Xenat-Ra

Recording sessions for the new album!

We tracked our new album in August at Vibe Control Studios in Corvallis, OR! We’re in the middle of tweaking and mixing it, but stay tuned for more info!

More new videos!

April 18th, we played our annual 420(ish) show at Calapooia Brewing in Albany, OR. As we’ve said many times, the ‘Pooia is one of our favorite venues to play. Once again, we recorded video and audio from the show, check it out:

Backpedaling:

Don’t Get Bored:

Brownshine:

Ape with a Synthesizer:

Transformation:

Many, many thanks to Paul Kincaid for the live sound and audio recording, and to Jerry Hughes for the extra cell-phone video in Backpedaling and Don’t Get Bored.

New Videos!

In January, we played at Calapooia Brewing in Albany, one of our favorite venues, with the new line-up and a bunch of new material. We recorded video and audio, and here are the results!

Page Hundemer joins Xenat-Ra!

We are extremely pleased to welcome bassist/composer Page Hundemer into the Xenat-Ra collective! Page has been a major force on the mid-Valley music scene for years, playing in many of Dave Storrs’ numerous projects, the avant-jazz power trio Walk the Plank with Mark France and Brian Bucolo, and many other groups. Page is a killer player, deep improvisor, and brings a new level of groove to the band. Page, Dave and JD first played together on a free-improv show in 1999. In 2013, Matt, Dave Page and JD formed the jazz-rock quartet Different Feeder. After Mark France left Xenat-Ra in the summer of 2014, Page seemed to be the obvious choice as a new member.  After a bunch of rehearsals and a few gigs, this is proving to be the case!

Page also plays with LMNO, along with Nick Rivard, Rob Birdwell and Brian Bucolo, and Tom Bergeron’s Brasil Band, among others, and teaches bass at Western Oregon University.

You can check out Page’s solo acoustic bass guitar recording Double Stops at his website, http://www.pagehundemer.com/

New Press Reviews for Science for the Soundman!

Some new reviews posted recently:

The great and prolific Nick DeRiso gave us a terrific review on Something Else Reviews:
Xenat-Ra: Science for the Soundman (2012): Something Else Reviews, 01/01/2013
Brilliantly off-kilter, completely unquantifiable, Xenat-Ra is, at any given moment, the best prog/free jazz/hip hop/metal band you’ve never heard of. – Nick DeRiso

Cory Frye included our record in his year-end roundup of local releases for the Corvallis Gazette-Times Entertainer:
The Year in Spin: Entertainer writer tackles 16 of his favorite 2012 releases and coins the first music slogan for 2013: ‘Support your local noise’: Corvallis Gazette Times Entertainer, 12/28/2012
Xenat-Ra, “Science for the Soundman” — The flexible sextet yanks music’s trap door, sending listeners into spaces where everything’s permitted. Spend a few seconds in “Ape With a Synthesizer” and you’ll know it’s true. The track culminates in the freakout of freakouts: Dave Trenkel mashes Hammond, Matt Calkins torches sax, Mark France shaves his fretboard supermodel-thin and drummer J.D. Monroe chops down the planet before calling his team home. Monk Metz voices this sensory assault, his limber poetry tackling dexterous wordplay in this refreshingly weird universe, rife with percussive spice (“Swalo Meh Hole,” abetted by Joel Hirsch on congas and Otto Gygax on shereke), Monroe’s expert turntable sweeps (“Parahelion”), and the ability to heed John Zorn’s request on a “Bezriel” cover: “Play the sh*t out of it” — something you’ll do with “Science of the Soundman,” if you’ve any sense of adventure. – Cory Frye

Veteran music journalist, blogger and reviewer Frank Gutch Jr. caught a show of ours, and wrote an in-depth piece about the experience:
Xenat-Ra: Bombs Away!!! Live in Corvallis: Indie Musicology 11/19/2012
“I started smiling about halfway through the first song (if song it can be called and I say that in the most positive manner possible) and I already knew it was going to be a long night.  Not because the music was bad but because it was so good that my face locked in that smile and my face started to hurt.  It reminds me of the night I saw Tom Waits in this little basement on San Diego State’s campus.  I laughed so hard the first fifteen minutes that I couldn’t really enjoy the rest of the show.  It just hurt too much.  Well, here I was again, face muscles clinched and headache on its way.  Again, not because the music was bad but because it was so goddamned good!

This is not the kind of music I would take home to my mother.  It is intense, riffy, jazz-heavy and prog’d out.  You probably either love nit or hate it.  The people that night loved it, from the headbangers (there were a few) and the body shifters (with different music, they would have been dancers, but how can you dance to music which changes time signatures at the drop of a hat).”
– Frank Gutch Jr.

Making the Record, Part 4: Making Records

Previous: Part 3: Mastering

So, by late June 2012, we had the record tracked, mixed and mastered. Now all we had to do was to get copies made, slap some art on ’em, and get them out to the fans.

It’s never that easy, is it?

Test pressing!

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Making the Record, Part 3: Mastering

Previous: Part 2: Overdubs and Mixing

By early June, 2012, we’d finally finished mixing the 10 tunes that we decided were essential for the album, 8 original tunes and 2 covers. Everything was sounding as good as I personally felt I could make it sound. It was time to turn it over to a professional.

Mastering is one of the more controversial parts of the recording process. On one hand, there are those who hold mastering engineers as the highest of the high priests of the audio cult, and that we mere mortals are blessed by their magical powers. On the other, virtually anybody with a computer, decent CD burning software and a few plugins can claim to be a mastering engineer. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.

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Making The Record Part 2: Overdubs and Mixing

Previous: Part 1: Tracking

This will probably be the least interesting of this series of posts about the production of our new record. Consider yourself warned…

After the 5 days of tracking at Studio GXM, we were exhausted but happy, we had 12 tunes, with multiple takes of each, and two free-improvised pieces in the can. I moved everything to a portable hard drive, and brought the full session, about 50 GB of audio files, back to my home studio, The Blinky Room. Or, if you’re feeling more of an ECM vibe, Tonstudio Blinky. El Blinkarino, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing.

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Making The Record, Part 1: Tracking

It’s taken us more than two years of work to get our new studio album done. This is the first of a series of posts on the making of the record.

By 2010, Xenat-Ra had been gigging and rehearsing for 3 years, and we decided it was really time to document what we do. We’d made several attempts to record live shows, and had mixed results, there was some very good material captured, but we weren’t totally satisfied.

We put the best of the live material together into a CD we called, in a fit extreme obviousness, Live. We made the CD very cheaply, just to get something out and hopefully sell enough copies  to fund producing the studio record. We did a few shows in the spring of 2010 billed as “FUNdraisers”, where we dedicated all of our income from the door and all CD sales to the benefit our recording fund. We were able to raise enough to track the CD, and have a solid foundation for manufacturing the record, thanks to the support of our fans!

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A Personal History of Xenat-Ra, by Dave Trenkel

On the surface, Xenat-Ra is like most bands, a bunch of friends getting together semi-regularly in a practice room to make some noise and have fun. What I think sets us apart is the range of material we draw upon for inspiration, and the collective musicianship of the band. We’ve never really set out to create a post-modern fusion of genres, we just play and see where the music takes us. We all share a love for hiphop, both the classic and the modern underground styles, jazz, from classic through soul jazz to the most avant free improv, rock, particularly prog and metal, funk, dub, afrobeat, and are open just about anything else. We hope to do this in a way that is not self-conscious, just trying to challenge our individual and collective musicianship to get to new places.

I’ve played in many bands over the years, some lasting a gig or two, some never even making it that far. Others have toured, recorded and had a regional impact. I feel incredibly lucky to have had some of these musical experiences in this crazy career. Still, Xenat-Ra has to be the most challenging and satisfying musical projects I’ve ever had the honor of sharing.

This post is based on my reflections and memories, and I hope the rest of the band will chime in to give their perspective.

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