SENSATIONS - Listen to My Shapes CD
x.mp3 1. Incredible Man
x.mp3 2. Slow to Show
x.mp3 3. My Big Fame
x.mp3 4. Winds of Emotion
x.mp3 5. He's So Brave
6. I, As a Ghost
7. Halving Me
9. Avery (I hear you)
10. This All According to You
11. Listen to My Shapes
GREG LOIACONO - singing, guitars, glockenspiel, kiddy keys
PAUL HOAGLIN - basses, keyboards, singing, horns, flute, nylon stringed guitar
TODD ROPER - drums, singing
JEREMY COOKE - violin, melodica
Recorded and mixed by Paul Hoaglin at Pyramid Audio Headquarters in San Pablo, CA between Nov. 2004 and April 2005
Mastered by John and JJ Golden
Art direction & design by Simone Rubi for Essen
All songs by Greg Loiacono Poncen Music (Ascap) © 2005
Listen To My Shapes has the distinction of being the only record I’ve made that I’ve been as deeply involved in as I have been that I have enjoyed listening to from start to finish, for the entire time, up to the present day. Special credit is due to Greg, for his brilliant songs and open mind and heart, and to Todd, for some of the most outstanding drumming performances I’ve ever heard. - Paul Hoaglin
Greg: I wrote this song a few years back and it actually came from a bitter place. I had a conversation with a person one night and that person was being sarcastic and slightly patronizing. I respected his abilities so it kind of hurt. In the first part of the song I think one might feel my sarcasm or bitterness. The sentiment ends up pretty positive and most people seem to perceive the song in a positive light.
Once I started playing this song with Todd on drums the “Magic Man” (the song by Heart) feel started coming through. This was a really fun track to sing on. Paul, Todd and I gathered ‘round the mike.
Paul: ...the lead-off hitter. I’ve always loved this song. The effect on the vocals in the middle is a Line 6 filter stompbox that I borrowed from Tom Ayres of Persephone’s Bees. That little gadget makes its presence felt in spots throughout the record. I’m pleased with the amount of treble I got on my Rickenbacker bass on the final mix. Not quite “Roundabout,” but close. One of my favourite moments is when Todd shouts with enthusiasm from the drumkit after the “fast” riff in the last verse. The three of us sang our little brains out on this one, too. Todd did the shaker and I got to do the tambourine. All in all, a true team effort.
SLOW TO SHOW-
Greg: This is one of my favorite tracks on the record. Paul’s horn parts superceded my expectations by far. I came up with some silly little “mouth parts” trying to imitate a trombone and Paul took charge and created something beautiful and mournful. Just right. Todd’s drumming is outstanding in it’s drama on this one. And his humid vocals on the backups are very sensitive.
Paul: A timeless sounding song with shades of Nashville and London mixed together. Greg’s vocal delivery just screamed out for a Porter Waggoner-esque reverb treatment. I got to do my worst drunken trumpet and trombone section, a la “Wait Until Spring” and several others, and I even added a tic-tac part on my Schecter 6-string bass. I love the thump of Todd’s floor tom hits. My main bass track was my Fender Jazz with nylon tapewound strings with a whole mess of treble, for that McCartney White Album sound.
MY BIG FAME-
Greg: I came up with the chorus lines while doing dishes in my old apartment in Oakland about 2 years ago. I dried my hands and finished the rest of the song in one sitting, I believe. I thought we had recorded it too fast but once all the tracks were laid down it made sense to me. I was happy to get to use my tobacco-burst Stratocaster on this one. Paul and I did not think my voice would hold out on the last round of chorus. It almost didn’t.
Paul: Rock ‘n’ roll catharsis. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Greg got an astounding “Nowhere Man”/”Big Star “O My Soul” type tone on the lead guitar tracks on his Strat, and an ugly-as-sin grunge out of his Epiphone Casino for the rhythm parts. The Andy Summers-like guitar treatment was created by running one of Greg’s tracks through a Small Stone phaser in mixdown. Greg and I handled the vocals on this one because Todd wasn’t around that day; I wish he had been there for every song.
WINDS OF EMOTION-
Greg: I made a version of this song on my 8 track at home. The arrangement was very similar to the way it is now. I had four voices at the choral section in the middle. I had not scienced out the harmonies so there was a lot of unison and drifting around. Paul helped me get it all straight and came up with some wonderful variations as well. John Hofer came up with the “Streets of Avalon” line.
Paul: Just me and Greg on this one. I had a hell of a time getting the bass sound Greg wanted, which was referencing the Beach Boys’ “Little Bird” from Friends (even down to the off-beats), but ultimately I ran my Rickenbacker direct with no compression and nearly no EQ, and it worked. I had to write out the “chorale” section in the middle, and if you pan left and right on your stereo, you can hear just two of me on the left, and two of Greg on the right. Sounds weird that way.
HE’S SO BRAVE-
Greg: You can find the demo of this song on the “Purgatory” EP. I feel that this is one of the most energized tracks on the whole record. Paul nailed the sonic feel that I was hoping for.
Paul: He is, in fact, so brave. That one goes out to Michael Torrico. I got to hit the cowbell in the middle. Todd’s back in force in the vocal department. It was his idea to do the choppy guitar riff in the second and third choruses. A powerful performance of a potent song.
I, AS A GHOST-
Greg: I came up with this song while I was driving. I was listening to Bonnie “Prince” Billy and I heard Will Oldham sing about feeling like a ghost on one line of a song. I went along with the feeling and tried to imagine what it might be like to look at the world from an outside perspective and how I might use or misuse the powers that may come with that. I am very happy with the way this recording came out.
Paul: Possibly my favourite song on the album. I got to employ four different Mellotron sounds from the old trusty rusty Mk II: flutes, M300 violins (in tandem with Jeremy at times, like during the last verse), Mk II bass accordion, and the famous 8 voice choir. Jeremy’s violin overdub was very difficult, involving a complicated “wild-sync” fly-in off another tape, but it worked in the end. A little real flute in there from me at the top as well. A lot going on on this one.
Greg: Obvious subject matter that I think everyone can probably relate to. I was freaked out and I wanted to rock and this song came out. When I demoed the song I did not have any words for the verse. The words that are in the song now are the ones that came out of my mouth during the demo. Todd’s snare hits at the end is the best drum moment on this whole record (for me).
Paul: Look out Ozzy. I only wish I’d have rocked out the mix a little more on this one. The heavy guitar could have been louder. Ah well. Greg had me on the floor laughing with his impromptu “vocal” moments during the guitar solo. And yes, they do go backwards at the end of it! Jeremy makes a brief cameo at the very end, as does the Line 6 gadget, although you can’t really hear it. It’s a low synthy noise that was done by me playing my stupid Japanese fretless kidney bean bass through it. Listen very carefully on the left channel if you want to hear it.
Greg: This was really fun to record. Especially when Paul was playing the organ and I was playing whatever I was playing at the same time. I had been listening to “All Things Must Pass” when it was time to mix this song. I was getting into all of the echo on that record and of course when I referenced that to Paul he was ready to go. I think I could have gotten him to put it all over the whole album.
Paul: Power pop meets "All Things Must Pass." I misunderstood a directive from Greg about the use of tape echo, and so it was applied liberally to this song, but it turned out to be a fortuitous mistake. I like Greg’s “secret” guitar licks on the right side, which he did while I did my worst impersonation of Dan Eisenberg on Hammond. Again, Todd was sadly absent in vocal land, and also percussionally, so I did tambourine while Greg played a very percussive acoustic guitar track. There was a lot of stuff going on on this recording.
AVERY (I HEAR YOU)-
Greg: Paul came over to my house to play a second guitar on my demo of this song. He came up with a beautiful counterpart throughout and a magical vocal harmony line. When it came time to play and sing this song for the record we did it live, face to face. This was a superbly sensitive moment between Paul and I.
Paul: Greg and I tracked this one live in the room together, singing and playing. The only thing added were bells, played by Greg. A very sensitive moment.
THIS ALL ACCORDING TO YOU-
Greg: You can find a demo of this one on “Purgatory” EP also. Jeremy’s “dub” melodica part makes the whole mood of the song for me. Todd and Paul’s musical interpretation of the lines “charge, charge, charge” is quite macho.
Paul: My friend, my man. Get different, indeed. Jeremy returns on melodica, and Greg turned in a comical performance of half-speed chromonica. My cookie sheet was used to great effect by the inestimable Mr. Roper.
LISTEN TO MY SHAPES-
Greg: Not much to say about this one. It did exactly what I wanted it to do.
Paul: Rhombus? This song does in fact sound like it was mixed by the bass player. No fewer than three different basses – four, six, and eight stringed varieties – were disseminated within it. The solo section is as close to definitive prog-rock as I’ve ever gotten: bass pedals, two tracks of Mellotron violins, flanged guitar, 6-string bass, mysterious voices (thanks to the magic of the “Frippertronics” technique with two tape machines), the whole works. The intro is entirely done by Greg on the Kiddy Keys except for some stray thundersheet rumbles from yours truly. The Echoplex “performance” that pops in and out hearkens back to the style of the Rhombus Speaker Decision, and was very much serendipitously performed and captured during mixdown. A suitable ending.