It’s a good time to live in the Tampa Bay area, but it hasn’t always been that way. Spending the better part of my adolescence here, I felt discouraged when I heard others regularly romanticize their eventual migration to more alluring cities. But, eventually, I came to feel the same. Slummy Ybor marauding, sink-or-swimming in college town, dress-coded martini tours around Hyde Park… where was the soul of Tampa Bay? Where were the artisans and down-to-earth young folks? Did we have any?
Yes, that was a segue into Diamond Man. Earlier this month, they hooked us up (on request) with a physical copy of the new album, Travels (with bonus collage artwork). I blew the dust off my old boom box and gave it a spin.
While their sound is not easily summarized by genre labels-not even cool, hyper-niched ones-what’s easy to hear in their music is something pure and honest. The trio of young art students-Ryne Heslin, Josh Fowler, and Justin Myers-blend together keyboard electronics, psyched-out guitars, and heavily obscured utterances to build accumulative, organic jams. Faint vocal elements and distant synths evoke imagery of tropical landscapes and secret undersea worlds. At the heart of these new landscapes is a very natural and human presence, daring listeners to slough off their surroundings and embark on foreign travels to familiar-feeling places.
“Wafers” is a good starting point, a jam that feels especially afro-spirited with a worldly collage of sonic brushstrokes, tempered with drums that beat with tribal steadiness. Download Wafers below, and also sample two additional tracks from the debut LP.
Introducing Dark Sea of Awareness, a.k.a., the musical project of Orlando artist Steven Head. Brasky first became aware of Steven’s music last month when he opened up for Diamond Man’s CD release show in Tampa, offering a modest solo performance that roused us from a beerbar daydream (and as we would learn later, roused the attention others).
We caught up with Steven after the show to learn a little more about DSoA (<-Pro tip: acronymn establishes a sense of familiarity and importance). His music is composed and performed primarily on his synth, though occasionally he lets the robots loop while he plucks out some heavily ‘verbed accents on the guitar. The music style bears the accumulative and reflective nature of ambient work, slowly engaging listeners with the incremental introduction of new synth layers and, somewhat surprisingly, heavy bass kicks that firmly mark the listening pace. Steve cites Eastern thought, particularly Buddhism, and design philosophy as conscious influences over his creative process. The name “Dark Sea of Awareness” is a phrase borrowed from anthropologist-and shamanism historian/philosopher-Carlos Castaneda.
Having finished a degree in Urban Planning, we’re eager to see where Steven and Dark Sea of Awareness goes. Please join us in exploring the first chapter of the project with a sampling of tracks from his a first EP, Digital Magic.
Nick Pittsinger is a twenty-year-old electronic music artist who resides in the Tampa Bay area. According to his Facebook profile, he’s from Sweden, but he’s told us otherwise, “I’m actually not from Sweden! I’m just mostly Swedish by blood, so… It’s my motherland that I hope to go back to someday I guess you could say. It’s also just fun to put on my Facebook, haha! Goes to show you can’t trust everything on the internet.” He works on two music projects, Shamantis and Halo Nova. Despite only having been producing music for about a year and a half, one of his tracks recently made the Beatport Top 100 chart, which we consider to be quite an accomplishment. Fortunately we were able to score an interview with him while he still has time for them.
BRASKY:: What’s the difference between your music projects? You referred to Shamantis as your “#1 love” and Halo Nova as a project that’s “just for fun”, so do you take one more seriously than the other? NICK:Shamantis is an experience, really. It’s a sonic representation of the spirit, the psychedelic experience, the human experience, and nature in an electronic music medium. I combine elements from tribal, ambient, psychedelic, goa, trip hop, dub, trance, jazz, and downtempo music to form my own sound. Think about what Enya would sound like if she got lost in the Amazon with Thelonious Monk. That’s me! Halo Nova is different. It’s very lighthearted, fun dubstep music, usually with elements of chiptune and metal. I say it’s just for fun because I mean, I don’t really have to think to much about music theory or anything with it. With Shamantis, I often do jazz improv solos and often worry about chord progressions, structure, melodies, etc. With Halo Nova, I just worry about how to make the coolest/funniest/badass noises possible! So, in summation I guess you could say Shamantis is the music of my soul while Halo Nova is the music of my heart. As for taking one seriously over the other, I guess I do favor Shamantis but that’s only in the grand scheme of things. I can picture myself still doing Shamantis in 20 years… Halo Nova, not so much! : )
BRASKY:How did it feel to be recently featured in Beatport’s top 100 chart? Nick:It was fun! “Knuckle Duster” peaked at #34, actually. There was even one point where all 4 tracks from the EP were on the charts, which was really cool considering it was my debut. I was excited just to release my music to the world, but never expected it to get into the Top 100!
BRASKY:What are some of the software and/or hardware programs that you use to create music? Do you use the same programs for each project? Nick:I use a combination of FL Studio, Reason 5, and Ableton Live. FL Studio is what I usually make all my stuff in, but I usually dip into Reason because I like a lot of the sounds in it. Ableton Live I use to perform live under Shamantis. I hope to upgrade to Logic Pro in 2011 though!
BRASKY:Do you have any other projects? Nick:I compose video game music, usually for indie game companies. I hope one day to do some serious work! Video games are a huge passion of mine, and I absolutely love composing for them. You can view some of my work at nickpittsinger.tumblr.com.
Shamantis – Space Oceans
“This song perfectly portrays my sound. Tribal, eerie, dark, deep… the kind of music that transports you to other dimensions and worlds.”
BRASKY:One of your tracks references Terrance McKenna. What type of influence has he had on you as an artist? Have any other intellectuals influenced your music? Nick:Terence Mckenna has had a PROFOUND influence on me and my music. He has given me hope where no other intellectual has. He was a true spiritual guru, and the world misses him dearly. Other intellectuals who have vastly influenced me and my music include Bill Hicks, Alan Watts, John Lilly, Timothy Leary, Joe Rogan, and the research of Dr. Rick Strassman. The way these people (especially Hicks and Rogan) word their experiences and philosophies make so much sense to me and reaffirm my beliefs in living a good, positive, humble spiritual life following my dreams and being as egoless as is practical.
Shamantis – The Mandala
“This song is the second part to Space Oceans, and features one of my favorite Terence Mckenna quotes.”
BRASKY:Is there anything else you’d like for us to know? Nick:I believe that 2011 will be the year that both of my monikers blossom. I have a lot of really cool projects (especially with Shamantis) that will unfold next year. Just follow me on twitter, soundcloud, or youtube to get the latest from me! Thank you!