The Rhythm Messiahs | Half Way There

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Electronic: Trip Hop Avant Garde: Electronic Avant-Garde Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Half Way There

by The Rhythm Messiahs

Fourth chillwave album, upbeat instrumentals in a unique style.
Genre: Electronic: Trip Hop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Window On A Ride
5:27 $0.99
2. Tao Tao Tao
5:53 $0.99
3. April Flowers
4:32 $0.99
4. Tension's Edge
3:17 $0.99
5. Half Way There
4:27 $0.99
6. Beyond Sky Maps
4:30 $0.99
7. Limbo and Purgatory
6:24 $0.99
8. Zen Zen Zen
6:20 $0.99
9. Blaze In Command
3:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Musical History of The Rhythm Messiahs:

The name “The Rhythm Messiahs” comes with a bit of irony, as it’s just one guy—J.D. Casten—and he’s most likely not a messiah. Rather, this humble fellow suffers from a form of schizophrenia that doesn’t include delusions of grandeur, but instead presents a near constant interaction with voices in his head… as if he were on a continual conference call via a brain-phone.

Although a music enthusiast from an early age, listening to “alternative” and “album oriented” radio in the 80’s, music began to be a necessity in J.D.s life as his voices began to emerge in the 90’s—a constant background of music was needed to help drown out some of the voices and to camouflage the tinnitus, or constant ringing (or sometimes white noise) in his ears, that coincided with the onset of hearing voices.

J.D.’s earliest musical memories were the LPs of his parents… including 1971’s Cat Steven’s album “Teaser And the Firecat,” (especially with the song “Moonshadow”), the 1970’s album soundtrack for “Jesus Christ Superstar” (he still loves the percussions on “Heaven On Their Minds”), 1971’s “Brown Sugar” off of The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” (wondering what was under the Andy Warhol underwear on the album cover), all The Beatles’ albums, but also classical music, like Beethoven’s 5th and Moonlight Sonata.

Getting his first am radio (shaped like Snoopy) in 1975 (J.D. was 7) he recalls being hooked on Glen Campbell’s rendition of “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Later favorites included Elton John’s “Daniel,” The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” and Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”
J.D.’s step dad bought him his first album in 1977—an English import of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.” This “first” was fortunate, for the first album J.D. bought himself was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome” in 1984. In-between those two first albums, J.D. was hooked by many other tunes, from Gary Newman’s hit “cars” to Def Leppard’s album “Pyromania”—but also other genre’s such as with Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene” and “Equinoxe.” While his mom was listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” and Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” his step Dad continued to listen to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but also introduced J.D. to Randy Newman, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, and even Leon Redbone. Meanwhile J.D.’s friends were getting into Van Halen and Bob Seger. J.D.’s tastes began to go beyond singles to albums, from hits like The Doobie Brother’s “What A Fool Believes” through Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” to albums like AC/DC’s “Back In Black.” By the early 80’s he was listening to Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Duran Duran, The Clash, Yes, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, The Police, and Prince’s album “Purple Rain” (and then “Welcome to the Pleasure Dome” – the double album which unfolded into a colorful illustration that 16 year old J.D. showed to his mother, as she cracked up and pointed out that it was a huge Penis).

J.D.’s music experience in the 80’s and 90’s exploded beyond any simple list. In high school he found freelance employment as an Atari computer game programmer for the then popular Atari magazine, “Antic.”—he spent much time programming, and listened to the radio often as he typed, debugged, and played the kind of games he couldn’t afford (until he sold them). J.D. bought his first computer from a Scientific American advertisement for the ZX80: the first computer under $200. His introduction to programming (in 1979-1980) would become critical for his future musical endeavors, as although J.D. was taught to play drums by his step Dad (who was taught by his uncle… Buddy Rich!), and practiced guitar for his first album “American Power Projection” and keyboards too, the computer keyboard and mouse are the instruments that J.D. developed some mastery over. Hence, J.D.’s music is stronger on production than on instrumental virtuosity. The computer is his primary instrument, having practiced on it nearly daily since 1979 (a while before most of us were doing so, and with more in depth programming knowledge).

Having become a fan of The Cure in the 80’s (as well as American acts like R.E.M.) – J.D. was hip to the commercialization of “Alternative” music (especially with MTV), and when Nirvana definitively broke alternative into main-stream, he drifted towards more indie acts in the later 90’s and early 00’s – becoming a fan of Pinback, Odd Nosdam, and Boards of Canada; while still listening to mainstream acts like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Although he knew he couldn’t give away his music with as much success as these later two acts have, J.D. made a commitment to himself, to always offer his music free online (as with his other art, games, and books).

J.D.’s first experience at making music was learning to play “Silent Night” on the Piano at his grandmother’s house in the late 70’s. But he also made music and sounds with his Atari computer in the early 80’s with his programmed arcade-games (games with a complexity between Donkey Kong, and Mario Bros.). Although he sometimes practiced with his friends’ band (“Prozac” of Eugene, Oregon) in the early 90’s—playing drums and experimenting with guitar, he didn’t seriously sit down to make some real music until 2008, when he bought the consumer version of Sony’s ACID software. After composing two songs on this software, “Fight-Fate” and then “Slow To Sleep” (which used a guitar piece from his noodling days with his friends’ band Prozac), J.D. decided to upgrade to the ACID Pro. This enabled greater abilities with production.

ACID was originally designed for using “loops” or samples, and J.D.’s first album, “American Power Projection” was half composed from royalty free production loops plus loops of his own making, and half from guitars and various VST synthesizers that were freely available on the internet. This first album was mostly a learning experience… both in music composition and production, but also in finding an audience. J.D.’s friends and family liked the music, and this encouraged him to invest a bit in his next album.

For his second album, “Melody Method,” J.D. bought Native Instruments’ Komplete 5 and Kore 2 digital instruments. This included various samplers and synthesizers—immediately the focus shifted away from loop samples to keyboard melody composition (hence the album title). Whereas “American Power Projection” was a bit weird… “Melody Method” went more “pop”—J.D. was aiming at a type of “trip-hop” music, but was not very “chill” or “down-tempo” and hence created something more like “trip-pop.” By this time J.D. was hooked on indie hip-hop too, especially ambient and instrumental hip-hop, and this influence can be seen in songs like “Traffic Jam” (on the first album), “Super Sly Fly” (on “Melody Method”), and again on “Almost Lunch” on the latest The Rhythm Messiahs album, “Daymare.”
With “Daymare” J.D. tried to escape the “formulaic” “method” of Melody Method’s “weird pop” and make songs with a twist. Whereas “Melody Method” was semi-conceptually based on time: with the time of a life; “Daymare” was based on time: with the hours of the day. J.D. enlisted the help of a dozen friends, from his own nephew and mom, a friend from Prozac (Frank Hanson), underground hip-hop rapper Ben “Monk Metz” Metzger (of Eugene, Oregon’s Eleven Eyes), to former major label acts Ana Voog (from Minneapolis’ The Blue Up? ….actually… her tickling her toddler daughter) and European Nick “Momus” Currie whom J.D. had met via the internet (Ana had a 24/7 art webcam for over a decade, and Nick composed a nearly daily blog for ½ a decade called “Click Opera”). P a g e | 3
There are several characteristics of The Rhythm Messiahs sound. First, it is production oriented. Even though J.D. plays instruments, and uses samples from friends (like his upright Jazz bass playing neighbor Eric Richardson of Eugene, Oregon’s Richardson Jazz Trio), the heart of the songs comes from loving but laborious composition: layers of intertwined melodies that often use arpeggiated delays, distortion envelops, and almost always at least two drum kits (a la Adam Ant). Second, although listenable as background music, it is usually a little “tense”—there is some energy there that may come from J.D.’s near-constant anxiety due to hearing voices. It is hoped that this “anxious” music would have cathartic effects. But counter posed against this “conscious-raising” tension is an often hypnotic aspect of the music: meditative. This was noted by one reviewer of “Melody Method” from Chicago’s WZRD:

“Eugene, Oregon’s J.D. Casten makes music as The Rhythm Messiahs, and he also produces computer-based visual art, video, philosophical treatises and more—check his website below…Rhythm Messiahs is beat-driven electronica with plenty of identifiable instrument sounds as part of a sample-delic cornucopia…Casten himself uses the term ‘trip hop’ to describe Rhythm Messiahs, but unlike most of the numbingly repetitive drivel that falls under that tag, there’s an acute intellect behind this heady brew, mixing and matching dozens of different colors, effects and percussive devices for some vibrant, occasionally hypnotic results…my only quibble is that every track uses a 4/4 beat—if Casten could only push himself a little further, and break away from 4/4 hegemony, I think he could achieve some serious mindblowing…”

J.D. has rarely broken free of 4/4 time signatures, aiming more at pop-rock sounds, and danceable beats… however, this may change in the future. Although he used his voice on the album “Melody Method” (usually pitch-shifted, like that of the band “Air”)—he wisely remained silent on “Daymare,” instead enlisting his friends to vocalize on a few tracks. The 24 tracks on “Daymare” cover 24 hours in a day… and the emotional temperamental difference couldn’t be more stark than the cheerful sounds of a child’s laughter (and kid sounds) of “Belly Laugh Breakfast” as compared to the uber-dark pathology of “Wet Signals Ophelia”—the entire song being underscored by the repetition, almost subliminal, of the word “murder” throughout. Part of the fun of “Daymare” is that although it starts in the morning, it goes into night… and right into dreamland, with songs like “Rapid Eye Movement” and “Busted Robot Nightmare.” And be sure to listen for the rooster crowing in “Sudden Daybreak Awakening.”

The Rhythm Messiahs fourth album, “Half Way There” marks an attempt to explore areas beyond human time, and spirituality—with song titles like “Tao Tao Tao” and “Zen Zen Zen.” The music is a bit more experimental… at times relaxing, but always engaging.



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