Don't explain your art

(unless your culture's falling apart)

Why not spell it out? Why waste time being ironic, circular, poetic, veiled, or hinting at the matter? The planet's on fire. I'm not getting any younger. OK, so here's another 10-pack of invisible hit tunes breaking it down for you. Lots of familiar names involved. Some disparate parts coerced together, but it works for me. And honestly, I write for myself. What's it about: 

1. The Music. A decade back I met a mixing engineer who left his country to pursue the American Dream, working in a top project studio producing absolute crap. It hit then hit me that it's really hard to lie well with a song. If you're some hustler, your game's naked on tape. 

2. Like Christian Sinclair. Any similarities to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. Larger than life characters buying into creation myths are entertaining in their thirties. For a few years, at least. 

3. For Art. The artist as abused spouse to her creation. Based on a billion true stories. 

4. Nothing is Wasted. I live in a barrel. It's easy to catch fish in the Bronx, although I release them before eating. 

5. Into the Past. Nostalgia was considered a disease in the 19th century. I keep moving things forward or I cry too much. 

6. Made for Other Things. I'm a card-carrying member of the Late Bloomer Society. We meet in festive underwear. 

7.  Shedotoomuch. Every successful relationship finds its equilibrium. I was quite amazed at the stories I was told while working as a substance abuse counsellor in the South Bronx. 

8. Fearless. We're all Americans now. 

9. Runningintoyouwithoutstopping. I don't remember why I wrote this. Was probably in love/infatuated with someone at the time

10. Astronauts. Sometimes you feel so good you just achieve escape velocity. 

OK. "Why I Write" will be streaming on September 1st, 2021 on all major platforms. Thanks for listening. 

Bob 07/17/21

human contact man

Nine songs from A Gaijin in Yokohama

Well, this is sort of embarrassing. I've released this album before, then deleted it. Several times.

Is it a bit like George Lucas meddling with his films years after their release? 

I guess it is. In your mind you have some sort of Platonic ideal of how the work should sound. Particularly for people like me who tend to write top/down- concept first, then title, then lyric, then music. It must be a bit weird as many successful songwriters start melody-first. 

Another weird thing I can admit to is being less forgiving with other people’s mistakes than my own in a collaboration. I think this is a lesson I tried to learn in my thirties; how to get what you need from others even when you’re not paying them. There’s a line somewhere you have to walk to not piss people off. 

Anyways, on this particular album, the first I put out, I made many mistakes in recording and arranging. The engineer’s a guy well-known for “hot sounds” and he was new in town and I guess needed cash. What was missing from the work was a more sympathetic understanding of its concept and execution. So I got my hot sounds along with a sonic template that didn’t really match my intentions. I think Duchamp called this the “artistic coefficient”- the difference between your head and the reality of the work. 

So I think, “I want this work to exist, but perhaps not in this form”. The trouble one gets into is the question, “Will tinkering make it better?”. My initial thought was to swap some tracks out, remix the thing, and put it out again. So I started writing some new tracks, tried to get back into that mindset, contacted some of the musicians originally involved and….the new work sounded good, but different. You can’t step in that same puddle twice. 

My next option was to address a technical flaw; to use the same songs with fully multi-tracked drums by the same drummers. Hmmm. I tried that on several tracks and it felt like mixing in new fruit to an old fruit salad on the verge.

The subtext to all these dilemmas is, “Who is the work for?” (me) “Can I really entertain myself with my own work?" (maybe) “Can I really be objective about my own work?” (depends on the day). 

Well, the questions slither around with different answers, depending on the mood. I had a good talking to myself and decided to put the album out as it was done in 2013 on streaming and not abandon the new material, but write another mini-album about a similar theme. If the vein is rich enough, it’ll yield the gold. That’s for you to judge, audience. 


“Human Contact Man” (hcm) is now streaming on all sites. For the fourth time. 


Eating Tomorrow...Out Now

                                                                                                      collage by Kevin Sampsell

collage by Kevin Sampsell

I’m trying to not feel too whorish; or desperately, pathetically middle-aged. I write daily. Stuff builds up. Like gametes. And demands release. This is my second mini-album of 2021. 

I think these songs were written around the same time as the ones that formed “Insomnia”, but perhaps technically because they seemed like full-kit rather than percussion ones, they were put aside for later. Probably before the explicit concept for Insomnia came to mind. It’s ironic because the overall vibe on these tunes is a bit mellow, but Gil felt they demanded full kit. 

And they marinated. And I cut some vocals. Kevin (drums and trombones) got a home recording situation going, and things were grooving well with Leon (keyboards) and Paulo, to the extent that the songs didn’t see to call for much else. Just Emilia (backing vocals) for a little sweetening. 

Kevin Sampsell’s a writer friend and publisher of Future Tense books, as well as being a collagist. I had the title for the songs before the image, and it, the title, and the songs all seemed to fit a certain vibe. I can be superficial that way. 

The mixing engineer is Martin Scian. He has quite an impressive resume. He starts next week (April 20-ish). I’m very excited to hear what will happen and hope to have the album streaming by my birthday on June 6th.

Second Guessing

Second Guessing- 

This can often cripple a work. The inspiration of the moment lost and now the editor’s running wild with his hammer and scissors. I moved to Salvador da Bahia around 2002 and just left the mind on record. I couldn’t change a lot of my wiring, but I felt a lot of my songwriting misconceptions drop in the ocean. I brought a set of songs back and tinkered on them for some time and released Sunga in 2016. 

And some things worked and some things didn’t. My friend Marcos Kuzka created a best-selling beach-themed surf soundtrack in “Pasti” and I thought he might be interested in remixing it. 

He heard a lot of technical shortcomings that he didn’t want to mess with. I had recently reconnected with Sean Flora, who beyond his mixing skills has a pretty good ear for harmony. 

Sean went to work on the tracks and a few back and fourths have brought Sunga back into shape in 2020. Enjoy. B

Bandcamp Link:

Even Later Music

Another short hommage

I'm hoping that this is the last of a death triology started with The Record Man. Obsessives was for my father, and this one is for my mother. I don't think I could directly address either loss as I had a spotless childhood and their unconditional love saw me through my early middle age. So staring directly at the son would leave me blind. Here are some thoughts while viewing the reflections that love has cast.

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