Levi/Werstler Sucks



Musicians are strange creatures. Their work hours and habits are almost always odd, hygiene is often suspect, and sanity questionable.

If I had to point out one thing that ties all musicians together, it would be inspiration, often drawn from a simple but strong love for music. Inspiration comes from all varieties of thoughts and experiences though, and most will agree that it is a mystical and almost spiritual matter that is difficult to qualify. For me, personally, my inspiration is the most important thing I have in life because it guides all of my goals and efforts to blast through them. Although it may be oriented around music for whatever reason, the specifics of what I am inspired to do are not crystal clear. It is not instrument, genre, or socially based. It is just to create.

I have always been in awe of musicians that are able to look past the world’s conceptions of genre. For some bands, it is absolutely correct for them to do their thing 100% their way and use their tested process over and over, record after record. I don’t mean being stale, either… Development and growth between records is an assumed necessity for me to take a band seriously. Examples of bands that know their sound or process well and tend to stick to it (with great results) would include bands like Meshuggah, Megadeth, Behemoth, Muse, Deftones, and even more progressive bands like The Mars Volta, Opeth, and Dream Theater. But the musicians that REALLY get me thinking these days are ones who understand how to take a complete 180 degree turn: drop the world’s, or maybe just critics’, perception on its head, and use new influences from a completely different angle. It is almost as if they side-step into a bizarro dimension and are running two or more separate careers. Musicians that can accomplish this demonstrate a certain type of understanding and mental clarity that is all too rare. Here are some of my favorite examples:

The shred-fest duo of John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham went from playing on records like Miles Davis’ moody jazz milestone Bitches Brew to starting a much heavier jazz-rock/funk/prog band, Mahavishnu Orchestra. The sound quality here is horrible, but the performance makes up for it; listen to this shit and think about where The Mars Volta got their sound from…

Kiko Loureiro is an inhumanly technical player who went from ripping solos in his power metal band Angra to doing a jazz record… He still sounds like himself, but under a different context, you can appreciate different nuances of his playing. The solo starts to heat up around 2:45.

And now, the best example that comes to mind; The Beatles/Ravi Shankar team. Ravi shares some of his thoughts on how George Harrison came to him to learn in this video… Some of the Beatles’ most timeless moments, in my opinion, came from making music with Ravi and the open-minded spirit that enabled them to work together.

The list goes on and on; Karl Sanders’ solo records would make amazing movie soundtracks, and although they are very similar to Nile in tone and style, the fact that he went as far down that path is enough for me. He did his thing, without the death metal, but even more pure evil. Also: Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, and most other musicians that these two collaborate with, the 80s rock band Toto and their epic soundtrack to the sci-fi film Dune, Paul Simon by using Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South African vocal group, on Graceland… All musicians with an open approach willing to take risks outside of their genre.

Take note that with these examples, I’m not saying that these musicians are in some way superior because they jump around. It is one of many approaches. I’m also not looking for the band with the most mixed or confused genre identity even though this is also something I love to see in bands. Mastodon, for example, use many different styles to create their sound and become more ambiguous with every record… But if I had to guess, they aren’t going to start an instrumental reggae/funk or drum ‘n bass side project next year. Though, now that I think about it, wouldn’t something that far out be killer?! Brann Dailor could probably slay whatever type of drumming that he wants…

What I am attempting to do is understand something about the inner workings of the above artists’ inspirations and how they were able to apply themselves to such different worlds so successfully. I’m sure there are others that I am forgetting or have never heard of… Does anyone have great examples?


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