Saturday, March 29, 2008


INVISIBLE is an experimental band hailing from Greensboro, NC that aims to explore new sounds and techniques for finding them. Through some elaborate homemade instruments and an unusual style of composition, Invisible settles into one sonic comfort zone only briefly before packing up and moving on to the next. The band was formed in 2006 and currently consists of Jonathan Henderson, Mark Dixon and Bart Trotman.  Electronic noise man Dan Kaufman was a founding member, but has since moved to Chicago ( and for a while professional typist Jodi Staley played the Selectric Piano. (see below)

Mark, who for the most part plays bass, recently had his 15 minutes of fame with the online popularity of his "Safetybike" video.  The safetybike was an experiment captured on video in the late 90s, and since then Mark has not stopped creating (inventing!?) mechanical wonders of the mind. In 2007, Mark and co-genius Fred Snider created an adapter to allow an IBM Selectric typewriter to play a piano or keyboard.  Each letter signals a note—44 keys on the typewriter (counting 2x each, thanks to the shift button) = 88 keys on a piano or keyboard. For the performances; a tiny camera is mounted on the typewriter, so the image of the page is being projected on a screen above the band.  This way the audience not only hears the notes but can read what's being typed.  The first experiments with the adapter used an actual stand up piano: a game of  "20 Questions" and a cover of "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads.   

The typewriter/piano contraption is only one of Invisible's arsenal.  Mark has also created an analog drum machine that works on a similar principle of an old-timey music box—a wheel with pins.  The entire drum machine could easily fill a small room with all of it's various percussion instruments attached; a bass drum, xylophones, cymbals, low toms, and even a plastic cup.  

As amazing (and heavy) as Mark's creations are, Invisible has also spent a lot of focus playing more traditional instruments writing and rocking a diverse variety of experimental music stylings.  From slow sludgey metal inspired downmashes, to electro hip-hop beats, to spazzy dance freakouts, to crunchwaves of effected 80s consumer synth/keys. 

for show listings and streaming songs:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Workday/Schoolnight is my experimental recording project. I play and record all the everything as Workday/Schoolnight. I use Apple's idiot-friendly GarageBand for recording software. 

Vocal heavy and categorically hard to describe, this Workday Schoolnight album calls to mind the experimental stylings of early 70s heroes; Brian Eno, David Bowie, Can, and Roxy Music—or at least maybe I'd like to think that some of my influences shine through. No matter if they don't - but I was listening to those bands A LOT when I recorded this, so... 

Here's a review from Go Triad in Greensboro, NC.  The reviewer starts by referencing my first release, Messages, which can be found in an earlier post: 
Bart Trotman's last outing, a unique excursion into the strangely intimate world of found answering machine recordings titled "Messages," succeeded in fusing ambient textures with guerrilla samplings to form a Twilight Zone ready-made of striking proportions: at once entirely familiar and incredibly bizarre. His latest project, going under the name of "Workday Schoolnight," is ostensibly more conventional but no less enjoyable, as this time around the music is the main attraction. The difference of this album from his last is immediately apparent in the way the synthesizer that opens "Calling the Shots" predominates. The synth pulse of several tracks combined with Trotman's dispassionate delivery bring Gary Numan's "Pleasure Principle" to mind (the incessant invocation of the automobile on "SafeCar" doesn't hurt, either). Trotman's synth pop groove is less restrained than Numan's, however, as the backdrop of distorted guitar cartwheels that adorn "Of the End, Too Many" remind. This is not to say that traces of "Messages" aren't present. "The Policeman Said" explicitly recalls his previous project by opening with a grainy sample of an anonymous voice repeating a dispassionate reminder about when to acquire our "value-added data." But what seems like a "Messages" outtake quickly changes directions as an endlessly looping marimba part and Trotman's hushed vocals come to the fore. Ultimately less a departure than an extension of his previous work, "Workday Schoolnight" is a thoroughly engaging outing and worth the attention of anyone interested in music -- local, electronic, or otherwise. Contact Daniel McMillan at daniel.

1. Calling the Shots
2. Of the End, Too Many
3. SafeCar
4. the time it takes to read
5. Years on Years
6. the PoliceMan Said
7. Golden Raindrops

To buy a copy of Workday Schoolnight, go here
or search for it on iTunes

SAURUS - The Word Dinosaur Means Terrible Lizard (2008)


Picture this:  A band of musicians dressed in labcoats, posing as doctors of some variety, singing about the last two dinosaurs left on earth—an Avimimus and a Deinonychus.   Behind the band there is a projected powerpoint presentation with a variety of fast moving still dino images for each song.  
The story SAURUS tells is centered around Evie the Avimimus and the Nameless Evil Deinonychus.   It's a classic tale - the Avimimus is good and pure, the Deinonychus is an evil killing machine.  Naturally, they have to battle to death. Naturally.  Who doesn't want to see two pre-historic beasts battle each other to the death?  It's literally a story older than mankind.

As the legend goes, while each dinosaur laid dormant for hundreds of millions of years they accumulated all the soul power from their respective ancestors.   Kind of like the accumulation of the collective unconscious, only in superpowers—or like that Jet Li movie, "The One".  This powerful attribute means that Evie and the Deinonychus are not just battling eachother for sport, it's world domination they're after. (Naturally).          

As an audience member at a SAURUS show you get to vote by way of cheering for which dinosaur you want to win.   If Evie (the good one) wins, the band plays a dance song about having a good time and well... dancing.   If ,Lord help you, Deinonychus wins, the band plays a slow sludgy metal song with a gloomy marching beat— dooming all of mankind to a life of servitude to the tyrannical evil Deinonychus.    

Now as far as the music goes—it's all over the place.   DEVO? Frank Zappa? They Might Be Giants? Black Sabbath?  It's all here.
The album, which tells the entire story of Evie and the Deinonuchus, was released in January 2008 with two covers and two endings—one for each dino.  

Here are some links to videos which include some live footage edited with the powerpoint slides:

"Terrible Claw (Deinonychus's Theme)":

"She's the One (Evie's Theme)":


The musicians: 
Daniel Bullard-Bates - lead vocals, guitar, bass, synths
Andy Savoy - guitar, bass, synths, vocals
Bart Trotman - drums, vocals, bass, old casio and yamaha keys
Cameron Wilkin - guitar (at live shows)
Ben Hirsch - bass (at live shows)
Johanna de Graffenreid - powerpoint operator (at live shows)

SAURUS - The Word Dinosaur Means Terrible Lizard (2008):
1. A Brief History of Dinosaurs
2. A Fateful Discovery   (the story begins)
3. Deinonychus Escapes!  (intro)
4. Terrible Claw  (The Deinonychus Theme)
5. Fever Dreams
6. I Wish I had a Friend  (Children's Story)
7. Evie Interlude
8. A Phenomenological Explanation of the Consolidation of Physical and Mental Attributes Across Familial LInes During the Extinction Process   (the Dance Song)
9. Deinonychus's Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Really Bad Day
10. She's the One!  (Evie's Theme)
11. The Battle: Xtreme Dino Showdown   (Choose your winner!)

12. Avimimus Victory Dance   (The Avimimus Wins Song)

13.  (silent track)
14. Deinonychus Death March   (alternate winner: if Deinonychus had won)

listen to songs, here:

Messages (2005)

 is a collection of instrumental songs featuring answering machine messages taken from tapes in thrift stores and junk stores. Before the moniker of Workday/Schoolnight, I released this under my own name, Bart Trotman. 

The idea here was to give a lush ambient setting to these answering machine messages I had collected.   Warning: Some of the messages are downright creepy.  Listening in on the line with these people raises questions such as: Who are these people?  Are they still alive? Are they nuts?        

here are some words about Messages from Carla Kucinski's article in Go Triad March 9, 2006:

" We learn of a desperate woman stuck in a relationship with an alocholic, and her friend on the other line who couldn't care less.  We get a scary glimpse of another caller with a sadistic laugh who leaves  a series of disturbing messages about someone pulling out a gun and grabbing a knife.  In that same message, there's a strange reference to a man and a scrapbooko: "She's looking through her scrapbook with all these people she's killed.  She used to be a nurse and she's killed all these people. Bye."  It gives me chills. 
  And then there's Mrs. Beverly, who perhaps causes the most concern.  While listening to "Mrs. Beverly, just when ARE you coming home?" you get the feeling that something terribly bad has happened to her, and that's why she can't get to the phone.   Or why her answering machine ended up in a thrift store.  For days, friends, acquaintances and loved ones leave her messages, wishing her a merry Christmas.  But the messages evolve into worry and concern: "I'm surprised you're not home yet... I pretty much expected to see you today ... I haven't seen your face in awhile ... I love you ... By the way, that will never change.  I will always love you.  "  
As the callers grow more desperate, the intensity of the music increases and creates anxiety within the listener; it gives me a bad feeling in my stomach.  The messages get to Trotman, too."

1. talk at cha
2. The Typewriter Rain
3. Ms. Beverly, just when ARE you coming home?
4. messages
5. CrazyKnife
6. Where My Dogs At?
7. The Conversation

(ignore the hot chicks, find the empty box - enter the 3 letters, wait, then click download)