Thomas Brunkard Interview

-Angel Russell

Musician and composer Thomas Brunkard’s  project called A Never Ending Album has some new songs available. Sergeant Sparrow Recently interviewed Thomas about the project. The album does not have a set number of songs but will be added to perpetually. The internet reinvented the way music fans look at albums. It is a lot easier to skip songs of little interest to the listener when accessing an album online. Musicians who devoted time and effort to creating a cohesive set of songs or a concept album were inherently effected by how easy it is to listen to songs in snippets or in their entirety on sites such as bandcamp, iTunes, LastFM, Spotify, Pandora, the list continues. As was written in the previous Brunkard review by Sergeant Sparrow, “this led him [Brunkard] to create an album that is continuously evolving like the many updates our apps and phones now require.” He looks at his music as more of a stream of continuous creativity rather than a specific amount of songs connected together through an album. His work is an amalgamation of the listeners ability to listen and the musician’s ability to release through the internet.

His music is often dreamy and when the project began it had lush arrangements full of depth and intrigue. Brunkard is a guitar player first and not too much of a singer (according to him). He turns to his attention to arranging to help the music to vocalize for him. His melodies are melancholic but ethereal and can depict a lot of imagery if listened to in the correct mood and atmosphere. His love for guitar recently became over shadowed by his desire to add more bowed instruments to his music. As a guitar player it can be difficult to transition to cello, held between the legs and resting on the floor. It is an awkward position when one is used to the guitar. It is even more challenging to play violin, where your fingers must play smashed together on a tiny neck. He did some research and discovered the Guitarviol, a bowable guitar. You can read more about it here. A new song from his never ending album called Elégie Pour M. Toland can be heard here:

It is an interesting listen to be able to keep up with how a musician evolves. In a project such as this you can rewind in time to where Brunkard was months ago to where he is now. You can hear how his musicality evolves and can anticipate where it might head next. The inspirations are evident in the instrument choices, the trials and uplifting times in life can be heard because he continues to right throughout. This project will evolve into the album of Brunkard’s life more than a collection or snippet of  his career. It will surely be interesting to see where he will be in the years to come and compare it to different parts of his musical timeline. Each song becomes a montage of a slice of his life. What a journey.

Interview:

 Can you give us a brief description of your musical past and present?

I’m a musical nobody in terms of scale but I’ve had a lot of adventures from mundane commercial composition to composing for plays, movies and art projects. I’ve always been involved in working with others to bring their project to fruition, a catalyst or jobbing musician.

In terms of my background. I’m a self denying Irishman that grew up in a city that became very international very quickly. Anything and everything can happen in Dublin and the city has been enriched by a lot of different cultures arriving very quickly. This and our national obsession with music and song has been a big help to getting me to expand my own horizons musically.

Last March I released A Never Ending Album and in recent months the more classical instrumental stuff has been particularly well received. Lots of people are listening now on Soundcloud etc. I’ve not put a deposit on a yacht but it is exciting to see so many people from so many places enjoying very esoteric music!

Where did you get the idea for“A Never Ending Album?”

I’ve grown up with albums as the ultimate in musical curating. Nowadays music is consumed differently. If people actually bother to buy music it’s more commonly as single songs or streamed so albums are pretty much defunct for an upcoming generation of listener.

A side effect with streaming services such as Spotify is that friends are creating playlists and sharing them like we used to do with mixtapes. That idea of potentially infinite curated list interested me. (Can you elaborate how you think they have died? Maybe include a sentence here about how that came about and then how playlists were created)

Similarly the same phenomena can be found in Soundcloud with non-musician users curating the billions of tracks up there and working like earthworms through the compost to bring rich musical earth to the ears of casual listeners.

Maybe that’s what an album is now. My idea for this “album” is basically a Soundcloud playlist that is artist curated but presented as an album would in every other way (art and promo etc.). It’s more of statement of the artist controlling an album over time for better or worse.

How do you write and record your tracks?

I get most of my ideas strolling through Dublin listening to music actually. Eventually I start mentally improvising off something like a Marin Marais piece or an old Blind Willie Johnson bit and then I’ve gotta rush home and start putting it together!

Sometimes I’m watching a movie and I spot how I would have liked the music to go down and then it forms up in my head.

Since I work alone in front of a laptop the piece usually takes on a life of its own as the layers are added. My song, GBH is a prime example of this. I started scoring an imaginary cop show in my head and when I sat down I got pulled between different instruments like a maniac weaver on a nuclear powered loom!

Your music draws on a lot of musical genres and inspiration. How do you change from one genre to the next so seamlessly?

I don’t quite see the distinctions between genres as they’re presented. If you go to learn music it’s taught like each epoch has a definite book-end which I feel is an overly simplistic view of music history.

Our political and cultural upbringing moulds us into identities that cage us. That’s the human condition and we don’t get to fix that but in music we have chance to free our minds and go places that we don’t let ourselves go in real life.

If music is for this escapism then it should never be caged in the same socio-political cages we contain our lives with.

I suppose that’s a pretentious way of saying that it’s same 12 notes so they’ll all fit with a bit of elbow grease!

You say your still learning to compose, and yet your music seems so well orchestrated. What do you want to improve upon in your work?

I think given my background as a sideman that the biggest challenge for me is to try and make instrumental music that stands up in it’s own right. I’ve been heartened by the reaction I’ve been getting at this early stage but there’s a challenge for me to keep things interesting without becoming so stylistically diverse as to become inaccessible.

There’s always room to learn as a musician. The challenge is to get the right knowledge but not to become consumed by it to the point that you’re just making the music for yourself.

Where do you see yourself going musically in the future?

Eventually I hope to score a feature film. The reality is that I’ll continue to develop my craft and keep sharing it in the hope that my work gives somebody somewhere something for the two minutes they listen to it before they click on to pictures of kittens in compromising binds and forget about it!

The internet is an facilitator of things so I also hope for a surprise adventure to come back at me as a I keep broadcasting my wares online.

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/thomasbrunkard

 

Submissions, Updates on SSR

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I have been working to solve the problems I face after the sudden death of my mother. The SSR site will not be posting for a while until I can sort it all out.

For updates on our crises please visit:

http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/angela-marie-di-lorenzo-funerary-fund-/187988

I want to do more reviews after this all settles and have written some updated submission guidelines. Visit our about page for more.

TO SUBMIT:

Email: sergeantsparrow@gmail.com

In the headline please write

  • the type of music,
  • whether you are a the musician, band, publisher, manager, etc. (I prefer working with bands one on one)
  • what the email is regarding (review, interview, followup, etc)
  • example: Folk, Band, review

VISIT OUR STORE:

Sergeant Sparrow Store

DONATE:

Donate Here 

Sergeant Sparrow Suffered a Major Loss.

On Monday night my Mom collapsed in a Ralph’s grocery store in LA. There was a doctor on the scene and he tried to resuscitate her as he only found a light pulse. The paramedics came and used defibrillators trying to keep her alive until they reached the hospital. Once there they used machines to get her heart going for 25 minutes. They were not able to revive her. As of now a cause of death is unknown.

Her death is a heartbreaking shock to all that knew her. Due to the suddenness of her death I do not have a savings prepared for such an event. My mother did not have a lot of money. Anything you might be able to donate will go a long way in helping me to get airfare to LA, attorney fees if needed, burial fees, coroner fees, memorial service costs, anything else that might come up that I have not foreseen. I have created a fundraiser through youcaring.com. You can click on the link below to donate.

This is a trying time for all that knew her. Thank you for your support in our time of need.
Angel

Fiona Hare: Keep Me Wild

“How do you live without love?” Fiona Hare asks that question in her new album “Keep Me Wild.” Her music is honest folk with a slightly swing/Americana style, and a sparseness that makes you feel as if she’s in the room playing her sad songs just for you. Her instrumentation is guitar, piano, drums, organ, and synths. Her vocals are soft and slow like honey. They are emotive and deep and her melodies stay in your head for days. Some of the songs such as Black Dog, have a guttural raw feel, both tragic and beautiful at the same time.  Her piano and drums seems to come in at just the right time to help build the track into a powerhouse of emotion and drive. You’ll want to listen “Keep Me Wild” all over again after you hear it once. You can get her record on Bandcamp for $10. Have a listen below: www.fionahare.com

Alex Engstrom: All Over Again

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Alexander Engström is from Sweden creates house music under the name “Alex Engstrom”. She has not released any music for the last two years as she has been furiously working away on her new album, “All Over Again” which is now complete! Her songs are energetic, filled with life, pop style vocal melodies, dance beats, and great production. Her production work began 9 years ago with hip hop music but the last four she has been dedicated to producing house music. The tracks on her new record are all synth and sample based, but Alex is also a pianist. Her arrangements on the new album bring together a seamless wave of upbeat complexity into soft and delicate breakdowns. The songs crescendo into a musical waterfall of glory and if it doesn’t make you want to dance, you might need to visit a doctor.  You can hear her album preview below:

https://twitter.com/Alex_Engstrom

Drop Kick: Trap Door

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Dropkick is an electronic dance music project by Lee Lee and Cusp Cuspschen who’s sound is a combination of different genres and influences. Soul meets funk, electronic, and rock for an interesting culmination of sounds all blending into a delightful musical stew. Their beats are uptempo, excitable and fun. The synths and melodies all blend well together and create musical harmony. Their collaboration began when the two became homebound with the neurological symptoms of Lyme disease and M.E. The two met online and began their musical project together. They began in the arts world and due to illness decided a different approach to relive their creative inclinations. Their song Trapdoor  has been mixed into a variety of danceable hits ready for any DJ or dance party on their newest EP. Trapdoor in all its mixes is available on the new EP on bandcamp in both CD and download format.

 

Like them on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/morefordropkicks

Sonnet to Sleep

Sonnet to Sleep is a band dedicated to beautiful melodies, indie rock and shoegaze style, and honest songwriting. It is the creation of indie artist Aaron Rios. “Affirmative Say Nothing” is a sophomore follow up to his 2009 release. The album has Aaron’s signature vocals that have perfect tone, emotion, and a raw guttural feel. His voice could be compared to David Grohl or even a Broadway male lead. The arrangements that back him up have passion and drive. The guitars are distorted and melancholy. The drums are powerful and intense. Sonnet to Sleep has a unique sound that pulls on many influences. The themes and melodies are sorrowful with a rock edge that keeps the songs moving forward. The album proceeds go to support a good cause; Arms Around the World. Listen and support below:

Credits
released 07 March 2014
Aaron Rios-Guitars, Vocals, Moog, Synth, Rhodes, Melotron
Wheeler Newman- Guitar, Slide
Shaun Combs- Guitar, Bass, Programming, Strings
Stephen Howell: Drums
Michael Schmitt -Drums

Proceeds to benefit Arms Around the World.

www.sonnettosleep.com
www.facebook.com/sonnettosleep
www.instagram.com/sonnettosleep
www.twitter.com/sonnettosleep

New Electronic Music: ÉchangeÉquivalent

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With the melodic finger picking guitar intro to the album “Diversity” by ÉchangeÉquivalent you don’t expect the music to change to an electro, trip hop based tone, but it does indeed. It is a testament to the musicality and arranging of ÉchangeÉquivalent . “Diversity” transforms from a folk vibe to a tranquil trip hop song with song number two Can’t Move. Song three Samuri picks up the pace a bit with some more intricate beats and samples. The album continues to move to new and interesting styles and sounds as it evolves and is worth a listen. The production done in logic with the help of an iphone 4 for live instruments. You can buy the album with a “name your price” cost below:

http://www.echangeequivalent.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/echangeequivalent
http://www.soundcloud.com/echangeequivalent

Experimental Noise Rock: MR KITO

Experimental noise rock has had many incarnations most notably with acts such as Sonic Youth and Microphones. MR KITO brings a new perspective on the genre with dissonant harmonies, strange sound effects, drum beats ranging from sparse to expansively complex, and guitar work that follows the same dynamic. His songs don’t seem to follow a direct pattern as with most rock. The songs flow in a stream of ideas with interesting instrumentation throughout. The tone is mellow, unique, and well produced. Eric Michot is the man behind MR KITO. He is a French multi-instrumentalist and producer living in Cape Town since the year 1998. His music has been featured on radio stations all over the world ranging from Japan, to the USA, to Ireland. His newest (number seven) album called “Where Are The Lizards?” has been released on the Presence Records label and is available on Bandcamp, his website, and other relevant music sites. Listen below:

Experimental Music: Kramar Zaibatsu

The music of Kramar Zaibatsu is not classifiable. You could add some genre examples to show where it might fit such as, experimental, noise folk, electronic spelunking, but none would quite fit his sound. When his album “The Dark Enlightenment” begins you might think you’ve left your sound too low, and need to turn it up. Then you realize it’s all a part of the song, Entropy Wins. There are blips, static, synthesizers communicating on some robotic scale, and varied lengths of silence. I rather enjoy the effect. Kramar plays with silence the way Square Pusher plays with beats. The album that starts with some listener confusion leads you further down a path of the unheard. The next song, Always Have a Positive Outlook on Life and a Sense of Well Being of Self  has similar arranging with lapses of audio and then leads into static footsteps. It gives you a feeling that you are not listening to a new album, but that you are headed down into the recesses of Kramar’s mind. It seems a little dark in there, self aware, or at least trying to discover itself. “The Dark Enlightenment” is like walking into someone else’s auditory hallucination. You don’t know how you got there, but you can’t stop listening.

explicit lyrics

http://www.kramarzaibatsu.com/

http://kramarzaibatsu.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/jojagerilac