Hunkering down in the Funk Bunker for release of ‘Anodyne’
July 4, 2013
The three members of The Sessh have the cure for what ails you, and it comes in a 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inch square plastic package. The local band's new 11-song album is called "Anodyne," which, when used as a noun, is the term for a pain-killing drug or medicine.
"In medieval times it was an elixir that you would take after committing some type of sin, to purge yourself of the sin," said band founder Cristian Basso. "I thought that was cool from a psychological standpoint. Now it's translated to cure for pain, something that relieves you from stresses of everyday life. I think music does that for people in general and certainly for us, so we ran with it."
Tonight at Solaris Plaza in Vail, Basso, who plays the MIDI bass on the album, will take the stage with fellow bandmates Trevor Jones, who plays guitar, and drummer Jeff Jani for free show celebrating "Anodyne," which drops today. Along with the Vail show, the trio will perform two nights in Salida, as well as a show in Gunnison to celebrate the new album.
The audience as guinea pig
Most of the album was recorded over the course of the last year in Eagle at Basso's solar-powered recording studio, dubbed the Funk Bunker. The drums were recorded at a friend's studio in California.
Jones and Jani are both based in Denver, so it was tough to find big chunks of time to devote to the project.
"We did bits and pieces at a time, which stems from our own name, The Sessh. Everyone is so busy with other things," Basso said.
The album weaves together four different musical styles: funk, rock, soul and electronica. The sound is layered with a heavy, thick, low-end sound. With Jones and Jani a few hours away, Basso ended up doing both the harmonies and the lead vocals.
"That was a big to-do for me, from an artistic standpoint," he said. "I've never been in that position. I wanted to come across as sounding honest and true to what the lyrics were to deliver."
The vocals were recorded last, during the final two weeks of the process. "We worked backwards in a traditional sense," Basso said.
"What we had been doing was trying out all of our musical ideas live, using the audience as a guinea pig and seeing what would fly. I've never tried to work everything out live, usually I work it out in the studio."
Big sound, one instrument
The recording is being released on the Contra Basso Music label. The contents will be non-exclusively cataloged with Los Angeles based publishing company, Silver Side Productions, for licensing opportunities. A few guest musicians took part in the recording process, including Grammy nominee Jax Paxson (DJ-Scratches), formerly of Liquid Soul, as well as renown saxophonist Pete Wall (The Motet, Particle).
The songs have a rich, deep vibe that sounds as if five or six people are performing, rather than just the three men. That's thanks to the MIDI bass, Basso said, which he was introduced to a few years back while doing a project called The Royal Peeps.
"I learned a lot of studio tools that I wanted to bring to the live arena. As a result, the way I use the MIDI bass is I throw that signal into the computer, and I will, in some cases, have six or seven different sounds being triggered by the bass at once and they blend together with my regular analog bass signal, which then brings a new tone, a new sound.
"I got so excited in the studio when I heard it, I wanted to try it live," he said. "It just gives a huge, layered, rich, thick palate of sound coming out of one little instrument."
In the future, Basso is looking forward to using the tool to add visual effects, triggered by the bass, to screen behind the band as they perform live. He's in the process of connecting with film directors who can "help us out with these crazy, far-out ideas."
The album, which is $10, will be available for purchase at the show and on iTunes by next week and available via the band's Facebook page in the near future.