HEY!TONAL, an experimental supergroup featuring members of Maps & Atlases, Storm & Stress, Joan of Arc, Rumah Sakit, Sleeping People and Chevreuil, released their self titled album in 2009 on CD, and this year the progressive jazz math rock has been remastered and will it be released for the first time on October 8th in 2XLP format via conceptual label Computer Students. Today, we’re super pleased to give you the refreshed version of the song Kcraze, along with a special vinyl presentation, showcasing its unique design and interesting finish.
Hey!Tonal is a striking record, full of delicate incongruities hidden in the music; happy accidents were meticulously given purpose during mixing, malleable drums and guitars intertwined with a myriad of improvised and shaped sounds. The overall impression is of some oblique explanation to an unsolved mystery. The song “Kcraze” is the third track on the album and it displays most of the different facets and contours of the release. Shimmering notes melt together mesmerizingly, building up the foundation of the song, while stereophonic guitars emerge from nowhere and hypnotic drumming break into the progression. Lead by droning electronic distortions, the listener is guided into the complication of a song that mixes tension and innovation with excellence.
The pedigree of this collective is unquestionable. Members and ex-members of Storm & Stress, Sweep The Leg Johnny, Maps & Atlases and Joan of Arc, among others, combine in unconventional fashion to whip up a batch of deliciously accomplished mathy jazz-rock snacks. The results share common ground with both HEALTH and Don Caballero, via a novel route. Project co-ordinator Mitch Cheney started by recording some of Kevin Shea’s seriously banging drum tracks then chopping them into shape with the addition of some inspired and complex instrumental contributions from his colleagues, who were at the time scattered across North America. Gradually the piece came together over distance, one element at a time, and the results, thanks to Cheney and collaborator Alan Mills, are surprisingly musical. Some skewed sampling and audio manipulation bring an eccentric edginess without detracting from what are fundamentally strong compositions. The ugly but quite awesome Kcraze is particularly highly recommended.
Cheney initially conceived HEY!TONAL as a project to be called “Drummers’ Perspectives”, and that working title sums up its ethos. He came up with the idea in 2006 when he was composing music for the NYC film and television company Transition Productions. While using the MIDI-based application Reason to program beats, Mitch substituted drum samples with guitar and dulcimer sounds. He became inspired to write melodies based on the drumbeat being the starting point of composition, opposed to the other way around. “In the bands I have played in, the drums have always been a reaction to the melodies that had been written,” Cheney explains, “as opposed to being the catalyst for the melody to be written over.”
He first explored the idea by recording Royal Trux drummer, Chris Pyle in his Asheville bedroom and again in St. Augustine, FL. A providential meeting with Alan Mills meant another collaborator would try his hand at the resultant rhythmic and melodic tangle. The two quickly came to form the nucleus of HEY!TONAL.
The basic concept for their compositional process stemmed from Cheney’s experience with television editing. “I was shocked at how much storyline material would end up on the floor of a show once it was finished and ready for broadcast”, he says. The two manipulated all the catalogued sounds as if they were visual elements, comparing the leftovers to “the blood of the eventually ingested meat still staining the footprints of the miles walked to create a meal.”
The initial trials over Pyle’s tribal beats didn’t function with the technicality of the writing process because they were recorded ambiently. They thought of contacting Kevin Shea of Storm & Stress to capture him directionally, to later edit his improvised performance. Mitch traveled to NY to record him as the primary drummer. Kevin’s versatility and creativity brought HEY!TONAL to a different place. As time went by, several fateful encounters inspired Mills and Cheney to invite other musicians to join the project, including Davison and Katsaounis. Kenseth Thibideau (Rumah Sakit, Sleeping People) and Julien Fernandez (Chevreuil) joined the group for a song as well.
The result of this unusual approach is a striking record, full of delicate incongruities hidden in the music; happy accidents were meticulously given purpose during mixing, malleable drums and guitars intertwined with a myriad of improvised and shaped sounds. The overall impression is of some oblique explanation to an unsolved mystery.
Hey!Tonal will be released October 8, 2021 on Computer Students, a unique, conceptual record label based in Europe and the United States. It will be the second of their Anatomical Reissues series, which devotes aesthetic and analytical re-examination to existing works.
The record will be available on double white vinyl with all four sides running at 45 rpm. It will be packaged in a superb gatefold cover complete with a massive poster, all housed in metallic packaging that reflects Computer Students’ futuristic ethos. The album will also be available in MP3 and M4A formats on the label’s website and on all digital platforms worldwide.