Sep 15 2017
Time Being can’t really be claimed by any one school of music or vein of influence. The album’s DNA is encoded with strains of Olivia Tremor Control and Cluster as much as it is Todd Sickafoose and Soft Machine. But there’s a particularly revealing moment during “Outbreak Monkey,” when ephemeral passages suddenly transform into a catchy rhythmic section, and the echoes of Cyro Baptista’s 2016 release BlueFly filter on through. But it’s more than just a similar sound, and the commonalities don’t end with their murky, impenetrable mix of genres. It’s also about the process. BlueFly began as an impromptu session between three musicians while grew to include an entire army of personnel, each contributing their music from different locales, the distances bridged by the internet. This is very much how the sophomore release from Jason A Mullinax came together.
“Time Being is a collection of studio experiments that I started about two years ago,” he explained via email. “I wrote and recorded the majority of the songs in my home studio, and once I established the frameworks, I contacted other musicians to see if they’d like to help me flesh them out.”
And much like BlueFly, Time Being didn’t come together instantaneously.
“The process was slow going because no two of us were ever in the same room at any given time. In fact, most everything was done online. I’d send my friends the tracks, we’d discuss ideas via email or phone, they’d send back their new parts and I’d drop them into my arrangement. I spent several months producing the songs and finalizing the mix, and although much of the record was created virtually, we tried our best to create the illusion of us being a band all jamming in a room together.”
Mullinax achieved a certain amount of success in that regard. He displays a strong talent weaving together the various contributions. The sign of that success is how filaments of music won’t necessarily dominate a particular piece, but they resonate with such a strength that they define the song they’re embedded within. There’s the twang of guitar strums on “Metalworks” and how they hint at a possible diversion into surf guitar before becoming subsumed by dissonance. The vibraphone and marimba on “The Next Time We Fly” is an undercurrent of melody, and yet it frames every one of the bold saxophone statements in a way that reverses the draw of attention. It’s a similar effect elicited by the hazy vocal harmonies and warped effects on “Henry’s Head,” which is more noticeable for its pretty melody and sing-song presentation.
But those are just a few of the details of an album that is built upon them. It’s a recording defined not by the crash of its waves, but the way ripples along the water’s surface capture sunlight and reflect it back with an entirely new and brilliant life.
Your album personnel: Jason A Mullinax (drums, percussion, bass, harmonica, guitars, loops, effects, glockenspiel, melodica, synths, vocoder, field recordings, thumb piano, xylophone, ukulele), Dave Newhouse (tenor, soprano, alto & baritone saxes, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, wurlitzer piano), Rich O’Meara (vibraphone, marimba, keyboards), Seth Schowalter (guitars, bass, keyboards, alto harp, piano) and guests: Henry Mullinax (additional vocals), Logan Rainard (double bass, electric bass).
The album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Takoma Park, Maryland.