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Ramen Music Issue #03

Beats, Drums & Rhythms - February 2011
Issue #03 Cover by Alec Longstreth
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01 Cry For Me The California Honeydrops
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02 Coming to See You glu
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03 Department of Openness Jenny Gillespie
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04 Columbia Hills Ben Montgomery
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05 Stay Nice Oh My Goodness
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06 Grand Army of the Republic Highway Colin Domigan
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07 Rhumba 13 D. Hollywood
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08 Roots/Shoots glu
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09 Little Grey Robe Matt Nelson
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10 Birambau D. Hollywood
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11 new digs another cultural landslide
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12 Miami Perfect Shapes
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Cry For Me
The California Honeydrops
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The California Honeydrops  Photo
Issue #03 kicks off with The California Honeydrops, a New Orleans-style band from Oakland, California. The winner of the 2009 San Francisco Weekly Music Award for Best Soul/R&B group, these guys are serious about rhythm, and employ fun instruments such as a home-made gutbucket bass, jug, and washboard.

Lech, their lead singer and songwriter, makes it clear the Honeydrops are all about playing live:
We play live on average about 5 nights a week from California and all over Europe...Playing live is our bread and butter and that's where we really shine. Recordings are nice but the collective experience of people getting down TOGETHER at a LIVE show is where it’s at for us. Plus it’s good for you.
When I first heard “Cry For Me,” I knew that we couldn't publish Issue #03 without it.
Cry for Me was initially inspired after hearing a field recording of one guy somewhere in the united states singing and accompanying himself on some kind of metal bucket.
They have already turned down a few record deals (..."we've got a good thing going and we want to keep it good") in favor of recording on a laptop in a rented Oakland house. Both "Soul Tub," the album "Cry For Me!" appears on, and their new album "Spreading Honey" are available for sale.
Written by Lech Wierzynski Lead Vocals, Trumpet, Percussion: Lech Wierzynski Vocals, Percussion: Benjamin Malament Vocals, Percussion: Nansamba Ssensalo Saxophones: Johnny Bones
Written 2005, Recorded 2008. Oakland, California.
Coming to See You
glu
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glu  Photo
Glu has been a part of Ramen Music since 2005, back when it was just a loose set of ideas and a dream. Since our launch, I’ve been looking forward to publishing a track of his and I’m happy to finally be able to deliver some of his tunes out to our audience.

“Coming to See You” was written for his brother Daniel, who was recently in a life-threatening motorcycle accident (Issue #02 was dedicated to him).
This song is the soundtrack to that experience and his fortunate recovery. It articulates a hopeful, sentimental, reflective, surreal, somber, frightening time for those of us who spent each day at the hospital, riding the mercurial wave of uncertainty as he straddled the line between life and death. It is a gentle reminder to me that life is precious and ephemeral.
Glu is incredibly prolific. Although beats are his bread and butter, he’s a big fan of mixing the organic and the digital, taking (often non-traditional) source instruments or samples and creatively coaxing them into a musical form.
My instrument collection includes: vintage Moog analog synth, Korg digital synth, tenor ukulele, family relic mandolin, violin, two acoustic guitars, electric guitar (mostly used with violin bow), harp, Fender fretless jazz bass, an array of bamboo flutes, a termite-hollowed didgeridoo, congas, bongos, rattles (and other small hand percussion),a reel to reel, a few mixers, a few FX pedals, and other miscellaneous toys.
Compositions, recordings, mixing: Glu
Female reversed vocal track: Marlena K
Written on the last day of 2010. Columbus, Ohio.
Department of
Openness
Jenny Gillespie
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Jenny Gillespie Photo
There’s something about “Department of Openness” that none of the Ramen curators could shake after hearing it. We have a wide variety of taste, we pretty much never agree on every track, but this track drew us all in.

I’ll let Jenny introduce herself:
I’m Jenny Gillespie, musician living in Chicago, age 30, blind as a bat, formerly buck toothed, self-proclaimed ragamuffin, following the river of music and language to know this life more deeply.
I record demos at home in my office at a little dinky white Ikea desk with one mic, a Midi keyboard, my guitar, my lungs and a notebook with crazily scrawled lyrics.
I wrote the song very quickly on the piano - it was very slow at first. I felt like making a dance song because the chords were kind of bouncy so I added a beat. The little melodic ideas here and there came later in the recording process, which is always pleasing if that happens. I like how my voice sounds a bit deeper and tougher in this track than previous work. I was feeling a little tough and a little broken too when I recorded it and I think that comes through.
In addition to her “home demos” she has two studio albums available for purchase and streaming.
Vocals, piano, synths, effects, programming, percussion: Jenny Gillespie Ramen Mix: Sudara
Written and Recorded Summer 2010. Chicago, IL.
Columbia Hills
Ben Montgomery
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Ben Montgomery Photo
The most elusive track on this issue, “Columbia Hills,” has a great story, named and written about the seven hills surrounding the 2004 Mars rover landing site. Here’s the story:
There is a small spacecraft in a low altitude flyover of Mars. The repetitive mechanical riff is the engine core, the clarinet riffs are the homing beacon of our ship and the main keyboards are what our protagonist imagines as he watches the Columbia Hills through the window come into view and then fade into the distance.
A song doesn’t always require a kick and snare to be considered rhythmic:
I wrote this piece over the first week of January specifically for Ramen #03. An early version ended up with a big drumbeat, but I realized the song would be better with the conspicuous absence of the drum track. Conjuring up some interplanetary imagery, I decided to make it a shorter and more atmospheric track and to focus my time on the sounds.
Music Geek tip: Ben is into “re-amping” sounds. He arranges his sounds and samples digitally, plays them through guitar amplifiers and records the resulting sound with microphones, sometimes repeating the process more than once on the same set of sounds.

Ben can also be found opening Issue #01 of Ramen Music.
Composed by Ben Montgomery Production by Will Dyar Clarinet by Andrew Hentz
Written and Recorded in January 2011. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stay Nice
Oh My Goodness
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Oh My Goodness Photo
I’ve been wanting to get Oh My Goodness (Therese Workman) on a Ramen issue since #01. A favorite musician of mine over the last couple years, she is (to me) the epitome of the modern talented Do-It-Yourself musician. Her songs are start to finish created by her. All elements of her music - the instrumentation, the voices, the arrangement - are high energy, playful, optimistic and incredibly ambitious.
I have a laptop and a few instruments. I’ve been recording my songs by singing at my laptop mic and tweaking things in free software for years. I’m so grateful that technology has made this process easier and inexpensive.
About this tune:
I was feeling pretty physically and emotionally gross, and just sort of sat down with my laptop and keyboard and ibuprofen and committed my different types of ache to "tape."
We are lucky to be able to publish this track; In 2009 her computer died and she lost most of her original sessions, bounces and mp3s. ”Stay Nice” is one of the last tracks made by Therese as an individual. Recently, she's partnered up with Tyler Wood and is working on an Oh My Goodness album. She leaves us with her ambitions, no doubt fully attainable:
My dream is to be able to record and perform music forever. And to improve everyday.
Written/performed/recorded/mixed by Therese Workman
Written and Recorded Spring 2009. Portland, Maine and Brooklyn, NY
Grand Army of the
Republic Highway
Colin Domigan
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Colin Domigan Photo
Colin submitted solid tracks to both our previous issues, so we’re happy to be able to finally publish something from him. About this tune:
Out in the glorious Northeastern Kingdom of Vermont, state highway 15 had this peculiar long alternative name.
The samples in the tune were originally played by myself as small guitar and bass riffs, then I sliced and diced them up and mixed them around in the arrangement.
Colin released a new album just a few days ago entitled “The Martian Chronic.”
My album is kind of a concept album. I took story titles from The Martian Chronicles and made them into songs. It's called “The Martian Chronic” because is a mixture of that and some raw hip-hop beats much like the album’s other namesake, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. I feel like it's unoriginally original.
I'm releasing the album as a pay-what-you-want on bandcamp. I don't have a contract or any real connections with a solid label, so I just post and cross my fingers for someone to hear it.
Recorded, edited, and mixed by Colin Domigan
Written and Recorded January 2011. Burlington, Vermont.
Rhumba 13
D. Hollywood
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D. Hollywood Photo
This issue in particular has a large percentage of musicians and groups who play live regularly. Bradley Colton, the lead man behind D. Hollywood is no exception.
...ever since I was about 10 years old music has been the primary force in my life. I began as a rock drumset and classical percussionist, playing in every school ensemble and garage band that I could. Then I majored in Percussion at Cal State Long Beach where i was turned onto “world” music. I've never been a fan of that phrase “world music” because it only specifies that the music is from this world...
Both tracks by Bradley on this issue are previously unpublished percussion tracks dating back a few years when Bradley was first experimenting with recording on a Boss Digital 8-track (though by that time he was already a seasoned drummer).
This track was written to explore traditional rhumba rhythms and feel mixed with a more modern form. The basic elements of the groove are very standard in rhumba but the "breaks" as we call them are more derived from brasillian batucada and west african djembe ensembles. In concept at least... Rhythmically I think they all share roots with one another...and that would be the afro in afro-cuban and afro-brasillian.
Bradley’s latest and most personal venture, D. Hollywood, has him as the front man.
Written, performed, produced, recorded and mixed by Dirty
Written and Recorded 2005. Los Angeles, CA.
Roots/Shoots
glu
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glu  Photo
Glu contradicts my earlier statement professing his prolific nature:
I once produced music prolifically until I started a graduate program in anthropology. I now spend my summers conducting ethnographic research in the Amazon and the remainder of the year taking classes, working in a bioacoustic laboratory, and researching.
Here is how he describes what music means to him:
Music is the compulsory practice [of sculpting, manipulating, scaling, reorganizing, and arranging the infinitely vast spectra of timbres] by which I produce the soundtrack to accompany life experience.
Why this track is so special: “What you essentially get in this tune is a musical walk through the Amazon rain forest.”
I planned this song while walking through the jungle at Los Amigos Biological Station in Amazonia Peru. The story begins in 2008, when I recorded the morning chorus of several bird species during the last day of a 3 month stint in the rain forest.

I returned in 2010 to capture the sonic quality of flora in the jungle, so this time I walked around with my field recorder, drumming on roots of the erotic palm and bamboo shoots (still filled with rain water). I sequenced the rhythms together and emailed the results to myself for later use.
I'd like to the thank the birds, especially that noisy antshrike.
Written Autumn, 2010. Ramen Remix Jan 2011. Columbus, Ohio.
Little Grey Robe
Matt Nelson
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Matt Nelson Photo
Though our paths have crossed relatively little, Matt and I went to the same high school as well as both attended Oberlin College. He actually graduated from the conservatory (Jazz Performance), however, whereas I fumbled around until dropping out. Anyway, back to Matt:
I started playing saxophone when I was 10 and it's been a main part of my life ever since. Recording and putting music out has been kind of a natural progression for me.
Matt is a player. He plays. And he plays....and plays.
I play shows as often as possible. Sometimes that means 5 or 6 nights in a week, sometimes only a few times in a month
The story of this imaginative and playful and certainly rhythmic tune:
This past spring, a friend of mine, Chris Grady, booked a few days of recording time in Oakland. His idea was to have all the members of the group (as well as some other friends who weren't playing) bring in a composition or two to lay down.

Purposefully avoiding much rehearsal time, he was hoping to capture some of the spontaneous energy that can be lost when everyone is focusing on playing everything 'perfectly'. I thought this song might work in the format, so I dusted it off and arranged it for the group.
Matt Nelson: Saxophone Trumpet: Chris Grady Dump Truck Organ: Gene Baker Drums: Sam Ospovat Recorded by Myles Boisen
Written Winter 2006. Recorded Spring 2010. Brooklyn/Oakland.
Birambau
D. Hollywood
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This track is centered around the Birambau which is used in music that accompanies the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.

The first section is based in this style of music but with an assortment of interesting instruments, another Brazilian standard, the pandero (somewhat like a tamborine) and one of my favorites, the Ipa from Senegal. It sounds like the analog version of an 808 bass drum...
A Birambau is a very unusual instrument from Brasil. It looks like a bow for an arrow, constructed of a stick and the steel string from a steel belted car tire. A hollowed gourd tied with a string around the stick and string acts as a resonator.

It looks odd. And it requires an equally odd technique to play. You hold the entire weight of the Birambau on your pinky finger get a little bit of balance gribbing the "bow" with your middle and ring fingers. Here's where it gets weird. In the same hand as all that, you grab a flat rock between your index finger and thumb. The rock acts like a fret on a guitar.
Written, performed, produced, recorded and mixed by Dirty
Written and Recorded back in 2003. Los Angeles, CA
new digs
(ramen mix)
another cultural landslide
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another cultural landslide Photo
Like many independent groups and musicians, acl gives their music away on principle. (I’m still trying to convince them they should get paid for this track!)
We make music because - well... we make music. Period. We refuse to think of it as some method of enriching ourselves. Music is a gift - it literally saved our lives - so we wish to share that gift with everyone. We don't sell our music - we give it away freely.
This track was recorded right after they moved:
...suddenly, not only did we have a designated space to do music (in our old place we just stacked everything in a corner of the living room next to the litter boxes), but we also had a space where we could actually record vocals, mike wendy’s violin & viola cleanly, and throw guitars into feedback without deafening ourselves & scaring the neighbors. We were ecstatic.
As with our usual working method, we had no idea what we were going to do when we hit Record - and that bass-line just came out... and suddenly we just started doing things we were unable to do before in the old living room, ummm, studio space...
Finally, what's up with that damned cat?? Hell, don't ask us - we've been trying to figure that out for years.
And yes, she's real - as in "really scary."
Written, produced, kicked around, mixed & otherwise mucked with by another cultural landslide aka kirk & wendy
Written and Recorded February 2009. Ramen Remix January 2011. Mexico Beach, Florida.
Miami
Perfect Shapes
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Perfect Shapes is Tei Blow and Jesse Anders.
We have been writing music together in various bands since 2003. We love production, and the sludgy sounds of the early days of studio recording, so we have been trying out how to produce our own version of the sounds we love.
Tei describes how “Miami” came about:
I wrote this song on a trip through southeast Asia, mostly Vietnam.

In a country with such a deflated currency and low standard of living, the recent boom of tourism introduced scores of foreigners spending what a family would make in a month without hesitation. To them, we all look like millionaires.
Everyone seems to be selling something when you are a foreigner in a poor country. Passing through each town I kept hearing the same phrases: "Where you from?" "A-me-ri-ca?" "You handsome city man!" Every time, the words would come out with the same melody, and that became the melody of the song, while the american dream became the words of the song.
Tei’s other project Frustrator is currently signed to the ENEMIES LIST label. He will be releasing an album in Spring 2011.
Tei Blow & Jesse Anders
Produced by Perfect Shapes
Written Summer 2010. Recorded Fall 2010. Brooklyn, NY

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Issue #04

April 2011. Cover by Alex Solis.

Cover of Issue #04 by Alex Solis