The History Of Recorded Music was written, performed, produced, financed and documented by myself, Brian Dobbs. This album includes a Vinyl CD, a DVD-Video and a DVD-Audio disc. I shot and edited all of the video, authored both DVDs and designed my own way of multichannel mixing. I also designed the album artwork with the help of professional photographer Enoch Chan.
When recording for this album began there were only rough ideas floating around, mostly stored as demos on my computer. The songwriting process was linear, working and completing one song at a time. I ultimately wanted to hear certain types of songs and sounds, so once I was done with one type I then moved on to the next. For instance, I wanted a heavy metal song, an electronica song, an epic song, etc. Once the creative process of composing and demoing a song on my computer was complete I went to the recording studio and tracked it.
Composing the next song wouldn't begin until I was mostly done tracking the previous song. It's not the most efficient way of doing things, but I unfortunately never had the luxury of isolating myself for a month or two and knocking this thing out. From conception to completion this album took one-and-a-half years. Besides the fact that I took over the roles of guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer, songwriter, producer, videographer and editor, I had to fit this thing in-between having a full-time job and being the drummer and webmaster for Concrete Prophet. Since I also paid for studio time myself I had to budget the recording process from paycheck to paycheck. I am not listing complaints, I just wanted to express the reality of the whole process.
I loved experimenting with synthesizers on this album. I never worked with the keyboard intimately before, but once I started doodling I found myself completely immersed into the world of patches and effects. The keyboard sneaks it's way into most of the songs, sometimes producing interesting musical hybrids. I find it difficult to classify the album into any one particular genre however. I suppose most of the material on here is derivative of rock music, but I wouldn't call this a rock album. I'll leave that up to you.
I thought it would be interesting to put myself on camera to answer questions and offer some insight into the making of this album. Who am I? Where am I from? What were my motivations? Just how on Earth did I manage to do all of this? I do my best to give as much information as possible about my background, my reasons and methods for doing this as well as song-by-song analysis. The interview is quite long, but after all this is my album.
Click here to watch the teaser video clip for the album.
I knew going into this I wanted to get some video footage of the recording process. I didn't anticipate capturing the performances of most of the material but once this thing got started I thought it would be stupid not to set up the camera to capture exactly what would be heard on the album. From that, I thought of making music videos to each song showcasing each instrument being recorded for that song. I refined the editing process as I went along but ultimately what you will see are simultaneous performances of myself playing each instrument for each song.
Check out the YouTube embed below for the music video to "The Spirits Of Tomorrow."
Disc 3 - The History Of Recorded Music
DVD-Audio, 24 bit, 44.1 kHz, Six Channel Surround Sound
I'm a home theater nut. I love surround sound. Listening to music in surround sound can be a breathtaking experience. In a word, beautiful. About midway through the recording process I started thinking about whether it would be possible to include a surround mix of each song on the album.
After doing some research I came across a company that sold DVD-Audio authoring software at a reasonable price. The only catch was that it didn't include the ability to mix in surround sound. The recording studio only had stereo mixing capabilities so I knew that I would have to start thinking creatively towards a solution.
Ultimately what you'll hear is the music broken up into multiple channels. I'm confident no one has attempted something like this before because I came up with the mixing process myself. In the process I think I drove my engineer crazy! In the beginning he had no idea where I was taking this project, but after time he eventually began to understand. His idea for an album cover was dressing me up as a mad scientist in a laboratory.
During the recording process I told some people about my plans for a surround sound mix to which most of them asked, "But why?" My answer is that I have faith in the future of multichannel music. I've been an early adopter of the virtually unknown (and misunderstood) format and I can now also consider myself one of the privileged few on this entire planet to have an independent DVD-Audio surround sound mix.
Drumming Up Interest In His Passion
Annapolis Man Cuts The 'The History of Recorded Music'
By Jacob Linger For The Capital - Everyone has caught themselves in front of a mirror lip-syncing to their favorite song. Some may even be able to carry a tune. For Annapolis resident Brian Dobbs, however, music is more than doing an air guitar solo or using a hairbrush as a microphone.
Music is pure passion to Mr. Dobbs. His enthusiasm for providing listeners with melodic tunes led him to record his own debut album, "The History of Recorded Music." The album became available on Dec. 18.
The entire album was written, performed, financed and produced by Mr. Dobbs. The idea came about in 2004 when he decided he needed a fresh recording of his efforts on his chosen instrument: the drums.
He said a friend agreed to assist in the writing of the album, only to back out at the last minute. Not allowing the obstacle to stop him, Mr. Dobbs decided to conquer the dream himself.
The studio time had already been booked and there was no place for the musician to go but onward.
At first, Mr. Dobbs was overwhelmed by the large investment of time and energy that would be put into the project. Not only would Mr. Dobbs produce the album, he'd also be performing all of the vocals and most of the instruments. He'd end up playing the guitar, the keyboard and the drums himself. Why go through all of this for a drum recording?
"I wanted a recorded performance and I was going to get it," Mr. Dobbs said. "Even if I had to record it myself."
The first order of business: learn how to play the guitar and the keyboard.
"I had started off, back in high school, picking up a few instruments," he said. "But the drum is my first instrument."
Mr. Dobbs realized he had a golden opportunity to record material that fit into the realm of what he tends to be drawn to as a fan. He said the original intent of his recording was to be different because of his appreciation of many different styles of music.
"There is something on this album for everyone," said Mr. Dobbs.
Growing up in West River, he followed the masses as a devout fan of what became known in the 1990s as the Seattle scene. Bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains ruled the music charts for most of the decade. They ruled most of the Gen-Xers cassette decks, too. These bands of the grunge era influenced many musicians and led to the creation of probably tens of thousands of "garage bands."
As a student at Southern High School, and in college at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Mr. Dobbs was in and out of bands. Each always had big ambitions, but never an idea of how to accomplish any of their goals. Once in college, Mr. Dobbs temporarily set music aside and focused on his academics.
Still, he researched and observed what other bands were doing and how to present himself professionally. That's when he noticed that some of the progressive rock artists he admired served as singer, songwriter and musician.
"It can be done, so I might as well do it myself", Mr. Dobbs said.
Eighteen months after he began recording, Mr. Dobbs finished "The History of Recorded Music." Where many musicians would have been satisfied to bundle up the CD in a Zip-Loc bag and immediately get it out onto the streets, Mr. Dobbs had more patience.
Knowing he was a beginner songwriter in the age of electronic music, which is easily downloaded off of the Internet, he decided to think bigger.
"I'm not sure that the music alone is going to be a good enough selling point," he said. I want to "push the envelope as far as what (I) can deliver."
Mr. Dobbs believes that in today's commercial music market, a standard CD no longer makes the grade.
With a Visual Arts degree from UMBC, he had the know-how to package the album on his own and immediately started working on designing the cover. He also added a little something extra - a bonus CD of totally remixed versions of each of the songs on the album. What's more, there is a DVD with studio footage and an interview with Mr. Dobbs.
An interesting feature of "The History of Recorded Music" is the way the CD actually looks and feels like a record. According to Mr. Dobbs, the use of the vinyl CD lends credence to the title of the album.
The title for the album is unique and appropriate. Although it might sound like the name of a Bob Dylan album from the 1960s, Mr. Dobbs said "The History of Recorded Music" is borne of his desire to not use an arbitrary title that carries little or no weight.
Just when the musician thought that he had enough on his plate, he was contacted by a progressive metal band named Concrete Prophet. He auditioned for the band and eventually became their drummer.
He said joining Concrete Prophet was "really worthwhile because of the people he met in the band and the kind of music they wanted to produce."
The Big Finish
Once the entirety of "The History of Recorded Music" was completed, Mr. Dobbs set up his Web site at www.thesoloalbum.com and began selling the album on www.cdbaby.com. The latter provides independent artists the ability to attain worldwide distribution for a percentage of the album sales. That possibility of someone in Europe or Africa hearing one of Mr. Dobbs' songs is what excites him the most about this project.
"If it was on the radio, it would kind of be like, 'Wow. My song is on the radio,' says Mr. Dobbs. "But if someone in another country heard my music, then that would give me more satisfaction."
The History of Recorded Music is available at area Record and Tape Traders, www.cdbaby.com and www.briandobbs.com.
I made my first listen the DVD Audio surround disc and it blew my socks off!! It gave my Polk Audio 12" subwoofer a real workout! The music mastering is very clean and tight. I dug every track, which is rare for me. It is also right up there in the top 3 of the CDs in my collection. I am happy to see the video produced for 16X9. It should look nice not stretched on my plasma. In short, you did a great job Brian! You should be proud of your effort! I am proud to have it in my collection and will demo it for all my friends. I look forward to hearing more music from you.
Wes Thompson - Member, Home Theater Forum
The music is smooth, flowing, and very melodic and paints a nice picture when the eyes are closed. What can I say Brian? I am totally blown away! I don't even know where to start. For starters, the sound quality is top notch! I set my system up using a couple of different recordings that sound the best to me. I didn't have to adjust a thing. Amazing low end! I have two 3 cubic foot subs tuned at 30 Hz and damn the low end is insane! Overall the mix is excellent and I did not notice any bad tones or resonance anywhere. I kept thinking that the surround was on even though it was just two channel. Great sound stage. Excellent job!
I am running out of words to describe the sound. Simply awesome! Your use of the medium is very cool. I don't have a lot of experience with multi-channel music but I think that you have added a tremendous dimension to your music with the DVD-A. Lucky me, now I have a disc that I can use to show my system off with!
Your CD is right up my alley. You have a nice variety and each song can stand on its own merit. Each song paints a different picture in the imagination. For someone who used a minimal amount of instruments you have done great giving each song its own feel and textures. I have to admit that Superior(ity) pretty much scared the shit out of me on the first listen. You seem like such a mild-mannered guy and then bam! That song is extreme and I was a little worried about you until I watched the interview.
It is cool how you put the different video clips in the interview. You don't really hold back either. You pretty much hang it all out there and say, "This is me." There aren't many people these days that will do that. I feel like I know you. It gives your audience a lot more insight into your music when they know more about the artist.
This is the best 15 dollars I have spent in a very long time! Packed with high quality content. People would spend more money on music and do less ripping if they could get feature packed quality releases like this. On a more personal note Brian, I just want to say thanks for doing all of this. Seeing and hearing what you have done documented in so much detail has gotten me excited about getting back into doing my music again. I have always dreamed of writing and recording some of my music but I have never really done much about it. I guess what I am trying to say here is when you see people accomplish their dreams; it makes you want to start chasing your own.
I just finished listening to your DVD-A non-stop from start to finish for the second time. I get more impressed every time I listen. I have enjoyed movies and concerts in surround sound for years but I have always switched to headphones or two channels for music. Your DVD-A is totally cool. You couldn't duplicate that kind of sound experience with headphones ever. I also have bass shakers in my couch. I have to back the sub level down 10 db with your DVD! I kept shutting my eyes and smiling listening to how cool your music sounds. Every time I listen I hear new sounds and different rhythms that I missed before. Just like a good movie soundtrack, I keep hearing things behind me and looking only to find out it is in the music. Like you, I don't always like to use cuss words but sometimes you have to so you can get your point across. The DVD-A is kind of like a sonic roller coaster ride and is totally fucking amazing!
It is really cool how you give such an intimate view of yourself and your music. It is cool that you included a very thorough documentary style portrait of yourself and your musical path.
You have an incredible amount of talent. You mentioned in your interview that you may never do this again so you record everything. Please, don't stop here. Take some time off for life and make some more music as life comes at you. What you have been able to accomplish on your first solo effort is far above and beyond what some people take a whole career to get to! I'm serious. Give life a chance to give more ups and downs, keep practicing, and then write us some more music! I will happily wait however long it takes!
I am so stoked about your CD. Not only do I get a CD of excellent music but I get the total picture of the artist, the meaning behind the music, home videos, studio videos, the insane surround mix. There aren't very many artists out there who could come close to producing the package that you have even with mega billion dollar record companies backing them.
I suppose my main point that I was trying to make is there are still some of us out there who appreciate when an artist puts forth the effort to have every sound and every word thought out. And when we spend our hard-earned money on an album we get something for our money. You win hands down in the "bang for the buck" category!
Robert Morgan - Member, Home Theater Forum
Like all high-res lovers, I'm starved for material, so offering the DVD-A content was a huge plus.
Aaron Silverman - DVD Reviewer, Home Theater Forum
I downloaded your "Spirits of Tomorrow" track, and I dig. Nice work!
Hey man, I hit your solo site and it has tons of info. I really liked the song. If you strip down each part they are very simple, but it was so layered and it built such a harmonic foundation - it was great. I'm wondering how many people watched the whole thing all the way to the end - that cracked me up.
Wow! Not what I was expecting! There have been few CDs from Forum members that have impressed me on first listen. I think your solo album will join those in that category. First off, for being 1 person playing all the instruments I gotta give MAD props.
Presentation : The black CD that looks like an album (not to mention you can actually see and feel the grooves on the top) is an awesome presentation of the disc. Outstanding notices on the first listen.
Track 3 : This song has a FAT bass sound - something I wish Dream Theater's mix would allow bassist John Myung to display! In fact, all bass on every album should have this sound!
Track 4 : Beautiful leads over the acoustic guitar.. This is something one could "float" to!
Track 5 : I'm REALLY glad I wasn't stoned at the beginning of this. I probably would have jumped out of the chair wondering who the hell was in the house. This song really doesn't fit in with the flow of the album, but that makes it stand out. It's position in the track order allows a nice surprising break from the mood of the rest of the album. On top of that, any song with the words "Mother fucker" in it gets an A+ in my book. Dedicated to Dime, very nice touch.
Track 7 : Dude!! I've seen this porn!!! Oh, wait, no it's my favourite pinball machine! Hmmm, maybe it was just something I remember from a great acid trip while at a rave where I felt really out of place. Good job!
Track 8 : Great album closer
Track 9 : Damn, the CDs already over and restarted???
DebraKadabra enjoyed the CD as well. There have been times I've put something on to listen to, and I can hear her groaning in the backround.. which is usually a sign that she's not digging on it and she wants me to turn it off or put on headphones.
The production and mix on this CD was top notch!
Mireille (from Belgium)
My english is not good enough to express what I felt so I write it in my mother language Lorsque j'ai écouté de petits morceaux de ta musique, j'ai été agréablement impressionnée. Une force particulière et mystérieuse s'en dégage et incite à la poésie. La mélodie donne l'impression d'une fenêtre qui s'ouvre sur un paysage secret et des pensées indéfinissables d'unité, d'équilibre et de chaleureuse espérance m'ont envahies. Congratulations