Artist Name: Larry Benigno aka Sonic Music Title: Epiphone Genre: Progressive Rock Rating:
G&L F100, Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars run through Native Instruments Guitar Rig and small Epiphone practice amp. Moog Minimoog, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Fender Rhodes electric piano. Native Instruments Studio Drummer and Kontakt 5 software instruments. All tracks recorded in REAPER and mastered in Steinberg WaveLab with Waves plug-ins. Alesis Monitor One passive monitors, AKG K240 headphones.
Production Notes & Credits
“Epiphone” is a one-man-band Prog Rock instrumental. Larry tells us about it: “My wife gave me this little Epiphone amp about 10 years ago for Christmas. The beginning is a little lick I wrote while practicing and ended up keeping in the song despite its lo-fi quality. For what it’s worth, the song is in 17/8.”
“I played all the instruments live, including the canned drums (NI Studio Drummer) which were played using a keyboard controller. Although that’s an unconventional way of playing drums, it did get me first place in a Toontrack Superior Drum competition some years back. I have many worn keyboard bushings to prove it! I am a piano tuner by trade and have a few CDs under my belt, mostly progressive rock featuring keys/vocals.”
Reviewed By Marty Peters
This month’s Spotlight is a high-energy track that takes us back to those glory days of groups like Yes, Gentle Giant, and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Ah, the early seventies—lived them, loved them!
As many of you fans of this most underappreciated genre (Yes, we’re talking to you, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!) will know, the musicianship and arrangement skills found in these bands was often astounding. Monster players such as Chris Squire and Bill Bruford (to name but a few ) set standards that were incredibly high. While there were thousands of local bands worldwide laying down Stones or Beatles covers back in the day, there were very few that were taking on “Roundabout” (Google it, kids).
All of this makes Larry’s one-man-band effort even more impressive. Not only has he written a fabulous piece here, but playing/programming all of the instruments himself is a mighty accomplishment.
The track intros with a nasty (the good kind) rhythm electric guitar part delivered through, you guessed it, Larry’s Epiphone amplifier. Next up is a genre-correct drum flurry/bass guitar entrance. Great job here—the off time-signature drums, manually played and MIDIed into his Native Instruments Studio Drummer software, sound great in our opinion, particularly the snare and cymbals. The bass guitar has a classic midrange tone, stopping just short of Chris Squire’s historic full-on Rickenbacker 4001 treble blast. We also loved the artful processed lead guitar: great chops and tone!
All of this sets up the moment approximately 50 seconds into the piece when Larry busts out the synth sounds. Minimoog, Prophet-5, Fender Rhodes… yessir, friends, we are in Prog heaven! Of course no Progressive Rock arrangement worth its salt would leave out what we lovingly refer to as the “black light in the basement” section and Larry gets an A+ here. The breakdown at 1:48 is simply a thing of beauty—ah. those were the days. From there it’s off to the races with a classic Emerson, Lake and Palmer-inspired keyboard takeoff signaling the charge. Fantastic!
Lastly, kudos to Larry for an excellent mix here. In our book, mixing a track of this nature requires patience and a great understanding of both balance and frequencies. The transitions between the numerous sections sound seamless to our ears… very well done!
To say that we were impressed by Larry’s work here would be a huge understatement. We hear passion, precision, and patience—the three Ps, as it were! We suggest that you consider them in your own endeavors, dear readers… the proof is in the pudding.
Summary: Back to the future—thanks, Larry!
Sonic Music/Larry Benigno, firstname.lastname@example.org