Two new releases on the Beauty Is the End front, one, a decidedly dark and textural original, the other, a pensive and beautiful Crosby, Stills & Nash cover.

Cherub Allies” is the sister song to “The Glass Wall,” released earlier this year. Where “The Glass Wall” had its focus turned outwards upon a post-capitalistic, xenophobic, decaying urban wasteland, “Cherub Allies” examines the complex landscapes of inter-personal affairs. I really love the lyrics for both. Clinton wrote both songs, and their lyrics are up at their respective Bandcamp pages (linked above).

“Cherub Allies” was my first foray into drumming entirely with electronic sounds. I’d triggered some 808’s and bass blasts with my soul/hip hop projects, Shubangi and AzudemSK, but that was always in the context of an acoustic performance. For “Cherub Allies,” I plugged my full electronic drumset into the laptop and triggered sounds I sought out with Clinton and my bandmate/hip hop producer, Duuq. Three sections of the song called for three very different sets of sounds, from tight and complementary in the second refrain where my drums enter, to full and boisterous in the bridge thereafter, all leading to a massive acoustic battery seeing us out in the final refrain (those Masshoff Drums samples give me goosebumps).

It was a fun project, and I’m excited to keep exploring the world of sampling. For me, it’s a very 2020/21 experiment, which very accurately describes its context in time. In pre-pandemic times, the songwriting process would often entail (or consist entirely of) band sessions, everyone sweating and breathing into the same practice room air, songs collecting in the middle like clouds in moist air. In that process, the pieces are in place, each musician has his or her equipment and sound, and each works to shape the material using the existing building blocks. The song takes life over the course of the session and with each collective performance, to be recorded when it’s ready.

Now, in a pandemic, it’s in some ways the opposite. Recording comes right away, by necessity; the song is put together piece by piece and sent along to the next musician. The material doesn’t form in the physical space between the band, and isn’t created in the moment, from its existing composite parts. Rather, each person comes at it separately, and can take all the time he or she needs to find the perfect sounds and record the perfect take. Material is king, rather than synergy. (As an aside, it’s easy to get lost here in perfectionism, but then, sometimes that’s exactly what live band sessions lack: The inability to declare it “good enough” and move on.)

The e-drums are therefore, for me, very much a product of their times. I can sit at home, on my own watch, browse sounds, examine MIDI information, cut and recut and recut, and even try different sounds after doing a take. (For this little attic musician, that’s still mindblowing.) I suspect, after the pandemic has loosened its grip on us, I’ll still look upon the e-drums as a Corona hangover.

Anyway. Back to the releases, and to mention another collaboration-from-afar: The music video for “Cherub Allies” is a beautiful bit of visual wizardry by artist Shane LoBuglio. It captures the mood of the piece wonderfully, and I still don’t have any clue how he put it together.

Beauty Is the End’s other recent release is a cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping,” and Clinton did this one all on his own, down to its beautiful, watercolor music video! (What’s that you say? The shakers on “Helplessly Hoping” sound very nice as well? Well, thank you! That’s the one bit I contributed. When Clinton sent me the track for potential drums, he already had in place the electronic drums you hear in the final cut. I thought it’d crowd the piece too much to add anything more.)

I think it’s beautiful work by Clinton across the board.

One of the prettiest pieces I’ve heard by Clinton is currently in mixing, slated for release by mid-summer, so stay tuned for that. I had to buy a concert percussion sample pack for it, in case that whets any appetites…

have been fortunate to be playing lots of different gigs lately, both on big stages and stages more intimate.  but I’ve been missing that feeling of producing something new, putting something down and letting it out into the world in a more permanent form.

excited then to say that some newness is getting did.  and my first new release in ages is out as of just a few days ago: the new Shubangi Halt Dich Fest EP.

there’s a variety of stuff on there, including two produced singles.  but we also did a studio session as a band over two days and recorded four songs live and raw, which are also featured on there.  there are also videos for them: Erster Schritt, Halt Dich Fest, Freier Fall, and Gestrandet.

aside from that, a few weeks ago Andreas Liebrecht and I recorded a video together for his song “Who’s Chasing Me,” which is currently being edited.  I’m also going to record a song for Alex Rosenhof of bluespam next week, meet for a rehearsal with some friends towards the video-ification of two other kind of insane songs we wrote together, and get started on a percussion piece of my own I’ve been tooling around with.  so, hoping to head into winter with a small smorgasbord of new clips.

As the summer’s coming to a close, I thought I’d post a few more photos, for archiving’s sake, and remark on how fortunate I’ve felt about some things I’ve been able to be a part of.  From beautiful locations to new equipment to tour with friends to three weeks back home, it was a summer with lots of highlights.  Some of these I’ve featured in past posts, but others I still wanted to represent with a photo or two.

First up, largely for Shubangi and partly out of morbid curiosity, I’ve joined the “dark side,” as my buddy Bill Dwyer would probably put it:


I have since purchased two Roland BT-1 percussion bars to run into this thing, as opposed to the triggers.  I’m excited to work with the triggers more, but for now they’re impractical and don’t fit with what I need samples for.  We’ll see when or if that changes.

Here are some pictures from the last Shubangi gigs of the summer.


Borken – That’s Life festival


Setting up in Borken. That’s an old Sonor Sonic Plus kit, made in Germany of all birch. Sounds a lot better than what’s billed as a beginner’s kit ought to.  Crazy hardware as well… look at the floor tom legs, for example.

shubangi heimatzoo fest

Heimatzoo Festival, Grindau bei Schwarmstedt

shubangi heimatzoo

Heimatzoo Festival, Grindau bei Schwarmstedt

shubangi rink fest 2

Rink-Festival, Osnabrueck

shubangi rink fest

Rink-Festival, Osnabrueck

shubangi sessionone hamburg

Session.One at the Kleiner Donner, Hamburg

I was home in Boston for a few weeks as well, enjoying lots of family time which I’d sorely missed, and got to see some old friends, and even play a little music.  I didn’t take many pictures, which I should have, but musically speaking:


Curtis Killian, Clinton Degan, and Hocus Pocus. This pic/jam was in Curtis’s new apartment’s basement, which just happened to come with a RECORDING STUDIO BUILT IN.


Added a few new members to the family


Trying to figure out how to fly overseas with a full drumset. Not recommended

Back in Europe I got to hit the road with my friends from Mr. Kowalsky.  I maintain that nothing gets an audience moving like ska and reggae.  We hit a few cities in Germany, as well as Amsterdam and Paris.  We also shot a little video in Paris, which is guaranteed to make us look ridiculous, so that should be fun.

mr kowalsky breakfastshot

On the tour I got to play two awesome kits: a 1964 (I believe) Gretsch which, as can be expected, just had the sweetest tone…

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And, finally!  A Ludwig Breakbeats!  It sounded so much better than I expected.  Tons of punch to the kick and the toms have a great tone.  I’m still working on my epitome-of-portability suitcase drumset (henceforth known as the Kofferkit), but I’ve gotta put this thing back on my radar for other small gigs that need something a little more “traditional.”  Was super psyched about this one.



Belgian Fries (Or: the Rumors are True)



Noticed some funny usage patterns on my new snare head after the ska/reggae tour

This was a cool one: a wedding at one of the wildest locations I’ve played in.  They rented a second church for their party.  Note the relative size of the drumset on the stage – and the pictures don’t even entirely catch the magnitude of the place!

wedding church

At this wedding I got to work with Phil Kamp, a champ, by the way, for making the above-pictured room sound not just reasonable but better, who brought along this little guy – a KLANG:technologies monitoring station.  This ran to our in-ear monitors and created a 3D mix for us which we could control wirelessly from individual iPads, not only controlling volumes and EQ in our buds, but also actually moving around the other instruments in our mixes with the graphical interface, putting them further to the right, left, above, below, in front, behind… all of this to actually mimic the stage set-up, or mock-up a rehearsal set-up, or whatever we felt like.  It was amazing.


I also got to do some studio work; one session was with the DopeBoyz, who are beat makers and one of whom I study with.  Here we are getting set up.  Hopefully I’ll be able to link to some final products sometime in the near future, but as they post the beats for purchase, occasionally with exclusive rights, a link may be short-lived.  Here’s a short video of the session they put together.

Of course, there was some time to relax.  I’m always looking for a reason to get on the bike, so I was happy to take a short tour up to Osnabrueck and back with my friend Lucky.  (If the authorities are reading this – we had permission to camp! 😉 )



Way overloaded, but in my defense, I was testing my new front rack and panniers

Way overloaded for such a short tour, but in my defense, I was testing my new front rack and panniers, plus I brought the tent!

The new semester just started today, so that’s the next step.  I’ve been working on a song of my own, as well, so I hope to have something to show before long – it would/will be my first personal work posted, so I’m excited about that.  And there are a few acoustic Shubangi gigs coming up soon, Nov 6th and 7th in Koeln and here in Muenster, respectively.

So: onwards!

Had a great time playing with Shubangi in Paderborn at Libori Fest 2015!  We were well taken care of (I’ve found this to be a theme here in Germany!) and got to take the stage for around an hour and a half for a plaza full of people.  Good times.

shubangi paderborn A 29-7-2015 shubangi paderborn B 29-7-2015

Got to play a really neat concert at the new-ish LWL Museum here in Muenster with the Musikhochschule Muenster percussion department a few days ago.  It was a “Student’s Night” there with apparently around 5,200 people attending, and the percussionists provided a lot of the music.  In the inner courtyard, we played a decent variety including a Steve Reich piece; a couple pieces for marimba (I played as voice one on a marimba trio song); a really badass piece for bongos, tamborines and hihats; a rumba; an original song by one of the students, and more.

Out on the outside corner of the building is a huge light art installation by Otto Piene, and twice over the course of the night, five of us were booked to perform an improvised piece to the lights.  During our first time slot the lights were having some issues and came on late, but otherwise, it was pretty successful.  We prepared a ~15 minute piece for hand percussion, tomtoms, gongs, cymbals, and drumset that moved between prepared groove sections and improvised passages where the improvisers would work off what the lights were doing at the time (the light show rotated randomly – and what’s more, it consisted suddenly of completely different shapes and movements than it had when we took video with which to rehearse and prepare!).

Although I feel like I’m working through a minor plateau in my drumset playing right now, I’m really feeling fortunate to be a part of these other more percussion based events like this one and the percussion department concerts; I never thought I’d be up on stage in a concert hall behind a marimba, or out on a street corner with four other drummers improvising to a light show surrounded by a few hundred people, but I’m really enjoying doing something a bit different.

Here are a couple pictures, and here’s a short video Lena managed to catch of the first improvised piece (this was at the end of one of the improvisational passages before the lights were working, then goes into one of the prepared sections).

lwl museum gig group shot

lwl museum gig action shot


I’m putting together a suitcase drumset.  Psyched about it.  This should allow me to take acoustic gigs and (very) small venue gigs without sacrificing the presence of a drumset for the sake of a cajon or some similar stand-in.  I’m not ragging on the cajon; I know those good with them can produce a lot of interesting sound.  But Shubangi has a few acoustic shows coming up, and I’d prefer to keep as close to the original drum sound as possible while scaling it back appropriately.  I’ve also recently had a couple sub gigs for Gin and Juice and G & the Boyz; both times we’ve done stripped back acoustic covers and both times I’ve wished I had a proper kit to better replicate the original grooves.

I’ve already had a couple conversations with other musicians about potentially getting out into the street and busking, and this kit would be perfect for that, as well as other guerilla type performance possibilities.

Total cost so far: 45 euros


Radio broadcast: Shubangi‘s performance at Funkhaus Europa’s Tanz in den Mai concert will be aired tonight on Funkhaus Europa.  Our set will be played at around 11:30pm, after the amazing Razbar Ensemble’s set from the same show, broadcast at 11.

More info and link to stream here (in German)

It was an amazing time playing for the sold out crowd at Muelheim’s Ringlokschuppen!  And not just playing, but being a part of the event – they put together a great mix of music.  Saw some amazing bands that immediately went to my favorite live acts list, including Emicida and Bukahara.

See video of Shubangi‘s “Schwerelos” here.

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I’ve posted a couple more songs in the Media page.  They are unfinished Baby Made Rebel tracks, recorded in 2013 and not quite completed before we went on hiatus.  “The Standing” is much further along than “Untitled Single,” as may be apparent from the titles.

“The Standing” started with a drum loop I recorded as part of my Loops Project.  Lance heard it and wrote a tune around it.  We performed it at a few gigs in Boston in 2013, and I wish the recording had been completed and released, but I guess everything ground to a halt when I left for Germany.

“Untitled Single” was recorded right before I left, so naturally that one got a lot less love.  But I love the direction it was headed in and vibe it had going for it, even in so incomplete a form.

Finally, Clinton Degan has been working on mixing the songs we recorded together in late Summer 2013 and emailing us demos, and the songs are sounding incredible.  One of them is a tune an old band of his had turned down, saying it was “impossible” to turn into a full-band song.  For a group of musicians as talented as they were, it should say something about the complexity of the composition that it was denied on that ground.  I’m incredibly proud listening to it, knowing we as a group of musicians achieved something not only impressive, but I think also beautiful, and also proud of Degan for not taking “no” as an answer and guiding the song, along with its companion seven others on this record, to a really impressive product.  I can’t wait to be able to post some.

I found an old song map notebook stuffed into my suitcase that I used early/middle last year for some projects.  The notes are for songs by Shoney Lamar & the Equal RightsMr. KowalskySchool for Robots, and the as-yet untitled Clinton Degan project, scrawled roughly either while writing or learning them with the bands.  They include the usual guides such as “Verse,” “Chorus,” “Intro” and so forth, as well as such made-sense-at-the-time bits as “ratatats,” “Octopussy tag,” “glory section,” “funny kick,” “quietish,” and more.  And apparently I only know how to spell “ritard.”

I know I’ve got some notes from older and other projects kicking around somewhere.  I’ll try to find those and add to the photo set because I think it’s a pretty funny thing to look back on and scratch the ol’ noggin over.