The Revised Hierarchy Of Human Needs (For The Modern Man)
The Revised Hierarchy Of Human Needs is an album that floats somewhere in the third stream where the lines of Classical Music and Jazz become blurred. On top of the album being something of sonic interest, the album is also an observation piece on our global society that hopes to ask the listener "What is it that drives you?" "What is it you feel you need to be complete?"
I usually make it a point to not exert my academic facility when it comes to music. Even as a teacher. However, I find this particular composition to require something of an explanation not only from a musical but also a philosophical stand point.
It's easy to assume that someone who uses technology to make music has no conception of compositional development. It is also easy to assume that most people who make music using technology have no grasp of harmonic relationship, rhythmic displacement, or any other device an "educated musician" would use to create music. I think the general public has a consensual but lazy notion that one can just push a button and create instant music. Like most misconceptions, a general assumption that technology can compensate for lack of skill and knowledge in any area is supremely ignorant. Dare I say, it is also extremely destructive.
With all of our technology available at our fingertips we have not solved problems that have plagued human existence probably since our inception. How could we when dominant motive seems to be self distraction?
Like any new development, once in the hands of the public there is a potential for attainment of the highest universal ideals or for it sink way past our basest of predilections. I think its safe to say the later has been the dominant direction. I just wonder how many people ponder that in their daily lives. I think about it every day. It inspires me to want to be better. I hardly succeed at that but I think the effort is what counts to me.
About The Composition:
I am currently in the process of reacquainting myself with the various religions of the world in a effort to gain more understanding about myself and my neighbors from different cultures who practice a variety of faiths.
During this period I was reminded of the journey of Siddhartha from living the comfortable life of a prince, to a wandering ascetic, to what we refer to as The Buddha or "The Awakened One". Though I don't call myself a Buddhist, the story has always resonated with me since reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as well as Jack Kerouac's Wake Up. I also began meditating around the age of sixteen and have found it invaluable in my life. There is a misconception that you must be a Buddhist or a Hindu practitioner in order to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Meditation is something that anyone from any religious or philosophical background can enjoy. I highly recommend it.
In the first movement of this piece I attempted to put into music an idea from the Four Noble Truths that life is suffering. There are many ways to interpret this but what I am starting to conceptualize is that our identification with ego is essentially what creates a sense of suffering, or dissatisfaction. I am certainly not immune to this dissatisfaction and have yet to meet someone who I feel genuinely is free from it. Musically, one can hear the very angular guitar melody some grating #9/13 chords against a very harmonically and rhythmically contrapuntal bass line. In addition I attempted to create some slightly industrial rhythms using a variety of percussion instruments. The theme in the beginning is quite dark but slightly comical to me like paying attention to the thoughts that run through your head from time to time. As we progress through the first movement we hear some tritone melodic movement giving the piece an even more sinister effect.
Our second movement is much more spacious but no less sinister. In my mind I likened this to Siddhartha wandering the world as an ascetic, forcing himself through many trials to push his mind, body, and spirit. Harmonically this is an interesting section. Initially I had the intent to move strictly in minor thirds but accidentally I moved back from my starting point and descended in thirds.
The third movement depicts Siddartha sitting underneath what is now called the Bodhi tree. It is said this is where Siddhartha defeated the demon Mara, gained enlightenment and became The Buddha. Melodically we can hear much more spaciousness and we can also hear the tone of the piece changing to major implying a more peaceful and optimistic outlook.
There are many great books and lectures about Buddhism if one is so inclined to investigate it further. I would hope that you are also open and curious about religion and philosophical outlooks from all over the world.
Pre-Order Liquid Slumber
I am happy to announce that you can now pre-order Liquid Slumber. As is common, I have included a ton of bonus material including photos from some of the recording sessions, lyric sheets, as well as album artwork. As an extra bonus to the first 100 people who buy Liquid Slumber, I have included something very special and twisted. I can't talk about it too much to avoid controversy but I can honestly say it will blow your mind.
So what are you waiting for? The album is only $8.00 and you can order it easily and securely with Credit Card of PayPal. I promise, this will be the best eight bucks you have ever spent.
Liquid Slumber Review (Sleeping Bag Studios)
It’s not too often you’ll find me speechless not quite knowing how to describe what I’m hearing…forgive me if I stumble a bit here in this review for Joe DeVita’s latest album, Liquid Slumber…
It starts with beautiful, haunting guitar work that literally gave me chills. From there…it’s a series of interesting choices, some of which worked for me instantly, some grew on me, some I’m still not sure worked even now after several listens. The opening track “By The Water,” for instance…right near the beginning there’s one quick bar of guitar-rock nestled in there…which is an indication of course of where this track will grow and swell to, but I didn’t feel that part fit into the beginning at all…just that one moment I felt shouldn’t be there for a preview; that ending should hit with the impact of its massive sound through the journey we’ve taken to get there. It sounds nit-picky I know, but this of course, is how it goes sometimes when you’re reviewing music on a critical-level; and if I’m hearing something it’s fairly safe to assume that lots of others are as well.
Aside from that…this acoustically-driven track is equal parts of sweet & haunting. I’m not honestly sure if I was sold on DeVita’s vocal tones as a singer – but I can certainly say that the song he’s written here is a subtle-gem of a track. It sounds isolated…small…lonely…and lyrically reflects this with a tear-jerking melody to go along with tones of hope. I was just told by the longest standing girlfriend I had of some five total years off and on, before I met my wife of ten years; that she’s packing up and moving to England. I don’t know what it is about this extraordinary combination of the information I’ve just taken in along with the emotionally sullen tones of “By The Water,” but Joe’s already got me listening in close. Searching for hidden applicable meanings I suppose…music is always about timing. And it certainly attaches to memory and your own personal experiences…watch out… This is a heartfelt opening and a really good song to hear at a time when I felt like I needed it most, and the more I heard it the more I was able to appreciate the way Joe had approached it through the vocals.
“Ocean Song” is where he also snapped me back to ‘regular’ life and out of my over-emotional states. It starts out with loud crashing guitars coming right at you in this first-promised single from DeVita’s new album. It’s big and has a groove that certainly catches on quick, with crunchy guitars gnashing away behind and in front of a sparklingly toned lead soloing like there won’t be a tomorrow. The hypnotic element of DeVita’s voice continue to grow on a listener, and by the end this whole song sounds like a heavy twist on your transistor radio in a perfect ending to a big, big song like this. Massive contrast here between this designated-single and the subtly-sweet opening track!
Returning to the soft-side, the next track “Alex McKinley” is a piano-driven track with an acoustic guitar backing…a flow that has a similar nature to something like “Going To California,” or the lighter side of Led Zeppelin…it has a classic nature to the sound. I mean, it could be something like “Tangerine” or something…but that essence is unmistakably there. I think this proved to be the biggest challenge for DeVita on a vocal level…spots where he hits it perfect, others not so much, but again another well-written song.
Into the final half of this 6-song adventure, DeVita takes us into the ocean once again with “At Sea.” There’s a great atmospheric mix to this track…almost the opposite of the isolated beginning. Much like the subject itself, this song sounds completely wide-open. There’s a dramatic element to this track, and towards the two-and-a-half minute mark features one of the real highlight moments from Liquid Slumber. Listening to the bittersweet lyrics, it’s an interesting tale that offers a unique take and perspective of life & death and how we feel about it while we’re busy living.
Wrapping it up is the airy & lightness of “Aurora;” a track that sounds like it was recorded amongst the clouds before descending back to Earth for the piano-driven final track “Radiogram.” I appreciate the emotion that Joe puts into the songs he writes; he clearly writes from the heart and that translates easily to a listening ear. I also dig the innovation in this last track as Joe finds a way to hang in until the final bell is rung here on Liquid Slumber, delivering solidly between the loud and the quiet in “Radiogram.” There’s definitely moments on this album with authentic tone and emotion that are unmistakable…and those are the parts you can’t teach a person. In time…the cracks in this material will sort through themselves as Joe continues on to build on his strengths and true voice as a singer/songwriter. -Sleeping Bag Studios
Here is The Antihero in its digital glory :)