This beginning can only be understood in the way that I understand everything: exactly as I perceive it. Of course I am quite capable of misinterpreting 100% of reality. That being said, a complete misinterpretation placed in the form of music becomes reality. Even if it doesn’t actually exist but they truly believe themselves to have heard it, we find a music that is fully established in reality. There is only one reality that all perceived realities exist within regardless of whether or not they are aware of each other. There are an infinite number of entities that we will never perceive but that does not mean that we cannot be a part of the shared reality with an awareness and connectivity that reflects the actual absence of nothingness on our shared plane of existence.
Oftentimes music involves constant manipulation by humans based on some sort of latent sensibility that has been loosely formed over time. What are we ultimately comparing our music to? Our music should be compared to us and not to the identity that we create for it to reinforce. An entity with no awareness of our society would, prior to similar archaeological investigations that we ourselves would even be found to put forth under similar circumstances, perceive only the musical sounds and perhaps would not understand lyrics or anything other than the raw vibratory definition. Now we see that music functions purely on the universal level. There is no association with specific cultures, events, periods of history, etc. What remains is only the immediate implication of a collection of frequencies as perceived by an unbiased entity beyond humanity. The relative additional perceptions and associations are part of what makes music beautiful within our culture but in order to perceive it properly we must start before the decor. It could be compared somewhat to the idea that one should not judge a book by it’s cover. What’s more important than judging the cover is seeing it for what it is. You could change the cover a thousand times and you would never change the story. You can say that music’s about this or that but in the end, the only thing that always remains is the raw vibratory state of music.
So now that we have stripped our perception of the extra associations found to surround all music throughout time we can begin to embark on a quest for an understanding that embodies everything that the music actually is as well as what we have added to it. As you start you are merely observing in a completely objective manner how the combination of frequencies affects you on a raw, impulsive level. As you develop that nameless, description lacking perception of what sounds and the immediate reaction you have, you can begin to see how all of the aspects of human civilization transport music throughout our cultural history and societal communication. In this state it becomes hard to make judgments because one realizes that, while people’s worth can be debated, their existence cannot. This is what I believe supersedes all placement of music based on the word of man. Music is the word of the universe. Raw vibrations are the very perception of existence itself. The sound of a worm slithering through the dirt to the sound of a full symphony orchestra and two hundred voices perched atop the shoulders of a giant auditorium.
Mike Shields the album has been fantasized, intellectualized, dreamed of, hoped for, analyzed, loathed, worked on, left to collect dust, changed, rearranged, salvaged, continued, finished? What story could ever be finished for as the origin of my musical actions could be traced to my birth and beyond, the story of this collection has yet to be told. Where will it go? Nowhere? Somewhere? Anywhere? All I know for sure is that it’s here. Or at least in hard copy form available at www.onetakerecords.bandcamp.com or www.mikeshieldsmusic.com to represent all work leading up to this particular release time. Let’s understand what I feel it means to be an entity. The real man is that seemingly lifeless shadow hiding behind the physical observer that is his body, wanting to take it all in but cautiously interfacing with his body self to communicate with less risk. So, as when I spent a month Rollerblading in my garage because I was to embarrassed to let myself out, I am now overriding my “garage” comfort and allowing the scarred self that I truly am to exist in this form. This material spans 10 years. I salvaged everything I could. Everything get’s a chance. Often questionable material receives commitment. Like every soldier who appreciates being properly equipped or even properly trained and encounters obstacles either from without or created from within that put one in a battle situation where one must improvise with diminished resources and diminished ability, the music must survive. Music is survival. We will continually search for it in the worst of circumstances.
The concept of an album slowly loses its autonomy as the created content is spread to different interfaces and future mediums into today’s current business front. I felt that I must enjoy the fruits of the full-length, twenty-track album with secret track. Well…not so secret with a 10 second space but when you’re out of time, you’re out of time. You lose that collected meaning these days as tracks are available on a more individual basis. So for me it was an opportunity to salvage all the creative juice that had spilled over the years, sweet or sour. This represents a combination of the beginning of uneducated meanderings into the world of recording and editing sound all the way to the current underground quality that I champion at the moment. I can’t help but feel like everything is music and therefore I can always find a way to create music I like with whatever I have. This represents leaving nothing behind. Moving on to stay current and not wasting all your time trying to make one song the best song that ever existed. All albums have bad songs. Some songs may have just not had their musical identity discovered yet. Still the concept album has its’ worth as a whole. My concept is really to have no concept. Rather, I just work on whatever collection of junk no matter what it is until my whims have created a number of tracks. Then I look back at what has happened, much how the natural scientist observes that to which he did not plan and finds meaning after the fact.
Now our role as musicians has been defined. All we are left with is to archive and deliver music to the universe. We are couriers that bring the messages of the musical universe to their proper residence. We claim no ownership of the amazing ability we’ve mastered or the content that passes through us for it is merely a means to transport the property of the musical universe. All musicians must be as small as small has ever been if they wish to be graced by the touch of the musical universe. It is a privilege to experience such a truth. Many a great musician have fallen peril to it’s enticing temptations while many legends have completely sacrificed themselves to it’s blissful merging into infinity. All you can do is follow your love for one mans sacrifice is another man’s death sentence. You’re meant to do what you were meant to do and, once you accept that, there is no friction and you may shine like the beauty that you humbly beckon to pass through you. One can never claim to be that beauty. One can only claim that it has become them as the musical universe becomes, is, and was all music as we know it.
This album represents one of the first of many entries into my musical courier’s journal. As I document all of my trials and tribulations I strive to bring the listener in to my struggles, joys, pains, despair, inspiration leaving no aspect of myself hidden too deep. I show my scars, my delusions, my dreams, and my feeling. I want to show how, throughout the creation of this album (which covers around 10 years of experimentation, recording, rerecording, editing, etc.), I have gone to a floundering amateur to a pedestrian novice. I don’t mean to down play my music because I believe there are people at the highest level of music production creating music that basically has no genuinely honorable origin as well as no budget music that breaths and beats with intoxicating living energy. No material parameter within or surrounding music can change what it is in the reality of the sound. That is my aim, to present myself exactly as I am. It took me this long to barely be able to approach the idea of releasing a collection of these home productions and I want that struggle to be a part of the music. This is why I’m releasing a great deal more than I might be willing to put out on this first record because the truth of the evolution is important to me and should be presented as close as possible to achieve accurate representation of the process. I also make sure to include some of my more delusional hobbies in their improvised meandering over one take of style that was definitely free. Maybe even a little worthless!!!!! No but seriously everything good and bad that occurs musically is part of what makes it sound the way it does and deserves an audience to whom it may demonstrate it’s contribution. So here it is! Twenty tracks that basically touch on everything from my less than humble beginnings to the current state of existence that I now reside in.
Om Shivaya Namaha
I suggest further study of this but for my purpose these are a collection of different vocal vibrations that affirm the existence of and express reverence for the Gods. For me this represents the continued faith in the existence of the universe and the rivers of evolution that flow through it. The power that it is locally as well as the power that stretches all around to infinity and beyond. Represented in these vibrations are the basic affirmations of the universe and it’s evolutionary components. All religions are within the ultimate infinity and so that is why I must not consider myself to be intimately connected to any group of this sort out of respect. Musically one can hear an evolution to different places from triumphant entrances to slow sinister struggles. The horn parts represent the strength in numbers of all things. As the solo struggles for identity and the affirmations propel us forward, we finally arrive at a state more filled with peace and we see that we have connected with the consonance of the universe and are able to master the dissonance and reside in bliss. Sean Kirk, who designed the album, contributes a vocal that just grabs a hold of you right at the beginning of the album that sets you on the right path for affirming the universe.
This track came to shape over time and may even have an entirely different song built out of some of the same pieces somewhere out there. As it started out as a mono drumbeat from a keyboard and was combined with 10 tracks of percussion and 1 track of Marching Bass Drum, courtesy of Nate Werth, Percussionist, this is about combining elements with or without a vision, inclusive and exclusive. We all are in the same classroom and have the same teacher. Whether they tell us to dance, congratulate us, inspire us, they are messengers of the ultimate teacher and you must read beyond them to know the teacher that is behind. Life’s messages are inescapable. Everything that happens comes with it’s own manual if you know how to read it. When the style of the ultimate master is felt we will be a mass of diversely collected power. We can all agree on this freedom whatever it is and humbly accept our position as students in the classroom of infinity. This song is also about what it feels like to go through life as a student of the universe, questioning it’s every move only to know the inescapable truth that, whatever the infinite is, nothing is beyond. With this we seek no end. No graduation. No sudden release into the wild having put off one’s future. To pass the torch in a neverending journey. It will never be yours to keep and you must pass it on to the next person without regard for what you are losing. To give up yourself completely is the secret to learning, performing, and being. All that matters for an action to be accomplished is realization. Only someone who has felt this realization can aid another in finding the same quicker than he did himself. The Educator comes in all forms. He can be in a person and out in the blink of an eye. The Educator is the ultimate messenger for the ultimate Truth. In that way it is the God of our work. It assimilates with no friction. It experiences complete realization through direct perception. The Educator is everywhere and most notably within you.
An old hip hop cut I was tossing around six years ago or so and later filled out and improved it and I decided I needed to get my good friend Ian “Muenster MC” to freestyle over the track. I see this as unstoppable determination put towards a certain goal regardless of all reaction before, during, and after. This leads to measurable output and genuine confidence. It’s about not giving up on the past. Not about looking back but about not leaving the past behind. It takes a steady confidence in the way that you are as well as your acceptance of how it will be received. It’s my duty to work and bring forward this music that I did not fully create. And when laughter challenges my choiceless belief on the stage of life I have no other option than to move forward, drowning ALL reactions in my wake.
I Love You
Sean Kirk improvised this vocal as a well as spontaneously experienced the lyrics. This song is, upon reflection, to me a full representation of the reaching struggle through the waves of pleasure and pain that are found in search of life, love, and realization. His vocals are supported by two completely improvised passes on keyboard and keyboard bass by keyboardist Chris Villanueva.
I recorded Dan Dockrill playing some solo guitar and this was the sound check portion of the recording but after I recorded Matt Moore on top I decided to use it as an interlude between full tracks.
A song that is exactly what it is called. And beyond that we can understand the power of music to describe to our minds something so infinite as evolutionary existence. The crudest form of evolution is one life. However as we now know that corporations are people we can view a forest as one entity or a group of people as one person. Assuming such a perspective handicap, one is now able to hear my intention which is to demonstrate the evolution of a newly forming life into a massive and ultimately self destructive force. I hear my horn as a primitive form of life and I hear the saxophone solo by Clay Pritchard as man’s first harnessing of the material power of nature. The guitar solo by Nick Earl represents the culmination of an entity’s desire to consume and contain all that is around it until the energy is too much and dissolution occurs.
This song has its inside information but musically speaking it is a simple experiment in having too many ingredients but removing as little as possible. Many times I feel these experiments don’t pan out but whether they do or don’t is just the reality of what occurred and like the scientist who reports all results, good and bad, I must allow this experiment to live. Often times we are surprised later by a creation that perhaps was not given its’ due attention. That is symbolized by certain parts in which a cohesive funk is stumbled upon as well as the unifying, resolute ending that affirms the track’s underlying glue.
Pay the Haters No Mind
A song that I am immensely proud even though it is a crippled song from my part. Pterradacto has been a figure in my life to learn from and be inspired by and this situation was no less than such. A late night trip to my studio in a haze of delusional inspiration. The first beat was taken in spite of its funeral dirge sound and all I could do is accept this because I imagined that if I desperately tried to hold things up and sift through my beats for the ones that I thought were cool instead of the one used I might throw off the inspirational flow. The lyrics and rap were done in a half hour and recorded in fifteen minutes. I could do nothing but allow this to stay the way it wanted to be. To be around legends grows you in ways you could never imagine and this is a small taste of the larva stages of Pterradacto’s influence on me.
A beginning, some of the first periods of recording other musicians. Living in north Austin and going through hard knocks producing school in a hairy living environment proved to be quite challenging and required a certain faith and perseverance in spite of discouraging aspects of the particular reality. This was one of the early tracks that I played bass on with the Doctopus bass. This song represents the ability to keep moving forward no matter what discouraging obstacles present them selves.
I strive to have a willingness to accept all morsels as music worth completing. This was made with the cheapest microphone I own through a nice tube preamp and compressor in an unprepared room right after a move. Songs just present themselves sometimes.
This track was special because an extremely talented saxophone and trumpet player Ben Burget was able to bring his presence on Soprano Sax. This is one of the early tracks in which I played mostly everything.
I Will Never be Alone
One of my earliest completed tracks and one of the few that I actually sing on. This track relates to my battles with mental activity and my inability to remove all extracurricular conversations between and within myself. While it sounds melancholy it is actually a blissful realization that there is no such thing as “alone”. We cannot escape the relationship between worlds, plants, animals, humans, concepts, truths etc. The group situation always was and always will be. The nature of how you have conflict with the group is very important.
This track technically is comprised of the sound of the classic Marshall guitar Amp. Musically it is similar to Evolution but represents a slightly different evolutionary curve. It represents the sounds of creation floating around in the swamps that formed at the dawn of the cycle and moving toward harmonious rhythm as societies form, on to distorted occupation and imperialism only in this period we settle back to the original state completing an expanding and contracting cycle. The solo trumpet symbolizes the journey of the entity and how it’s means for expression change with time.
The second installment of duets between Guitarist Dan Dockrill and Saxophonist Matt Moore. To me this brings to mind the fluid meandering of vacant moments and how a blissful state can be achieved by merely watching these passing existences and allowing them their autonomy within their purpose.
Another freestyle mashing of three takes. These tracks represent my brief experimentation with more Rap appropriate music. My urge to maintain spontaneous sound causes me once again to explore the raw source of one take freestyle rap material mixed together to create one line. This expresses my reverence for a state of mind in which one is seemingly unchangeable while simultaneously flowing effortlessly down the changing flow of reality.
A shout out to Jamil Byrom and Robin Everhart, two of the coldest R&B ballroom funk musicians I’ve played with. Also a special acknowledgement to the true genius in the family, James Shields, for his appreciation of the trumpet coral and for taking the original photograph that the cover is derived from. The basic concept of this album is that the word nothing is something and therefore could never be a satisfactory description of the concept (which is also not what it professes to be), hence No Thing as in “the absence of everything”. This is somewhat inspired by the fact that the track has plenty of harmony and no harmonic instrument. Nothing is something.
One of the earliest of the ancient rap dirt fully realized in one take philosophy chorus to verses to layering and back ups. This song is about just making a quick track and expressing whatever happens to be there and not manufacturing an inanimate subject. The subject of a verse is even acted out in an impromptu and involuntary physical occurrence embodying the spirit of the moment and the truth about what we are already doing.
The Pied Piper
This song goes out to Pido, the smoothest jazz singer I know. This is a call to follow me with my traveling band where there are no soloists or separation of any kind. Every one can be heard with equal presence even though there is an obvious leader piping their tune and leading us to a harmonious conclusion. Another experimentation into musical density. We should be reminded how all the voices support nearly equally to the lead. The lead appears alone from the rest only by a little.
Where did the Music go?
My first experimentation into editing live drum tracks for effect. I value the combined sound of acoustic and electronic music because they are two sides of the same coin. All music approached from different places arriving at the same conclusion. This song is about all the combined chaos of composition, improvisation, programming, and sequencing imploding at a singularity at the end of the song leaving the bass and trumpet duet to take us home wondering “where did the music go.” I must acknowledge the creative bongo playing of George Shalda (also the brilliant mastering engineer of this album). He has been the number one driving force behind me even having a car to try drive let alone being able to drive it well enough to record and mix a twenty track album. A soldier of sound and a name not to be forgotten.
This final track almost was saved for the next one but was added because it lives in the world of the first album as well as the world of the next ones. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try an idea I’ve had for a while which was to produce a mainstream, goofy, punk song with no singer. It was originally a bass and drums duet between myself and Tex Bosley, who had the perfect feeling for what I was going for here. This track is a crossroad looking back and also looking forward. The freestyle following the track, “Remember December” was recorded ten years ago when I was making beats with a two octave midi controller and reason and George had recently purchased one of his first ribbon microphones. This track in it’s entirety represents the entire period of my producing life.
Judgment, assigning value, definition, and things of this nature are relative. Who is behind these things? Musician? Listener? Politician? Voter? Patriot? Anybody is behind them. Anybody can assign meaning to anything and that is all worth what it is but the ever more vast universe is being and therefore experiencing all of this always. In our world judgment has a trial of some length but in the world of truth it is instantaneous and with no debate. Everything is affected by everything else without question or inquiry and while we have created the framework of our social interaction, we are still completely subordinate to the ultimate defining of the Universe.
I try to be accurate. What I am exactly as I am. If there is any dressing up it is only reflective of my natural inclination toward lightly decorating my art for the purpose of highlighting and not altering my natural way. If one joins the comparative game of man, then one is a member of a small party off somewhere, a small part of the total picture and not producing any meaning of relative importance. An individual’s pedestrian art, while insignificant in many senses, is also infinitely significant because, like the Universe, it is completely reflective of itself. To be a small part of the entire whole and value the audience of eternity and not the unfulfilled appetite of expendable mortality is the right goal because it cannot be escaped and everything is within.
So I say to all musicians everywhere, “Be a part of all of it. Be true and you will be judged true.” The musical drama of man is the local play down the street in a small theater with a modest curtain. The musical experience of infinity is unavoidable and inevitably realized. To possess the value of ultimate truth one must grasp all of it and if it is all grasped when all perspectives are understood and human opinion becomes no different from the natural changes of the landscape. While the friction of comparison and judgment are unavoidable since they are like the opposing forces found in matter that hold them, their process can be allowed to be poured into the river of reality and seen for their observable state and not supplemented by the opinions of men.
There is nothing worse than withholding self-realization. We must break down the influence that takes us away from the truth about ourselves and our music, see it for what it is, and offer our life to the infinite, allowing us to merge with the truth to which we already contribute. Seeking originality is useless. Every spec in the Universe is singularly unique. There is no need to search for what you don’t have because you already have everything. No need for ambition for up until the present, you have already accomplished everything that you have. Just be there. Do what you’ve done before but today which will always be a different way from the last thing you had to say. Just as nothing is doubled in the universe, nothing can happen twice. Uniqueness is your life sentence! To be regarded in a singular way as a musician is not a goal worth putting anything into. The only goal is to be what you are and allow the truth of what you are to manifest itself through your music just as the sounds of the universe reign true from the smallest vibration to a single oscillation of an expanding and contracting existence.
Nate Werth, Chris Villanueva, Clay Pritchard, Nick Earl, Pterradacto, Sean Kirk, George Shalda, Laura Shalda, Ryan Williams, Tex Bosley, Dan Dockrill, Ben Burget, Jamil Byrom, Robin Everhart, Ryan Johnson, Darin Lang, Matt Moore, Ian G. Harrison, Pido, Elliot Morgan, Jeff Dhalgren, Cameron Mizell, Jessica Leza, Brandon Starkweather, Jay Saunders, James Shields, Laura, Mom, Greg Shields, Sammy, and Simona.