2018 IS OVER?

Sam Arnold Musicianator’s 2018 Musicianations


photo by Dave Irish

Happy definitely-not-2018-anymore! Thanks for reading my web-log or “-” for short. I had a full 365-day year in 2018. Did you? I bet you did. Unless you got born midway through, in which case you’re a demon because you shouldn’t be able to read so soon. This introduction is over now.

I made 4 albums to completion and did a lot of work on another bunch of projects. These aren’t in any particular order unless they changed the alphabet recently:

Stop Motion Orchestra – Lightworks. It’s a fun album because it has a lot of organization and dense arrangements that don’t necessarily favor one instrument over another. It’s really about showcasing a careful and subtle ensemble performance, the compositions themselves and to a lesser extent the production.  I like this band because I get to play interesting challenging bass parts (as well as acoustic guitar) and have total trust that Mohadev has made everything fit together perfectly. And everyone in the band is rad at being humans, not just musicians.

Opposite Day – Divide By Nothing. Greg Yancey and I got a chance to write 5 solid songs in our year with Eoghan McCloskey as our drummer, and they came out real nice. The first tune “Day of the Triffids” is more metal than most of what we’ve ever done, and the whole EP might just rock a little harder than most of our stuff. We got some good reviews on this one and made some great videos, but the fact that our CD release in October was our last show with Eoghan, the tunes all have an uncertain future. However the internet is forever, so don’t post nudes, and don’t try to be self-referentially funny on your blogs. Anyway, Opposite Day is playing with our original drummer Ethan Herr now, so maybe he can be convinced to play a couple of these at some point.

Suspicious Depths II. This was released around Halloween in order to scare you. I had a couple of sessions with Eoghan McCloskey and my former Lick Lick bandmate David Hobizal to add drums to my existing electronic compositions. Then I added guitar/bass/baritone and got my dad Paul Arnold to design the cover. I am sorry if I caused any trauma with my spooky jams.

Family Dinner by 2 Plutos. What were you doing 10 years ago? If I were to answer this question honestly, I’d have to say “making this album”. Yeah I had it kicking around for that long, so I finally asked Greg Yancey to master that mess, and I split it up into 71 little bitty instrumental compositions. You think that’s too many? Well, I started with 100 and had to edit it down. It was a fun process that got me better at studio performance and rapid creativity, and I still enjoy listening to the results. But i’ll admit it’s a bit much if you’re into coherence at all. Dieter Geisler did a great cover for it.

The Story of Your Face. Oh yeah I did this one for the Immersion Composer Society on one Sunday in July. Not sure if this counts as an official release, but I enjoy it. Experimental exotica jazz metal.


Ok so those albums are done and OMG Sam I am super impressed, you’re probably saying. But what else did you work on so I can stalk you like a puppy?

StarMind Ceremony – I played some great shows with this band, a progressive rock 6-piece with keyboards, clarinet, and bassoon. The songs are like fractals made of angular puzzle pieces played as psychedelic Ethiopian/Japanese jazz metal. So you can see why this appeals to weirdos like me. I added my parts to their album already in progress, and we’ll see where that goes.

Vanilla Gorilla – I have been having a blast jamming, writing, and recording with my long-time collaborator Dave Irish and his brother Matt Novesky from Blue October down at Orb studios. We recorded some tunes over the summer and I’m not entirely sure where we’ll go from here, but it’s got a funk rock, proggy, new-wave vibe and we seem to improvise quite well together. It’s also afforded me an opportunity to freely explore the frontiers of my guitar sound pallet and skills.

The Mispronunciation of Eoghan McCloskey. Eoghan is not only a great progressive rock and metal drummer, but he’s got an itch that only jazz can scratch, and he’s not putting any cream on that itch. I decided to help him scratch with my guitaring for his trumpet-led quartet, and we’ve been playing sets around town (and recording a few of them). Songs written by Wes Mongomery, John Zorn, Joe Henderson, Thelonious Monk, etc. I can’t wait to jazz at you at one of our hopefully many shows in 2019. Oh, and it’s pronounced “Owen”.

Working title: Protruder. So my wife Laura hates this name (but whatever tons of non-phallic things protrude…) Until I have a better name, this is what I’m calling my guitar-oriented surf-exotica prog jazz album. I got some great sessions done in 2018 with David Hobizal’s drums engineered by Chico Jones and Eoghan McCloskey’s drums engineered by Michael Day. I’ve completed all the bass for 15 of these tunes and have been chugging through the guitar and other tracks since November. Follow me on Soundcloud for updates as mixes progress, but here’s an early demo of one song.

A new acoustic singer-songwriter album. In December, I went to Washington DC for family holiday times. I decided to go up a bit early and take some time by myself with an acoustic guitar at an AirBnB in the Brookland neighborhood and write as many songs as I could. I got 19 total pretty much done, 13 of which comprise my new solo album. It’s more similar to my first solo album than anything else i’ve done (Thousands of Homeless Termites – 2007). Andy Nolte has already delivered some amazing keyboard tracks on 2 songs. So far everything is demoed and mapped out but only the bass and some electronics are done. It’s going to be low key with my typical elements of Americana, jazz, prog, but less rock than the last 10 years of my solo output. Very little percussion, and only a couple songs have drums (if any).

Dream Eater. This is a fantastic art pop, quirky punkish band led by the very strange bass playing of John Aymong. Zack Humphrey drums it up and Justin Bernard Williams does the psychadelic sax. I don’t always play with them, but when I do, I rain down guitairnesses furiously. I got to record on their first album over the summer and I’ll be joining them on stage at the release on February 16!

2019 has begun

There, so at least 4 of those projects above will come out in 2019, and some other stuff probably too. I’m looking forward to a renewed focus on Opposite Day with Ethan back in the fold, and maybe some solo acoustic shows here and there. There’s been talk of a tour with Stop Motion Orchestra, maybe some more Mispronunciation residency opportunities. But who really knows? That’s why they call it the future. See you there!

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