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It’s December 2015, and stuff has happened

It’s December 2015, and stuff has happened published on No Comments on It’s December 2015, and stuff has happened

Well, hello. I hope you’re having as good a holiday season as possible, regardless of the increasingly surrealistic state of existence that seems to have defined this year.

Amidst much brow-furrowing and head-scratching at such strangeness, I have been up to some music things:

1: Infinite Regression is a just-released anthology of live electronic performances from 1997, with a 22-year-old me operating very firmly in ambient guitar looping mode. It’s very different from just about everything I’ve done since then, and in a lot of ways it represents the things I was specifically working to avoid in my music for a long time. But in revisiting it recently, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up, and how much I can enjoy listening to it without the anxiety and self-loathing that typically accompanies me hearing myself.

It contains roughly 80 minutes of music, much of which I’ve never made available in any form. It’s newly remastered as of just a few days ago, and available from the venerable Bandcamp for the exceedingly sliding scale of pay-what-you-want.

2: Along similar lines, the Echoplex Analysis Pages, a multi-part live looping tutorial I first published in 2002, has just been revamped and revised after a long period of dormancy. This is a multi-year account of different ways I’ve used the Echoplex Digital Pro, featuring detailed performance annotations, some supremely geeky tech talk, and a bit of navel-gazing philosophizing for good and bad measure. Not for every possible reader, for sure, but if you like that kind of thing, then that’s the kind of thing that you’ll like.

3: Selective Sync Conflict, the EP I made with composer and multi-instrumentalist Ross Garren, has garnered some very strong feedback since its release earlier this year. Serious thanks to everyone who has taken the time to check it out – we deeply appreciate it.

Superb music writer Oliver Arditi just published a review of it here. There’s also a slightly less recent, but still very gratifying, review from Thomas Mathie at Headphonaught.

3.14: Selective Sync Conflict was born from my taking Echoplex guitar loops and giving them to Ross, who then built up some staggeringly detailed and intricate compositions around them. A little while ago, I flipped the equation around by taking some of the parts Ross recorded and whipping up a remix, which is available here:

https://taggartmusic.bandcamp.com/album/selective-sync-remixed

Supreme geek note and moderate humblebrag: the new guitar loops I recorded fresh for this remix were done not with my usual hardware Echoplex, but with a freeware software looper called Mobius. According to Jeff Larson, the man who created Mobius, the program was originally inspired by my Echoplex Analysis Pages and the music detailed therein. So me trying to learn to use a software program that was originally based on my own work is… a loop of some kind, for sure.

4: Epically Cracked, the funk/jazz/electronic band I’ve played with for the last couple of years, went into the studio earlier this year, where we had the great fortune to be recorded by the fabulous engineer Scott Fraser. We tracked all of our tunes live, and have been editing and mixing the material since then. We’re hoping to have a release available for your perusal early in 2016.

5: Are you patronizing me? Because I might be asking you to.

Not in the talk-down-to-me-sense, so much, but in the crowd-sourcing, subscription-oriented, 21st-century equivalent of passing the proverbial hat around. Patreon is probably the best-known platform for this sort of thing, and Bandcamp has their own subscription service available. I don’t yet know what shape I might want this sort of thing to take, or what exactly I could/should offer – new exclusive recordings? Music for hire? Video lessons? I’m still pondering the possibilities and implications of all of it. If you have any opinions about such things, either good or bad, I’m very curious to hear them.

Finally, and most importantly: it continues to boggle my mind that anyone takes the time to check out what I do. I absolutely do not take it for granted,

So, truly: thank you for listening.

More to come…

–Andre

 

Hi. It’s July 2015.

Hi. It’s July 2015. published on No Comments on Hi. It’s July 2015.

If you’re reading this, then you (probably) have an interest in the musical activities of one Andre LaFosse*.

If so, THANK YOU. Seriously – I don’t take anyone’s listening time or attention for granted, and I truly appreciate it.

Things that are going on with me:

1) A NEW RECORDING IS OUT

Selective Sync Conflict is composer and multi-instrumentalist Ross Garren (aka Taggart) taking Echoplex live looping performances of mine, and building pieces on top of them using everything from prepared piano to harmonica to digital synthesizers. Stylistically, it’s a collection of ambient meditations, blues-rock stompers, cosmic jazz, and glitchy funk – sometimes, all in the same song. It’s the first Echoplex-based studio work I’ve released in half a decade, and I’m hugely proud to have been involved in the creation of this stuff.

Stream it for free, or download it for a few bucks, at https://taggartmusic.bandcamp.com/album/selective-sync-conflict

My deep thanks to Thomas Mathie at the mighty Headphonaught for this review of the EP: http://www.headphonaught.co.uk/2015/06/082100-selective-sync-conflict-by.html

2) MY BAND IS ABOUT TO RECORD

Epically Cracked is the instrumental funky/jazzy/improv-y/electronic-tinged quartet I’ve been playing with since late 2013. Later this month, we’re going into the studio to record. There will probably be some kind of pre-order/passing of the hat funding thing in the near future to help us pay for it.

In the meantime, here’s a full live set of ours from last year:

And here’s an interview the band did with radio host Jessica Burks, where we talk about everything from life as a musician in LA to the value of practicing with a metronome: http://www.kruufm.com/node/19127

3) I TEACH ONLINE

It’s been about a year since I started offering music lessons via Skype/Google Hangouts/(your video chat service of choice), and I’ve been enjoying it tremendously. I’m very happy to cover most any musical subject I can speak meaningfully about, and you definitely do NOT have to be a live looping geek, avant-guitarist, etc. (A lot of my livelihood over the last decade has come from teaching beginning guitar, so there are no prerequisites here.)

I offer a free hour-long trial lesson, no strings attached, so we can both make sure that I know what I’m talking about. If you’re interested, please drop me a line at andreteaches [at] gmail [dot] com.

4) MEET MY FABULOUS NEW WIFE

On May 15th of this year, I married Jody Beth Rosen, who now goes by Jody Beth LaFosse. I could go on for a very long time singing her praises, but in the context of a music blog update, let me direct you to some of her own creative work:

Jody as electronic/noise/musique concrete composer and producer: https://grannykart.bandcamp.com/album/grannykarts-own-thing

Jody as music and culture writer and critic: http://jodybethlafosse.com/

Jody as freelance transcriber, proof-reader, and editor: http://jodybeth.wix.com/jbl-word-services

5) MORE TO COME

Lots of stuff is brewing, and I might even get my act together and tell the rest of the world about it once in a while.

Until then, and as always: thank you for listening.

(*I share a name with a trombone performer and instructor. For a while in the 2000’s, and in spite of the fact that this gentleman died the year after I was born, I would get sporadic emails inquiring about trombone pedagogy…)

Gigs! Video! A blog update!

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Greetings, intrepid reader of this very rarely-updated blog –

 

I will attempt to be succinct and to-the-point with this one. I’ve started playing live again as a solo act, after several years away from such things. It’s been fun, terrifying, challenging, exciting, frustrating, gratifying… everything live performance has always been, for me.

 

To that end, I have a list of upcoming gigs, as well as footage of recent (and not-so-recent) shows.

 

UPCOMING GIGS:

 

1. “Brilliant Strings” Guitar Gathering | https://www.facebook.com/BrilliantStrings
Sunday, September 1, 4:00 PM
326 S. Hewitt, Los Angeles, CA 90013
$10 suggested donation

 
This is a new, monthly concert series in Los Angeles, featuring a wildly eclectic roster of performers from all over the stylistic spectrum.  This is the second time I’m playing at the event; I’m technically headlining this show, and it’s on Labor Day weekend, so if you or anyone in the area can make it out, it will be very deeply appreciated!

 

2. Dung Mummy Radio | http://www.dungmummyradio.com/
Thursday, October 3, 10:00 PM (+ archived online after the fact)

 

A live performance and hang on this eclectic music program, I’ll be appearing along with guitarists Goh Kurosawa (host and founder of Brilliant Strings) and Gilbert Chinn.

 

3. Y2K13 Looping Music Festival | http://www.y2kloopfest.com/
October 18 – 20 (exact dates/times TBA), Santa Cruz, CA

 

I’m delighted and honored to be scheduled as a headliner for this seminal event showcasing live looping performers from all over the globe. Precise details coming very soon…

 

NEW (and old) VIDEOS OF SHOWS

 

Several new performance clips have been uploaded to YouTube by various people, and I’ve started a playlist to keep track of them:

 

Andre LaFosse Live Performance Anthology

 

There are new clips from the last couple of months (including my complete set from August’s Brilliant Strings concert), as well as various things going back all the way to 2005, some of which I’d forgotten were even online.

 

So: lots of gigging happening lately. If you’re able to attend or listen to any of these events, please do consider it – your interest and ears are very greatly appreciated by myself, and everyone involved in making these shows happen.

 

As always: thank you for listening!

OK, I'll Confess (Sort Of)

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Happy New Year! It’s 1:44 AM and I have a sudden urge to blog.

 

Which I haven’t done in almost half a year, which is probably not the best promotional strategy for two albums after a 9-year recording hiatus. I’ve been guilty of hugely long and detailed entries on the making/meaning of my music in the past, and maybe I’ll get that urge in the future as well. But I’ve wanted The Hard Bargain and Do The Math to speak for themselves, and to let people draw their own conclusions as to what each album “means.”

 

But: it’s a new year, and I’m feeling talkative, so let me talk about the releases – and their aftermath – a little bit.

 

The reception to the albums, for me, has been very gratifying, albeit very mixed. At this point in my life, it seems ridiculous to release art or entertainment into the public and then act as if you don’t care what the reaction is – of COURSE you care. You simply don’t go through the time and effort of creating this stuff for public consumption if you don’t.  So, half a year out from releasing them, I can say that I’m very happy (and a little relieved) with the way they’ve been received overall, even though there seems to be absolutely no consensus about them.

 

This has kind of been the story of my life for as long as I’ve been doing music. Plenty of people who liked my music in my late teens or early ’20s didn’t go for Disruption Theory. There were a number of people who really dug Disruption Theory, but thought that Normalized (and the whole turntablist guitar/live-looping virtuoso angle) was a disappointment. When I was doing a ton of live shows in the mid-2000s, some listeners who really liked Normalized didn’t dig the growing integration of melodies, covers, and more overt “guitar-isms” into my sets.

 

And it’s still the case with the two new ones. There are people who’ve followed my stuff for a long time who think it’s the best work I’ve ever done. Some other long-time supporters have been totally silent about them, even as we’ve spoken about many other things since the release. Reviews have generally been very positive (the good ones almost embarrassingly so!), and the more negative ones have still been very thoughtful and respectful – no hatchet jobs thus far.

 

Do The Math is slightly more popular, both in terms of sales/downloads and reactions that I’ve heard. I originally conceived of Do The Math as being “the difficult one,” so that’s a surprise (albiet a pleasant one). The Hard Bargain was conceived as a straight-ahead rock album, and seems to have ended up being the more challenging, “difficult” listen of the two. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have interesting conclusion about that – for my part? OK!  It is what it is.

 

At this point, I’m clearly not trying to make the same kind of album each time I put one out. Many of my favorite recording artists have wildly eclectic discographies, and pretty much any of them have at least one or two albums that I’ve never really warmed up to. The needy validation seeker in me loves getting praise, but the art school situationist in me cackles with glee at throwing curve balls.

 

And really: it’s kind of amazing that anyone at all takes the time to pay attention to what I’m doing. So: THANK YOU FOR YOUR LISTENING. If you’ve enjoyed the new stuff, I’m delighted. If you haven’t, I totally respect your opinion, and hope you’ll see if my subsequent stuff piques your interest more.

 

I haven’t really talked about the whole “money + music” thing, for two main reasons. The first is that a lot of people are already talking about it, and doing so more eloquently and meaningfully than I could hope to. And the second is that I’m kind of sick of thinking about it.

 

I mean, it NEEDS to be discussed, absolutely. It’s crucial. But it’s gotten to the point where a lot of musicians and critics, whose work I really enjoy, seem to spend more time talking about the financial hardships of being a musician than they do talking about actual music. And that’s not a complaint – like I say, it’s important that this be an ongoing dialogue. Right now, though, I simply don’t want my music to be a leading question in a discussion on the economics of 21st century creativity.

 

I’ll put it this way: when a fellow musician recently asked me how the Bandcamp pay-what-you-like thing has worked out, my response was: “I’m pleasantly surprised at how much money I’ve made, and unpleasantly surprised at how hard it is to give the stuff away.” I don’t mind talking about this stuff with people privately, but for right now I’m going to be old-fashioned, pretentious, and/or naive, and let the music itself be the focus.

 

A few other quick bits:

 

No, I don’t hate live looping, I haven’t sold my Echoplexes, I’m not swearing off that stuff by any means. This interview with Scott Collins goes into a good amount of detail about all of that. Right now, I’m very inspired by a lot of different musical possibilities, and live looping isn’t at the top of the list. But at some point I very strongly suspect I’ll do more of that stuff. Speaking of which…

 

Am I playing live gigs as Andre LaFosse, Solo Artiste? My answer here is actually very similar to the looping one (which makes sense, I guess, since those two things have been intertwined with me for a long time.) Basically, I’m not opposed to the idea, but neither am I chomping at the bit to play. I spent a lot of time in the mid-2000’s doing a lot of gigs, and having no interest in recording, and right now I’m in pretty much the opposite position. Here again: at some point I’m sure I’ll be playing live as a solo artist. I don’t know what form that will take, or exactly what kind of technology (or lack thereof) I might be using. When it makes sense to put my energies into that direction, I’ll do it. In the meantime, there’s a ton of directions I want to pursue in the world of recorded music.

 

Once gain: my very serious thanks to everyone and anyone for listening.

 

More soon…

OK, I’ll Confess (Sort Of)

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Happy New Year! It’s 1:44 AM and I have a sudden urge to blog.

 

Which I haven’t done in almost half a year, which is probably not the best promotional strategy for two albums after a 9-year recording hiatus. I’ve been guilty of hugely long and detailed entries on the making/meaning of my music in the past, and maybe I’ll get that urge in the future as well. But I’ve wanted The Hard Bargain and Do The Math to speak for themselves, and to let people draw their own conclusions as to what each album “means.”

 

But: it’s a new year, and I’m feeling talkative, so let me talk about the releases – and their aftermath – a little bit.

 

The reception to the albums, for me, has been very gratifying, albeit very mixed. At this point in my life, it seems ridiculous to release art or entertainment into the public and then act as if you don’t care what the reaction is – of COURSE you care. You simply don’t go through the time and effort of creating this stuff for public consumption if you don’t.  So, half a year out from releasing them, I can say that I’m very happy (and a little relieved) with the way they’ve been received overall, even though there seems to be absolutely no consensus about them.

 

This has kind of been the story of my life for as long as I’ve been doing music. Plenty of people who liked my music in my late teens or early ’20s didn’t go for Disruption Theory. There were a number of people who really dug Disruption Theory, but thought that Normalized (and the whole turntablist guitar/live-looping virtuoso angle) was a disappointment. When I was doing a ton of live shows in the mid-2000s, some listeners who really liked Normalized didn’t dig the growing integration of melodies, covers, and more overt “guitar-isms” into my sets.

 

And it’s still the case with the two new ones. There are people who’ve followed my stuff for a long time who think it’s the best work I’ve ever done. Some other long-time supporters have been totally silent about them, even as we’ve spoken about many other things since the release. Reviews have generally been very positive (the good ones almost embarrassingly so!), and the more negative ones have still been very thoughtful and respectful – no hatchet jobs thus far.

 

Do The Math is slightly more popular, both in terms of sales/downloads and reactions that I’ve heard. I originally conceived of Do The Math as being “the difficult one,” so that’s a surprise (albiet a pleasant one). The Hard Bargain was conceived as a straight-ahead rock album, and seems to have ended up being the more challenging, “difficult” listen of the two. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have interesting conclusion about that – for my part? OK!  It is what it is.

 

At this point, I’m clearly not trying to make the same kind of album each time I put one out. Many of my favorite recording artists have wildly eclectic discographies, and pretty much any of them have at least one or two albums that I’ve never really warmed up to. The needy validation seeker in me loves getting praise, but the art school situationist in me cackles with glee at throwing curve balls.

 

And really: it’s kind of amazing that anyone at all takes the time to pay attention to what I’m doing. So: THANK YOU FOR YOUR LISTENING. If you’ve enjoyed the new stuff, I’m delighted. If you haven’t, I totally respect your opinion, and hope you’ll see if my subsequent stuff piques your interest more.

 

I haven’t really talked about the whole “money + music” thing, for two main reasons. The first is that a lot of people are already talking about it, and doing so more eloquently and meaningfully than I could hope to. And the second is that I’m kind of sick of thinking about it.

 

I mean, it NEEDS to be discussed, absolutely. It’s crucial. But it’s gotten to the point where a lot of musicians and critics, whose work I really enjoy, seem to spend more time talking about the financial hardships of being a musician than they do talking about actual music. And that’s not a complaint – like I say, it’s important that this be an ongoing dialogue. Right now, though, I simply don’t want my music to be a leading question in a discussion on the economics of 21st century creativity.

 

I’ll put it this way: when a fellow musician recently asked me how the Bandcamp pay-what-you-like thing has worked out, my response was: “I’m pleasantly surprised at how much money I’ve made, and unpleasantly surprised at how hard it is to give the stuff away.” I don’t mind talking about this stuff with people privately, but for right now I’m going to be old-fashioned, pretentious, and/or naive, and let the music itself be the focus.

 

A few other quick bits:

 

No, I don’t hate live looping, I haven’t sold my Echoplexes, I’m not swearing off that stuff by any means. This interview with Scott Collins goes into a good amount of detail about all of that. Right now, I’m very inspired by a lot of different musical possibilities, and live looping isn’t at the top of the list. But at some point I very strongly suspect I’ll do more of that stuff. Speaking of which…

 

Am I playing live gigs as Andre LaFosse, Solo Artiste? My answer here is actually very similar to the looping one (which makes sense, I guess, since those two things have been intertwined with me for a long time.) Basically, I’m not opposed to the idea, but neither am I chomping at the bit to play. I spent a lot of time in the mid-2000’s doing a lot of gigs, and having no interest in recording, and right now I’m in pretty much the opposite position. Here again: at some point I’m sure I’ll be playing live as a solo artist. I don’t know what form that will take, or exactly what kind of technology (or lack thereof) I might be using. When it makes sense to put my energies into that direction, I’ll do it. In the meantime, there’s a ton of directions I want to pursue in the world of recorded music.

 

Once gain: my very serious thanks to everyone and anyone for listening.

 

More soon…

Catching Up: July 15, 2012

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All right!


First and foremost: huge and very sincere thanks to everyone who’s listened, downloaded, and/or paid for either of the two new albums. The initial reception has been beyond what I’d hoped for, and it’s deeply appreciated.

 

There are already new reviews of both albums at guitar-muse.com, Mr. Atavist, and Access All Areas. And two new interviews have recently gone live: a very in depth and wide-ranging discussion with Scott Collins at guitar-muse, and a podcast with John Anealio and Patrick Hester at Functional Nerds.

To briefly touch on a couple of common questions:

 

– There will be no physical release for either album. There are a number of reasons for this, which I may go into at some point. Long story short, though, these are exclusively digital albums. If you’re so inclined, of course, you totally have my blessing to burn the music to disc and listen to it that way.

 

– iTunes and Amazon will have both albums eventually, although I’m very much of the mind that Bandcamp offers the best options in terms of fidelity and sound quality. Again, more on that (possibly) down the road.

 

In other news, altruistmusic.com is slowly but surely being rebooted. Social media has totally made me lazy about web updates, but these days I have a renewed appreciation for a central, personally run site. The most significant changes:

 

– An updated music section, which includes links to several releases (GrannyKart, Darren Nelsen, the New York Guitar Festival concert recording) that got a bit lost in the shuffle over the last couple of years, or that I haven’t really given proper attention to;

 

– The press section has been updated and expanded, with some new additions that I haven’t previously documented, and a lot of archival reviews and interviews that are available again for the first time in a long while;

 

– There’s also a new blog site (which you’re reading right now!), along with the usual boilerplate bio, links, and pseudo-third person writing style.

 

In the immediate future: drumming up more awareness of the new music! If you have suggestions for blogs, publications, podcasts, or other outlets that would be sympathetic towards either release, feel free to drop a line. And ultimately, word of mouth is the best possible promotion – many of you have already posted about the albums, in various forums, and I greatly appreciate it. I’m still squeamish about asking people to do promo for me, but there’s truly no replacement for genuine enthusiasm and interest, and if you can take a moment to spread the word, it’s fantastic.

 

So, again: huge thanks to everyone for giving the new music a chance. More info (and more music…?) coming sooner than later, I think…

 

As always: THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

Leaving Home (or: yes, the following is an elaborate metaphor)

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OK, you two.

We’ve known this day was coming for a long time – I think I’ve pined for it and feared it in equal measure. I know neither of you is perfect, and you didn’t always turn out quite the way we’d expected, but those surprises have been pleasant at least as often as not. (Yeah, there’s still a few things that make me wince, but hey – nobody’s perfect.)

Letting you go out into the world is both exhilarating and terrifying – are you ready for what’s waiting? Is anyone or anything, in fact, actually waiting? Have we overlooked something crucial that will make us look back and say, “Oh, how COULD we?” Have I totally misjudged what you are, or betrayed what you should have been?

But as much as I’ve enjoyed having you here and watching you grow, my job isn’t done until you’ve gone out into the world at large. At the end of the day, that’s really what all of this was for in the first place.

So.

I did the best I could with you guys, and I’m a better person for it. And all of my misgivings aside, I’m pretty damn proud of the way you turned out. So go on out there, and let’s see what you’re made of.

My Final Mix Checklist – 5/18/12

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subway: tuck in verse + bridge
12 sided: done?!?!
harbar: replace tone on outro doompeggios
zen: done?!?!
remediation: lower 1st c section (ew that sounds gross), smooth crescendo
balancing: done?!?!

retcon: smooth lead levels, boost alarm, chill fills, lower wobble
hard sci fi: bring out r2d2?
hyst: pre-melody drums
lowest: raise levels on 2nd and 3rd chorus, bring up intro, check kick
process: lower b section mel for cresc?
slo-mo: done?!?!
strange: lower drums…?
do tha: raise stereo synth, tighten outro
funk: lower drums
siren: boost van halen, extend kraut, boost rowr, …?

Here's What's Happening: May 2012

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So, because I’m really bad at updating my news – and because I have a bad tendency to write posts that are way too long when I finally do get around to updates – here’s the quick gist of it:

I’m about to put out two new solo albums; the mixes are being finished as we speak. Why two albums? Because I found myself inspired in two different directions at the same time.

Album 1: The Hard Bargain – the mid-life crisis rock album. Songs – with actual melodies, chord progressions, and tightly-arranged structures – and a strictly guitar-bass-drums instrumentation. This is me finally giving myself permission to make an instrumental rock guitar album, after spending most of the last 15 years doing everything in my power to avoid it. It is, by a large margin, the single most unfashionable thing I’ve ever made.

Some of my points of reference for The Hard Bargain: Led Zeppelin, Sonic Youth, Living Colour, Nels Cline, Jeff Beck, King Crimson.

Album 2: Do The Math – the mad scientist modular synth krautrock hauntology album. Lots of guitar on this one, too, but the foundation is a ton of bleeping, sputtering, buzzing synthesizers. Still very composed in comparison to anything I’ve released previously, but this album is more concerned with texture / vibe / sonics. This is me tearing up my “all guitar, no synthesizers used!” manifesto of the last decade or so – and since I was noodling on synths and drum machines before I ever got a guitar, it’s a roundabout “back to my roots” kind of thing.

Reference points for Do The Math: Pink Floyd, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Silver Apples, Laurie Spiegel, Raymond Scott, Public Enemy, ’70s Miles Davis. (I know, I know – EVERYBODY quotes ’70s Miles as an influence.)

There’s no echoplex, or live looping of any kind, on either album, although Do The Math is, in its way, as purely loop-based as anything I’ve ever done.

If you haven’t listened already, rough versions of four songs (two from each album) are available at my Bandcamp page: http://andrelafosse.bandcamp.com

Looking at those four tracks now, I wouldn’t say they’re “unrepresentative” of their albums, but neither do they totally encapsulate what either one is “about.” Reactions from people who have already heard this stuff have been all over the place, but I feel really strongly about putting this music out right now.

When are they coming out? As soon as I finish them – late May, early June…?

Note that I didn’t say what YEAR. (Kidding. [God, I’d BETTER be kidding.])

There’s the update! (See, that wasn’t so bad. I should do that more often…)

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

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