratives that invoke the spirit of ecstatic trance.