Starting off as the whimsical music meanderings of my youth, my mind eager to explore what could be done within the magnificent realm of music, my solo project has officially evolved into Godbless Thee, Mooseheart, an ambitious musical exploration hoping to create the most exciting and powerful progressive rock experience out there. Though most of our prided work is, as of yet, unreleased, being mostly a part of our two-part work-in-progress, The Prison, the debut release, Higher, is complete and out for the world to listen to.
I worked on Higher for a period of approximately a year and a half. For that lengthy period, it was my life and soul, originally starting off as a silly concept album about a kid in High School. It evolved so much beyond that point, having a completely different sound and style than I intended, instead becoming something that sound like a mix of Rush’s Moving Pictures and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, yet, considering the story line I had in mind, I can say with much confidence that it’s better it ended up the way it is now.
I put extra special care into making the album feel like it was a continuous piece of music, but I feel that despite the transitions to make everything seamless, every song still stands out on its own rather than the music feeling like an overlong song like so many other progressive rock/metal albums on the market today. The album is also book-ended by an introductory piece of music and a conclusive piece of music. I didn’t want the book-ends to be the average fair; I really wanted them to introduce the album as not just a piece of music, but an experience with almost theatrical qualities. The track “Gods in Hell (Intro)” expresses the themes of the song in auditory forms. We begin with hearing sounds of natural and analogue things, such as animal sounds, rain, ambiance, and an acoustic instrument. Eventually, distorted and electronic sounds come crashing in to represent how technology has destroyed a life style more close to nature, while “Gods in Hell” discusses the possible repercussions of technology for the human race. The album is not a concept album, but each song has a specific theme, and there is a certain continuity in certain ideas on the album. There are some things I would’ve done differently with it in retrospect; I would’ve put more effort into the production and chose less juvenile themes than the ones I included, though for a self-produced piece of music created in High School, I think it sounds fantastic, and I am proud of what I’ve done.
But while Higher was an ambitious attempt at something great, the upcoming The Prison, Pt. I, the first part of a two part prog-rock opera, is a completely different animal that soars light years beyond the comparably minuscule accomplishments of the debut. While exploring such powerful themes as nostalgia, the romanticization of youth, and the transition from youth to adulthood, the album is simultaneously musically engaging, memorable, and, most importantly, beautiful. It is the next step of the project’s musical style, and nothing like anything it (or anyone else) has ever produced.
But aside from covering a more complex range of ideas, the album is also a massive stylistic change from the previous record, exchanging a Space-Rock style for something far more unique, the actual musical genre being a bizarre mix of light acoustic rock and hard rock. A more detailed list includes such diverse influences ranging from singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens and Elliot Smith to post rock and shoegaze outfits like Mogwai, Sigur Rós, My Bloody Valentine, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, progressive rock groups like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Porcupine Tree, and, finally, extreme metal groups like Opeth, Tool, Animals as Leaders, and Meshuggah. Though overall, there is more of a focus on trying to communicate the story through its music equally as much as through its lyrics.
The first half of this musical adventure is immensely complex, essentially throwing out the concept of songs while opting for instead for an album-oriented experience. Rather than the album being comprised of several small compositions, the album boasts four suites ranging from eight to seventeen minutes in length, the tracks representing their total 16 movements. While most movements can certainly be listened to on their own, listening to the entire album all together creates a stronger atmosphere, drawing the listener into the emotions of the music.Yet another thing The Prison, Pt. I achieves that Higher doesn’t really approach is greater sound production. Far more work was put into editing the songs, finding good guitar tones, editing the drums and perfecting their sound and making the album sound heavy, yet atmospheric and ambient. Compared to the previous Mooseheart release, this album has much punchier drums that really come alive in the mix (and more complex drums parts as well), a much more rounded guitar sound, with plenty of work being put into performances and overdubs. Also notable is the much improved vocals, compared to Higher’s nasally and awkward vocal intrusions.
Working on this album has been an unbelievably herculean experience, as writing such a massive piece of music alone is incredibly difficult, let alone arranging it, but the hard-work has definitely paid off, as it has resulted in something entirely new for its listeners. Currently, you can download both Higher and the first single the new album, the title track “The Prison” for free on Godbless Thee, Mooseheart’s bandcamp page. The Prison, Pt. I finally drops on November 11th, 2012, and will be on sale both digitally through bandcamp, iTunes, and several other services and physically through Amazon.com and CD Baby, hopefully being able to release a limited-edition vinyl edition. After over a year of hard work, I am proud to announce this record and greatly anticipate its release. Get your copy this fall, and until then, listen to the already released Mooseheart releases!