My First Solo Album in Seven Years

Isosceles by Ostraka

Dear ACB readers, I am pleased to announce my first solo album in seven years, Isosceles. This one is an eighty minute long departure from my usual esoteric experiments. Instead it is full of unapologetically funky and tonal instrumental synth tracks. Many of these were shared as works-in-progress here on ACB.

Years in the making, this collection of tracks was carefully picked from dozens of compositions. Vintage and contemporary electronic instruments and processors were used alongside each other to create a unique yet familiar sound. The album is full of thick analog arpeggios, punchy bass lines, earthy beats, and ballistic leads. The anthology is interspersed with contemplative moments reminiscent of the promise of space exploration and discovery. It is a journey through light years of exploratory sound design, future thought, and galactic musical manifestations.

The gorgeous artwork is by Benjamin Montag and the impeccable mastering was handled by Tom Garneau. The album was released on Unearthed Music and is available on Bandcamp as well as the usual suspect (iTunes, et al). Tonight I’ll be performing at Acadia in Minneapolis to celebrate the release.

Credits
Composed and performed by John C. S. Keston
Ablum art by Benjamin Montag
Mastered by Tom Garneau of Audioactive

My New Piano or How to Become a Hermit

Kawai K5

Recently my wife, dog, and cat moved into a new house and downsized going from over 1400 square feet to 725. In this process I sold off and gave away a number of space hungry instruments including a chopped Hammond, one of my three Rhodes electric pianos, and my 1916 Wesley Raudenbusch & Sons farmhouse, upright-grand piano (see photo below). Sadly I had been neglecting acoustic piano in favor of Rhodes, synths, and an excellent Steinway Model D plugin from UVI. You can see this in the photo because I had allowed my wife to cover the top with the cat’s food and water, a cat bed, and decorations. Yikes! Continue reading

Debut Album from DKO Absinthe Referent

DKO Absinthe Referent

On Tuesday, May 19 DKO is releasing Absinthe Referent, available on cassette (limited edition of 100) and digital download. Although Jon Davis, Graham O’Brien, and I have been performing as DKO since 2011 this is our debut album. We recorded it at Bellows Studio during a live, in-studio concert with an intimate audience of friends and family members.

Graham and I edited the album down to six tracks that we handed off to Adam Krinsky for mixing. Finally we had it mastered by Huntley Miller. Please listen to a preview track from the album titled S33LUgRUN. We will be performing to celebrate the release on May 20 at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota with Dosh and A Love Electric.

More about DKO:
dkomusic.tumblr.com
soundcloud.com/davis-keston-obrien
DKO on AudioCookbook.org

Video: Charlie by Camp Dark

About six weeks ago I had a couple of sessions at Bellows Studio in St. Paul, Minnesota recording synthesizers for an upcoming record by Camp Dark. The project is headed up by producer Graham O’Brien and singer-songwriter Adam Svec. Graham and I have worked together on a variety of projects since 2007. One of those projects is Coloring Time, of which Adam is also a member.

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It was a pleasure working on the record. Graham and Adam’s ideas are modern, distinct, and organic without ever being forced or unnatural. Their approach gave me the opportunity to use some of my favorites instruments, like the Moog Sub 37, alongside a few gems that rarely leave my studio. These included the Roland MKS-80, Yamaha FS1r, and (as featured on Charlie) the Roland Juno-106. Here’s a few words from the video’s description:

Charlie was written as an epilogue to a ‘Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis’ by Tom Waits. It’s a continuation of a story about the wanderlust of youth leading to dangerous things, and the associated regrets, coupled with an overwhelming homesickness for what’s been left behind … Video edited by local filmmaker / editor John Burgess. Footage used c/o Prelinger Archives: “Radiotherapy: High Dosage Treatment” & “Is This Love?” Written by Adam Svec & Graham O’Brien. Lyrics by Adam Svec. Produced by Graham O’Brien. Samplers & Drums by Graham O’Brien, Synths by John Keston, Bass Guitar by Casey O’Brien, Guitar by Matt Leavitt, Omnichord and Guitar Solo by Chris Salter.

Charlie is the first single from the Camp Dark album, Nightmare In A Day, which will be released on May 12, 2015 and is available for pre-order immediately at campdark.bandcamp.com. I’ll be joining Adam, Graham, and a few other musicians to perform renditions of tracks from the album at the Icehouse, in Minneapolis on May 15, 2015. For more credits, information, and details about the release show, please visit campdark.bandcamp.com.

The Taming of The CPU Excerpt

The Taming of the CPU

I recorded this track while rehearsing for an upcoming solo performance. It’ll give you an idea of what to expect at the show. Everything was recorded in one take with no overdubs. The instruments include the DSI Tempest, Elektron Analog Four, and Moog Sub 37. I plugged it all into a Mackie 1202 including patching the sends to the external inputs on the Analog Four. I configured the left external input to route to the Analog Four internal reverb and the right to go to the delay. This gives me a knob on the mixer for delay and reverb on each channel. It’s ideal for live performance because I can instantly or momentarily add the Analog Four effects to any instrument without any menu diving.