[Seattle, USA. April 27th, 2012] Fans, here is another great mix in the slough of prog rock meanderings that we seem to have found ourselves in the beginning of this year. This particular mix comes from a Seattle native, and a vibrant staple of the music community here. Gel-Sol (aka Andrew Reichel) has been covered before to much acclaim by The Stranger (by one of our favorite writers), if you care to know more...
Gel-Sol, how's it been hanging around your way? You just executed a project you've had in the works for quite a while, is that correct?
I've been hangin' low and loose, thanks for havin' me!
Ah yes, the Monster Planet-Year One album. Monster Planet is a monthly in Seattle that I host along with my friends, William, Crispy, Seth, Leo and Matt. The idea behind Monster Planet is that we have 5 musicians improvise to obscure/rare/shitty B-movies for 4 hours straight. I have been improvising with music since my college years (early 90s), so I really wanted to host/play improv sessions with different musicians and multitrack the sessions so the material could be utilized later, whether it be a straight-up mix of the performance, or a just using very specific sections or loops for other projects. We just began our third year, and the performances keep getting better and better. It's pretty insane from where I'm standing.
The album itself is about 95 minutes of seamless material highlighting some of the best improvs from the first year of Monster Planet. Since it's about the length of a standard movie, we encourage the listener to throw on their favorite B-movie and listen to the album over it. We'd love to know if any movies work particularly well with it! The music is primarily psychedelic-ambient-experimental, and with all my projects, requires an attention-span to fully enjoy it!
Check it out here.
Could you talk a little bit about the genesis of Gel-Sol, and the realm in which it occupies?
I guess the origin of Gel-Sol starts with the name. I stumbled across the term gel-sol in Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising, where gel-sol means, uh….well, here's the quote from the book:
“The brain appears to be made up of matter in electro-colloidal suspension (protoplasm). Colloids are pulled together, toward a condition of gel, by their surface tensions. This is because surface tensions pull all glue-like substances together. Colloids are also, conversely, pushed apart, toward a condition of sol, by their electrical charges. This is because their electrical charges are similar, and similar electrical charges always repel each other. In the equilibrium between gel and sol, the colloidal suspension maintains its continuity and life continues. Move the suspension too far toward gel, or too far toward sol, and life ends. Any chemical that gets into the brain, changes the gel-sol balance, and "consciousness" is accordingly influenced. Thus, potatoes are, like LSD, "psychedelic" - in a milder way.”
"Gel" also is short for gelatin (solid), and "Sol" is short for solution (liquid). To me, these dichotomies were something I could apply to the music, and any other ideas or philosophies. Exploring dichotomies provides balance, as well as keeping things interesting. I can play things that are soft and major. I can counteract that with something really heavy and minor. To lighten up the mood of a more "serious" passage, I might play a funny sample collage. I can be really beat-oriented or I can be ambient. With this gel-sol name I felt I had a concept that didn't limit me, and allowed me to be as varied as I desired, with the overall style clearly being a representation of my personality.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by the realm in which Gel-Sol occupies, but it's really just intended to be psychedelic escape. Throw it on, and it takes you somewhere else. Outer space, a fictional landscape, flying on a fried egg over a city made out of bacon, it doesn't really matter to me where you go as long as you just go! I'm really just trying to trip myself out, and if someone else likes it, that's cool. I think I'm up to 5 people. In a nutshell, Gel-Sol is psychedelic, ambient and experimental. I can't really pin it down more accurately. People in the past have called it IDM or downtempo, which is really kinda inaccurate, because I don't restrict myself to tempos, let alone "down" or slower ones. Also, my creations can get downright stupid, which eliminates the "intelligent" in IDM.
You're one of the staples in (what's become) a vibrant progrock and psychedelic music community in Seattle. Could you give us a quick overview of what some of your favorite musical ventures are in this city?
Wow, that's a tough question. I feel like I've been laying low this Winter and really only going out to the events I host. However, both nights I host are completely badass (see below)! I'm really kind of an outsider with both the Seattle electronic and psychedelic scenes. I'm not techno enough for the electronic scene, and I'm too techno for the psychedelic scene. Honestly, I know very little of the psych scene. I'm just starting to meet more people. I really like the cats in Midday Veil. Great band, and they've all got their interesting side-projects. They've been supportive of the PROG! night I co-host too. I really hope to collaborate with more people on the psych-side, because I started off playing in proggy bands, and I miss that interaction. Plus it's one of my goals to unite like-minded electronic musicians and more-traditional musicians. It doesn't really get much proggier than that!
Though I haven't been in a while, I really like going to see experimental shows at the Josephine in Ballard. And I highly recommend seeing the Suffering @!#$heads, a drum and Hammond organ duo that plays for free at the Copper Gate every Tuesday night. Walk through the doors that look like a vagina, and you will see two guys that will blow your @!#$ing mind! I've been a dick and not seen them lately…
What happenings are you personally involved in? Are there any other projects besides Gel-Sol that you meander with?
There's the aforementioned Monster Planet. You are not going to find another night like this in Seattle. It's at the Can Can Cabaret down at the Pike Place Market, which is a very "charming" place. It reminds me of the cantina in Star Wars. But as far as the music goes, it is forward-thinking psychedelic ambient experimental music. It's not a boys club, with a crew of dudes just trying to look cool, either. We're trying to build a culture/network of people that are interested in making up music on the spot, whether it be with friends or complete strangers. Improvisation is like having a conversation, so we try to bring out guests who want to talk with each other, with crazy-ass sounds.
I do perform at the Monster Planet events every couple of months (under the Gel-Sol name), and I have another project called Kids For Tomorrow, which is more of a collaboration between me and whoever wants to write an album with me. There are two Kids For Tomorrow albums, the first one I made with Monster Planet cohort William Mempa, and a second album with Nils Whitmont. No plans for a third album yet, but that could change at any time.
I also co-host PROG!, a bi-weekly at the Living Room dedicated to all things progressive music. I have the pleasure of spinning records with Dave Segal (Veins), Valerie Calano (Explorateur) and Frank Jenkins (Narvan), so there is no shortage of amazing stuff I've never heard before. The knowledge between those three is pretty insane. I'm definitely the least-knowledgeable of the four. We bring in amazing guests for every show, have a 2-cam live stream, and also offer record trading and selling. It's really all about the music. When playing records we like to show the covers so you know what you're listening to. It's great to see a group of people huddled around a record critiquing the art, or talking about their favorite cut on the album. It's a really fantastic night, and I hope more people come check it out! "Prog" is generally seen as a bad word, because some assholes said it sucked in the 70s, and sure, by the mid-70s progressive rock went way up it's own ass, but there's amazing (and shitty) stuff from any era. I don't even think the majority of people who say prog sucks even know what it is, or they think it's a genre consisting of several same-sounding bands. We are here to prove the naysayers wrong!
What's your take on the current state of all things music as we end the first third of 2012?
I don't really listen to a lot of current music. I'm too busy discovering awesome music from 40 years ago! All I know is that there's a lot of @!#$ out there, and you really gotta sift through it to find the gems! I will say though, as I get older, I am placing more and more value on the local scene. As a kid, all of my favorite bands were from Europe, so I had no real connection to my local scene. I grew up during the D.C hardcore/punk scene in the 80s, but couldn't identify with it at all. I figured, if I could play someone's song on the guitar with relative ease, it wasn't really very good, because I sucked (and still do) at the guitar. I admired virtuosity, and punk didn't do it for me, though I ironically played in several punks bands growing up. Now, being older, wiser and loosely part of the Seattle scene(s), I feel more connected to the people around me, and am more interested in collaborating with them. Plus, I can't keep up with @!#$ anymore. There's too may people on this rock! I'd rather know what my friends are doing than some flavor-of-the-month Pitchfork hipster.
Could you talk a little bit about your podcast and the tracks that you selected for it?
Well, there's a lot of variety in the mix, and it's all pretty obscure stuff, give or take a few well-known acts, like Tangerine Dream and Hawkwind. This is my tenth prog rock mix that I've made, so I try to play stuff that isn't quite so obvious. You can find "beginner's guide" mixes of prog anywhere, so I'm not gonna load up a mix with Yes and ELP tracks (though they do pop up from time to time). There's quite a few Italian tracks in the mix, but there's stuff from all over. France, Germany, England, Australia, Hungary, The Netherlands. No American prog though. Americans love prog like no one else, but we kinda suck at making it (or at least we did).
I would love to be able to dispel the myth that prog is a genre, and within that genre are only a handful of bands that sound alike. Sure, I started off as a kid listening to Rush and Yes and Genesis and King Crimson and Pink Floyd, but none those bands sound anything alike, and it's not like they all played within the same motifs, making prog a genre. It's really about bands and artists exploring and experimenting, pulling from any and every influence to make something that is an accurate representation of the artist's personality. I still love the quintessential prog bands, but that is really the tip of the iceberg. There is so much crazy @!#$ out there that fits under the umbrella of prog, it's really kind of mind-numbing. Luckily, having Franklin, Dave and Val around makes it a little easier to hear some amazing music. Rarely when I'm in a club or bar do my ears perk up when something great comes on, but I find myself doing it a lot when the three of them play. They are the taste-makers!
I totally got off track, apologies! So yeah, lots of different vibes on this mix. It starts off pretty hard-rockin', goes into some deeper stuff, dissipates into some ambient/electronic territory, then rocks out again. I even put a sort-of ironic feel good song at the end!
And then we all must know, what's up for you next?
Heh, that's a good question. I got a lot on my plate, so I have to figure out where I want to go from here. I have a double-album I've been slowly working on for years that I need to finish up. I would like to get that printed on vinyl, so if I can't make that happen, I might stubbornly not release it. I gotta finish it first.
I have a really great concept for a movie. It's sort of a 2001 meets Heavy Metal meets What's Up, Tigerlily? meets Bad Lip Reading. I mainly want to do it so I can do all the foley and soundtrack work. I need to find some dialogue writers though. If I find the right people, this project would be a perfect blend of my psychedelic music and sense of humor.
Then of course is the Monster Planet - Year Two release. We want to release one of these comps every year if possible.
Beyond that, I'm sure I'll release some more prog rock compilations and plunderphonic insanity. I'm generally never short on music concepts/projects. Stay up to date at gel-sol.com!
Thanks again for havin me Made Like a Tree dot com!
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1. Alphataurus - La Mente Vola [Magma]
2. Quella Vecchia Locanda - Prologo [BMG]
3. Supersister - Missing Link [Ploydor]
4. Camel - Freefall [Passport]
5. Luv Machine - Everything [Polydor]
6. Enrico Simonetti - Drugs Theme [Cinevox]
7. New Trolls - C'e troppa guerra [Fonit Cetra]
8. Coeur Magique - Wakan Tanka [Byg Records]
9. Pulsar - Flight [KIngdom Records]
10. Nichts - Lied Des Teufels [Missing Vinyl]
11. Jean-Yves Labat - Champegarpaen [Bearsville]
12. Cherry Five - The Swan Is A Murderer (Part 2) [Cinevox]
13. Sam Spence - Waterworld [Finders Keepers]
14. The Master's Apprentices - Melodies Of St. Kilda [Regal Zonophone]
15. Steve Maxwell Von Braund-Monster Planet [Clear Light Of Jupiter]
16. Tangerine Dream - Rubycon Part II [Polydor]
17. Zed - Fremen [Initial Recordings]
18. Hawkwind - The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon [Charisma]
19. Heldon - Une Drole De Journee [Egg]
20. Skorpio - Vezess at az ejszakan [Pepita]
21. Atomic Rooster - Sleeping for Years [B & C Records]
22. Gracious - Once on a Windy Day [Vertigo]
This post has been edited by gel-sol: 01 May 2012 - 05:45 AM