Musician Brad Thorla blends future with past

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Local artist Brad Thorla has released the first of the four releases he has planned for 2014 in a variety of audio formats.

As the folks in Silicon Valley continue to strong-arm the rest of us into giving up pesky three-dimensional living in favor of the cloud, some music fans and music makers are reveling in old and/or outdated music deliver formats.

While no format has been able to put the final nail in the long assumed vinyl-records coffin, other formats are also getting hip retro cache. Copley-Akron musician Brad Thorla, who has played drums in many bands, including the heavy, complex Duunes, the Shivering Timbers and more recently the epic indie prog-rockers Relaxer, has taken on a yearlong project based around a series of instrumental demos he recently unearthed in his personal archives (aka a pile of old tapes).

After listening to the three hours of rediscovered music, some of which was 7 to 10 years old, he mixed the old with some newer pieces and concluded that it was “actually not embarrassing.” He dreamt up the idea of a series of four releases, dubbed The Quadrillic, based on the idea of “mixed media for the mash of mixed media” and within the year plans four releases — a cassette tape, a vinyl album, a compact disc and a 7-inch record — all based on the seasonal equinoxes to help give the releases some space and thematic structure.

The first release in the ambitious project is the cassette tape (don’t worry if you can’t find your old deck or don’t want to dig through your parents’ attic, a download card is included), called The Quadrillic #1: Spring, a 40-minute tape or 10-track download).

“The tape is maybe a little bit more mellow than the rest of the planned releases. It is supposed to fit with the seasons, in a way that only people that truly experience the seasons would understand,” Thorla wrote in a Facebook message. “Spring is slow builds of budding, echoes of winter’s cold desperation, occasional promises of rebuilding.

“The summer will be brighter and warmer. The autumn, loud and desperate. Winter pure desolation,” he elaborated.

Spring is overall quite mellow. As these are demos compiled from four-track tapes, old MIDI files and a few newer recordings, most of the tunes/pieces have a rough and raw bedroom/basement recording sound quality that fits the mood created by the music. Several tunes stand out such as the slow building opener Caslei with its heavily reverbed drums, thick bass line and layers of guitars and synths and the dub-flavored Dvour with an old-school, drum-machine beat, a vaguely funky bass line and ethereal synth lines floating atop the head-nodding groove.

This is music for adventurous listeners and probably won’t move music fans that require standard verse-chorus-verse song structures even in their instrumentals. Some tracks are purely ambient such as MSD, five minutes of dark, low end and slightly unsettling synth chords or the crawling bass and high-pitched synth lines of Narros, which recalls some of the spookier moments of the long-running, mysterious, avant-garde outfit the Residents.

And though the download is convenient, the A and B sides of the Spring cassette are mixed as a continuous musical collage and are arguably best experienced in their entirety.

Preview Spring at http://thorla.bandcamp.com.

Thorla will perform at 8 tonight at the Akron Earthworm Art & Music Festival at the Stone Tavern in Kent. Also performing will be Worship This, Gingerbread Men, Ultrasphinx, Smash n Grab and Mockingbird.

Moondog Coronation Ball

Since it is spring (Seriously, it is! Check the calendar!), it’s time for the annual Moondog Coronation Ball happening at 7 tonight at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. This year’s edition will feature classic rock from classic rockers including Tommy James & the Shondells, who gave the rock world oft-covered hits such as Mony, Mony, I Think We’re Alone Now and Crystal Blue Persuasion. In 2013, James received the BMI-Million-Air Award for having more than 22 million spins of his past hit songs.

John Kay and Steppenwolf will surely break out their radio staples Magic Carpet Ride, Rock Me and, of course, Born to Be Wild. Area favorite Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will have everyone singing I’m Henry VIII, I Am, I’m Into Something Good, and Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.

Rounding out the bill is the Family Stone, which doesn’t include leader Sly Stone, but still contains original members and rock hall inductees bassist Jerry Martini, trumpeter/singer Cynthia Robinson and drummer Greg Errico, who played on most of the band’s hits, including Everyday People, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), Dance to the Music and Hot Fun in the Summertime.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.


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