It’s Been Too Long

Hello internet. It’s been too long since I last updated this website. Much has happened since 2019 and the release of ‘EEP’. Here are the highlights…

Introducing… Murphy Mast

Before jetting off to India in 2017 I reconnected with an old friend, Patrick Murphy (AKA Talking Circles) who I have known since we were in elementary school (4th grade or something like that), but we went to different schools after that and lost touch in our teen years. Our friendship was quickly rekindled in the summer of 2018, and we started making music as Murphy Mast in early 2019. In what felt like no time at all we released our first album, ‘At My Mom’s House‘, in 2020 on our Bandcamp. The album was closely followed by a 5-track EP ‘We Had Plans‘ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That same year we made a visual album ‘Eno‘ in collaboration with Emmy Award-winning director, video producer, photographer, and long time friend, Elliot Blumberg.

O t h e r s i d e

When the COVID-19 global pandemic began many of us stayed in our homes and played it safe during one of the greatest paradigm shifts of our time. The fear of an incurable virus ushered us into an new era of isolation, of hidden smiles and social distance. It was during this time that I began tele-working for the music school I was managing and teaching at. I spent most of my downtime making music in my home studio, writing poetry, and taking long walks in the woods behind my house between Zoom lessons. It was a lonely time, but there was a silver lining that revealed itself in the connections we were able to maintain with our loved ones from afar.

I stayed in close contact with long-time collaborator and front man of Nature’s Neighbor, Mike Walker, who had just released ‘Windy City Airport’ in January 2020 and was living in Chicago at the time. He wasn’t too keen on starting a new project just yet, but that quickly changed after I sent him a few demos I had produced for him to sing on. The gears started turning, and we decided to put together a five-song EP. Five songs quickly became seven, became nine, and eventually a full length 12-song LP which I produced and mixed with the help of many collaborators.

The album was released on May 14 on the Nature’s Neighbor Bandcamp and went on to receive several positive reviews from review websites and even landed us an Zoom interview with The Underbelly Hours:

“Throughout the album, the group maintains a firm grip on its most experimental impulses, wrestling them into shapes that carefully draw listeners through every stylistic dip, switcheroo, and loop-the-loop. The way “Bold Move” expands its shrunken funk synth into a maximalist intergalactic melody suggests that Walker and Nature’s Neighbor have only begun to explore their creativity.”

– Chicago Reader

“Nature’s Neighbor return with another full length, the eclectic and worldly, Otherside. The album truly has no boundaries, rippling from synthetic laptop-pop to progressive folk and warped R&B with everything else in between touched upon for good measure. Mike Walker teams up once again with frequent collaborator Terrill Mast to create an album conceived and developed during lock-down that in turn sounds as free and adventurous as they come.”

– Post-trash

I’m incredibly proud of the work we did on this album, which holds a warm place in my heart and bookmarks and otherwise daunting time. ‘O t h e r s i d e‘ is now available on all streaming platforms.

Quarantine Dreams

At the same time as I was producing ‘O t h e r s i d e’ I was also working on my own solo music, a lockdown concept album. This time, instead of working with my usual cast of collaborators I produced completely alone. It was a departure from lengthy synth-scores and an exploration of a more singer-songwriter feel with vocals on every song and recurring narrative themes. ‘Quarantine Dreams‘ was released on Bandcamp on July 3, 2020, and then made it’s way to all streaming platforms in March of 2021.

Vignettes Vol.1-5

That same summer, Patrick and I started making rule-based albums called Vignettes. A vignette is any song under two minutes long, and the each collection of songs must be under 30 minutes in length. Since the release of ‘Vignettes Vol.1: 80’s Summer Romance‘ in March 2021, Murphy Mast has released a total of five volumes (each with awesome covers designed by Victor Madrid), with several more on the back-burner. You can listen to all of our short tunes exclusively on our Bandcamp, including our latest, ‘Vignettes Vol.5: Ghostboxes‘.

YM&TP Mk2 + Walking Around

In the fall of 2021 I decided it would be a fun thing to revisit and reproduce from scratch a handful of the songs that I used to play with Nature’s Neighbor back in 2015. I brought up the idea to Mike after putting together a couple of demos and he was fully on board, thus ‘YM&TP Mk2‘.

Shortly after that walk down memory lane, Mike approached me about doing a more experimental, ambient album in collaboration with the incredibly talented Will Kryiazis (AKA Wilk). That project became ‘Walking Around‘. I had lot of fun deviating from typical structures and entering a sonic space that was mainly unbound by rhythm, and working with Will, who helmed production, was a huge privilege.

2022 and Beyond…

After ‘Walking Around’ I started working on a new solo album in early 2022 with the usual cast of characters (Mike Walker, Jed Lingat, Phil Schoof, Ryan Selove, and Perry Cowdery) and have just entered the mastering stage of that album with the one and only Seth Engel. That album will be making its release sometime this summer.

Until then, you can hear me playing piano on another Nature’s Neighbor album, ‘The Glass Album‘ which released only a few days ago and is the best thing Mike has put together yet.

In August of 2022 I resigned from my position as director of a local music school so that I could spend time in Japan with Mike to fulfill a life-long dream of ours. To be brief, it was the journey of a lifetime. While I was there I produced an album of songs that sampled audio from many of the places I have visited. I hope to release it in the fall of 2023… but until then you can see Mike and I jamming on some tunes in his apartment outside of Kyoto.