Friday, November 12, 2010

Review of 'Painted Romans ...and Time!'

On 11 Nov Mr. Leonard of the highly respected 'The Weblog Of Leonard's Lair' published the very first review of the second Painted Romans album. I must admit to blushing while reading it . . . It's hard to explain the profound pleasure I take in writing, producing, designing and hand-making these items to people who appreciate my works: INDEED IT MEANS THE WORLD TO ME!

". . . he sounds like the Scandinavian answer to early Prefab Sprout."

". . . this gentleman deserves an award for being an honorary eccentric Brit. . ."

". . . there's more creativity in one song here then there is in a whole albums' worth of many big name, so-called 'alternative' releases.

Read the full review here

Available from this website from MONDAY 15 NOVEMBER

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Narrow-minded?

As I'm gradually narrowing Painted Romans' prescence on the web, I have made music players available in the webshop section where you can preview both "Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments" as well as the upcoming release "Painted Romans ...and Time!"

But why should I want to narrow my prescence, you might ask? . . .


- A philosophy behind Painted Romans

The year (ca.) 2000 marked a huge change in the way that music is consumed. . . We all know that, don't we? The 20th century saw the appearence of vinyl, tapes and CDs, all of them with sales that peaked sometime very late, but long before the turn of the century. Around 2000 a website called Napster appeared - a p2p site which allowed people to share music in completely new ways by letting a user enter another users computer from where music files could be downloaded. I'm sure every user of the internet knows how it works by now. . . Although the original Napster was successfully discontinued by Metallica (and they've been taking more than a few punches since), other sharing services was already in the crafting and were becoming increasingly available. Now, ten years after, CD sales are dropping with the speed of light and MP3 sales are following in that same downward spiral. Streaming has become the new platform for music, and even though Spotify (which I've gathered must be the leading streamer) is offering a fee-based account, only a low percentage of the users choose it - rather going for the free account that offers the same, only interrupted by advertisements.

It's clear to see that artists these days can't rely on music sales alone, as they will at its best cover the break-even for producing the sound carriers; studio time becomes ridicolously expensive (and hopeless) when placed in this realistic scenario. The only real options are playing concerts, getting lots of airplay, and possibly nailing a publishing deal - given that other successful artists use the songs, or advertisers and PR and such. . .

I, on the other hand, have not yet taken a genuine interest in publishing towards others, nor to making sounds that accompany the marketing of someone elses' product. To be honest I haven't yet established a performing ensemble either (although Painted Romans have been two on stage, and that have worked great!). . . All this might, however, change at some point.

Instead of producing pre-pressed CD's prior to a release (it typically costs a house, doesn't it?) I will be making limited, hand made items aimed at whomever takes an interest in the music. In other words; one cannot expect to find it on Spotify, or even in shops (there aren't really any CD shops left here in Norway. Mad I know!) However, MP3s might be an option if they're the best quality, but they will only be available from one provider in such a case.

Today mostly everything seems to revolve around all kinds of social network societies like facebook, twitter, linkedin, myspace, errr and what have you. . . Their common factor is indeed 'exposure', and at that they work really well. Or do they? I have chosen to go the opposite way by keeping just this dedicated website, (perhaps leaving the myspace page intact, dunno yet) and of course an email address. I made this choice not to exclude myself from the world, nor to play hard to get, act childish and so forth, but simply because I feel that the more options - the more fleeting everything is. This I know is true, but hey; I don't really think it's a choice at all because by limiting my online prescense I can only assume that you, the reader, are more likely to have taken a genuine interest in the music, because let's face it; personal websites are not the "hype" nowadays. Perhaps the internet should've ceased to progress a few years ago while most of the content were of some interest and all that overwhelming advertising everywhere weren't yet messing with our minds. . .

But here I feel that I need to balance something out: I am not criticising social networks and the use of such services. I am only saying that they are unsuited platforms for a project like this. If such an attitude stands in the way for massive exposure, then maybe this mathematical formula of an expected scenario can be explanatory:


But then again I'm not a grade A in mathematics!

Put simple: I want to concentrate on this specific website, where I am in control and don't have to go along with naughty and undemocratic changes in design and administration. . .

This might sound compelling in a sort of wicked way, but it is the way I want it, and since you are now visiting these personal websites I can only tell you how grateful I am that you are stopping by, and how flattered I am to know that you are spending some moments here, when there is so much else to do on the net. . .

Despite all this - sharing is everything!

Thank you!

Ps! Be not afraid to write me your thoughts. . .

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Farewell to the first, the last, the only . . .

My early days were pretty much spent beside my father's vinyl collection, one that contained a healthy mix of obscure and commercial music; from Young Marble Giants to Tears For Fears, Portion Control to Simple Minds, Durutti Column to a-ha. And while I must admit that I gave the latter a fair amount of spins, I never really felt like a fan.

That aside; today I read about a-ha's performance in Bergen, and also watched the video recording of the two opening tracks that was made public on nrk.no, Norway's national TV and radio broadcaster. The article's author begins by claiming that "Rolling Stones' Bergen-visit was of course bigger/grander", and "MUSE and Coldplay are of course more exciting (than a-ha)" . . . Well, I say ha-ha! Respect is due.

a-ha had the world at their feet when they released 'Take On Me' and the album 'Hunting High And Low' in 1985. It became massive and stayed in the Billboard Charts' top 20 for a long time, as well as elsewhere. They stayed at the peak for many years. But what a-ha also faced was a kind of silence in their homeland; they fell victim for what we call "Janteloven". It's a law that came to be long after the Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose wrote it down in a book from 1933. It basically says that "you shall not think that you are better than anyone else". a-ha sort of left Norway and became an English/American product instead. Thank God for that!


a-ha WAS better than everyone else, they WERE bigger (or at least as big) as most international names at the time, they sold out a staggering 200 000 crowd in Brazil (while Guns'n'Roses, Prince and others drew some 60 000). a-ha was, however, met with silence from a relatively large amount of music journalists and other "key-people" in music biz, even though a-ha's collected record sales exceeds 50 million albums and singles worldwide!

We will never, ever witness this kind of "Norwegian" success again. Not to mention international success. The Stones may have had a 20-years head start over a-ha, but are not "bigger" for it. MUSE and Coldplay may have made music that lacks emotion and, more importantly; dynamics, and are therefore by no means more exciting than a-ha. Morten Harket's voice is one of the very few that matches that of the late Billy MacKenzie of The Associates; both of which makes my hair stand up.

Noone can ever compete with the first, the last, and the only a-ha, because as far as musical success goes; they are Gods. Period.

Here's one of the best ballads of the eighties:



"And in the distance I could hear a soft voice whispering: Bigger than Beatles . . ."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Music = fatigue ?

Now here's an issue that has been the talk among sound enthusiasts, mastering engineers, huge music publications and also, hopefully, bands and artists. It is the so called "Loudness War", and it talks about how modern mastering is damaging music, or put differently: Why modern CD's sound (please forgive me) awful. Mind you I'm not talking about modern music here!

Mastering music for CD purposes is not exactly rocket science, but requires skills. Although I'm sure that those skills are still present at every larger mastering facilities, I also fear that they are mostly put aside in repect for the record labels' or bands' own wishes; whom both want their CD to sound so loud it's ridiculous, just to be competitive with "everyone else".

The sad thing about this practice is that everyone who enjoy listening to music, but don't necessarily know anything about soundwaves and mastering, are the losers in this battle. Why labels and bands resist to take this into consideration is to me totally absurd. For example, the latest Metallica album was so loud that it contained continuos noise, ie clipping of the sound. This led to debates, and a storm of complaining and unsatisfied customers (fans!) who had gone out and spent money on this piece of junk. This is only one in a million examples, and it is a shame!

The facts:
When you, as a music lover more than anything, listen to a new CD, or an old remastered CD for that matter, you are more than likely to experience fatigue after extensive listening. The reason you do so is because the "sound-floor" in the music is raised in volume, so as to sound just as loud as a snare drum. The snare drum on the other hand is limited and cut, which means that it is clipping on every hit. They meet in the middle and squeeze the life out of 98% of all CD's (perhaps starting with Oasis back in 1993?) "When there is no quiet, there can be no loud" someone said, and were they right! The music sounds lifeless, dull, and just overall worse because of it.

When did the powers that be decide that listening to music shouldn't be a pleasurable activity??

Below you can see and hear a fine video by Matt Mayfield demonstrating how extreme loudness is killing music:


I am also a fan of (older) The Cure, and used to be a collector. Below you can hear the difference between the original 1990 CD-release of their fab live album "Entreat" versus the remixed and remastered 2010 "Entreat Plus" version. Just for the record: I'm glad I have the original CD and vinyl issues. . .


You might be wondering why I'm writing about this on paintedromans.com, and to answer that question I'm publishing a picture of a soundwave from Painted Romans's upcoming album. The picture clearly shows how I have chosen to master it with the natural sound dynamics intact, although the sound in general can be described as close to lo-fi. . .

Soundwave of a Painted Romans track showing the full range dynamics:


The result makes you turn up your volume, hopefully without damaging your hearing or experiencing fatigue, because as Matt Mayfield says in his educational video: "You own the volume knob, not the record producer". . .

Revive the respect for CD-buying music lovers!

Happy listening !

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dr MeDeviate's Top Ten, still highly valid in 2010!

10 - Where can I get a record deal?
A: I've heard that they're handing them out smoking fresh at 7ELEVEN, but this rumour is yet to be confirmed. I could sell you one on a piece of paper for $50 000, or you could do it the hard way and 'lend' your body to some big shot, although the latter one is not recommended.

9 - I've heard that time will mend a broken heart. Is this true?
A: Unfortunately not. Time will only shred your heart until you're nothing but a nervous wreck.

8 - What is 'Kitsch-Pop Hell'?
A: It's a place similar to the website you're currently viewing. It's also a place you end up in if you don't believe in the revenge of the mighty doughnut.

7 - Do we really need to build a new world on Mars?
A: Not really, no.

6 - Can we believe what has been said and written about the music industry and its predicted downfall?
A: Certainly, you can believe whatever you like. That's the upside of having a brain that can separate meat balls from a dog's poo.
As it turns out, we are all individuals anyway with an exclusive right to think, feel, say, and do anything we like (except hurting others of course). So, do you really believe in the hollow earth theory?

5 - What has paint got to do with Romans?
A: Oh dear oh dear. . . The paint symbolises agricultural knowledge gone down the drain, whereas Romans are a kind of people, not too different from other people.

4 - Do rock stars really drink beer? I mean really?!
A: The latest reports indicate that the difference between a rock star and the rock stars elderly neighbour is in fact minimal, i.e. they are both happy to enjoy a sniff of port at Christmas. But the alleged debauched lifestyle of what you refer to as a rock star has never actually been confirmed. In fact most of them are merely just small, annoying kids who neither drink beer nor coffee.

3 - What's a Burrito?
A: It's a necklace you wear when you're high.

2 - Is it right to talk to your parents about sex?
A: Well yeah, if you are comfortable with it. After all, they should be in the position to answer your questions in a somewhat 'experienced' manner.

1 - Gee! You seem to know a lot. Can we call you Dr. Phil?
A: I'd prefer not.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Album due in 2010


(Mats Davidsen posing!)

It has become sort of a habit for P.R. to release something every 2-3 years, and the modern Romans of 2010 won't prove any different. Due later this year is the more experimental follow-up to 2008's 'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments', the album that "shook" the world with its strange poster slash download format. Yes, it was indeed a weird, yet genius way of releasing an album. General confusion seemed to soar high!

The process of making this album has been an ongoing, and head scratching(!) one for the last couple of years, and on this I've been joined by my dearest for vocals on my personal favourite song, and Mr Dahlø plays the drums on another (was extra with Evil Wigs...) Mr Jacobsen of We Are Monsters has indeed provided me with his kick drum idea on one, and myself have spent months and months glueing it together. Well, it is time, soon. . .

Up and at 'them!


(Winterscene Studio (the portable 1!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

List-mania!

Every year there are top-10/50/100-lists made by people who have been observing and writing about music and, I would imagine, nearly everything else including movies, electronic gadgets, cars, etc.
2009 was of course no exception, and Painted Romans' album 'Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments' made its first list-appearence when Jon Leonard of the great Weblog Of Leonard's Lair featured it amongst his TOP 10 ALBUMS of 2009!

It was published on [sic]magazine along with several other Writers Top Ten of 2009.

Jon Leonard also wrote a lovely review of the album.