Chroniques à musicwaves.fr
By Dave on Wednesday, September 29th 2010 12:11 am
The French webzine musicwaves.fr has done reviews of both my CDs this month.
...this album rivals the best bands of the moment. Unclassifiable no doubt, but also full of class!
it is simply reassuring that a gifted freelance musician arrives today to produce a sound as rich and exotic, where the technical complexity and originality blend with beauty and finesse
The google translations are more readable than usual.
Oddly enough I find myself shipping more CDs to Europe generally and France specifically than I do domestically this time around. I guess Franco-American relations aren't so bad after all.
Sea of Tranquility chimes in on Notes in the Margin
By Dave on Saturday, September 25th 2010 10:52 pm
Jon Neudorf in his 4 star review of Notes in the Margin writes:
Kulju has made an excellent sophomore effort with Notes in the Margin. Fans of Gilmour inspired guitar work and melodic progressive rock will surely want this in their collection and I can see this one getting plenty of more spins in the days and months to come.
Reviews from DPRP and merlinprog.com
By Dave on Sunday, August 29th 2010 8:25 pm
Geoff Feakes from the Dutch Progressive Rock Pages has penned a "DPRP Recommended" review for Notes in the Margin. Here is an excerpt:
Once again I feel Dave Kulju has produced an instantly accessible album that satisfies both the head and the heart. And whilst it builds on the solid foundations of his previous work it demonstrates that as a musician he is not standing still and in the true spirit of progressive rock is prepared to explore different horizons. It also benefits from his wonderfully spacious production, adding that extra polish that music of this quality richly deserves.
And also a positive review from Norwegian site merlinprog.com Here is a very roughly translated excerpt:
The album has almost no dead spots and it is a very solid craftsmanship in all aspects. A great focus on balancing elements and dynamics mean that the interest of the listener is always maintained, with room for great solos. We sincerely hope that the prog audience enters Kulju's often pleasant but never indifferent musical universe, and not ignore a great artist who has plenty of talent and songwriting abilities.
Music in Belgium review of Notes in the Margin
By Dave on Sunday, August 22nd 2010 4:50 pm
The review is in French which you can read over at the Music in Belgium website. I've attempted a translation with a few different online tools, hopefully this is close.
His first album "Abstract Expression" was released in 2007. At the end of that year, Dave Kulju turned to his old typewriter, sorry ... of course his guitar and started writing this new album. The centerpiece is based on two poems of Amanda Joy dealing with dreams and the world around us. While anchored in the continuity, the second disc benefits from cleaner production and a better dynamic. The Jazz-Rock Fusion is set aside for a bit more diversity.
Again, Dave Kulju has done almost everything himself except the drums performed by the faithful Frank Basile. Note also the presence of violinist Ian Cameron who appeared on the first album. Finally, a novelty, Dave turned to a singer, Annie Oya, so this album is only half instrumental.
"Skating is Europa" ventures into space rock with a hypnotic rhythm, patches of keyboards and post rock guitar tones. The inspiration came from a strange message on his voicemail and 2010 book by Arthur C. Clark. "Know Again" is rooted in a Greek tragedy. Guitar and keyboards share the spotlight.
The showpiece is called "A Poet's Talespin". Nearly half an hour (or more than half of the CD!) with singer Annie Oya. That brings a new direction for Kulju's music. A classical piano provides the introduction. In part 2, the singer comes up with a soft voice, almost whispering, and takes more power over time, with a bit of a Maggie Reilly sound. A trio of acoustic guitar, bass and drums take over in part 3. Keyboards give the song shine and mystery. Then, strings introduce the impressive fourth act before giving way to vocals and piano. Finally, the play ends smoothly, very airy, with a floydian guitar solo.
Next follows "Get the Hell Off My Lawn" where the guitar takes the strong upper hand, more in the style of the first track. But several breaks provide a good breather. "Counted the Stars" is the brief finale.
It is not hard to see this new album by Dave Kulju is more varied. His premiere CD, completely instrumental, had perhaps a few tedious passages. This is not the case here. The pleasure of listening is tenfold.
Deconstructing a really long song
By Dave on Sunday, August 15th 2010 8:15 pm
There have been a lot of great extended compositions & concept albums over the last 40 years. Many of these spend a whole lot of time in my CD player but my very favorite work of this kind is Echolyn's 2002 release "mei". A lot of concept albums are really a collection of songs that are tied together primarily with a story told through the lyrics. That is all well and good but mei is not only tied together with the lyrics but also with the music. mei is a single 49 minute tapestry of themes woven in many different shades and colors. While there aren't that many different musical ideas, the themes are varied enough that as it evolves it has a sense of oneness without sounding repetitious.
It is safe to say that mei has had a significant impact on how I think about composition in general and most certainly influenced my approach to writing A Poet's Talespin on my new album. While Talespin is divided into 5 tracks, of which at least some can probably be digested as individual songs, the larger work is built upon 7 different themes that continually appear throughout the piece. So while the individual tracks may sound very different from one another, they are tied together with these themes that reemerge.
My guess is most listeners won't pick up on the subtleties of the arrangement except for perhaps a vague sense that the tracks are somehow tied together. And rightly so, this isn't math or music theory class. But I thought for the curious listener it might be interesting to map out the arrangement with some sound files so you can hear how those themes are reused and varied.
The Anatomy of A Poet's Talespin
The mp3s below contain examples of how a single theme is reused throughout the piece.
Play Theme 1
This theme first appears in Part 1: Half-Slept Moments and restated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and a variation of the piano part is the basis for one of the main themes in Part 4: I Write.
Play Theme 2
This is a companion theme to the previous one and also first appears in Part 1: Half-Slept Moments, is restated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and is one of the key themes of Part 4: I Write.
Play Theme 3
This theme first appears with piano and vocals Part 2: Soft Collisions and is restated in Part 5: In the Shadows with guitar playing fragments of the vocal melody and a "sample and hold" synth patch replacing the piano.
Play Theme 4
This theme first appears in Part 2: Soft Collisions. A wacky variation of this is used to conclude Part 2 and it is restated in closing section of Part 5: In the Shadows with a Latin feel and slide guitar echoing the vocal line ("Steals our Shadows") from Part 2.
Play Theme 5
This theme first appears in Part 2: Soft Collisions and is restated with a very different rhythmic feel in Part 5: In the Shadows. The two different versions use the same harmonic progression but I'm pretty sure if not for the piano being used in both versions it would be impossible to tell.
Play Theme 6
This theme is first briefly stated in the instrumental section of Part 2: Soft Collisions and then becomes a central theme in Part 3: The Bridge. It is then restated twice in Part 5: In the Shadows, first with the guitar playing fragments of the vocal part from Part 3 and then as a basis for the bluesy guitar solo.
Play Theme 7
This is one of the main themes in Part 3: The Bridge and is later used for the drum breaks in Part 5: In the Shadows.
Interview with Electrum
By Dave on Saturday, August 14th 2010 1:58 am
Gino, Joe, and I recently gave an interview with Prog Archives (despite the fact we haven't released a record since 2002). Joe got off the best line when asked about our writing process...
Gino generally throws things at Dave during rehearsals. I don't mean ideas, I mean *things*.
You can read the rest at Prog Archives.