Thursday, May 19, 2011

East Meets West Coast: The Journey of Frank Alpine

For those who have been wondering: I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. Rather I have fallen into it; through the center like Alice into the rabbit hole. I can say that I am finally emerging from the painful contractions and dark vortex that is the birth canal into a life that is truly New York. Living here is like being the host of a never-ending dinner party. Everyone comes by eventually. And so it was with my long time close friend, Rich.

When I found out he would be in town from L.A. to mix Frank Alpine, I offered my services as his “personal chauffeur”. For three days, he would supervise the mixing for his upcoming self-titled LP. The full-length album is set to be released by October or November of this year on Wierd Records; a phenomenal independent record label devoted to promoting the most underrated yet stellar artists in the burgeoning dark indie undergound.

Due to plane delays and rerouting, I ended up having to drive to JFK at an ungodly 5:30 am, which of course left little time to sleep before making my way out.
I met Rich in a semi-delirious and sleep deprived state at the airport. Call time for the studio was around 2 in the afternoon which didn’t leave much time to head north in rush hour traffic, make it to Harlem, and nap before making our way back down to SonicWave Studio in Williamsburg. There we met the “Professor of Mixing” A.J. Tissian and the owner of Wierd Records, Pieter Schoolwerth, who was christened “Cold-Wave evangelist” by L.A. Weekly.

The first song goes up on the screen, and upon seeing the tremendous amount of files…and the culmination of many years work, it became obvious that it would be a while before this night was through. I had a feeling I would just meet back up with Rich at the end of the evening, which is exactly how it went down.

Ahh, but well worth the wait! At around 1 am, I was greeted by a brilliantly mixed, but uncut track of “Heart is Grey”. As my wilted mass of flesh melted into the sofa after making it through a wine soaked afternoon and late night, I felt the heavy-laden synth bass and unrelenting vocals along with the ethereal strings sound…like fingers across my body. My skin hummed with the frequency and pulsed from head to toe mirroring the rhythm. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, maybe all the wine or perhaps it’s that I have waited so long for this that I had some sort of ecstatic release. Until that moment, I had never heard any of Frank Alpine professionally mixed, but for the ten years of the project that I did hear, I only imagined it could sound so amazing.

Frank Alpine is not just a sound, but for those who are willing, it is an experience of progressive transcendence in each song and throughout the album.

Although the charm of gritty raw music of the first release is gone…the art of studio work is evident in this LP and allows for an evolution of the project’s sound. This new album promises to be a miraculous testament to what an individual with ONE keyboard can do with the support of believers.

*** Black and White photo credit: Dylan Gordon - All rights reserved ***